Author Archives: carbon11

Happiness in Games?

The idea of Alternate Reality Gaming is quite revolutionary because it allows for cross-media interactions. Using emails, websites, and other communication mediums to put a story together give the games a life-like feel to them. Or is it considered a life which is game-like? The ability for these games encompass real environment, real people and realistic situations allows the game to have significant effect on the games.  When I started reading McGonigal’s article, I was a bit skeptical about what she was saying. How can anyone even think about defining happiness with 4 concrete ideas? That is absurd and quite controversial. I was irate over about her idea, however I kept reading things made more sense. First of all there is no way any game can ever provide or even amplify “happiness”. That’s just what I believe. There is much more to this abstract word than we think. However, McGonigal is quite clear about the effect of games on gamers. The attributes and skill sets that she had mentioned in the article were hard to deny. ARGs are quite different in terms of gameplay and can allow gamers to develop skills and ideas to a different level.

Final Project

I have been searching for a game to analyze yet I still havent decided on what game I would be using for my paper. I am sure of how I am going to write about the game and analyze it. In order to get started on my research I have to establish a game to begin with. I have played couple of PC games but did not think that I would be able to get much out of them. Therefore, I dont have questions yet since my project has not gone that far yet. Hopefulll I am able to establish on the game soon to have questions about the process.

Wrong Message Through Offensive Games

Games to me are always a medium of entertainment that we can use to distract ourselves from the reality. Its just like watching TV, playing sports, or taking a nap. With just about anything, games should and must have limits and boundaries. When a game developer push the boundary but does not overcome it, the game has the potential to be successful but with controversy. However, when the boundary is crossed to a critical level, the game becomes more of a art form. Crossing the limit depicts the game to be more of a cultural message or political message than a simple game. The game played in class “September 11th and September 12th” are purely wrong games in different ways. Events such as September 11th should be left alone by game developers since it can offend so many people around the world. September 12th on the other hand is also wrong, since it depicts that a loss of a loved one causes someone to become a terrorist in the middle east. This kind of game would cause people to get the wrong idea about what exactly is going on around the world. Contrary to many beliefs, no one is brought up to be a terrorist anywhere. Instead, its the culture influences, economical background, misunderstanding of religious messages and years of political abuse cause people to behave the way they do toward the west. Most of the time we are limited to modern thoughts that limit us from understanding people of other cultures, ethnicity, and religion. And gamers and other artists takes advantages of this limited mindset to produce games and art to depict their own beliefs and ideas. For example, here is a game about specifically targeting a religion. This game targets not only the followers of the religion, but the prophets and the God as well. To me, thats going too far. If a non-western Muslim were to hear about this game they would be severely offended. If kids were to get their hands on this, what ideas and theories would get gain from this? I doubt that they will gain anything positive out of it. There is another game called Ethnic Cleansing, where the player must kill Ariel Sharon, the former Prime Minister of Israel, in order to prevent him from the dominating the world. During the game, the player must kill blacks, Latinos, and Jews to progress through the game. To me the idea of targeting specific race is a horrendous idea. This kind of development in a game crosses any emotional barrier people have and offend anyone playing it. Again, what would a preteen, teen or any young adult would obtain out of a game like this? The situation would be worse if the player had limited view on the world. Therefore, game developers should stop putting out ideas and views that are only shared by a minute fraction of this world. Instead, they should develop games that could entertain as well as put positive ideas into our communities.


As I research and browse the web about the development of text-based games, I came across something very unusual yet quite intriguing.  It’s something called “play-by mail” games. This is a form of text-based game that is played through postal mail or email. I had no idea about the existence of this type of games. Apparently, chess was played through mail for a long time.  Other games include The Glory of Kings, Atlantis, and Triad Weyrs. This site provides many games including a map-based war-game that players can play by post or email. There is a price that players have to pay in order to get turns in the game.  Here is another site about a Play-by-email game called Atlantis. The players get a chance to have their turn every Sunday.

Gamer or the Game

Music and sound effect in video games have evolved tremendously over the last few decades. This essay did an unbelievable job in explaining the importance of music in video games. I liked his idea of dissecting music to its chords to explain the effect. Music tends to act as a force of moving forward. It provides the aural sensation that adds to the intensity of the game. Imagine playing a basketball video game where there was no sound effect for the crowd or more importantly the “swish” noise. How lame would the game be? Music sets specific mood that allows the gamers to be in a flow where “self-consciousness disappears, perception of time is distorted and concentration becomes intense.” That is absolutely true. When different sections of a player’s brain is being stimulated simultaneously, in terms of motor skills with the fingers, activity of the auditory cortex, and visual cortex of the brain, the player will more than likely feel that they are in flow. In cartoons, and in video games, music and sound identify and distinguish one action from another. This way, gamers are more aware of what’s happening in the game as opposed to trying to figure out when a monster will appear around the corner. Music creates that suspenseful, serious, humorous or tranquil setting that keeps the game more engaging and provide an environment which requires the intense focus and the loss of the sense of real time. So this brings up my question about flow? What is flow? Is it the ability of game to stimulate the senses of a player to absorb them into the game or is the player’s ability and need to focus intensely and lose track of time to survive in the game. Basically, who is in charge of “flow?” The player or the game.

