Author Archives: bburkha1

Giants Give You Faith.

So I know we’re done with blogs, but I finally have something pertinent that I want to share. We were discussing Jane McGonigal’s lecture on how video games will save the world. She was discussing how we need it to begin translating to real life. After having this discussion in class I went to a concert in DC at Constitution Hall where Lights was playing. Lights is this chick from Canada who sings electro pop music and does her own thing. Anyways she was prefacing her song Lions! from her newer CD with the story behind it. Basically she wrote it about her experiences playing World of Warcraft. She is a big gamer and loves the game (she even has her sword in the game tattoo’d on her arm). She went on to dedicate the song to her Guild who came out to support her, but anyway the point of this post is that the task McGonigal has before her isn’t impossible. With games, their lessons, the skills gained, and the beliefs learned infiltrating society all around us with a “I can apply the gaming world to my life” attitude, McGonigal’s aspirations will happen in no time. Lights is a bunch of people’s role model. The tides are turning and McGonigal isn’t the only one working towards this goal (whether Lights realizes it or not). Lights has hundreds of people learning from her and that will take the messages learned in WoW and other video games and will apply them to their own lives.

ARGs… I want in :)

So I was fascinated by the articles on ARG’s and the fact that 9 Inch Nails did a game for their fans. I think this is an amazing idea and something I’ve been in love with since first being introduced to the topic. I am a puzzle person [as many people are] and have always wished that novels such as The DaVinci Code and National Treasure were real. In Jane McGonigal’s interview she outlines four main things that make people happy. I would agree that these points do make people happy, but I think that there are other things such as thrill, ie. the release of adrenaline and the endorphins that come with adrenaline, that can increase human happiness. I know that the excitement I would get from playing a game like that would be something that would increase my happiness and give me purpose in a bigger goal (which is exactly as McGonigal points out). ARG’s are not only a wonderful recent addition to society in a much more global world, but also an amazing teaching tool. The puzzles are too complex to solve individually, so the cooperation aspect is a must and the people who are involved must learn how to collaborate to accomplish a common goal. I think it’s an amazing opportunity and am upset I haven’t been involved in one yet. Will I be involved in the next one. You betcha – will I contribute, probably not I’m not an expert at anything, but will I enjoy tracking the progress of such a huge collaborative effort. Definitely.

Final Project…?

I really have not decided concretely on any specific topic. I want to use the Sims 3 to explore societal impact and something along those lines. I know there are a great deal of scholarly resources on the topic as I ran into them while working on the inquiries. I think that the platform is high enough and know that I would definitely have to narrow my topic down to actually be able to make an argument that can be presented in 6 minutes and 40 seconds. The narrowing will come once I’ve been able to explore the game a bit more. The reason I chose this is because I don’t have any systems here at school. I have my N64, but not many good games (my brother lost them all :/ what a n00b). I have my laptop and Sims 3 and also the regular Sims with the expantion packs so I could contrast them in that capacity as well. I think the most difficult thing will be narrowing topic because the Sims is such a broad game with a great deal of societal impact.

Great in Theory, Could be Better in Practice…

So I after playing the socially conscious games, I was intrigued but a bit confused still. I found the Darfur game to be the most confusing. I don’t know if it was just me, but I ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, and ran, and ran. But there was no where to run to? Maybe it was because after four minutes of running in one direction with no change of scenery/landscape other than outpacing the janjaweed’s car I decided to change direction and ended up being caught. But who’s to say. I felt like there was no way to get to the water. No one told me where the water was or showed me how to collect it. And when I did try to hide, the Janjaweed found me hiding behind my barrel that I was supposed to put water in. I understand that this may be very close to the situation in Darfur. You are a sitting duck if caught by the Janjaweed while away from your family out collecting water, but there was no sort of explanation to go with it so I wasn’t sure if I was even playing it right or if I was just terrible at the game. A game with a social impact needs to have a message attached. I didn’t play until the end of the game, I’m not even certain there is any one particular ending, but I found it interesting none-the-less. The second game, Stop Disasters,  had more of a sim city feel to it. I found I was frustrated with this game because I have no knowledge of floods and don’t know how to protect against them. I put up enough housing for all the people in my town, yet 4 of them died anyway. I think if maybe there was a little information prior to the game play, people would learn something about their own preparation for themselves and their communities. That could be a valuable asset to any community.

I think the socially conscious games have a good idea, but need to be better implemented or executed. If there is more of an explaination it would go a lot farther for the cause. I understand it’s still a game. But Carmen Sandiago NEEDS the information in order to be as successful as it is. Make it a learning game like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiago and you’re set.

I may be a n00b, but clouds… really?

