Author Archives: Amanda W.

Saving the World, One Game at a Time

Had I read the syllabus at the beginning of term and seen that we would be discussing the idea of solving real world problems with video games, I would have laughed and said that’s impossible, real world problems need to be solved in the real world. After watching Jane McGonigal’s lecture and reading the interviews, I am beginning to understand how something like that could be done. In something as simple as the release of an album, thousands of people got involved with Nine Inch Nails to solve a puzzle and actively play a game in the real world. If games could be presented like this (naturally, we wouldn’t know the end) then people might get involved. I think the key to people wanting to change their virtual worlds is that they know that the game can be won, the game has an endpoint and a purpose. In real life, they may see things as impossible and themselves as small parts. If a game was incorporated, individuals could have more of a say and creative ideas could be presented to solve the major problems of the world. I don’t think that video games are the sole source of saving the world, but I definitely think that they can be used and have their part.

Final Project

I honestly haven’t given a great amount of thought to my final project yet. However, I found the section on socially concious games to be the most interesting and am hoping to do a game concerning this area of research. I think it would be interesting to find scholarly articles on positive and negative effects these games can have on the actual situation in real life. The only problem I can foresee running into would be finding a game, but I hope that this won’t be an issue. Does the game have to be an N64 type game that must be fully played through or can I do something similar to the computer games like the Haiti game we played?

Israeli-Palestine Conflict Videogame

When looking for a link for the week, I first googled “socially conscious video games” which brought me to this article

which is actually a very interesting comment of social video games. He mentioned a wide variety of topics covered by the video games and one of them was the Israeli-Palestine conflict. I was somewhat surprised by this, but suppose that I shouldn’t be; after all video games are made about controversial topics all the time. So I searched for the game and found “Peace Maker” whose slogan is “Play the News. Solve the Puzzle.” The object is to play through the game as the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian President and try to bring peace to the nations before your term is over. The game incorporates actual news stories into it in an attempt to make it more real. Actions the player can take include giving speeches and listening to your advisors. You can also choose what level you want to play: calm, tense, or violent. In the game you can either win by achieve a two-state solution or you can lose.

Here is a link to the video for the trailer:

Peace Maker

Extreme Justifications

I found the Schleiner article very interesting because of the extensive justifications that people came up with for playing with a female character. I realize that characters are pre-dominantly male, but still, nobody ever asked why a woman might want to play a male character. While I do think that there are cases of people playing Lara Croft for specific reasons, I also think that some people might have played it because it was a popular game or because the premise sounded interesting. I have heard that many boys would find the cheats to see Lara naked, but is that why they chose the game in the first place?  I may sound negative, but I think that the author is reading way too far into this. For the boys who chose to play this, they probably wanted to watch a drastically dis-proportioned woman run around and shoot bad things. When we had the guest professor he joked at the presence of a deeper meaning of why he plays as a woman, but ultimately confessed to it being because he wanted to watch a woman rather than a man all day. I confess that I do think the rest of her justifications are a bit farfetched. I find this  topic of gender in videogames very interesting because of what people think it says about our culture.

First Person Perspective

I enjoyed the discussion in Tuesday’s class as we discussed the effect of perspective in videogames and film. Generally in a video game (when given the choice) I will choose to see in the third person because I feel as though I can see more of the surrounding area. If I’m using my eyes to see through the characters eyes, I feel like I won’t be able to see as much because I am actually controlling the character.

In film though, I have the opposite opinion; I love seeing through a characters eyes. Generally it will contribute to the “getting to know the character” aspect of the film, and also I see what I’m supposed to see. The director is controlling the shots and obviously something about this scene is important. It can help to build suspense and drama, but in a videogame I see it as just rather annoying.

Multiplayer Interactive Fiction

I found the interactive fiction information very interesting and wanted to see if there was any game or article that was different to take it even a step further. I found this game called CircumReality

It is a multiplayer interactive fiction game but has a visual screen. The player is still typing in things but they are not searching and exploring the setting, they are searching and exploring the other computer-generated characters. Their whole claim to fame seems to be that they are not “killing” computer-generated characters, but befriending them and exploring their personalities by doing and asking things.

I did not play the game but think that it seems like a very interesting experience. It is in so many words exploring a humans personality as a setting or a landscape and using this to explore the game.

Galloway Reading

I followed the reading fairly well but was tripped up on one spot in particular. On page 25 Galloway begins discussing the relationship between play and the nature of language. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to follow this very well. When he said, “So at a basic level, play is simply how things transpire linguistically for Derrida, how, in a general sense, they happen to happen”, I didn’t understand at all. This concept makes zero sense to me. I was also confused as to how it fit into the essay. help?

Stories and Games

I was also very interested by the Koster reading and its relation to games and their inability to have stories. After reading through the first readers posts, I definitely have to agree that sometimes stories are an essential part of a game and can be the most appealing element to people. If a character is set in a story that allows the player’s imagination to take off then the player will be more likely to “get into the zone” that Koster discusses. He discusses how the zone is flow and means that the player is completely focused on doing something. Granted a player can definitely be into something without having some sort of story to follow, but in my opinion a story definitely helps. There are countless adventure games that catch people’s attention every year that would be nothing without the story. I think it’s also important to bring up movies that are made into games. A person will see the movie, and if they buy the game they know the story already and want the outcome to be the same. For example, when the Lord of the Rings games came out, my brother bought them and played them endlessly until he defeated them. He knew he liked the story already and wanted to play through the story himself.

I definitely think that Koster had it wrong in saying that games and stories can’t be mixed. Every game has a story, no matter how minuscule it is and most games would be lacking in more ways than one without one.

The alien who falls in holes

Hey everybody!

I remembered the other day in class, Professor Sample had mentioned the ET game for Atari, which was pretty much a failure. I found a link to play it here:

I thought since we are discussing Atari and all of its success leading to the modern day videogame, that we could also mention this failed game. This can also relate to the Combat in Context article which discussed the various levels of a game. Especially touching on the fifth level: Reception and Operation, ET simply doesn’t deliver. This level discusses the meaning of the game and the relation it has to the player; however ET has none of this as he simply wanders and falls into holes. The game offers no sense of learning and therefore no fun, but enjoy! 🙂

Learning: the key to Fun

The reading presented the idea that fun is simply the brain learning, or recognizing new patterns. This makes a lot of sense drawing on experience and the examples presented. If a person has seen a game and mastered it, then they understand the pattern and will most likely not want to play it again. If a game is new and presents a clear pattern that can be understood by the player, then they have fun because they are learning the new pattern. If the game lacks in pattern, then it will quickly become redundant. As I was reading, I had the following question: If the brain becomes bored after mastering the pattern, then how can a person play a game over and over again? I then realized that if a game has several different options to start out with, or various choices and decisions to make throughout the game, then the game will offer different challenges for the brain to overcome. Take for example Pokemon for gameboy color, in the beginning the player chooses one of the three pokemon. If the person chooses squirtle first and beats the game, then maybe next time they can choose charmander to make the game a little bit different. It is still the same game but the brain has not learned everything the game has to offer. I’m sure this is something that a game designer would need to keep in mind in order for the game to continue to be a challenge or learning experience.