Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hey guys, if you didn't see it on Rotten Tomatoes, there is an article with a list of some interesting movies about video games. My personal favorite on the list is The Last Starfighter. However, two of the films we have seen in class. The most shocking though, is that The Wizard  isn't on it. Sorry Sheila.

Hockey Kart

Blog #4: Star Wars, The Legend Continues

In case you haven't heard the momentous news, Disney just bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion. This means an entirely new trilogy of films along with, undoubtedly, tons of video games to come. Of all the Star Wars games that Lucasarts has made since the release of the original Star Wars in 1977, only a handful of them have actually been worthwhile gaming experiences. Knights of the Old Republic I-II, Battlefront I-II,  Republic Commando, Shadows of the Empire, and the original Rogue Squadron come to mind. On the other end of the spectrum, games like Obi-Wan, and Clone Wars are gaming abominations. I am curious to see what video games Lucasarts will come up with to capitalize on this newly announced trilogy. Do you think the Stars Wars gaming universe has run out of steam?

top 10 video games to play on halloween :) christmas games coming soon... STAYED TUNED!

In the spirit of Halloween and studying for this midterm...

here is something fun to do!

In the Halloween season

Happy Halloween!

Click Here for Awesomeness!

Speaking of, if I did this, could I get extra credit...?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Designing Gendered Toys

I thought the "Games for Girls" vs "Games for Boys" slide today was interesting because it sums up pretty accurately the amount of thought that goes into designing for gendered audiences.  I was an intern with a company that designs children's toys last summer, and it seemed that with each new design proposed there was the inevitable question, "Is this a girl or a boy toy?" followed by "We need to design a girl/boy version too."  Typically what followed were some quick cosmetic changes (switch out the blues for pinks) and then we had two toy designs we could submit for the price of one.

I think that a lot of the reasoning for this gendering is based on marketing to parents, and not based on actual desires from the kids.  After all, the parents are typically the ones purchasing the toys.  It is easier both from a design perspective and a marketing perspective to simplify genders into binary categories, rather than to try to take in subtleties of actual desired play.


Rough Transcript: Class Tangents 10/30/12

I attempted to transcribe the class discussion every time we went off the topic on the Power Point. Key word: attempted

Begin transcript:

They say things you wouldn't say. Three weeks ago a notorious reddit troll banked in Texas, but it wasn't antisocial. I wonder if it was legal. Big files of likely upskirt criminal charges. Any of that stuff from his office.

It so is not. You've got these groups, the U.S. army did this recruiting game and they would want to go, "Oh yeah, certain social hate groups really target interesting things."

Care bears are for girls and bronies.

Thomas the Train is not, like, need to be humanized. But now Night Rider does Prilosec ads. Larry the Cable Guy: worst Pixar movie ever.

Blues clues did that too. Boys associate with three year olds; at three, girls can always be boy scouts. Magic Mike was one gay guy. So pretty, not a lot of body hair. Girls went to see 300 women hating movies. All the rest of women literally crushed.

We were 10 years old. "What is this? It is. Mom, take the magic away." I never saw a great weapon.

Negatives of living in Detroit: Once I played sports, no longer. You do it for so long, oh crap, practice all the time, free swag. These cost free XBoxes. Oh shit, it was, '02, or something, it was not made for anybody.

I'm from Pennsylvania. That's terrible, you don't play for the claim, "playing couch potato." Apple slices in the fridge. Nothin'. I want to be clear about that... nevermind.

He has an actual oven. I went and got the I Love Lucy set. The whole house.

The girls who are horse girls. Access to a real horse. I just said, "I don't know." Damn serious stuff those beauticians.

Now they have as customized lunch with World Feminine Culture. They can't even eat bikini version. She likes to text maybe a bit earlier. I thought, "oh my god, bad ass!" Evil barbies, Tommy Lee Jones, it was a different kind of game.

He used to California shepherd staff, totally badass gem on it, like, he was Gollum. Sky Mall! You've gotta go to Vault of Secondary Sources. Sky rocket real Hobbit. Great poster.

Chicken nugget.

End transcript.

Gendered Video Games

A big staple in my childhood was when my [twin] brother and I would play Lego's.  We could sit there for hours and build awesome forts, set with secret passageways, leading into our gun-filled rooms.  A few years ago I heard about how Lego's were "expanding" to include girls in their demographic.  What was so shocking to me was how they didn't think that girls played with them regardless of their color.  Can you see a difference between the two?:


 "New & Improved":

Why is pink always a defining characteristic of "girl" games?

The Next Generation of Gaming

It is amazing how far the visuals in video games have come over the past 50 or so years.
1961 - Spacewar!
2012 - Halo 4
So, here's a look at the game engines that some of the games of the next generation will be using.

Though technically run on the Playstation 3, the tech demo Kara is developer Quantic Dream's (Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls) attempt to show how modern game engines allow them to create much more expressive characters.  Quantic Dream's games are largely plot centered games, almost like interactive movies.  They need to reproduce realistic facial expressions in order to strengthen the emotional appeal of their characters.  Kara is an intriguing short story about an android (a robot built to resemble a human) that gains sentience.

On the more tech heavy side, Epic Games has shown of their Unreal Engine 4 in the Elemental Cinematic tech demo.  For this engine Epic Games concentrated on something that remains particularly difficult to achieve, particle effects.  In particular, things like snow, rain, fire, and smoke can be particularly hard to produce because in the real world they all involve lots of extremely small pieces.  As a result, in most games none of these effects actually physically react with their surroundings.  Epic Games however, has managed to reproduce the real world behavior of light in their engine.