Prior to this class I played my fair share of video games, you definitely have to being the only girl in a family of three. I might have played video games, but that doesn’t mean I understood how they worked. Sure I could blow on the cartridge to get the N64 games to work and I can make sure the yellow cable is matched up to the yellow cable and the red to the red, but I was still your stereotypical n00b, and still am. I know absolutely nothing about game design or modding.

That’s not to say I don’t find it interesting, but all I knew about “patches” and “mods” were that super smart genius gamer people could do it if they could hack things. Apparently, it turns out most of that is true, but fans can be the hackers which I found surprising. I thought it was very interesting in the Galloway chapter that mods could range from creating a whole new game out of a game mod or i could just mean playing around with the visual aesthetics and making new levels. I know that I have absolutely no right to judge anyone on a gamic level, because I am a n00b, but I do feel it’s necessary.

I don’t get why anyone would want to take Super Mario and strip everything out of it until there is nothing but clouds left. I get creating a whole new game out of something, and maybe creating clouds just something that beginners to when mod-ing, but I’m of the opinion go big or go home. At least create a new map with new interactions for the characters to complete. Maybe even just new skins for the characters so you can make a satire with your friends a put it on youtube, but stripping everything down so there are only clouds just seems stupid.

If you click on the cloud link you can see exactly what Cory Arcangel created for his mod. Personally when I read about it I had super high expectations for an amazing new version of super mario, but I guess the reason I chose to post this is so that everyone else can see how pointless it is.

If Nintendo Made Halo 3

While browsing, I stumbled across this video which takes a commonly know FPS game, Halo, and emphasizes the RPG aspect of it. The video shows how very popular vintage Nintendo games can be played within Halo 3 (Pokemon Snap, Starfox, Pac Man, Pokemon, and Mario) . I primarily found it interesting that the FPS aspect of a video game could be entirely stripped, and that older games could be played within Halo, so long as you knew what you were doing.

The Looks

Throughout the entire first half of this chapter, I found myself thinking of movies I’d seen that had the different “views” in them. It brought up thoughts of the TV show The Office, the movie Cloverfield, and others that Galloway had mentioned throughout the chapter such as the Terminator and the Matrix.

I found the idea of using the “fourth look” as an extremely rare case pretty ironic as it is used quite often in television today. Jim Halpert, of The Office, is famous for looking into the camera when something ridiculous happens or is said and giving his “well what are you gonna do about it” face with his shoulder shrug. Maybe because I’m such a huge fan of The Office, do I even notice this – but after reading Galloway’s article, there really are very few other shows or movies that incorporate a forth look consistently, other than Galloway’s example of the Terminator.

I know there were mixed reviews about Cloverfeild, but I personally thought it was amazing. As soon as Galloway brought up the differences between subjective and POV camera shots, I began to think about my experience with movies done in this style. Cloverfield was one I had trouble with, simply because Galloway didn’t give any insight as to where “documentaries”  or documentary-like films would fall into place within this breakdown of looks. (Paranormal activity would be another movie done in documentary format.) After thinking about it I decided it has to be POV, because it’s not claiming to be through their eyes, just having the same sight lines as the main characters. Also they do film themselves and give themselves face time on the camera which indicates that it isn’t through their eyes as they don’t use mirrors to film themselves.

I just found the breakdown of shot-types to be very interesting as I’ve never taken any film classes before. Unfortunately I hadn’t seen any of the Hitchcock movies referenced or the Lady in the Lake, so I had to draw my own examples from experience, but think that in doing so and critically thinking about placement of pseudo documentary-type films within the “look” spectrum allowed me a better understanding of the Galloway chapter.

Robot Unicorn Attack!

When I think of games and music, I think of emotions. I think of how I get invested in games due to the music. I think music is one of the easiest ways for people to connect. When I think of successful games I immediately think of the songs I associate with them, that may just be me, but I think a lot of other people do it as well.

I also feel like music adds to a game and can really make or break a game. One game that I’m sure would be “meh” on it’s own, but is amazing because of the music is Adult Swim’s Robot Unicorn Attack:

Commo Say What?

So I was expecting the worst from this Galloway character as was the rest of the class. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I’m not saying I got all of it, cause that by no means happened; but did I get most of it? I’d like to think so. I think his specific examples really helped a great deal with understanding, especially with all his new fangled jargon.

I’ll admit the reading did take me about 2 hours to get through. Way longer than I’d like to admit, but I was determined to understand it, partially because I’d been told I wouldn’t. The reading involved a great deal of Google Search “Define …” but I did eventually piece together what Galloway was in fact trying to say. While I understood most of the words, the big picture did escape me in some of his points.