Thorough insights

I have to agree with many things that Jake has said. I was a bit worried when Professor Sample explained the difficulties that we might face with the reading. However, as I began to read the essay, I became interested enough to keep reading. Galloway took an approach toward video games which is along the lines of what I am used to. The explanations and descriptions were detailed yet in logical manner. Yes, he did get technical with his statements but overall I enjoyed the passages. Being a chemistry major, I am used to seeing things and understanding things with clear outlines and concise flow. He took the reader on a journey to understanding each and every corner of a video games. Even if the reader was a gamer, he or she would be able to understand the content of this essay pretty well. Games, of course, are difficult to define and so is the idea of play and fun. But Galloway defines games and their components quite well. It was interesting how he referred to a gamer as an operator and a game as a machine. This sounds horribly boring, as he hinted but to be honest even though I play games on a daily basis, he is right. When it comes to bare bone of things, playing a game is actually like being an operator of something. There was one passage which was interesting to read since I have never noticed what he was talking about in real life. He compared the difference between arcade games and console games at home. Having a fixed amount of life compared to having a health that needs to maintained is something I have never even thought about but the comparison sets a great distinction between the two types of games.  This is probably narrative gameplay was more realistic, and more fun on arcades compared to game consoles. Since there are limited life, and limited time, there are only few chances to succeed in the games, whereas in game consoles now-a –days, gamers can save games before doing something daring or taking on challenges. Which gives the game a more unrealistic feel.

Make or Miss

As 2 feet of snow piled up outside, I had nothing to do (well not really) but to play NBA Live 2009 on my PC. This game, which has no story and any new patterns for me to discover, still keeps me entertained day after day. As I ran a fastbreak, I pulled up to shoot a 3-pointer with Kobe. Swish!! After a while, same situation, same play, yet not the same result. This is nothing unusual about sports game, but having discussed game codes, game consoles and such, I paused to wonder what kind of complicated game codes must be behind this. All of a sudden I can see how game developers used geometry, advanced algebra and complicated probabilities to make this game such life-like. The codes for Pacman was about 1/4 of a page, and imagine how much coding required just to have a player running down the court while his shorts swayed from side to side. It also made me realize that the shots that I am attempting are all based on the player’s “artificial skills.” Realizing that kind of made the game boring and less exciting to play (not for long since I soon stopped thinking and continued playing). . The different aspects of the game are significantly realistic, however, no one can ever deny that its a game. Crazy dunks, weired fouls, and strange moves keeps the game a game. If the game became too realistic, then i dont think it would be as fun anymore. I am not talking about the graphics, which could always improve. I am talking about the way players act, the limitations of moves and probability that someone random making shots. If they become too realistic, then people would never substitute their key players and never really play the “simulation” they want to play.

As we discuss more and more about different genres of games, the games that I play on a daily basis are becoming more and more artificial and academic. Taking about games provides great knowledge behind the scenes of games but affects how I play and enjoy games 🙁

Violent Codes

While reading the article about Combat, something cought my attention that I take to be significant in today’s world: violence. It has been noted how Atari in its early stages was limited in terms of its memory capability and therefore affected how much game coding it could handle. So the games were more about creating competition and not so much about realism and graphics. This was great in terms of making the games used friendly and more importantly family friendly. The games presented little to none indication into violence. In the game tank, the tank would just spin in place instead of blowing up or soemthing. But as gaming consoles increased, so did the game codes, which ultimately effected the game forms. Mortal Combat, which was released in 1992, was one of the earliest violent games. This was released 13 years after Atari was relased, so by that time developers and gaming systems were much more advanced. This game had heavy violence with blood and many though that this was done to publicize the game. There would be moves where body parts could be ripped off the opponents. Surprisingly, there was heavy popularity of this game as well. According to a Blog titled, Evolution of  violence, Mortal Kombat was a starter of things. As technology and consoles became more advanced, coding of course became a playground and games such as Grand Theft Auto Series came about, which are extrememly popular. The reason for this popularity is the countless variations that are within the game. There have been many games such as Soldier of Fortune and Thrill Kill,  which didnt last long since they were solely violent games. Thats an interesting point, which brings back the idea of how our brain have fun. As more variations are introduced, our brain is more engaged. So as the consoles developed, along did the codes and so did violence in the games. This added element to games leads to the fact that violent games being extremely popular.

“Fun is another way of learning”

“Fun is another way of learning.” What a remarkable theory this is yet applies to our daily life more often than we think. Our brain always wants to perform at its optimum level. The subject could be math, chemistry, biology or any subject in the world. When the brain understands the material and becomes interested in moving forward, it stimulates the brain into having “fun.” When a subject, such as a game, becomes too easy or too hard, we tend to get bored since the challenge ahead of us is too much for us to handle or too easy to deal with. This is true for all genres of games, even with goal-oriented sports games. I have been playing NBA and NFL games ever since middle school. When the opponent is destroying me or I am beating them by a large amount, there is no “fun” anymore. However, when the score happens to be very tight and the game comes down to the wire, then the experience goes to a whole different level. Chemicals are indeed sent down my spine to stimulate my senses. The football field or the basketball court becomes a battle field. Even though I know the plays, it’s about finding the pattern to the play-calling and reacting to the situation. The brain constantly exercises its recognition skills and learns to react. The challenge, with countless variables, is enough to keep the game long-lasting as Koster has stated. The brain adapts so well from the practice that it makes decisions even without our knowledge. When this autopilot mode is reached, there is a need of implementing new variables. Recently this is where the gaming-industry is at its best. The industry might have figured out that even though games are “make-believe” or “imaginary” fields that exist in their own world, they are able to provide cognitive challenges, which the brain needs in order to have “fun”. RA