Wednesday, April 23, 2014

23/4

§BIOWARE
Garrus Vakarian is the Mass Effect series.
http://www.unwinnable.com/2014/04/14/garrus-and-the-turians/#.U1M6c4VOKHh

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Comparing Baldur’s Gate II’s romances to Mass Effect’s is not only an interesting way to look at how BioWare as a company has changed over the past twelve years, but also the way that gamer culture and video games in general have changed.
http://ontologicalgeek.com/from-jaheira-to-liara-a-brief-survey-of-bioware-romances/




§DESIGN
And yet, parenthood as described by videogames on a whole generally tells us this is what children are: dreadfully bothersome creatures who suck up all your energy and tolerance, baited with rewards.
/.../
BioShock Infinite’s vision of parenthood is finding someone of a younger generation to help you do the things you were doing anyway, indistinguishable from a minion but for your tone of voice. In this manner, your daughter is a walking, talking pair of pants that give your bullets fire damage. The Last of Us carries a similar message more expertly told.
/.../
Still, she plays second fiddle to Joel because, ultimately, the game revolves around Joel growing up
/.../
So to the extent that BioShock Infinite and TLOU are about parenthood, they conceive it as control. Two of the biggest games of recent years dealing with a narrative as old as humanity, and this is the best they can figure: two father-figures to whom a daughter is but a mechanism for their own wish-fulfillment.
http://normallyrascal.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/parenthood/

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The primary approach we'll be looking at is a series of questions that storytellers can ask themselves to help create story ideas, interesting scenarios, player characters, and all that humus.
http://playersdelight.blogspot.se/2014/04/how-to-develop-interactive-story-idea.html

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Comedic Games - Can We Make More Funny Games? - Extra Credits
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh_kdu8LnvE

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We have progressed to the point where we are brave enough to ask, if we take away the > prompt, is it still interactive fiction that we are playing?

Twine is just one way of asking this question. Inklewriter and ChoiceScript ask it in similar sorts of ways; StoryNexus, Versu, and Seltani come at different angles.
http://storycade.com/war-pestilence-famine-death-twine/

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Design/war has to change, to stay new, to always be one step ahead of the player/protagonist, and so the real question is not “how did Kojima land here?” but rather “can Kojima think his way out of this?” In the drive for new narrative elements, Kojima has written himself into a creative corner. What we’re seeing isn’t just the product of a sexist world view, but instead a designer who, in his attempt to invent, to push, to surprise his audience, ends up going to a powerfully regressive and brutally violent place.
http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/04/ground-zeroes-the-sexual-violence-of-metal-gear-so.html

§

So there you have it. Thomas Was Alone and Dark Souls 2. Same game, basically. Because psychology.
http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2014/04/thomass-dark-soul-is-alone/





§ZELDA
Because it calls Link’s will into question, because it’s tinged with uncertainty, and because it captures the illogical flow of a dream, Link’s Awakening feels more human than other Zelda games.
/.../
Link has no grand reason to follow the owl or to wake up the fish—it’s not the Virtuous Thing To Do, just a possible route off the island. As in the haze of sleep, the only choice is to go forward despite a dearth of logic.
/.../
Since it’s so easy to get swept up in this push, it takes a while to realize that Link’s actions aren’t necessarily good. The townspeople were just fine without Link (except for the occasional dognapping). The monsters who guard the musical instruments aren’t causing problems for anyone. Link is the one storming into their homes, breaking their things, and taking away their drums and violins.
/.../
Dreams don’t make sense. They’re forces of nature, beyond our control. They’re human, and by that measure alone, Link’s Awakening transcends its staid fantasy roots. Whether the game is Link’s dream or the Wind Fish’s, they both face something that many of us confront every morning when we emerge from our dreams into another, supposedly more meaningful reality.
http://www.avclub.com/article/when-zelda-traded-heroism-murky-morality-dreams-203416





§DEPRESSION
Errant Signal - Actual Sunlight + Depression Quest (Spoilers)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=js1OsJZq2Vg




§COMMUNITY
Game Theory: Flappy Bird, PewDiePie, and Pasta Sauce
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw

§

Shenmue's moment has passed, and as intoxicating as its grounded, gloriously detailed open worlds were at the turn of the century, it's hard to see one man isolated from the industry recapturing their grandeur for an audience spoiled by Skyrim and Los Santos, regardless of whatever budget comes his way. The Last Guardian, meanwhile, could suffer similarly: when Team Ico's last effort came out nearly a decade ago, it was a time when more esoteric, ethereal and overtly artful games were something of a rarity.
/.../
Yet either way, the world of games has become so broad, so varied and so dynamic in Half-Life's absence that the idea of a bespectacled scientist redefining that world all over again seems impossibly quaint - and it leads me to believe that, should that day ever arise, my response won't be an excited scream, but rather a resigned sigh.
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-04-12-i-never-want-to-play-shenmue-3-half-life-3-or-the-last-guardian

§

It is unlikely Luftrausers will undergo any major aesthetic change as a result of what Simins and Dubbin said, but the conclusion of this exchange brings a better understanding of what Vlambeer intended by creating Luftrausers. No one has to agree with either side, but our understanding of Luftrausers’ place in game culture was deepened.

