After playing “You have to burn the rope” in class, Jake, Catey and I discussed how the game did not appear to be a casual game at all. It is short, simple, and really just makes fun of hard core games because of how short and simple the quest is. After our discussion, it made me rethink what casual games really do for the videogame industry. They are not “casual” because of their simplicity, but rather because they do not necessitate a background in hard core gaming in order for them to be enjoyable. In other words, casual gaming is simply the videogame industry’s attempt to show the people who aren’t hard core gamers that gaming can be fun. However, there is a fine line that developers tread when trying to make games that reach out to casual gamers, because if they do too much of this, they will alienate the hard core gamers who gave the industry their start. Games that worry me are games like “The Crossing,” which as we discussed in class, has very little depth after the first minute of playing time which is spent figuring out all the possibilities for what one can do in the game (and the rest of the playing time is spent trying to figure out while you’re still playing…). It is one thing if games like “The Crossing” are aimed at a specific audience (such as kids), but as developers continue to spend time creating games that appeal to the casual gamer, they must be sure to keep the hard core gamer happy as well. There is a lot of money to be found in developing games for things like the iPhone (as Mitchel mentioned in his post), or the Wii-ware games for the Nintendo Wii. However, the industry needs to keep high standards for these games, or else the casual game industry could end up repeating the initial failure that was created when too many bad video games started coming out for the Atari. Casual games are great, but developers must continue to push the industry in ways of innovation, so it must remember that quality is better than quantity, and that creating good casual games and good hard core games now will make the big money in the long run (even if creating a lot of simple games now may make a lot of money in the short run).
I have not fully chosen my final project topic yet, but I have thought about trying to do one on the game “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.” Some of the topics that I would like to discuss include what direction the game has taken the series in from a violence/dark theme standpoint ( the game recieved a T rating, a first for the LOZ series), and how the game was released on two systems, most notably the Nintendo Wii so that the developers could utilize the motion control interface of the system. One of the reasons I have not fully decided on whether or not the game will be my topic is because when I tried to search for relevant scholarly articles on the game, very few references came up. A question that I have is that if I cannot find many outside articles written on a specific game, is it ok if I just go through an analyzation of the game while referencing concepts raised by Koster, Galloway, and the other writers whose pieces we have read throughout the semester, or do I need to find new references entirely for my paper? I know the game itself very well (I have beaten it multiple times), but am just not sure if I should put the time into trying to write a paper about it if necessary resources are not available to make it possible.
While searching for countergames online (which google did not cooperate with very well unfortunately) I came across a game entitled “Anti-Pacman” (Google responded slightly better to me searching under anti-games than it did to me searching under countergames). In the game, instead of controlling pacman, the player actually controls the four ghosts. The objective is to corner pacman with the ghosts before he can complete the level. This is a lot harder than it sounds since the player can only control where one ghost is headed at a time, and therefore needs to switch between ghosts quite frequently. To this point, the game seems like it is just a role reversal remake of the game, but there is one more catch: if pacman eats one of the ghosts (after turning them blue obviously) that the player is controlling, it does not respawn until one beats the level. This makes things extremely difficult, as one must always keep at least two ghosts alive in order to be able to corner pacman. While this game does not appear to be a true mod of another game, it is definitely a mod of the original idea of the game, and therefore is a countergame in some senses. Here is the url of the game if you would like to try it (for some reason it wouldn’t let me create a link to it, so you’ll have to copy and paste it into you browser window):
The game gets significantly harder after the first few levels (the speed of the game gets to be quite rediculous), so let me know if how far you’re able to get if you choose to play it.
