Author Archives: Jay

Casual games… not as simple as you might think

After reading casual revolution I tend to disagree with Jesper on several points.  First of all how he describes casual games.  He states that casual games are meant to be played for only minutes at a time when a person is bored.  The reason why disagree with this statement is because I don’t believe that gamers can be broken down into two simple categories.  Although I do believe that the categories Jesper creates are valid I don’t believe that they are the only ones that are out there.  There sites that are dedicated to putting out these casual games and I know some people who play these games are not hardcore gamers but will play these casual games for a lengthy amount of time.  I find this a weird occurrence because many casual games that are designed can be played for significant amounts of time, although not as much as “hardcore” games.

Another point that I disagree with Jesper on is on how casual games are all upbeat and happy.  I have seen several games on sites that set a very dark and foreboding atmosphere for their players.  I have also noticed that when casual games have this dark atmosphere it tends to increase playing time.  I can’t explain it but for some reason people would play longer if the plot of a game resembled “hardcore” games instead of the the light and carefree atmosphere that most “casual” games have.

3rd world farmer

While searching for social simulation games similar to the ones that we played I discovered 3rd world farmer.  I played the game for a little bit and soon discovered the point of the game; to lose.  Even if you are great at playing this particular game you will eventually lose some way or another.  It wasn’t a pleasant game to play either there are decisions that you make that may kill one family member of all of them.  It is extremely frustrating game that tries to put you in the shoes of a poor farming family.  That being said I don’t exactly agree with the methods of the designers.  I think that they are victimizing a faceless family that lives in some generic third world country.  While the intent was good I still think the generalizations made in the game take away from the message because not all third world countries are like the game depiction.

Effects of gender in storylines

Even in modern times gender is a big deal in many facets of society.  Videogames are one section of our culture where gender and sexuality is still being explored in terms of how it will effect gamers and how they view the game.  Several recent games have experimented with making the main protagonist in the game female.  Most of these games have been role playing games or RPGs, which give the player a choice of making their character male or female and have different interactions between characters in game depending on which gender they choose.  This gives each player the option to tailor their character how they want to and can lead to the female characters looking like how the player chooses to play them.

Take the game Dragon Age for example.  There is a wide range of appearance options for the character makes it possible to have a relatively average looking avatar but most male players pick a more extreme look to their female character.

On the flip side, when male gamers create male avatars they range in appearance from realistic looking characters to the extremes similar to the female avatars.

The use of female characters in videogames also affects the use of romance in the storyline.  Many story driven games incorporate at least one romance  into their storyline but it is usually from a male perspective.  With female characters the interaction with the players has to change as far as romances go and in this area Bioware has lead the way.  The way that their recent games have handled gender and sexuality has been something not seen in mainstream games before.

First person point of view

This post is written in response to Tuesday’s discussion about a first person point of view.   The first person point of view can have an incredible effect on how a person interprets and feels about a particular event either in a game or in a movie.  Usually in movies the effect that a first person view has is a feeling of suspense and anticipation.  These feelings are brought on by the fact that that people cannot control the actions that they are viewing.  This effect has been demonstrated in many films.  One film that we did not discuss in class was Doom.  In one portion after the main character wakes up in a different state of mind after being unconscious and the movie switches to a first person point of view.  When watching the events in the movie unfold the viewer starts to will the main character to do certain actions or even to survive more so than when they were watching in the third person point of view.

When the first person point of view is applied to videogames it takes on a completely different role however.  People tend to become one with the character they are playing especially when game play is very intense.  This is demonstrated very well in he game Chronicles of Riddick: assault on dark athena where you are in a first person point of view for most of the game.  What sets this game apart from the rest is the concentration on stealth and melee combat.  This makes the gamer more likely to try and interact with items in the game world in real life ie turning your body when hugging a corner or squinting to see in the dark when the lights are out.

How complex can you get?

I found a game called First Age Avalon which is by far the most complex and intricate text based games I have ever come across.  There is even a economics system in the game which is huge.  The game it’s self is a text based MMORPG which explains the economics system.  This reminds me of the intuitive nature of the parchment game that we did in class on a much grander scale.

Gamers as machines

The passage that confused me was the part on page two when Galloway refers to gamers as machines.  He loses me when he says that he refers to games as the entire apparatus of video games.  Previously in the paragraph he refers to gamers as independent  agents but later implies that they are an integral part of a whole network.  After careful rereading however I understood that he meant that gamers are an independent part of a larger information network.

Exactly how much do videogames effect us.

This is in response to Jamie’s post.  Videogame violence was once one of the most pressing issues for parents and how they raised their children.  The stigma that videogames would cause your children to become violent offenders did effect what games parents bought their kids if they decided to at all.  Recent studies have disproven this theory but not befoere parents had made their decision to keep their kids away from videogames.  What people how believe this kind of theory don’t realize how much violence videogames have had in them since their beginning.  Violence has been a primary factor in many types of videogames and will continue to be for the length of their existence.  The reason for this is because our society and many others are based around violence and have been for centuries and that has simply translated into videogames.  Violence had been incorporated into movies and music long before videogames had been invented and there had been no significant attempt to discredit them.  The movement started very suddenly and ended just as abruptly.  They did not complain when space invaders came out and it seems that the movement really gained momentum when grand theft auto started to take off.  I know that my parents refused to buy me videogames because they thought that I should play outside more instead of wasting my time on videogames.

The evolution of music in videogames

Music has always been a vital component in videogames but its role has expanded over the years.  According to this article the role of music in videogames has evolved with games.  Starting as a simple tool in Space Invaders to calm people during the game, music has evolved as a instrument to bring out specific behaviors.  The article also reports that composers have run into several problems in making music for videogames.

Games as tools for development

Let us consider the possibility that games are a necessity of childhood.  As a child you are vulnerable and inexperienced in everything, which is why kid’s brains are constantly looking for ways to help them understand the world around them.  As they grow, children learn to automate certain responses to a given situation because they are so familiar with it they know what the proper response is without conscious thought.  This process is instrumental to the successful development of the child because people do things faster if they don’t have to consciously think about it.  This can range from simple things like getting dressed to more complicated tasks like learning how to juggle.  Children do this though games.  Games are the vehicle of play which implies that the action that the child is participating in has no real consequences.  This is important because are games are supposed  provide a safe, relatively carefree environment for children to establish these responses.

It is also important to realize that because everything is so novel for a child you can make a game out of almost anything.  I remember when I was a child my dad used to race me to see who could get dressed the fastest every morning.  While I did not receive any benefits from this game I played it every morning for an entire school year without fail and I don’t know why.  What I do know is that because of this I did learn to dress my self without thinking even when I had to use an iron.