If I have learned anything from our blog posts and the class in general, it is that games have multiple layers that cannot be fully explored by simply playing the game. Often I have found myself shocked that a game that I had played before could have multiple meanings, a feeling shared among my classmates. … Continue reading “Final Blog Post: Dark Innocent Games and lack of authority”
If I have learned anything from our blog posts and the class in general, it is that games have multiple layers that cannot be fully explored by simply playing the game. Often I have found myself shocked that a game that I had played before could have multiple meanings, a feeling shared among my classmates. Not only do games have dark hidden meanings when analyzed further, but they often provide a false sense of control.
Jasmine points out a narrative that I had not even seen in Gone Home despite several play throughs. I had become so engrossed with Sam and Lonnie’s story, that I did not even pay attention to Uncle Oscar’s mysterious nature. Ryan mentions the dark side of Pokémon that I had not seen as a child. The graphics and overall environment of the game hide the fact that one is taking slaves captive and forcing them to fight other slaves. Lara Croft was always the badass girl who could do really cool moves, but Luke changes my perception of the Tomb Raider games. Andrew captures the essence of the dark controlling nature that GLaDOS has over you.
It is a very shocking experience to realize that seemingly innocent games could have such dark hidden meanings or implications. Having played all the games that my aforementioned classmates blogged about I would ask them: why do you think these dark implications are placed into the game? Do developers realize that not many will catch on, or they are doing this on purpose? Does the manner that the game was marketed to the public affect our lasting impressions of the game after it has been put down? I can see games being sold as innocent while having dark sides that will not be seen by many due to the perspective that the game is put in initially.
The most impacting realization I came across during my playtime is the lack of authority that we (the players) have. I had always thought of myself as the almighty player who could do whatever he wanted, because I had the controller and I was in control. However, games dictate much of what we can and can’t do, yet this isn’t inherently visible at first. Games often have us choose a certain path or make a certain choice that will allow the game to continue, but we never see that as the game limiting us. It is simply part of the “play” that we engage in. Paul brings up a good point in blog, where he discusses player choice, and how much a game wants us to perform a specific option. When playing games, it is important to realize that we are living in our world, and playing in theirs. It is essential to realize this, as the technology of games (i.e. VR) could eventually reach a point where the lines between game and reality become blurred.
I read an article that analyzed the physics behind the 1919 Boston Molasses Flood. Initially I did not see it relating to the game in general, but after further inspection I saw that it did involve some of principles that the game aims to teach. The 1919 Boston Molasses Flood occurred when a storage … Continue reading “A Deeper Understanding of a Game through Molasses”
I read an article that analyzed the physics behind the 1919 Boston Molasses Flood. Initially I did not see it relating to the game in general, but after further inspection I saw that it did involve some of principles that the game aims to teach. The 1919 Boston Molasses Flood occurred when a storage tank full of Molasses broke and let loose a 7 plus metre tall wave of molasses loose in Boston. This wave caused multiple building breakdowns as well as injuries and deaths. The physics behind the massive damage caused by these molasses relates to gravity currents and density. Scientists were able to tell that the molasses were warmer than the air that surrounded them causing an explosion. Immediately after the molasses became colder and more dangerous.
Finger Physics bases a lot of its levels on gravity, and the placement of objects. If one does not take into account gravity or correctly places objects in manner that they will not fall, then damage occurs. This is exactly what happened in the Molasses Flood. Due to the explosion, the molasses were not placed correctly and they caused damage to the surrounding buildings. There are certain levels in the game where one cannot let hot objects touch cold objects, or they explode. Before I had only thought of this process as the typical water puts out fire perspective, instead of taking into account that the objects could also relate to the density seen in the flood.
This connection allowed me to further understand the point and involvement of science in a game that I had initially thought of as a fun building block game. At first sight it is easy to get engrossed into the fun game without thinking much about the mechanics at play. Once I was able to sit down and actually think about the physics involved, the game deepened in meaning and purpose.