The final tech demo is Agni's Philosophy.  This is a real time tech demo shown by Square Enix to demonstrate the technology they will be using in their Final Fantasy games, games famous for their long cinematic.  One of the focuses of Square Enix was to get the characters' hair to look realistic, another issue that is particularly challenging for video games due to the numerous, individually moving pieces.

The incredible detail in these demos makes me wonder, how long until we cross the uncanny valley?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Casual game defined by medium?

I'm not sure exactly when it was announced, but Rockstar Games is celebrating its tenth anniversary of GTA: Vice City, therefore they announced that they would be releasing a iOS and android version of the game for mobile phones. I'm not sure if GTA is considered a real video game, but this brought up a couple of questions that circulated around "casual games".

I remember in class we sort of discussed what casual games were, and I remember one of the definitions being pertained to the medium of the system that the game is played on. Therefore I guess I was wondering, if legitimate competitive video game, were formatted for a mobile phone, would it still be considered a video game?

Rockstar Games claims that their formatted version of the game will have the "full gamer experience", although I'm not sure what they mean by this because many of the games that I have seen formatted haven't lived up to those expectations, but if it were to have been formatted to a mobile phone, could it still carry the legitimacy of a "real" video game and not a casual game?

The article about Rockstar Games' announcement. I'm pretty sure the video clip is not footage of the formatted game but rather the PS2 version:

Race, Culture & Stereos

Race, Culture  & Stereotypes!

            I feel that games today help people see race in a new light.  For sometime movies had projected this notion, however games today do the same. For example the Resident Evil franchise, Tekken or Crash Bandicoot series, these games depict a different incite to race.  The Monsters or the supernatural characters that exist within these games portray humanistic features.  Supernatural characters like Sonic or superhero’s from the Dragon Ball Z series compliment this theory that other life forms do exist. In short, games exaggerate myths.
            Furthermore, race representation in games is very thought out. However, culture is a different story. Writers and creators of games try to invent every genre of culture into games nowadays. The Sims series is a great example of a game that captures cultures in high-definition. The Urbz: Sims In The City, was a game created in 2004. It contains a full soundtrack from the music group Black Eye Peas and it takes place in various cities.   Nonetheless, a player picks a character (male or female) and they choose a location which they want to reside. Base on this location, whether it is poor, gothic or bourgeoisie, the character (protagonist) must adapt to  various locations in order to win the game. If one doesn’t dress to the standards of a city/culture they will lose reputation and prologue their time in the game. The main arguments I want to highlight about this game are the locations that represent these cultures. Each culture captures a certain attitude and a certain dress code. The characters that live in Diamond Heights, they dress in the finest attire and wear the best jewels. They are seen as snobby and their speech is very elegant. Their music is well thought out and soothing. In contrast, to population who live in Central Station, the characters live like nomads, their speech is unclear and they dress in gothic attire.  Although realistic this game is full of stereotypes. I don’t  think this is the games intent, however,  such  common culture is being enforced when the protagonist of the game has to dress according to their surroundings to win the game!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Hands on Wii U w/ the Totally Rad Show

A lot has been coming out about the Wii U as it's release date nears, but this is the best demo I've seen of it thus far and I think it really brings up a good point. 

The Wii U is about party games and interacting with one another (which is why most games only use 1 of the expensive tablet controllers), but also gives gamers interested in this a platform to play more "serious games" like Call of Duty on their own.

If you're interested, check it out. Totally Rad Show on Revision 3 always does a great job with reviewing media. 

Looking For Group: A Webcomic

To further emphasize the multimedia-ness of video games (and their general awesomeness/silliness) I have decided to introduce everyone to a most excellent webcomic by the name of 'Looking For Group'.

As you can probably tell from the title, this webcomic primarily focuses on MMORPGS, or massively multiplayer role-playing games. This comic satirizes, parodies, and generally pokes fun of almost all gaming tropes and conventions out there, but also plays some of them quite straight.

There are also a ton of delightful pup cultural references.

Here's the link: Looking For Group Webcomic

A sample page parodying the Mists of Pandaria

And another comic referencing Gangnam Style

BTW, Richard, the warlock, is the greatest character ever. Of all time. 


Wreck-It Ralph: Hollywood Reporter Review

I know there has been much talk in class about Disney (and co-Pixar) new movie Wreck-It Ralph, and one of the first reviews came out today from the Hollywood Reporter.

I know I was skeptic at first, but from what the review says, it seems like a polished road video game movie rather than a reboot of Toy Story in a different environment (what I was skeptic about).

I still fully support a class field trip to see this.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?" for laypeople

Do you wanna date my avatar?
Do you wanna date my avatar?

avatar - a fictional representation of an individual. See also "toon," "char," "character."

Hang with me in my MMO
So many places we can go
You'll never see my actual face
Our love, our love will be in virtual space

MMO - A Massively Multiplayer Online game

I'm craving to emote with you
So many animations I can do
Be anything you want me to be
C'mon, c'mon, and share a potion with me

emote - an animation meant to represent an emotion or action, e.g. "/dance" in "World of Warcraft."

Do you wanna date my avatar?
She's a star
And she's hotter than reality by far
Wanna date my avatar?

You can type commands
I've got slots for what I hold in my hands
Don't care what's in your character bank
How 'bout, how 'bout a little tank and spank

"typing commands" - see above. "/laugh" causes characters in World of Warcraft to laugh. Most MMOs have this functionality.