I found the Koster Chapter “Different fun for different folks” to be quite intriguing. While I had considered personality types when thinking about the types of friends people gravitate towards and the jobs people are naturally good at, I had never thought about how they could affect the video games one is drawn towards playing. Koster mentions how different methods of personality sorting, such as the ones from the Myers-Briggs formulas, can say a lot about the types of games one prefers. I have taken the Myers-Briggs test before, so I decided it might be fun to try to relate my personality type that it gave me with the games that I typically play. I have tested ENFJ every time I have taken the test (I have even taken different versions of the test to see if it would come out different), which is the type known as “The Giver.” ENFJ’s are known for their desire to be extremely socially oriented and primarily gain satisfaction in life through their relationships with others and their ability to help other people who they have these relatiships with. When playing video games, there are a few types of games that I typically play: sports games, first person shooters, and adventure games. Out of the sports games that I play (Madden, Mario soccer, and the SSX snowboarding series to name a few) , I usually only play them enough to get to a point where I consider myself “good” at the game (which usually means I can compete with my friends to an extent that I feel that I am comparable or better than them). I sometimes beat these games, but much of the time I do not require myself to do so because I see no ultimate meaning in these games beyond the pure enjoyment of getting good at the game, other than the ability to have a good time playing the game with my friends (so often I only play these sports games with my friends). The same can be said of the FPS’s that I play: I will only take the time to beat the game if the story line is compelling enough for me to feel the need to complete it (meaning I feel like the people in my game really need my help and I therefore must beat the game to help them), otherwise I only play them with friends. The adventure games that I play are the exception to the social aspect that I seem to have with video games (meaning that I really only play the other games so that I can enjoy playing them with friends). However, the adventure games also appear to fit my personality type, just in a different way. When I thought about the specific adventure games that I play, they all include some compelling story line of helping others or saving the world (or both). These games include The Legend of Zelda series and the Pokemon games, both of which require the player to perform numerous tasks that directly help the people in the game, and ultimately lead to saving the world (or Hyrule of course) in some way. I found it very interesting that I appear to fit the stereotype of my personality type so much in the games that I enjoy, and would be very interested to hear if other people in the class found similar results when considering their personality in relation to the types of games that they play.
After considering what we discussed in class as the “subjective view” of specific characters in film, I quickly was able to think of movies I had seen that used this view to great effect (Fight Club especially as I mentioned in class). However, I struggled to think of instances where this came into play in any video games that I had played. Upon further (and deeper) thinking though, I found that I was simply missing the way that the elements fit together in the games I have played. For example, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess uses the subjective view in that there are certain parts of the game that can only be seen when the player transforms Link into a wolf and triggers his “wolf vision.” This really made me think of the advantages that there are to using the subjective view in a video game. A developer can make an entire game, and then with a simple upgrade or a change to some other kind of point of view, the game can be completely changed. In a sense, any kind of game that has places that cannot be reached until the player gets certain upgrades or have completed tasks use the subjective view, as they player is forced to go about the video game inhibited by the limited abilities of the character(s) they control. Having never studied the subjective view before this class, I must say that it is something that is incredibly important to the art of story telling in both film and games (as well as literature), and have realized that it is an integral part of each of these genres that while having seen it used, I had never before grasped its importance.
While browsing through a few different Google searches about Interactive Fiction, I stumbled upon an article that delves into answering a question which I have been wanting an answer to since I found out about this genre of gaming (which was when we began studying it in class). The article is actually entitled “What Makes a Good Text Adventure Game,” and a link can be found here if you care to read it. Personally, I have always been drawn to the video games which I consider to be the “best” of their genre or type, and therefore I was very interested in an answer what a good “IF” game is (since I am only just figuring out what the games are period). The article discusses how a large vocabulary, as well as the ability to enter enough words into the game to make things specific are extremely important to making a good game. It also talks about how “good error handling” is very important, as the author notes (and I have even found from my little experience in IF games) it can be very difficult to know what is wrong with the words that I am entering without specific instruction as to what is wrong about them. The article also mentions some generic aspects of gaming that IF games should have such as a compelling story line to keep the player interested, as well as for the game to run at a fast rate so that the player does not become bored with it (although the author says this is almost outdated due to the pace that current games run). After reading the article, I have gained a much better perspective about IF games, and how they compare and contrasts to other genres we have studied in what makes them a “good” video game.