I have previously mentioned Star Wars Battlefront’s lack of division among race or gender, which makes is a unifying game. I am one of the gamers that not only appreciates the graphics in a game, but also is a fan of the community that the game can offer. Recently I was able to read an … Continue reading “Multiple Iterations of a Game Can Bring Unity”
I have previously mentioned Star Wars Battlefront’s lack of division among race or gender, which makes is a unifying game. I am one of the gamers that not only appreciates the graphics in a game, but also is a fan of the community that the game can offer. Recently I was able to read an article that discussed the success that the game had all over the world, but one fact stuck out to me the most. The game is now being translated into Arabic, after having already been translated into multiple other languages (Corless). While this may not be important to some people, it is a sign of a deeper unifying sense that videogames can bring.
In my lifetime it seems that the United States has always had issues with the middle east, a region where Arabic is mainly spoken. Ranging from 9/11 to the current Syrian crisis, there is a certain connotation that is associated with the language and its people. I believe that it is a step in the right direction where a game that was developed in the United States is being translated for Arabic speakers. These people will soon be able to enjoy the game that we are enjoying, and while it will certainly not solve our country’s issues with the Middle East, it brings us a little bit closer together. Arabic is spoken by 290 million people worldwide, so the decision to create this translation is not a small one (Corless).
Those who are not fanatics of videogames will claim that electronic digital narratives cannot impact society and do not have much value. I however, would like to bring up my formerly mentioned admiration for the community a game creates. While countries may be at war with each other, we still share similarities. These similarities may not be vast or wide in variety, but they exist. They can even be videogames that we laugh, cry, or get frustrated at, but they remind us that we are not always different from one another.
I read an article that puts together the creepiest locations within Fallout 4, and some it happens to relate to my previous discussion of infanticide. I formerly mentioned that I believed infanticide to not be a possibility within the game, but now I see that it is mentioned but not demonstrated. One of the creepiest … Continue reading “Fall-ing Out of the norm, and making statements.”
I read an article that puts together the creepiest locations within Fallout 4, and some it happens to relate to my previous discussion of infanticide. I formerly mentioned that I believed infanticide to not be a possibility within the game, but now I see that it is mentioned but not demonstrated. One of the creepiest locations that takes place in the post-apocalyptic world is the Suffolk County Charter School. When one visits this area, there is an abundance of lifeless pink bodies that used to be children. Upon further investigation of the history of the school, one finds out that the dead pink corpses are a result of a government nutrition program (Martin). We are told that the government wanted to try different cafeteria food, so they replaced all of their options with pink sludge. However, this experiment failed, as the alternative sludge turned the children violent and their skin pink (Martin). It is not known whether the children fought amongst one another or were killed, but they were certainly harmed.
I think this phenome makes multiple arguments about our society in general. Firstly, it felt weird showing up to a school with a gun and having to shoot ghouls. I cannot help but feel that this is making a comment on the school shootings that have occurred in our society, more recently Sandy Hook. I was made uncomfortable by the fact that in some ways I was taking on the role of school shooter without meaning to. While it is clear that I was shooting ghouls and hot children, the perspectives of showing up to a place of learning while armed is unnerving. It is possible that the game developers wanted one to have this disturbing experience to make a statement about the danger of guns, especially in the learning environment. The other statement that I believe this location makes concerns the government’s involvement in public education and it’s (sometimes) lack of concern. The school approved the pink sludge without the consent of the faculty and members of the school. This decision that was made in spite of the students ended up hurting them and the community. This occurs in real life, where school programs and faculty are cut or changed in a manner that is detrimental to children. Many public schools often have to deal with the negative consequences of government decisions, much like Suffolk County Charter School.