An Empty World of Warcraft Character Bank

"character bank" - a centralized collection of items and money typically separate from the on-character inventory. Can only be accessed by a specific character or account. See also "stash."

"slots for what I hold in my hands" - characters often have a right-hand and left-hand 'slot' for equipping weapons, shields, and other equipment. Additionally, rings may be equipped.

At the bottom of the screen, the "hand" slots are see. The 5th and 6th slots on the right side are the ring slots.

Grab your mouse and stroke the keys
Here in cyberspace there's no disease
Pick a time, send a tell to me
Just pay, just pay a small subscription fee

Subscription fee - many MMOs include a monthly fee for play.

Do you wanna date my avatar?
She's a star
And she's hotter than reality by far
Wanna date my avatar

Single, White Human
Looking for group
My stats so high
You'll be out of the loop

"Looking for Group" (LFG) - Commonly seen in public channels when individuals are trying to complete particularly difficult quests are explore dungeons 

Got an uber leet staff
That you can't equip
Close your mouth up
Ladies this is pure nerdnip

A 'World of Warcraft' character carrying a Staff.

staff (n) - in many games, the staff is the weapon of choice for characters whose focus is magic. Other games, like "Soul Calibur", feature fighters with staves.

I'm a pixel-based fantasy
A man so stoic
I hack and slash
Who the heck's more heroic?

hack and slash - pretty self explanatory. ALSO a subgenre of action/adventure games - see "Torchlight," "Path of Exile," "Diablo."

Check me out, cloth armor
Fits me like a glove
Just twitter a time
I'm ready for love

cloth armor - in many games, cloth armor is the armor of choice for characters whose focus is magic.

Hang with me in my MMO
So many places we can go
I'm better than a real world quest
You'll touch my plus five to dexterity vest

dexterity - generic stat primarily affiliated with characters whose focus is either in ranged weaponry or stealth combat. See also "agility"

What role do you wanna play?
I'm just a click away night or day
And if you think I'm not the one
Log off, log off and we'll be done

Do you wanna date my avatar?
She's a star
And she's hotter than reality by far
Wanna date my avatar

Do you wanna date my avatar?
She's a star
And she's hotter than reality by far
Wanna date my avatar

Do you wanna date my avatar? (do you wanna date my avatar?)
Do you wanna date my avatar? (do you wanna date my avatar?)
Do you wanna date my avatar? (do you wanna date my avatar?)
Do you wanna date my avatar? (do you wanna date my avatar?) 

Blog #3: Review of "The Cat and the Coup"

Last night, I played a game called The Cat and the Coup. It is set during the 1950s and you play as the pet cat of the then Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh. Not exactly conventional video game material. The game begins with death of Mossadegh and, as his cat, you experience/remember the important political events of his career that led to his eventual downfall at the hands of the CIA. Obviously, as a cat, you do not actually directly communicate or initiate any of these political happenings. Instead, your interactive agency is indirect and metaphorical. In addition to performing various typical cat activities (wandering, sitting in Mossadegh's lap, knocking over furniture, etc), you lead Mossadegh from level to level by physically forcing him through various doors. Mossadegh falls from level to level as text appears to give the player a description of the political context of your actions. It is one of the few documentary games out there, has beautiful art direction, and is actually politically insightful. Check it out!

Here is the link to download the game:

Why is Tetris so Addicting?

When I was in high-school, all I did was Tetris (well technically n-blox). In class, n-blocks, during free periods, n-blox, at home watching tv, n-blox. I got pretty good, and once played a single game while listening to the entire Lupe Fiasco's "The Cool" album. I got to level 102, and was nerdly proud... took a screen shot and all. It got to the point where I would close my eyes before bed and see tetris blocks falling. Apparently this is a shared experience among many tetris-ers. Its such an addicting and fun game, and one of its best features is that it never ends, it just keeps going. I love it, and so do so many others, but why do so many of us love it? and become addicted? this article has some reasons as to why it may appeal to our inner longing for order:

Tetris Addiction

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

election time

With the election coming up, I thought it would be fun to post this.  IGN is doing video game presidential elections.  Instead of having political parties the candidates run for their systems.  The parties are xbox, nintendo, sony, pc, and multi-platform.  The link above takes you to the main election site.  There is everything from voting to fake political ads for all of the current and previous candidates.  I think it is interesting how many people that they have gotten to vote for the primaries as well as the main election.  I personally voted in the xbox primary for Master Chief.  I have not voted yet for the video game presidential election.  Who is every voting for?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A better way to study for the midterm!

I know you guys are awesome students and already completed your study guide that you received via Ctools today in class, so why not chill out with a video game to review? This isn't a quiz game but an interactive look at how space and tools were invented during the evolution of video games. You walk through the game as a little character in Evoland as you unlock new technologies as they were introduced in the past like scrolling, sound effects, and color bit. See if you can memorize them for the history part of the midterm!

Evoland: A Short Story of Adventure Game Evolution

And You Thought 'Passage' Was Depressing

Every Day The Same Dream is an "art game" created by Molleindustria, an independent game developer that creates short, satirical games.  Molleindustria is also responsible for the hilarious McDonald's Video Game that Sheila briefly showed in class.

