Author Archives: mchoeung

Casual characteristics in Hardcore Game

On Tuesday, we discussed the differences between casual games and hardcore games. We used a chapter from Jesper Juul’s book Casual Revolution to help differentiate casual games from hardcore games and define them as two separate entities.
What we didn’t discuss though was how hardcore games could have some casual game elements. Here’s a link I’ve found on a hardcore game having some casual game qualities:

This gets me thinking, are there any hardcore games that could be borderline casual games or games that share qualities of both hardcore games and casual games?


Reality Play by Joost Raessens introduced some interesting ideas about the use of videogames to reenact history so that one may experience an event. These so-called “docu-games” enable players to “transform play into a meaningful, interactive experience” in which the player can experience feeling, reflexivity, and action in a historical experience brought back for educational gameplay. He discusses numerous games but highlights four games in particular in his discussion of “docu-games.”  His four games of focus are: JFK  Reloaded, 9-11 Survivor, Waco Resurrection, and Escape from Woomera.

His discussion of 9-11 Survivor caught my interest the most and spurred me to look online for the game. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate it but I did find these screen shots of the game to help me visualize what the game would look like.

screen shots found here

While reading about this game, I thought to myself: How anyone play something like this? Yes, you may be able to experience the traumatic moments in fuller detail and grasp a better understanding for happened but at what cost? Wouldn’t it be very traumatic to play a game like this and put yourself in a situation where you the outcome is so painful? Does making a game about what happened really shed light on what happened that day?

And I guess if I were to play this game I would answer yes to all of the questions above. Yes, playing the game probably would give me more perspective on what went on that day and yes, it would hurt a great deal to play a game like this.

But games like these will always have a hard time reaching the public with their messages. Videogames just don’t have the same respect documentaries do. With many videogames promoting violence and mindless game play like Grand theft auto and Call of Duty, I feel like it would be very hard for docu-games to ever become popular.

In class, we discussed gender representation in videogames, namely female physiques in videogames.  The discussion on the representation of a female body and female characteristics got me thinking about representation of different genders by other ethnic groups. Using google and youtube, I noticed that a lot of American videogames focus on body build whereas a lot of video games designed by Asian designers focus more on facial features. Asian videogames, namely Japanese videogames, focus more on developing attractive facial features in both males and females. Common themes in all Japanese videogames characters include a sharp chin, a small, almost non-existent nose, huge doll eyes, and small mouths.

The bodies of most characters are usually lanky and not G.I. Joe big. American videogames, on the other hand, focus greatly on the physique of their characters. With Lara Croft, it is quite obvious that the main focus for the designers was creating her Barbie-like body.

In terms of characteristics of main characters in videogames, I noticed that a lot of Japanese videogames that I know of don’t portray women as very aggressive or outgoing. Moreover, they are rarely made into the only main characters in a game, unless they’re targeting females as players.

I get that games from different cultures probably represent their standards of beauty in that culture. But I wonder: Would a game like Lara Croft Tomb Raider elicit the same response it did with Americans?  Would men be attracted to  a female character that is very different from the regular characters they normally play as or see in videogames? Or would a videogame like this be dismissed because it doesn’t meet the characteristics of the player don’t match up to the characteristics developed for standard female characters in Japanese videogames?

First Person Shooter in Real Life

This game that I found reminds me of the movie we say on Tuesday in class. The name of the movie has slipped by mind; but what hasn’t is the fact that this movie was considered one of the first failed first-person shooter games.

(to remind you of the movie we saw, I’ll briefly add some distinguishing notes about it. First, the movie was in black and white. This movie was about a girl discovered what the guy had done. To cut to the chase, the movie moves from third person (the audience’s look) to the camera’s look and takes on the point of view of the guy. The point of view shot was pretty phony looking.)

To draw a comparision between the movie we saw and the game I’ve posted a link to below, I must say that this game is a little bit of a fail for the same reasons the movie failed.

But first, what I liked about the game:

What I liked about this game is that unlike other games, the actual image is of real life people and things. Before playing the game, my thoughts were that this game would be interesting because it would probably merge some aspects of real life images and the notion of game play in videogames together.

However, the interaction between the gameplay and the real life images fail because of the game’s inability to correctly use a POV shot. This game reminds me of the movie we saw because like the movie, the hands of the player just don’t match what we’d really see and so, this game then becomes a cheesy game (kind of like the movie we saw in class). So in the end, the interaction between the player and the other components of the game become really superficial and not worth playing.

But don’t take my word for it, try the game  yourself.

Whalen and the flow

I like many others really enjoyed this article above all other assigned readings. I think that this article did a great job at explaining how music plays such an imperative role in games. I especially like how he explained his concept of flow. In class, we discussed how flow was kind of like Koster’s concept of grokking. You become so immersed in what you’re doing that you don’t know you’re doing it. You simply “go with the flow.” In terms of music, flow is established when music is able to expand the concept of a game’s fictional world or to draw the player forward through the sequence of gameplay (Whalen). The result is this sort of trance effect one gets while playing the game.

 I have most definitely experienced the effect of music on gameplay most recently with the game “the crossing.” What makes this game is the music. Like Whalen noted, music does indeed draw me into the game and keep me playing for many minutes at a time (playing for more than 15 minutes is an achievement in my book). However, while playing this game yet again, I thought to myself: could it be that a game with such peaceful music really keeps me that entertained? Would I still play this game if music were absent?