A second Star Wars Battlefront play through brought to light a characteristic of the game that I had not seen before: the lack of discrimination based on gender or race. I am not saying that there needs to be discrimination in games, but the fact that the game does not have it brings to mind … Continue reading “Battlefront exemplifies lack of race difference”
A second Star Wars Battlefront play through brought to light a characteristic of the game that I had not seen before: the lack of discrimination based on gender or race. I am not saying that there needs to be discrimination in games, but the fact that the game does not have it brings to mind Anna Everett and Craig Watkins’ The Power of Play: The Portrayal and Performance of Race in Video Games as well as our discussions of women in games. I first began to notice this characteristic when playing as Princess Leia and noticing that her moments were the same as those of the in-game soldiers. When discussing women, we delved into their role as “damsels in distress” and the difference in play between male and female characters. I thought it was interesting and noticeable that this difference was not seen between a princess and army-trained soldiers.
There is also no race difference in the game. Clearly the protagonists of the movie are the same race that they are in real life, but there is no discernable difference between other characters based on their race. The gameplay is not changed whether the player is an Asian rebel soldier or a black one. Everett and Watkins discuss the simulation of “blackness” in videogames and the overall development of race in this setting. Videogames often attempt to make the game feel “real” from the perspective of different races, and sometimes they fall into social stereotypes. The Stormtroopers and other soldiers do not show race, as they are in full body gear, and this is a characteristic that separates Battlefront from other first person shooters. While the developers could have had the soldiers take their helmets off to reveal their race, as has happened in the Star Wars universe before, they decided not to. Here is where the previously mentioned race characteristics in the game combine to truly demonstrate the power of play.
Battlefront demonstrates race, and when it does so it makes sure that there are no differences in gameplay so the races are equal. When it does not demonstrate race, but it can, it chooses not to because it has already commented on racial differences. Ultimately I find the power that Battlefront has is found in the fact that they do not make a player wish to be a certain race or gender because of special skills or abilities. They end discrimination before it can begin.
Finger Physics gets more predictable as you play, yet at the same time it becomes harder. Understanding the mechanics of the game is the first step towards game progression. The second is being able to replicate what you know about the mechanics to work into your favor. For example, I understand the different ways that … Continue reading “Finger Physics = Algorithm’s in real life”
Finger Physics gets more predictable as you play, yet at the same time it becomes harder. Understanding the mechanics of the game is the first step towards game progression. The second is being able to replicate what you know about the mechanics to work into your favor. For example, I understand the different ways that shapes can fit together in order to make them stay on a platform, but when the platform is continuously changed it becomes difficult to succeed. The mindset that one is placed in reminds me of the procedural and computational thinking section of my Digital Studies 101 class. During this section we discussed algorithms in depth and how they are omnipresent in our society. Finger Physics represents algorithms in multiple ways.
Initially, there must have been an algorithm that the developers used in order to create the game. Whether this was in the process of creating the different level obstacles, designing the backgrounds, or in the coding of the game itself, an algorithm was present in the development. In order to solve the puzzles, the player must also use an algorithm, albeit this may be an unconscious process. The player needs to invoke computational thinking in order to progress through finger physics as we need the game mechanics knowledge to guide our actions. The “I know this will happen if I do this, so let me try this action” method of thinking is an algorithm as it bases itself on rules. One of the videos that we watched in that class titled “How algorithms shape our world” discusses the myriad of ways in which our world is controlled by algorithms. While I had not thought of it at the moment, this too applies to videogames.
We are told that there are rules in games and that there is certain way to play. This is a textbook game algorithm. Even in games that are marketed as “free roam”, algorithms continuously present themselves. In order for an action to occur there must be a set of steps that lead up to that action; in videogames this is every action. Jumping, shooting, crawling, running are all possible through algorithms. That being said, I would like to raise the question: are videogames just algorithms? On a basic surface you may not agree, but delving deep into the tools that make the game possible causes the player to reconsider. Finger physics is a prime example of algorithmic and procedural thinking, of figuring out how objects relate to one another and how they interact.