I call it an "art game" because the only challenge comes from trying to figure out what to do next and the only real purpose of the game is to be symbolic.  The player controls a character who can only move left or right and interact with a few objects in a world that is almost entirely grey.  The player does things such as slowly creeping towards work in a traffic jam full of identical cars, sitting in a cubicle in a row of identical cubicles with identical people sitting in them, getting fired, following a hobo to a graveyard, and jumping off of the office building.  If the player performs certain actions they will eventually trigger an ending sequence in which the player wanders through a world devoid of people.  The game is meant to symbolize alienation and the repetitive dullness of the everyday world.
More Depressing
"Art games" like Every Day The Same Dream and Passage are quite unique, focusing more on the message they are delivering than the actual gameplay.  Do you find this unique niche of gaming interesting or does taking much of the 'game' out of a video game render it pointless and uninteresting?

Most Depressing

Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?

While we were talking about avatars in class today, all I could think of was this (excellent) video by The Guild (I'm a little obsessed) in which they sing a song called "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar" and it's excellent. If you watch The Guild, you know that all the costumes in the video are the players' avatars from The Game, the generic MMORPG that acts as the catalyst for Felicia Day's gamer webseries. Some lyrics that I always think about when I watch the video are "she's hotter than reality by far" and "you'll never see my actual face" and "if you think i'm not the one, log off and we'll be done." All of these lyrics have to do with the disconnect between reality/the user and fantasy/the avatar, and it's interesting to note the different language used and the idea that women are insecure gamers too and could benefit from the disconnect, the anonymousness of it.

Gender in Video Games

Speaking of gender:

How does less clothes equal more armor? Or are they just playing to the tastes of men?

Glitch number 6

7 commandments

Blog #2: HD Remasters of Older Games

So it looks like this year is shaping up to be the year of the HD remaster. For Playstation consoles alone, whether it's Shadow of the Collosus, Okami, or Doom 3, companies seem content to repackage older games in a shiny new high-definition package and consumers seem more than content to purchase them. Some of these are merely the same game made compatible for the Playstation 3. Others receive a substantive face-lift. Finally, some multi-game franchises get released in a single HD package for a bargain price. Are these products worthy additions to the medium? Also, would you (or do you) buy them?

Nintendo's Revolution - Wii to Wii U

So here is a little history of Nintendo's success, small demise, and re-success story. I think that most of us are Nintendo fanboys, just by virtue of growing up in the N64 era. And even though it didn't sell more than the Playstation, we all know it was the better system.

Personally, I love Nintendo for its games. I jumped on the Wii bandwagon, but was ultimately disappointed as the gimmick wore off. I am really curious to see how the Wii U does. Will it re-define gaming like the wii-mote did (motion controls)? I am also curious to play it, because I don't really understand it. With iPads and tablets dominating the mobile market, it makes sense for Nintendo to include touch-screen in their controls, its the new normal. But I am not sure if that will translate well to console gameplay. And it seems to me that casual gamers are becoming less inclined to be tethered to a tv/console, when they can get their fix on an iPhone or iPad etc.

As with all consoles, it will come down to games. If their are good, fun, innovative games, then the console will sell and perform well. If not, then the Wii-U won't sell well. If the latter is the case, then Nintendo will do what it has always done, redefine itself and shift the gaming market.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Girl Blah, Boy's Rock, Boy Blah, Girls Rock..

Games & Genders

Games today are gender specific.  For the first 20 years games have had a male protagonist. From adventure games like Crash Bandicoot to the James Bond series, games as such have contained male leads.  However, there are some exceptions. In the mid-90’s there was a game called Tomb Raider, this game featured a female action hero. Nevertheless, Tomb Raider creator’s intent wasn’t necessarily to contribute to the female gamers, although one would argue that reasoning, however, the reason was to break gender norms within games being produced during the time period. Subsequently, there is a myth that although a female protagonist, Tomb Raider was still a popular game with the guys. To contradict an earlier statement, marketing wise, to have a female protagonist on any game console, consoles that were primarily targeted for guys, the Tomb Raider franchise showed that female leads could sale games. Tomb Raider was the first of its kind and strategic. In addition, there are several reasons for why this game marked the male youth. One, the lead protagonist physical attributes, one could argue played a key role in the game’s success. Lora Croft character is exploited in the Tomb Raider franchise. Her breast size is magnified for her stature and the character is just appealing to look at from an animated standpoint. Nonetheless, Tomb Raider would go on to be depicted into movie and once again having a huge male following. In closing, masculinity and gender representation haunts our games today, whether the character is female or male. Every game has its subtexts and attributes that help target certain audiences (so that one can sale their products successfully).  Sexuality is a major component, which will be a later topic. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wii U Controllers-Here's an Alternative

I forgot who was talking about dropping $150 on a Wii U controller (ouch), but I just saw this article today about Nintendo making a "Pro Controller" for the system that is priced at $50.

My thoughts, it's a smart alternative, but I don't understand why they decided to make it in a glossy plastic that your hands will slip on or why they reversed the buttons to be under the joysticks. If you look at most other controllers, the buttons are above the joystick, not under.

So whoever's getting the Wii U, and you want to play multiplayer for $100 cheaper, here's your answer.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What makes a game a game?

Above is a nice article about what makes a video game a game. It fits into our first/earlier conversation on what is a game. There is an interesting comparison of puzzle games (portal) to actual puzzles, building games (minecraft) to legos, and games like the sims to dolls and action figures . These are pretty interesting because you don't often think of the latter(s) as games, but when they translate them into the virtual world, they become games. From these examples, i think legos is the most intriguing .I personally would never consider lego as a game, but rather a toy. But i do considered building games as a game. Partially because of the goals of a building game, whereas legos are free range, and up to the builders imagination. There is no real goal in legos. Puzzles have a goal: complete the puzzle. And dolls are a game because we usually assign a story line with how they can interact. Although there is no goal with dolls, there is a set of boundaries and rules that the dolls abide by. The author argues that if it is interactive, and has a goal with some sort of obstacles then it should constitute a game. I am of the same opinion. If there is some goal that needs to be achieved and rules or boundaries that need to be abided by in order to achieve the goal then its a game.

