It is safe to say that the log entries by our FMS 321 class are though-provoking. Considering our different backgrounds, it is no wonder our priorities diverge into different fields of study. I have seen the word algorithm appear more times than I would prefer, and knowing myself, I probably focused too heavily on the … Continue reading Reflecting on Game Logs: More Diversity for Broader Analysis →
It is safe to say that the log entries by our FMS 321 class are though-provoking. Considering our different backgrounds, it is no wonder our priorities diverge into different fields of study. I have seen the word algorithm appear more times than I would prefer, and knowing myself, I probably focused too heavily on the narrative and visual components of videogames. But even with the variety of information our class provided, the lack of certain topics surprised me.
What struck me most was the lack of logs describing representation in videogames. This might be due to our discussions in class, or perhaps most of us felt incapable of writing on the subject. I cannot say I did any better since my games had different issues to address before representation. Though looking back, I would have enjoyed writing on how physical representation can symbolize race, or the lack of diversity in Knights of Pen and Paper. All in all, my question for the class is, “Were we satisfied with representation in our videogames? Are there any controversial representations in our videogames at all?”
There was also a fair amount of topics we seemed ready to discuss. Agency seemed to be a popular topic. Emi discussed choices in Dragon Age: Origins, and apparently games such as Pokemon X can encounter similar issues according to Luke. I also read about similar sentiments from both Paul and Alec regarding Bioshock and Dragon Quest V, respectively. And although I did not delve deep into the topic of casual gaming, Ryan and Luke addressed the issue in Super Smash Bros. and Pokemon X, again respectively.
Overall, this class has done an excellent job of studying videogames. If I had more of a background in computer science, I could understand Chris’s posts containing algorithms and other less narrative-focused analyses. This shows how if videogames were studied by a large variety of people, with backgrounds ranging from literature to 1s and 0s, a profound understanding of interactive digital narratives can be achieved.
This is my final game log post in FMS 321 for my games. I could not be happier given the research I found for Shadow of the Colossus. Nick Fortugno wrote Losing Your Grip: Futility and Dramatic Necessity in Shadow of the Colossus which describes exactly what I discussed in the last Shadow of the … Continue reading Shadow of the Colossus: The Hamlet of Videogames →
This is my final game log post in FMS 321 for my games. I could not be happier given the research I found for Shadow of the Colossus. Nick Fortugno wrote Losing Your Grip: Futility and Dramatic Necessity in Shadow of the Colossus which describes exactly what I discussed in the last Shadow of the Colossus log entry. Using his material, I will discuss his writing and how my experience may or may not verify his findings.
Fortugno opens with a discussion of Hamlet and its relevance in discussing videogames which means I already like where he takes his analysis. He expresses interest in agency in videogames, a topic that interest me as well. He asks, “is it true that agency invalidates the possibility of dramatic necessity? Isn’t it possible that agency in an interactive narrative can be used to create the tension between expectation and inevitable outcome?” This question blew my mind. And this applies not only to Shadow of the Colossus, but for a large majority of videogames.
As he builds up to futile interactivity, a topic I would like to address later, he hits a few points I covered in the last post. One was the tragic story of Shadow of the Colossus. After looking into the ending of the game, this game seems quite tragic for Wander. His devotion to saving the maiden, Mono, forces him to commit forbidden acts that transform his being. Though he does not die, he becomes a horned baby, echoing the cursed existence of Ico and the horned children from ICO.
“The player can control the character and is set to an implied or stated objective that appears accomplishable. However, the scene is designed so that the goal is impossible to achieve,” according to Fortugno’s idea of futile interactivity. In tackling agency in videogames, Fortugno has described what essentially drives the tragic elements in Shadow of the Colossus and other games. They present false agency, but they cannot avoid their destiny.
It has been a joy reading about tragedy in Shadow of the Colossus. Most people describe it as an epic game where you fight monsters and try to rescue the “Damsel in Distress.” And if Anita Sarkeesian did not use Shadow of the Colossus in her videos, she missed a great chance. I do not disagree with her here. But I digress. With Fortugno’s futile interactivity in mind, a more comprehensive analysis of videogame mechanics and narrative cause a strong emotional reaction with the protagonist. The player is not watching the struggle of the protagonist, but is taking part in it and learning the inescapability of their circumstance. It speaks to what videogames can do regarding emotions and empathy, and Ian Bogost would probably support me on that.
Check out Fortugno’s piece!
In this log post about Shadow of the Colossus, I would like to explore the battles with Colossi. There is a gradual regression in positive feedback with each death of the Colossi. The satisfaction I felt before is disappearing, and after playing ICO it is safe to assume this is quite intentional. Since I have … Continue reading Don’t Trust the Deity →
In this log post about Shadow of the Colossus, I would like to explore the battles with Colossi. There is a gradual regression in positive feedback with each death of the Colossi. The satisfaction I felt before is disappearing, and after playing ICO it is safe to assume this is quite intentional.