Playing through Fallout 4 more has made me realize the highly immersive quality that the game has to offer. The addition of a companion dog, and the task of taking care of it, adds to the reality of the game and draws the player in. After more time spent with the game, Jamie Madigan’s The … Continue reading “Madigan’s Richness in Fallout 4: New immersive experience that differs from Fallout 1”
Playing through Fallout 4 more has made me realize the highly immersive quality that the game has to offer. The addition of a companion dog, and the task of taking care of it, adds to the reality of the game and draws the player in. After more time spent with the game, Jamie Madigan’s The Psychology of Immersion in Video Games comes to mind more quickly than any other material discussed in class. It is here where she discusses the spatial presence that had me so deeply immersed into Fallout, and the reason for my in-game choices. Spatial presence relates to the feeling that the player has of being “inside” the game and making rational decisions based on the environment that he/she has been put into. I saw the game enveloping me into its post-apocalyptic world as I began to worry about my supplies and looted all the empty spaces that were in sight. If one was in the mindset of attempting to finish the game solely to finish it, these actions would not have made sense. I, however, was placed into the role of a survivor and made decisions as if my life depended on it.
Upon further reflection on the spatial presence provided by Fallout and other games that I own, I began to see that the richness that Madigan discusses is not a new concept in videogames. I have seen games become more immersive as technology has advanced since my PlayStation 1 days. The multiple sensory information thrown at the player has increased, and will continue to increase with the rise of virtual reality. Soon I will be able to access Fallout’s post-apocalyptic world through my own physical eyes, furthering my previous perceptions of in-game reality. But, has this progression been a positive one? Yes and no. Players now get closer than ever before to descriptively experiencing different lifestyles and stories. But this might be done at the cost of appreciation for older games. I am speaking from my own perspective when I say that spatial presence of new generation games has caused me to be less appreciative of older games. I perused through YouTube videos of the original Fallout and, from a bystander perspective, I do not think I would enjoy it as much as I am enjoying Fallout 4 due to its lack of complexity and subpar graphics. Fallout 1 would not allow me to form the “mental model of the game’s make-believe space” that Madigan discusses, whereas any game with great spatial presence will.
My final game was “Star Wars Battlefront” for the Xbox one. Having only played Lego Star Wars and several iterations of lightsaber based videogames, I was unsure of what to expect from an FPS game. As per usual the “tutorial” phase of the game did not give me much insight as to what made this … Continue reading “Star Wars Battlefront: Same Controls, New Game”
My final game was “Star Wars Battlefront” for the Xbox one. Having only played Lego Star Wars and several iterations of lightsaber based videogames, I was unsure of what to expect from an FPS game. As per usual the “tutorial” phase of the game did not give me much insight as to what made this game different from any other shooter. It was only until I got past the tutorial phase and into the multiple game options that made Battlefront different than your regular Call of Duty or Battlefield. The game did not offer a single player story mode, as is commonly found in first person shooters. This is perhaps the most surprising observation I made, as I had never previously played a shooter game that did not offer some sort of narrative mode related to the game. There are options to play solo and co-op missions, but these felt like extensions of the tutorials than a single game in particular. Thinking more about the lack of story, I see Battlefront attempting to break the norm that is expected of FPS games. The gaming community has long dictated what components games must have to be categorized into a genre, and Battlefield is going against these norms. One must wonder whether the developers meant to intentionally create a different type of FPS, or if they simply wanted to focus their efforts into the online battle modes.
While the game differs from mainstream FPS in certain perspectives, it follows the control trends that this genre offers. The buttons to jump, aim, shoot, and throw are the same as other games, so I was able to come in and immediately know what I was doing. While it was comforting to know that I could dive right into the game, I pondered the further implications that something as simple as controls have. Why does the A button always signify jump and the right bumper to shoot? What specific game started the trend of these “basic controls” and why do most games follow this specific formula? It seems that games are now unwilling or perhaps unable to change the controls. I can see how developers would want to stray from offering new controls systems that might discourage players from buying the game, yet I see novelty as an enticing feature. One thought lingered after I ended my gaming session: what if all first person shooter games are the same and we are just getting reskinned versions sold to us as “new”? The consumerist in me was alerted.
My handheld game was Finger Physics and it was played on an iPod. The music of the game and the game environment initially stuck out to me as the most surprising aspects. Upon opening up the app and selecting a level to play, you are greeted with calming music that might be found on a … Continue reading “Finger Physics Involves Physics: Who knew?”