On Page 31, Galloway states, “Following Huizinga, these actions have the ability to destroy the game from without, to disable its logic. But at the same time, they are often the most constitutive category of game acts, for they have the ability to define the outer boundaries of aesthetics in gaming, the degree zero for an entire medium.”

I understand the first sentence completely, probably because I have seen my brother freak out all too many times due to our internet lagging while he is playing Nazi Zombies with his friends on X-Box Live. The second sentence leaves me in a stupor cause even as I try to puzzle through this, I come up with nothing. I guess the way I’ve boiled the next line down in my head is as follows, “At the same time, the glitches/bugs/lags/etc are the essential pieces in the physical make up of the game as far as game acts go, because they define the parameters for the visuals of games, the basis of the entire game system?” But why visuals are involved with glitches when he is discussing a fail on the machine’s part, I couldn’t reason out.

Pish Posh My Dear Aarseth.

The articles we read covered a bunch of topics, everything from violence in videogames not actually being violent game play but just a theme to artificial intelligence taking over with Pokémon to the warring hybrid that is the adventure game genre. The part of the reading I found interesting was the last point I mentioned: can adventure games ever be truly successful due to their conflicting goals.

The biggest argument against adventure games being a successful drama is that they have storylines that “would make a grade B movie” cringe.  In Aarseth’s article he argues that the most successful games of the Adventure genre are Myst and Deus Ex. I have played Myst and found it to be a boring game that had no relatable characters (or even characters for that matter). Myst was a very early adventure game as the genre all but died out after the release of Adventure. I agree that Myst wasn’t a great example of the iconic adventure genre, but I would like to argue that Aarseth’s article was written in June of 2004.

Fable is an adventure game that is unlike any before it, especially with the release of Fable III this year. The Fable games allow for, at least in my play, the ultimate adventure experience. The game doesn’t have a completely stagnant story line in which players just have to complete tasks along the way. In fable there are factors of corruption and good, love, riches, etc. There are a great deal of ways in which the player can alter the storyline to really make it their own. This so far seems to be the pinnacle of the adventure game genre. I would really love to see if Aarseth considers the Fable series to be as great of a disappointment as he did all the other games of the adventure genre.

Symphony No. 2600 in Atari Minor

In class it was mentioned that music wasn’t always something that was a part of video games. Only in the late stages of the Atari 2600 (or VCS) did music first appear in video games.  I found this very interesting because I had taken music as such a quintessential aspect of any video game.

Previously when we had watched the video on the creation of video games while in class, one of the guys who created either tennis for two or pong had mentioned that he made the game and was completely satisfied with being able to fit all the information he had onto the small sized chip. His boss then had to ask him to include cheering sounds. I thought it funny that there would be a video game that had no sound period. Not until it was mentioned in class yesterday did I understand that no sound meant no music and really understood the idea of a silent video game. It would be awkward at best.

The music that has evolved to become such an integral part of any video game does so much more than fill a silent void. It enhances game play. Music has always been known to evoke strong emotional responses for all situations. To add music to a video game is to only further perpetuate the players emotional tie to the game. A close friend of mine is a Zelda fanatic and uses the songs from Zelda to express her feelings, as ringtones, and loves to play them on her ocarina. She is constantly talking about the “Saria’s Song,” “Lost Woods,” “Windmill,” and most often “Gerudo Valley.”

Without the music incorporated into present day games , I doubt that games such as Zelda and many other games (especially RPG games) would evoke as deep an emotional response as they do. Music, as it has done time and time again, only compliments other art forms and aids game designers in their attempts to draw the game players further into the video games.

Animus Infirmo

In class we discussed all the different kinds of play that Caillois classified. He included Agon, Alea, Mimicry, and Ilnix. I found his break down very insightful, but a bit confusing due to all the crossing that can happen. Most games, most good games anyways, involve many elements (or pull from more than one of these categories) so as to keep the players interested in the game.

The category that most interested me was Ilnix. I was surprised that it was considered a category in and of itself. Sure it’s fun to play games that get you dizzy in such as the merry-go-round or go on roller coasters, but I’d never considered it a category by itself. What interested me more than this was the crossing over of other categories with Ilnix. For the most part Ilnix seemed like a pretty independent category where as a lot of games are hybrids of Agon, Alea, and Mimicry. I couldn’t think of any games where Ilnix would cross with Alea. The only example of Mimicry and Ilnix crossing was the example Caillois used of people diving off of poles and spinning in other countries imitating birds, and I had never heard of it until the reading. The cross overs are far and few between.

I actually found a version of Tetris online that is called “First-Person Tetris.” It is far and away the most difficult version of Tetris I have ever played and incorporates Agon with Ilnix in a most surprising way. I won’t explain how because the shock I received when starting to play this was probably the best part of playing the game. But I do recommend trying this interesting and rare hybrid of categories.