Gaming outside your comfort zone, redux [Bonus: Games that defined retro consoles, and hidden gems]

Nobody wants to read Great Expectations, but in high school we were forced to. Nobody wants to read Shakespeare, but in the interest of having more cultural knowledge, all (or most) of us have.

Reading, watching, or gaming outside your comfort zone is a way both to discover more about yourself as a person and your own interests, and also about what is widely regarded as "good." Blade Runner isn't everyone's cup of tea, but anyone with an interest in film should see it. I'd rather drop fifty pounds on my crotch than read Pride and Prejudice again, but I have (and you probably have had to read something from that time period, too.)

Now, video games have been around for long enough that there are games considered to be classics, and there are games that are credited for inventing, reinventing, or epitomizing a genre. Hundreds of games come out yearly and with dozens of available outlets, game reviews can be accessed with unbelievable ease.

"Gaming outside your comfort zone, redux" is my schpiel on why you should play games you don't think you'll like. Limbo is an awkward, dark, linear platformer/puzzler with a specific aesthetic that won't appeal to most. Grabbed it for fun during a Steam sale and didn't regret it one bit. Like Mass Effect? Try a more action-oriented role-playing game, like Fable or Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Like the Grand Theft Auto games? Try another open-world game in a different setting: more serious, higher-fantasy games like Fallout  and the Elder Scrolls games come to mind.

I'd never thought I'd like StarCraft as until I bought it I only had a passing interest in games like Civilization . I barely even liked Tower Defense-style games. But as it turned out, the micromanaging I was so fond of in RPGs translated into unit control and attack timings.

Like Halo? Try Borderlands for something a little less linear. Like turn-based role playing games? Try something like Final Fantasy Tactics or Star Ocean games for a slightly different take. Play Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath and shoot bees at people.

Play WarCraft and see what all the hype was about. Go back and see God of War's female counterpart tear shit up in Heavenly Sword. Experience the PlayStation's "Halo Killers," Killzone and Resistance: Fall of Man. 

Like relatively casual games with a high skill cap, good aesthetics but are easy to pick up and fairly short (e.g. Portal)? Try Bastion or Odin Sphere. Are you a masochist and like brutally difficult and unforgiving games? Try Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Mount & Blade, War of the Roses, or Ghosts'n'Goblins. 

Don't be afraid to try a cheap, older game that some consider to be the epitome of gaming. Final Fantasy VII is still a pretty good game, as is Final Fantasy X. Some of the storytelling in these games, as well as in the N64 and SNES Legend of Zelda is second to none. Like rhythm games? Get RezHD on XBLA for a surreal music-game experience.

Pick up an old Pokemon game (Snap or Red, for example) and see what everyone was talking about ten years ago. Nazi Zombies is only so much fun - Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil (especially RE4) and Dead Island provide variations on the co-operative zombie smashing experience. L4D and Dead Island are more of a scavenge and survive with friends while RE games tend to be fairly linear, one against many type shooters.

Play weird games. Play Katamari. Play story-driven games like Dear Esther. Try dungeon crawlers, from Diablo to Dungeons of Dredmor. Get Heroes of Might and Magic or Dungeon Defenders and fight with friends. Try something from every genre, and something weird from every genre you don't like - maybe Burnout is your racing game when Forza rubbed you the wrong way. Maybe saving the princess doesn't tickle your fancy as much as getting scared shitless in Amnesia does. Bored of shooting terrorists? Kill some twenty-foot-tall trolls. Get out there and game.

Here is a list of games that "defined" retro gaming consoles:

"hidden gems" from past generations:

Because Friday was a complete fail

I know I put a bunch of YouTube videos on here, but it's just because I can't think for myself. Deal. Anyway, this video touches on pretty much everything we've talked about in the last two weeks of rules, space, and time. 

The narrator of this analytical video on MegaMan X and how the game explains the space in a game. He never actually calls any of the rules by the technical terms, but he has a pretty good point.

One of the reasons I really like this video is because he talks about conveyance, which basically asks if the game do a good job of leading the player to its objective. This video reaches outside of MegaMan X. I'm not sure if we're going to talk about this in class, but I think it's a really important point in game design. If/when I make a game, this is something that I'll be thinking about in the back of my brain. 


This video is vulgar. Ye be warned. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wreck-It-Ralph the Movie

Sooooooo has anyone seen the previews for this? It looks AWESOME!!!

Books > Games (and vice versa)?

The Brooklyn Public Library is now offering video games to lure the youth into its storied (ha, ha) halls.

As you could probably guess, this isn't jiving too well with some people.

“I think libraries do have a quasi-educational purpose,” said Harold Augenbaum, the executive director of the National Book Association. “Books and video games are different narrative systems. Book learning has been around two or three thousand years, but with video games there’s still a ways to go to use them effectively for educational purposes.”

What do you guys think about this? I'll post my own thoughts later, but I'm too lazy to write a novel about them now.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Casual Games.