That’s not controversy. That’s criticism, and I wish we had way more of it.

http://patrickklepek.tumblr.com/post/82006821614/help-me-out-i-dont-understand-how-people-could-be

§

In Sweden, politicians are learning to settle their differences the civilized way: with video games.
http://www.dailydot.com/esports/starcraft-sweden-political-tournament/


§QUEER
In these shaky times, it is perhaps appropriate to recount to ourselves why a male protagonist is simply impossible in videogames, and pray that this reminder will usher dissent back to the hell from which it spawned.
/.../
3. You would have to implement unruly testicle physics which is currently very tough to design for. All that flopping about when a male is physically active can make for very inappropriate content. On that note, randomly generated erections test negatively with focus groups, and nobody can figure out how to implement ‘the character accidentally sitting on himself’ as a game mechanic.
/.../
6. Males are a notoriously diverse bunch – it’s highly unlikely that any one male character will sit perfectly well with every male player. Since someone probably won’t like him, this places developers in a lose/lose situation avoidable only by abstaining entirely. That’s why every videogame cast consists solely of inoffensive abstracted geometry.
/.../
10. Males are typically busy at being politicians and talking about snooker, so they generally do not fall within the contexts of most videogame settings. Such fun-hating character traits seldom lend themselves well to home entertainment. Most games, meanwhile, center around flighty adventures that ultimately save the world, for which female protagonists are far more realistic and believable, given their innate romanticism.
/.../
19. The gender of the main character of a videogame is trivial - it may as well be one as the other. To place so much value on it is to overstate the whole subject.

20. On the importance of the main character’s gender, it is simply unforgivable to compromise the artistic vision of a team of 300 designers, programmers, artists and so on, working in conjunction with publishers, investors, shareholders, testers, researchers and so on, who all coincidentally have the same vision from the get-go and never have to compromise with one another or pursue such bourgeois trifles as commercial success.
http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/14954/article/why-we-can-t-have-male-leads-in-videogames/

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There have been plenty of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes reviews, some of which have been greatly revered and lauded as brilliant pieces of writing but, barring the Telegraph’s review, they have all failed to do so much as acknowledge the existence of tape number 4 which depicts rape and child rape.

/.../
The whole of Ground Zeroes is simply a catalyst, a back story for the upcoming Phantom Pain. Paz and Chico’s rapes function only to further Snake’s story, to give him a reason for revenge and to have been in a coma. They are victims for the sake of the progression of another character; the scenes are careless, clumsy and childish. In his desperation to achieve “what movies and novels have achieved” Kojima has created a piece of work that shows complete disdain for the only female character in the game, a fetishisation of Paz’s pain and has failed to create any meaningful portrayal of sexual violence.
http://introskeptive.wordpress.com/2014/04/08/chicos-tape-4/



Friday, April 11, 2014

11/4

§TEXTS
We’ve bought into the idea that storytelling is about a journey to an endpoint, an authored destination. The real destination is the creation of meaning, whether that be the reader’s interpretation or reconstructing the author’s intent.
/.../
Hypertext tales are often sold as games of choices, of agency, of your version of the narrative – when it would be better to embrace what they are good at, which is telling a different kind of fiction: one which is host to multiple narratives, narrative superposition for want of a better term, from which meaning can be derived.
http://www.electrondance.com/stop-crying-about-choice/

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"I HATE how people who aren't straight white cisgender men are treated in the game industry. I HATE that so many women can't come to a professional event without getting hit on by some creepy dude… and I HATE that it never, ever happens to me. I mean, who even thinks this? Shouldn't I feel happy that I'm not getting hit on?! No, I feel like SHIT. I start to wonder, what's wrong with me? I clearly don't look manly or bearded or stubbly enough, so I don't get to be treated like a real human, but I'm also not hot enough for any of their creepy attention. I'm like invisible or something."
/.../
"I didn't last in the industry very long, as you can probably imagine," Deirdra Kiai continues after a long pause. "I was pushed over to the margins, where I quietly worked alone on my own projects, desperately struggling to find my voice."
"They could exclude me all they wanted, but they couldn't stop me from making games."
/.../
"I've been able to do these things, but only IN SPITE of the industry's social pressure not to. Imagine what I could have done if I'd been encouraged instead of IGNORED. Imagine how many other brilliant, talented people could be making weird, wonderful games along WITH ME."
http://tmi.kotaku.com/making-games-is-easy-belonging-is-hard-1551649858

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...if the factors that lead to replay do not exist solely “in the games themselves” that does not mean they aren’t worth talking about – indeed, as Fern├índez-Vara’s insights show, the middle-ground between game and player is fundamental to a “game-type experience” as such.  This paper admits both to the elusive and idiosyncratic nature of replay value, while attempting a tentative outline for a mode in which replay value may be described and analyzed.
http://www.firstpersonscholar.com/the-games-people-replay/





§VIDEOS
Top 5 Reasons Game Reviews Don't Matter | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzkVlQ3nlVM

§

Game Theory: Are Gamers Killing Video Games?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cxhs-GLE29Q

§

Is VR the future of Gaming? A look at nearly every VR device shown at GDC.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2myY_pQEMk

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Net Neutrality - What a Closed Internet Means for Games - Extra Credits
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQtiIazfoQM






§DATA
A new study out of Ohio State University is suggesting that playing aggressive, Black characters in video games might make people who already have a tendency towards racism more racist.
http://www.samanthablackmon.net/notyourmamasgamer/?p=4882

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Some data available from games with moral decision systems show that gamers are generally unwilling to play as evil characters. In a study, over 1000 gamers were surveyed to see how the average player interacts with a game system that allows the player to choose a "good" or "evil" path through a game story. The finding was that the average gamer prefers to be good or heroic in such games. Gamers are most interested in exploring a character whose moral choices closely match to their own. However, those players that experience a game for the second time are then more likely to choose evil. The article includes an exploration of which actions gamers felt particularly evil, and what kind of choices turn out to be more difficult for them.
http://gamescriticism.org/articles/lange-1-1/