My handheld game was Finger Physics and it was played on an iPod. The music of the game and the game environment initially stuck out to me as the most surprising aspects. Upon opening up the app and selecting a level to play, you are greeted with calming music that might be found on a “chill” Spotify playlist. This of course gets the player into a relaxed setting and the game, to me, ceased to become a game and more of an activity. I find it interesting that this specific music is utilized, as I have encountered “critical thinking” games before and they too have a relaxed soundtrack. I am not sure if it has been proven, but perhaps this type of music is meant to allow the player to focus wholly on the activity at hand. My appreciation of the music ends whenever I fail a level, as I am greeted with the ever annoying wah wah wah sad trombone noise (that is a lot louder than the original relaxed music). Looking at the game from a psychological perspective I get the feeling that the creators are encouraging us to do well by adding a cacophonous noise whenever we do not succeed. Or maybe I just really do not like the noise.
Expecting the game to be extremely intellectual and not creative, as has been my experience with other science-related games, the background of Finger Physics surprised me. Then again, the entire game did. There are erupting volcanoes, underwater scenery, rainbow sunny days, and outer space as the background. Not very science-y. Some game modes require one to put an egg into a basket, stack shapes of different sorts, and make sure other shapes do not drown/float up. Not very science-y. Overall I see Finger Physics as challenging player’s pre-conceived notions that games with a science related title are scholarly or for lack of a better word “nerdy”. I came into the game expecting to be grilled on my limited knowledge of physics, yet never felt that this I was placed into this situation. Even then, I was using physics to a certain extent to pass levels without really thinking about the real world implications. In a sense my mind thought “I will follow these steps to pass this level because I know this is how things work in the real world”. It was only until beginning to write this Game Log that I realized Finger Physics did involve physics. While that may sound ironic, I believe it to be the overlying purpose of the game.
I had previously heard a lot about the “Fallout” franchise yet had never come into contact with it, so I entered Fallout 4 cold turkey. Purely basing my opinion off of the cover of the game, even though you are not supposed to, I imagined this as an all-out futuristic war game akin to that … Continue reading “Infanticide is Never okay? Not even in a war-torn game.”
I had previously heard a lot about the “Fallout” franchise yet had never come into contact with it, so I entered Fallout 4 cold turkey. Purely basing my opinion off of the cover of the game, even though you are not supposed to, I imagined this as an all-out futuristic war game akin to that of Call of Duty and related games instead ,during my first thirty minutes, I did not get that experience, but this can be attributed to the “tutorial” phase of the game where one is getting used to the controls and game functions. Through my progression of the game I began to see Fallout as a basic shooter game that takes place in a wasteland (I am legend?), but the game’s intro sequences challenged my thinking.
When the game is loading up we are treated to multiple scenes that describes what is about to happen in the game, even before the game starts up. One of the sequences that caught my eye exclusively was humanity’s ability to use radioactive energy as a source for something other than destruction. In our society the word “nuclear” is often associated with negative terms and war, yet this society managed to turned this potentially harmful energy source into something productive that makes them advanced for the 21st century. I have not played any other game that chose to take this route specifically, so seeing this narrative take place was new and refreshing.
A peculiar trend that I noticed in this game that relates to societal taboos in media is the role of infanticide. There is a scene where the main character’s wife is killed but her baby is kept alive and taken away. I understand that this could follow the stereotypical “let us keep the baby so we may use it to found a new society” thinking that many entertainment villains take, but it speaks volumes about what we can and cannot accept. I think that some players would have been bothered had the game decided to cold bloodedly kill the game and take the mother away instead of what actually happened. I cannot remember the last time a baby was shot on screen. This leads me to think “does society value certain lives more than others?” This question has many implications to the black lives matter movement that is found within our society right now. Not only should we wonder if society does value certain lives over others, we should seek to question why. Why do baby lives matter more than adult lives? It is highly possible that the kidnapping of the child was purely done to play into the narrative developed in the game, but this possibility should not discourage our questions.