I was never familiar with the term and encountered it for the first time during this class. I decided to "google" the term and found that there is a "Casual Games Association". It was very interesting to check out their website and see their vision and definition of what a "casual game" is. Below is a short definition of casual game and here's the website for those who want to check out their website:

Developed for the general public and families, casual games are video games that are fun and easy to learn and play. The games are platform agnostic, meaning they can be played via the Internet, Facebook, PC, and Macintosh computers, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo DS, Wii and even mobile phones, iPhone and PDA. They're nonviolent, arcade-style games that involve puzzles, words, board and card games, game show and trivia. Popular games are Mahjong, Tetris, Solitaire, Bejeweled, Mystery Case Files, and Farmville.

Are Video Games Art?

This is obviously a very difficult question to answer, and it is further complicated by the fact that there is no simple answer to the other question: What is art?

An argument that video games are art was put forward earlier in an excellent post made by my classmate Christopher.  The post contains a video that rebukes Roger Ebert's claim that video games can never be art because of their interactivity by pointing out the improvisations that can occur in music, especially in jazz.  I would take the argument further.  Literature, film, painting and sculpture also require interaction.  Even when the artist has a specific message in mind different viewers, readers, and players will make unique interpretations of a piece. 

I also believe that the interactivity of video games can be an advantage to them as an art form.  You should see some of the totally insane things players have built in games designed for player creation such as Minecraft, LittleBigPlanet, and Spore.  Even shooters like Halo and Crysis have produced some cool creations.  Click on the links to see some.

The interactivity of video games can also be important when considering a definition of art as a human creation meant to elicit an emotional response.  When we watch a good movie we become emotionally invested in the characters.  Its why we root for them to overcome their challenges and feel upset if our favorite dies or fails.  Consider the emotional impact games such as the Mass Effect Series might have then, games where the player's own choices determine their character's relationship to the others and whether they live or die.

If we consider paintings and sculptures as art, then there is definitely no reason not to regard some of the spectacular visuals provided by video games as art.  Below is one of my personal favorites, and I encourage any readers to comment with a link to their own favorite.

The underwater city of Rapture from Bioshock
So what do you think of the video games as art argument?  Personally, I've always best liked this simple definition: If you have to ask if its art, then its art.

Gaming outside your comfort zone

The other day, I went to Digital Ops with my boyfriend and his little brother to kill time before a birthday dinner. I went once before, a really long time ago and don't remember having that great of a time (I recall it was very smelly), but this time was pretty okay. The people there were nice, but the computers were glitching up a storm. When the three of us finally managed to pick a game and get it to work, we'd already used up a half-hour. This didn't really matter too much to my boyfriend, since he got 8 or 9 hours free for the day (but just for that day) as a birthday perk from Digital Ops, but his brother's free half hour as a newcomer was burnt and half the hour I paid for was gone.

We started playing Left 4 Dead, but only one of us had an actual headset. This killed my boyfriend's ambitions to do a (finger-quotes) "real" co-op game. What made things more interesting was the fact that a random was thrown in as our fourth, and was apparently playing in a room with a baby. So we kept hearing crying and someone singing to the baby through this mystery person's headset. I got sort of weirded out by it, since we were playing a zombie-killin' game and all I could hear was crying and shooting, so I turned off the voice settings. 

I've played in groups online (in that one game that I spoke way too much about in the last class), but I never played using TeamSpeak/Vent/Skype/whatever with people I didn't already know. I like not being nerd-raged at, and also, my own music is better than most of the stuff I hear in-game anyway (my bias is showing, I know). But I've always played in the comfort of my own home as well, except for games that I can only play at Pinball Pete's or something. So I'm wondering what you guys think about going other places to play your games - do you like gaming in settings like Digi Ops, or are you more into being on your computer in your own environment? Are there certain games or situations where you'll change your mind?

The Atari 2600 is 35 years old just yesterday!

Some fun facts from the article:
It almost belonged to Disney.
It had a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the Ram powering a smartphone (128 Bytes).
It's in the Toy National Hall of Fame.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lost In Space~

What does the Space inside Video Games refer to?

When playing games I never think of such topic. However, taking a class on video games I have learned that many videos games have limited space for characters/players to travel. Games like the Gauntlet, GTA series and Crash Bandicoot makes players have to complete certain requirements and missions for a player to precede to a new level (space). Spaces in games that lack reality are merely rewards. In one of my earlier posts, I thought about what make games addictive…… obtaining landmasses in games would be a great example of what makes a game addictive. A reward as such gives a reason to play a game and achieve to the next stage/level. However, unlocking a board/landform for a game is just one dimension of space of video games.
Another example of space is included in the GTA series. There was this famous game called GTA: San Andreas and this series featured a jetpack. One had to beat various missions to unlock various parts of the surrounding cities in San Andreas. Nonetheless, there was this jetpack cheat code that allowed the player to fly over to surrounding areas of the city. One of two things happened. One, I would get in trouble by police because it was seen as illegal activity, trying to cross over to another landmass. Lastly, when using the jetpack there were these invisible walls replicating new landmasses, however, these were merely walls showing your limits within a city. I find this game design interesting because a lot of games project reality, however, do they really project reality? Similarly, such cheating tactics were seen in earlier movies of the 20’s. The invisible walls in GTA: San Andreas reminds me of paintings in silent movies in the 20’s where these artworks projected false images that didn’t really exist (actors use these stage paintings as props).
            Lastly, the game Sonic. The space in this game is parallel. Sonic is always in the foreground, with the background covered by a cheap beach setting. This game lacks dimension, reality and 3D setting. However, space, this game is hard to play when there are two players. Sonic & Tails is one of the worst 2 player games invented.  Space and camera wise, whoever is the first player they navigate the game and directionality. The second player is merely for the ride and is sometimes lost in space. In reference to space and two players, I believe Sonic & Tails were one of the first under achievers to try such two player dimensionality on game consoles. I’m not sure if players can retract their steps within this Sonic series; however, this game suffers from limited space. Similarly games like Crash Bandicoot, -- allow players to retract their steps. However, if a player doesn’t retract their steps they have to repeat a certain level from the beginning. So checkpoints are the best for games as such. Games today are rewarding, however, quite similar and ironic to the real world, one has to work for their space to further their selves in the world (game). 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In light of today's discussion of stimulant use...

