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  • Thais 8:25 pm on April 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ending, interactivity, Mass Effect 3, ownership   

    Player Empowerment over the Game 

    There are eight million blogs about Mass Effect’s ending, but is not one of them. Well, not entirely.

    Last month, most of us watched, without dissimulating the awe, the rise of the discontent horde profoundly enraged. “What could possibly infurieted some many good people?” your mom might have asked, “Hunger? Social inequality? The public health system? Politics?” to which you probably would have answer “They didn’t liked a videogame ending”. This is a suitable answer, but we both know that it does not translate exactly into what happened, does it? What I do recall was angered petitions, money gathering [which, fortunately, end up going to charity] and enraged forums posts. Oh, my Thor, how many posts. It has even became its own meme. Despite all possible pesky atmosphere all these claims had, it’s clear that ME3 fans organized themselves in order to make their point.

    Jane McGonigal links this organization abilities encouraged by games as a dormant potential to change the word. She believes that all those fans, highly capable and organized, are only waiting a chance to use their powers to change the world. Unfortunately, future does not seems so bright at least to me. People not always like the same stuff and specially, people not always like the same kinds of cultural productions. The different spectrum of options is also a part of what makes us humans, after all. And respecting there differences is also a great deal of living in society. However, when a large group of people start believing that their point of view is more important or, even more dangerous, more truthful and do whatever is in their power to prove to every single soul in the world that they are right, then we have what we call radicals or extremists. And that’s pretty similar to what happen to Mass Effect 3.

    Erik Kain make some good points on how changing ME3 ending is not a bad choice. He points out, for instance, that corporate decisions already deeply influence artistic direction or that videogames are interactive medium and, as so, players are also creative involved on the game. This last claim, however, is quite a tricky one. Sure, no one that has ever played a game doubts that playing the result of the game itself with player’s choices and inputs, and, as so, most events on any game rely on player’s own abilities and judgement. However, players only can play or  interact within option already given to them by developers. Games are a cooperative experience constructed both by players and developers as an experience, but bottom-line, players can only experience what was chosen to be presented to them. Even though there is such a clear distinction, do players in some way own part of the creative content on a game since they have interacted to it?

    • CmdrEdem 9:16 pm on April 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I don`t think players own the right to demand something from developers. They have the right to suggest changes and developers may hear the complains or not. If developers do not hear and address the complaints there may be retaliation business side (ex.: next game from that developer will sell less, a flood of used copies on the marked since people want to get rid of that piece of junk).

      • Thais 7:18 am on April 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I personally agree with you, however complain in one thing while demanding is another, completely different. ME3 fans were demanding a different ending, as if they possessed the rightful call about it since they “had been there” during the events of ME and ME2 as though they, too, own part of the unfolding of the events. Really an weird situation.

  • Lex 9:42 pm on October 7, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dark Souls, Demon Souls, Rogue   

    Death As a Bullet Point 

    Doesn't seem very fair, does it?

    The resilience to take a right-proper beating can mean the difference between surviving harsh living conditions or succumbing to the elements. Most folks would rather avoid surly activities such as crucifixion and live skinning. Yet, there exists a subset of games enthusiasts among us who thrive on self-inflicted grief. Some would even go so far as to pay sixty dollars to be kicked in the crotch, have their flesh set ablaze, followed by impalement with a rusty implement and finished off with the twisting of the diseased blade buried in a fresh slit.

    This generation has seen the divide between hardcore and casual become a blatant sight. Dark Souls and its predecessor Demons Souls have galavanted to the front of the crowded games market championing the notion that games should be a challenge. In doing so they’ve found an audience steadfast enough to surmount these gauntlets of masochistic euphoria. Players resilient enough hold on to their wits during the insane, sudden spikes in the challenge have recounted tales of bosses who dispense nothing but one hit kills and hours-upon-hours of progress lost to the ether of time. The Souls owe much of their design credo to the Rogue-like genre.

    The corporate thinking behind modern video game design mandates that a complete product should ship in a state in which it can be feasibly and reasonably completed by the majority of its audience at the standard difficulty setting. An industry, currently in the midst of sequelitis and lead by sales figures must stand by the status quo. As it turns out, letting people play through a sixty dollar roller-coaster ride, then charging them another sixty the following year for another such jaunt is quite profitable.

    The web URL for Dark Souls, “preparetodie.com,” reaffirms to fans of the masochistic romp that everything they loved about Demons Souls is intact.

    To compound the difficulty both entries eschew another convention the difficulty setting. The Souls games’ use a single soul-crushing setting.

    Dark Souls wears its predecessor’s infamy on its face much akin to the way it flaunts the soft skin torn from the tender hides of its victims. Terrorists and fictional home front wars are replaced by protagonists with charred epidermises and giant, fire-spewing monstrosities who kill you in half a heartbeat.

    World myths are teeming with examples of heroes surmounting unspeakable pain and horror. Many such personae are exalted to unenviable state of martyrdom. One need only riffle through The Bible for the most famous of examples. Wording such as stout masochist, unwavering martyr and firm punching bag are selling points the likes of which may never find their way onto the resume of average employment seeker. Still, a person who can take a hefty, swift strike to the nether regions without so much as showing a crack in their composure. It is perhaps for the best that I leave the ordeal of delineating the line between torment and elation to a man with a higher testicular constitution for self-inflicted flailing.

  • Lex 4:51 pm on September 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Seeing Red 

    It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.” -John Wooden

    Patience and perseverance may win many battles; but even the steadiest marksman or quickest tactician will find him or herself tempering surges of anger. Such overwhelming fury can lead a player to violently snap the ethernet cord out of their router in a frenzied fit of profanity and name calling. It is this gaming era’s equivalent to flipping over the card table. Rage quitting is a display of poor sportsmanship almost as old as the idea of games itself.

