Videogames of the Oppressed focused on many ideas but one interesting point was the lack of video game simulation of social and/or political context. The article itself was written back in 2004 so the author might be surprised by the ongoing maturity of video games. While many big blockbuster video games of late focus on saving Earth from intergalactic villains or running over pedestrians, online flash games and indie games have show unique story-telling.
Two flash games, whose names are impossible to find current, come to mind. One of them has the user playing as a soldier escorting a citizen through a beautiful South Pacific landscape. At the end of this lengthy walk similar to that of Passage, the user must decide whether or not to kill the citizen or let them free. If the user allows the citizen to live, his character returns back to the village to be killed. The purpose of the flash game was to educate about the horrors of genocide that also took place in the South Pacific in the 1970′s. Another game starts off as man getting ready for work. The player plays as a middle-age man preparing for work in New York City. The player can make a wide variety of small decisions throughout the journey. However, no matter what, the player arrives at work only to realize that the date is September 11th, 2001 and the man works at the World Trade Center. Both games has the user active participate in the simulation of the game; however, the ending of both games has the user sit back and critically assess life. Whether it is about the tragedies of genocide and war, or the fragility of life and how short it can be, the user is forced to come to a conclusion about his or her own life. As games continue to mature as well as the progression of the modern day gamer, it would not be surprising to see simulation and critical thinking to fully merge in the future.
One of the resounding sentiments seen in the first readers’ posts as well as comments in Tuesday’s class is the limitless definition of art. Many students have said that art “lacks a definition” and have “undefined boundaries”. But to what point does art stop being art in video games? I understand that hardcore games have artistic sense to them as well as some casual games, but what about simplistic games? Many argued that there is art in all games but I have to disagree. I feel that at some point games are no longer art. Tetris is an example of my opinion on art. The game is simply stacking blocks in a confined area. I feel no emotion or wonder when I play Tetris. The same goes for computer games like Solitaire and Minesweeper. Those games possess no real defining contributions to art.
A game came out recently for Playstation 3 users over the server called Journey. The game is about a silent protagonist that travels on a pilgrimage in the desert to discover themselves. The game radiates beauty and inspires thoughts and feelings. Many players, including yours truly, were deeply moved by the artistic feel of the game. Feelings of wonder and loneliness are felt when traversing across the barren, yet vivid landscape. This game is truly art. So I agree with Roger Ebert in the sense that art inspires feelings, including sadness. So while games like Journey or Limbo are art, games like Hearts and Backgammon are not because of the lack of emotional depth. Unless you cry bitter tears because of a bad click in Minesweeper.
Casual or hardcore, I cannot decide what this game is. The game is called Infinity Blade 2 and already critics are in love with this fun iPhone game. The game combines hardcore elements like a negative fiction setting, high graphics and plenty of action. However, the game also has casual characteristics like interruptibility, usability, and juiciness. A female friend of mine is addicted to the game and admits that she plays five to ten minutes at work or in class. So is this the beginning of a crossing over of video game types? Decide for yourself with this video.
These are the words crooned by doo-wop sensation Rudy West on The Five Key’s track of the same name. The phrase is an idiom about how something can be so easily dismissed if it is not in direct view. This idiom is brought up in modern times because of a little place in China called Shenzhen.
I never really thought, nor cared, about the original origins of my many electronics. I always had the fantastic dream of little robots carefully crafting, ever so precise and diligently, the very laptop, phone and iPods in my possession. My dream was not ruined until recently thanks to a short segment on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Stewart used his comedic charm to shed a light, while a humorous one, on a very serious topic. I was fully surprised by the report. I typically thought manufacturing plants for electronics were housed with numerous robots. I also thought sweat shops were located in the tropical Pacific in old, ruined wooden shacks. I never realized I could imagine something so completely wrong. After a few quick glimpses of their living arrangements, I believed that they were being treated very well. A beautiful neon city with better-than-expected living styles. Then I heard the details. Twelve hour shifts. Non-existent breaks. Constant work days. Hopelessness. Suicides. I was appalled that such things could happen. Even now, revisiting the subject and listening to the shocking details, I am still engrossed as to how this could happen.
Then I remembered, “ignorance is bliss”. I never cared about where things came from as long as I could have it. All I wanted is the new iPod or the new gaming console, not thinking of the consequences. A sick feeling comes over me at the idea that some part of this tragedy is partly my fault. Even if it is a little bit. I think the worst part is I will forget this and continue the vicious cycle of consumer goods. Hopefully, I can be like the character at the end of Five Key’s song in which Rudy West sings,
“Out of sight, but not out of my mind.”
- The bane of my childhood
One of the most passionate subjects mentioned during Tuesday’s lecture was that of cheating. Most students were able to express their distaste for cheating and for those who cheat; however, a definite explanation of the true meaning of the despicable action was not warranted. I believe this is because cheating has multiple meanings and variations.
First-reader MLAGANA touched on a sentiment I hold dear. Cheating is unfair and takes away from experience. An example of this is a glitch in the game Skyrim. In the game, there is a book that when used will grant the player +1 skill points in a certain field. The book if placed on a shelf, used again, but quickly discarded, allows the player to reuse the +1 skill point trick even though the original intention was an one use gift. I admit that after playing countless hours of the game I decided to use the glitch. To my astonishment, my character reached max level and dominated the rest of the game fairly easily. No sooner than after playing the game for two hours with my deity-like warrior, I stopped playing. Why? The game lost its luster. I no longer had an incentive to continue playing; thus, weakening my desire to play even more. By cheating, I was deprived of the expectation of a thrilling adventure. On the other hand, cheating has also allowed for careless fun and unfair advantages. The biggest example I can think of is any of the recent Grand Theft Auto games. I am hard press to find a person who did not use a cheat in the game. The idea of flying in an invincible helicopter, raining down fire in a faux New York City is tantalizing. I admit that the GTA games are only fun when used with the cheats. Do I feel any regrets for doing so? No, yet again, the main experience is gone although a new one is created.
I will reiterate again; I am not for cheating. I believe that hardships are meant to demoralize the player, but also to give them meaning and purpose to overcome. One of my favorite games in my childhood was Ghosts N’ Goblins. The game was brutal to me as a kid , but I loved it. The difficulty enthralled me and passing a level gave me a whole new sense of accomplishment. While I myself will not use cheats for the majority of games, I do acknowledge they are there and accept them for what they are: an easy solution.