I just saw this segment from last night's The Colbert Report:

Flicky-Where Single Screen meets Scrolling

After today's discussion about space in games, one of my favorites popped into my head.

This game is Flicky, in which you are a bird that tries to line up all the little Chirps before the time runs out or the Tigers or Iggies destroy your chain. The idea is to get all the Chirps to the door before time runs out, but if you get them all in one chain, you get a huge point bonus.

What I love about this game though is the way it combines single-screen environments with side scrolling action. So when you continue right, you actually appear on the left side of the screen repeated.

I know that's hard to picture, so check out the video above to see what I mean. It's a different way of thinking, and one that I highly enjoy.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beyond: Two Souls

Seeing as we've been discussing Video Game Genres recently in class, I though I'd mention a relatively new type: interactive film.

I'm sure there are debates about whether this is more of a game or a film. You obviously 'play' it, and there are objectives and rules, but everything is cinematic in feel, and yet it goes beyond cinema, because you are playing the character, making the choices, dealing with the consequences, making you empathize much more with the character than if you were just watching them.

Here is a trailer/teaser for the latest upcoming title in this genre: 'Beyond: Two Souls' (featuring Ellen Page)

I also have a link to an interview with the co-CEO working on this project.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Male Gamers

I must say I really enjoyed "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters" documentary. Initially I wanted to watch the documentary because Billy Mitchell seemed like an interesting character that would entertain me throughout the duration of the documentary. However I found myself really engaged within minutes of the screening of the documentary.

Going into the screening, I thought that I would watch a documentary about a bunch of pathetic 30-40 year old men who waste their lives away on video games. Although I found this somewhat true, I didn't expect myself to be as emotionally invested into the personal stories of the characters, as well as connecting with these men on a deeper level.

At times I would find myself really rooting for the underdog of the story, Steve Wiebe. I could feel how much he wanted/needed that title and the sense of achievement and success he would feel once he obtained it. At other times I would find myself cursing Billy Mitchell and his "disciples" for their sneaky passive-aggressive tactics to rob Steve of his rightful title. Their actions lacked integrity and I even found them "dishonorable".

I never thought I would find myself attaching values like honor, integrity, achievement, and success with video games, especially within a gamer community of 30 year olds. However I started to realize why these men play these games so rigorously (pursuit of success and achievement), and noticed how vulnerable I was in becoming one of them.

Therefore I want to start researching why it seems as if so many men are absorbed/obsessed/attracted to video games and what exactly about video games(pursuit of success and significance) draw them in. To start, I found this short article about how video game addictions can spread to other parts of men's lives (like their marriage):

Because this phenomenon could not be a gender-specific issue, I think my next blog post will be about research on female gamers.

damsel in...distress??

I know we haven't quiiiite gotten to gender and gaming yet, but something we said in class the other day made me remember these phenomenal videos that College Humor did. They're about Peach and Zelda catching up, chatting about their lives and what they're doing when Mario and Link are off questing after them for like 90% of the games. (There's also a funny one in which all four characters are there and they try to one-up each other's boyfriends. Different vein, same idea.) I like stuff like this because not only does it look at game narratives from an interesting perspective; it also interrogates the "damsel in distress" archetype that early video games and sci fi movies were so drawn to. it gives these ladies some more agency. plus the actors are friggin hilarious.

On another note, I think this also ties into the idea of "para-text." Videos like these take an established universe and play with it, finding new ways to inhabit it and learning new ways to explore it or think about it.

Journal #4: The Land of Lost Letters

You grab the bow. Sure, you took down that bee just fine at close range, but there are probably monsters or other mean things in The Land of Lost Letters. There's also Flanner, who has been talking at a mile a minute for many minutes of miles. You could pop an arrow up his head and finally make him shut u-

"You okay, laddie? You been staring at the back of my head like it's a fluppin target."

You're fine. Maybe the heat's just getting to you. As you walk down the path to The Land of Lost Letters you realize a haze of fog is falling in front of you. You ask Flanner about this strange land.

"The Land of Lost Letters? Strange, strange place, laddie. Once a year sects of the Cult of Lost Letters infiltrate Camp U.S. and steal young men and women. It happens at night and quick as a lightning bolt. They call it 'rush,' and no matter how hard parents try they can't stop those of the Lost Letters."

You step over a hill. A giant gate stands before you with a robed man in front of it. His hat is backward and his robes are cut off at the sleeve.

"Best let me do the talking, laddie."

Flanner approaches the robed man. He points to you and nods. They both laugh and pound fists in a way you don't understand.

"Welcome to the Land of Lost Letters."

The gates open and the area inside erupts with color. Robed men and women dance around bright fires of green and yellow. Houses line the edges of the open court as far as the eye can see, each marked with letters you can't read. You follow Flanner into the crowd. He grabs a tankard from one of the robed women and hands it to you.