    In my time with multiplayer gaming I have seen many examples of people throwing hissy fits and dropping out of games with a neck and neck score thus costing our team the victory. To circumvent the ramifications of a single user’s disconnect impeding a team’s fair chance at triumph, many developers are employing AI controlled bots to take over for players who drop out either from frustration, bad connections or simply because of adult obligations to the real world. While artificial intelligence technologies have made several leaps in the last decade, their adeptness at intervening remains second to human players with whom others can coordinate and organize strategies conducive to competitive play.

  • Lex 4:09 pm on August 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Game Studies, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II, , Unreal Tournament 2004   

    Generations of Bloodletting 

    Humans have a deep seeded attachment to violence. We also have a tendency to easily anger each other. Road Rage is common on most highways and city streets. Were it not for laws and the unappealing idea of serving time in prison, the wild west’s everyone-for-themselves code would have permeated into our modern world. As our society flourished over the centuries, we have appropriated shades of said bond into our artistic endeavors. Video games’ graphic depictions of violence has provided players with a means to release tension. The biggest selling titles of the current generation of platforms has us decimating opponents from a first-person perspective using any number of variants on that most famous implement of death, the gun. The massive popularity of first-person shooters is a sure sign that people are an aggressive species in spite our continued push for self-preservation.

    What happens when mario falls down a random environmental gap? Artist Ryan Coleman shows us with The Pit

    My own relationship with that base urge to kill, maim and destroy was, as with most people of my generation, quelled with video game violence. My introduction to virtual carnage came from the seemingly benign, fever-dream abstractions found in colorful 2D platformers. Squashing Goombas and watching Mario after Mario fall to their dooms in some off screen abyss were common sights to which I gave little consideration. The deaths my favorite heroes were fated to relive over and over were little more than contrived obstacles for me, as the player, to surmount. The violence I inflicted upon my squat, pixelated enemies evoked a satisfying visceral charge that would prove addicting.

    Many demons have been mowed down by chaingun totting teenagers during the 90's.

    My exposure to cartoonish, over-the-top violence continued with likes of the infamous PC classic Doom. A title that was met with strong enmity from religious and political groups warning parents of the corrupting dangers virtual violence posed the mental health of young people. Even after the 1999 school shootings in Columbine Colorado, Doom had remained the poster child for the anti-game legislation movement long after it’s first release in the early 1990’s.

    Mortal Kombat introduced my arcade dwelling cohorts and I to photorealistic, albeit still clearly digital, portrayals of stylish decapitations, incinerations and impalements. In spite growing concerns from our respective families, we kids knew better than to try to punch through our friends’ ribcages and yank out their still-beating hearts. What’s more, even as we wallowed in the arrogance of our adolescent years, we were well aware of the ridiculous and improbable nature of digitized violence. Once the initial oomph of watching a lifelike person being torn apart wore off, the farcical stamp of MK‘s extreme violence shone through. The maniacal medley of metal-inspired imagery and unfettered displays of martial arts gore immediately sunk its hooks into my teenage cognizance. Needless to say, I got good at the first MK, and this frightened my family.

    The Pit: My favorite MKI stage.
    Gore, gibs and splatter patterns, oh my!

    It was not until Unreal Tournament 2004 that I was acquainted to the virtual bloodsport known as the death match. Frags, gibs and flak cannons assimilated into my daily ritual. Aggression and the temperaments of day-to-day stressors are eased with the tension releasing act of stacking frags on multiple opponents on your favorite map.

     In the wake of Mortal Kombat II‘s 1994 release on home consoles, the video game industry was in the early stages of adopting a self-governing body that would rate games in accordance with the content that had the potential to be deemed objectionable by parents; thereby making these games inappropriate for players under a certain age group. Thus, the ESRB was born. Rather than applying a black-and-white scale to game ratings, the ESRB used a clear, well-defined letter system (E = Everyone, T = Teen, etcetera) coupled with explicit descriptors that itemized any objectionable content in a given release. To this day, the implications are still being felt as recently as this past June when the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of video games deeming them to be free artistic speech protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution.
    Where all dead, dirty, sinful pixels go…

    Human beings are perplexed, conflicted creatures when it comes to the bedlam of slaughtering one another. At once we are both fascinated and repulsed by the transient carnage that ensues from a full head-on collision or random inner-city shootout. Flirting with our own mortality is a part of our natural curiosity. Thus does our attraction to homicidal behaviors draw many of us to game violence. Real violence, the likes of which is committed everyday all around the world, has deep ramifications; made all the more real when all of our senses, not just sight and to a lesser extent touch, are engaged in absorbing the event. Computer-created simulator in which user agency plays a part in creating subdues the vehement urge to commit murder for petty reasons.

  • Thais 10:10 am on December 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , games as art, Luke Plunkett, , videogames as art   

    About art, videogames and cars 

    It’s really tricky to talk about “anything as art” since to justify the comparison it’s need to try to define art, something as polemical as it can get. We already discussed some pros and cons here, but we never even tried to reach a conclusion whatsoever. Luke Plunkett, in the other hand, didn’t got intimidated by the controversy and wrote down his own outlook in the matter. To Luke videogames are not art, since art refers to non-interactive apparatus, but they are cars. Luke explains:

    Games are more than art; they are also mechanical, something we can appreciate, sure, but also something we have to use.[..] You can have all the art and celebrity voice-overs and moving music and poetic gestures you want, but if there’s nothing to interact with, it’s not a game. It’s just…a collection of various pieces of media. Likewise, the handling and mechanics of a game, or its level design and puzzle difficulty, are just an intangible, unrecognisable collection of 1s and 0s without a character and world to dress them in, or a story to give them purpose and context.

    Read Luke’s whole article at Kotaku!

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