I understood a decent amount of the reading from Galloway, but a lot of the lingo made things hard to understand. I felt like I was able to get the gist of what he was trying to say due to the context, but after as more and more words I had never even seen came into the picture, this became harder as the reading went on. The concepts that he is getting across could be explained in simpler terms in my opinion, but since he is obviously not writing to appeal to a casual audience, it makes sense why he uses the language that he does. Below is an example of a passage I found confusing:
“One example is multithreading and object oriented programming that creates the conditions of possibility for certain formal outcomes in the game. When one plays State of Emergency, the swarm effect of rioting is a formal action enacting by the game on the experience of gameplay and incorporated into the game’s narrative. Yet the formal quality of swarming as such is still nondiegetic to the extent that it finds its genesis primarily in the current logic of informatics (emergence, social networks, artificial life, and so on) rather than in any necessary element in the narrative, itself enlisted to “explain” and incorporate this nondiegetic force into the story line (a riot) after the fact.” (32-33)
I can take enough out of this passage to talk about it, but not to explain what exactly he means.. I think that what he doing is explaining a way that game developers program certain scenarios to seem somewhat random, even though they aren’t, but I could also be totally off because I get lost in his rhetoric. I did enjoy much of the reading though (the parts that I understood at least), and was happy that I recognized/had played many of the games that he mentioned throughout the chapter.
As discussed in class, each console has its own set of limitations depending on multiple factors. While we concentrated mainly on that Atari 2600, some of the current generation consoles were mentioned as well, and I felt that it would be pertinent to see what people were saying about the limitations of the today’s current consoles. Another topic that ties in with discussing the limitations of a console is the idea of porting games from one console to another. I had briefly made a comment about this during class, talking about the Madden franchise and how EA is now developing games for the Wii from the ground up, rather simply porting xbox 360 or PS3 versions with lower graphics and less in game content. What I had not considered was that there are a lot of people complaining about the limitations developers are encountering between the two higher powered consoles of the current generation. In the article I found (which can be accessed here), it discusses that many gamers are complaining that certain PS3 games are getting more content than the xbox 360 versions, even though this is due to circumstances beyond the control of the developers. These circumstances include the fact that the PS3 discs can hold 40GB more than those of the xbox 360 (due to the PS3 being blu-ray compatible), which the writer notes allows developers to do things such as run subtitles and live speech simultaneously. It also appears that developers compensate for the longer time it takes to create games for the PS3 by giving the games added content as compared to their counterparts on the 360. This has caused certain gamers to cry foul by labeling this as unfair. What do you think, is it a fair trade off that the owners of a PS3 get more content since they have to wait longer to play the game? And should the developer really be blamed for taking advantage of the fact that they can do more with a game on a more powerful system than on a less powerful one? Some may say a developer should push the system as far as they can, but others are not so keen on the idea if it means the version on their system does not get all the bells and whistles of the ‘better’ developed version.
As discussed in class, there are many different ideas about how “play” and “game” are defined. An important point to understand is that every individual has a different viewpoint of what both “play” and “game” mean, because what people identify as “fun” differs greatly from person to person. However, whenever there is something that one defines as a game, it goes without saying that there will be playing involved in said game (for that person at least). What struck me about the reading was the concept that Koster brought up about how a game should neither be too hard, nor too easy. This leads one to consider the type of games they have played throughout their lives and why they played them. It also leads to the simple, yet essential insight that there must be some aspect to any kind of game that keeps the player interested. As we discussed, the point at which the player of the game loses interest due to the game being too hard, to easy, or too repetitive, is the point where that game no longer serves the purpose that games are created for: to give the player enjoyment. Enjoyment is the most important end to videogames, because if the game is not enjoyable, then to the person playing it, it simply becomes like any other task or chore they partake in. Therefore, while it is impossible to define what a game actually is universally (since the definition differs depending on the individual), it is logical to say that a game must provide some type of fun or enjoyment to the player, or else it is no longer serving its original purpose. And at this point, to the player, it is no longer a game at all.