"Drink up, laddie."

You're sick of him calling you laddie. You have a super cool name and HE KNOWS THAT. You put the drink in your inventory.

You break through the central court and between two houses to a dark stone wall.

"Those of the Cult of Lost Letters live their lives from one party to the next. Back in the day they worshipped the letters they represented. All of the letters were logged in the Book of Lost Letters, thought long lost."

Flanner knocks on one of the bricks with a rap tap-tap. The stone recedes, opening the door to a cave below.

"But I found it, laddie." Flanner says. "I found it and it's going to fetch me the prettiest penny in all the land."

You wander through the dark cave. You find 3 gold coins on the ground. You find five arrows. You wish you weren't afraid of the dark.

Finally you arrive in an open chamber. Sitting on a podium in front of you is a worn book. Flanner walks toward it. Stops. He grabs a rock and throws it against the podium. A fireball shoots toward Flanner. He dodges it, but it starts coming for you. You pull out your bow. Shit. That was stupid. Just duck or roll or something. What's the button for duck? I press down on the joystick? It's a joystick how does that even work? Fine.

You duck just in time.

Flanner steps up to the podium and grabs the book. He holds the book above his head and yells, "We're going to be ric-"

He's struck with an arrow in the chest. You turn to see five bowmen and a woman in a short robe. Too short, really.

You pull out your bow and loose three arrows. They drop three bowmen. You finally figure out how to roll and do so toward Flanner, grabbing the book as you dip behind the podium.

"Kill him!" Yells the underdressed lady.

You look above the podium. A shaft leads up to safety. Hanging from the top is a convenient rope on a pulley system attached to something heavy at the top but anchored at the bottom. You take an arrow from your quiver and cut the rope at the bottom of the shaft sending yourself shooting to the top.

The pull throws you out of the tunnel and face first onto the ground. Ouch. You lose 3 health points.


+1 Strength
+3 Intelligence
+1 Agility

Unlocked: No longer afraid of the dark, The ability to read, Better sense of direction

As your face stops hurting and your vision clears, you see a sign ahead of you pointing in opposite directions. One reads "Speaker's Stronghold," the other reads "Maker's March."

Which path do you choose?

A) Speaker's Stronghold
B) Maker's March
C) Sit and cry until the guys from The Cult of Lost Letters come and kill you (not advised)

The choice is yours...

On the two of Barebark,

The Scribe

Live action game trailers

Guys, how do you feel about game trailers are now using real life action? Does it help sell the game?
Here are some examples:


Halo: Reach

Prototype 2

Monday, October 8, 2012

Need to impress that nerdette?

Scott Pilgrim did it, so can you. And let's be real: memorizing useless trivia about video games is better than studying for midterms. Have fun!

The greatest trolls of all time

Despite it being written more for the common reader rather than an online gamer, this article never fails to make me giggle.  It (kinda sorta) goes along with our class discussions on what constitutes a game, because some of these do help you achieve success in the game.  Others, however, are simply wonderful examples of trolling.  I'm sure a lot of you have seen this already, but I figured I'd throw it out there.

11 Nintendo Games that Defined Their Systems

Mashable did a great post  on the some of the best Nintendo Game of all time that in turn made their systems successful. This includes favorites such as Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong Country, and Super Smash Bros Melee.


Number four on the list is Super Mario Bros. 3 and the article explains that some of it's hype was created from The Wizard. "In Dec. 1989, the movie The Wizard hit theaters — it featured extensive footage of Super Mario Bros. 3. The game had been delayed two years between its release in Japan and the U.S., so by the time Super Mario Bros. 3 arrived, fans were ready."

Talk about tie-ins. Apparently it worked because Super Mario Bros. 3 is still considered the most successful selling game for it's time with 17.8 million sales.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Video Game Themed Half Time Show

This is pretty impressive ... even if it is OSU. Also, I think that the positive reactions from the crowd in general shows just how much Video Games are a part of our culture.

Movies & Games

Movies & Games

Are Game-Movies movies really successful? (Tomb Raider, Mortal Kombat, etc)

            In my opinion it varies. When I was younger I thought Mortal Kombat Annihilation was the best action movie-game adventure of all time. However, looking back the movie is just horrible. The plot is horrible.  The movie just doesn’t do it for me. Some games like to take on the exact theme of video games, but production wise this movie just doesn’t appear anything like the game (besides providing the characters from the game). The same can be said about movies being turned into games (E.T.) E.T was a horrible idea and investment for a game in the 80’s. In short, the movie will never be better than the book and if the movie is better than the book, then this is an author/writer issue or today’s population lacking imagination.  Game-Movies need originality and personality. There should be a human characteristic or value in game-movies that will engage audiences.  For example, take the movie the Wizard Of Oz, although not a game-movie, or super realistic the movie --- there was a lion, a tin man and a scarecrow, but it was there human like feelings and their wants that made America love these characters. Similarly, the game Mortal Kombat is futuristic and supernatural, however, for me, the movie is lacking authenticity. This movie may have provided the cliché love plot, the action fights but for me the movie lacked realism.  This is probably not the strongest argument, however, there are movies today that have mastered both game and movie effect quite well. To name a few, the Resident Evil series and Scott Pilgrim VS World achieved the authenticity and realistic attribute, while adding game elements to them. 

Mortal Kombat  - Movie Trailer

Fun movie trailer, but nothing is amusing about this movie besides Liu Kang's girlfriend!