I investigated the answer to this question. Without music, this game is very boring and this game really has no real purpose to being played. You simply move animated deer to the other side. Turn the music back on and this game is suddenly a lot more entertaining again (not in terms of being challenging or anything of that sort), but the sounds bring you back into the state of mellowness and keeps you playing for another 15 minutes at a time. The deer become more than just animated pixels. They become deer and you become sad everytime you let one die.

Whalen made a statement that I think best sums up “The Crossing” and a lot of other games that use music to enhance gameplay. The result of music “is that the musical cues and non-musical sound effects instill objects with even more life than the simple appearance of figures in motion” (Whalen).

Reading Galloway…and trying to understand him.

I have difficulty trying to grasp the definitions of diegetic and nondiegetic. On page 7 and 8, Galloway attempts to define the two terms stating that nondiegetic are “game elements that are inside the total gamic apparatus yet outside the portion of the appartus that constitutes a pretend world of character and story.”

I take these sentences to mean that nondiegesis is like add some scenery put into a game that has no real affect on how the game is played or how the player feels when he plays the game. But, he goes on to say that “the heads-up display (HUD) in Deus Ex is nondiegetic, while the various rooms and environments in the game are diegetic” (page 8).

This confuses me. I think that I sort of get the definition of diegesis and nondiegesis but then as I read on, I’m just more and more confused. I keep having to go back to those pages (pages 7-10) to make sure I’ve got my definitions right (and I probably don’t!).

I don’t know. I feel as though I would understand his writing a lot more if he hadn’t gone on and on about some of the things he said and put in a lot of fluff that really meant nothing to me.

Check out the game link

As with most of the articles we’ve read, I had a hard time focusing on the articles (probably because I’m not the greatest fan of videogames and for me, this wasn’t the funnest read). I had an even harder time developing my own thoughts about the articles. Nevertheless, I tried to buckle down and come up with a few thoughts:

Originally, I agreed with Aarseth and thought that games were just games and that a computer game was a game of simulation and not narration. The few games that narrated, or told you what to do, were the games probably that tanked.

However, after finding this game , I have learned to think otherwise. Perhaps I should hold off on telling you a little bit about the game and let you all figure it out yourselves. Or maybe not…

In a nutshell, this game tells a story and then let’s you play. Depending on how far along you get, the game resumes the role of a storyteller and tells you the ending.

I now think that games and stories are not mutually exclusive. Games can tell stories and this one certainly does. It uses two forms, narration and simulation and the combination of both make for an interesting game.

I don’t know much about videogames but I would now assume that the more popular ones use both simulation and narration to keep you entertained (like Final Fantasy). So why the hoopla about games and storytelling? Why can’t we make more games with good storylines? In a youtube video  I’ve found, the answers to such questions are all provided.

Video games that can teach for the better

I, like Sarah, have had a hard time buying into the idea that games are representations of reality and that we can and do learn valuable lessons from games, particularly video games.

Koster writes “…games teach many skills that are relevant in the corporate setting (58).” I can see where he is coming from. I can see how a game of chess can teach you to look out for an opponent’s moves and plan accordingly. I can see how a game of 21 can teach you when to take the leap and when to stay behind for your own welfare and good.

However, with the emergence of new games like Wii Sports or Super Mario Cart (which I guess really isn’t all new, but new for me!), I can’t see how any valuable lesson can be learned from playing a game like these. I cannot see or understand the driving lesson behind learning how to pitch a fake ball or a drive a fake car and crash and bump into fake characters. But I do see potential. I see the potential in “adding an element to a game” to change it and to perhaps teach us something more.

I particularly like the idea that Koster notes in his book about using games to offer us greater insight into how the modern world works. Maybe we shouldn’t have games that demonize our opponents any more and but instead teach us to work with others and depend on others-we can.

But we don’t. As Koster noted: it is the games that teach the most obsolete skills, not the subtler skills, that gain the most popularity. I really wish that weren’t the case. I really wish that more efforts would be put on “find[ing] a new dimension to add to the gameplay” to teach a little more in the right direction; but tell that to the companies that think it’s okay to market violent fighting games to 11 year old boys.

It’s only fun because you’ve learned the pattern?

I feel as though a lot has been said about what games are and what fun is. We come to an agreement over the fact that games are fluid in definition and fun is an extension of the verb ‘to learn.’ The word fun is applied to games when we can ‘chunk’ some information about a game and learn a particular pattern to conquer a game and succeed.

We’ve seen these ideas come to life when we played the game “A thousand Blank Cards.” We created a game, chunked some of the rules and strategies that we could apply to the game, and played.

For some, the game was fun; for others, the game was of no pleasurable value. Thus, I wonder: what makes up a gamer? What makes the game for some and not for others? Is it simply the fact that a gamer has chunked more information about a game than another?\

I think not. Growing up I always had access to a video game console. I knew which controller buttons would make my character in a video game jump and which buttons would make my character breathe fire. I even knew of some codes in some of my brother’s (and my) video games to move onto the next level. Nevertheless, I never took a keen interest in video games. I think I chunked enough information about games, but the end result of chunking and playing was not groking. It was not fun.

So what really makes games fun if learning the patterns to win a game don’t leave you feeling satisfied about playing it?

I guess what I’m trying to ultimately get at is that I don’t think that games are fun because they make you learn the patterns to win a game. I think that there may be more to it.