Since I have never played this game before, I did not realize how easy it would be to forget about the story and skip to killing monsters. After resuming, I put the bits and pieces together to remember that I am slaying Colossi for a woman. Wander’s quest, which had me psyched when I thought about it in conjunction with the ICO quest line, became a lame motivation for my character. The gripping function that I described before, however, made me rethink how I felt about the Colossi.
For example, when I first played, I was excited about fighting large creatures and slaying monsters. But after some time away, the battles are noticeably more difficult and the victories are progressively less satisfying. After killing so many Colossi, I notice how tragic it was to end their existences. They do not seem to be doing any harm to people or the player outright. They are too far away from communities to do any real harm.
What is the objective here then? Wander attacks these beasts for the woman he presumably loves as a deity demands, but it does not feel right. This heroic slaying of Colossi feels more like a slaughter of innocent, giant creatures. Also, the dark energy that enters Wander’s body concerns me as it hearkens to the dark magic associated with Yorda’s Mother and the shadow entities from ICO. In a way, Shadow of the Colossus is warning players about illogical killing.
If Ian Bogost were using Shadow of the Colossus in his book, I think he would say this has something to do with education about mortality and taking orders. Simply put, this game is informing players not to do as an authority tells them to simply because it is an order. The Milgram experiments from my AP Psychology class is coming back, telling me to rebel against this entity. But since this is a game, I seem to have no choice if I want to progress further through the game.
Shadow of the Colossus does a fantastic job of capturing an element of realism in its game. Similar to its predecessor, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus follows the story of a male protagonist. Fortunately for this protagonist, he is not dragged into a cell, but does instead attempt to resurrect a maiden. The resurrection of … Continue reading Shadow of the Colossus: Return of R1 →
Shadow of the Colossus does a fantastic job of capturing an element of realism in its game. Similar to its predecessor, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus follows the story of a male protagonist. Fortunately for this protagonist, he is not dragged into a cell, but does instead attempt to resurrect a maiden. The resurrection of the maiden will be a topic in the next log post most likely, but I would like to discuss realism in Shadow of the Colossus.
Obviously the game does not represent reality since there has been no discovery of a giant bridge and hidden temple in our history, nor have the armored remains of colossal creatures been discovered (yes, dinosaurs are being excluded). In this game, magic is real and a deity communicates with the protagonist. But excluding how the setting is unrealistic, consider how this game addresses realistic elements with the human body.
The trade-off between making a game fun and realistic is hard to balance. Magic allows for the sword’s lack of realistic qualities excusable, but consider the mechanic to grip things R1. In ICO, R1 was used to hold a character’s hand and was critical in completing the game. In Shadow of the Colossus, the same button is used to grip the fur or “holdable areas” on certain landscapes and monsters’ bodies. If the player does not climb the beast, defeating the Colossuses is implausible. Combined with a sphere-like meter that gauges the energy you have to grip things, the mechanic becomes a difficult key to success. If there is no energy, there is no climbing.
Other aspects such as riding the horse and certain physics within the game apply, but these topics will most likely be addressed in later posts. I find it fascinating how the evolution from ICO to Shadow of Colossus not only makes health and safety important, but that the same mechanic used in establishing a relationship can be used in slaying monsters. Maybe there is a message about human nature or the duality of man, but until I conduct more research, I am left only with speculation.
This game log is the final log for Knights of Pen and Paper. As such, I am required to have found research on the game. It should be noted, for example, that Knights of Pen and Paper is playable on the PC (Personal Computer), a fact that was unknown to me. However, Knights of Pen … Continue reading Training Noobz into Hardcore Gamers →
This game log is the final log for Knights of Pen and Paper. As such, I am required to have found research on the game. It should be noted, for example, that Knights of Pen and Paper is playable on the PC (Personal Computer), a fact that was unknown to me. However, Knights of Pen and Paper has not attracted the critical eye of the academic. This log will analyze the game through a casual-academic perspective, investigating its mechanics and narrative for deeper meaning.
By analyzing the mechanics of the game, I will be able to determine the nature of Knights of Pen and Paper. After reviewing my previous logs, I noticed that I have looked at this game through the lens of a “hardcore gamer,” if I may call myself that. In Jesper Juul’s Chapter 2 of A Casual Revolution, Juul describes casual games as containing five elements: fiction, usability, interruptibility, difficulty and punishment, and juiciness. To me, Knights of Pen and Paper fulfills these categories. The game is set in fiction, it has a usable game design (it’s simply clicking!), you can stop and resume whenever you like, the game requires a level of strategy and the player is punished for failing (losing gold or time), and the positive feedback from clicking on attacks is disproportionately high considering the action in the game.
I think Knights of Pen and Paper can be considered a casual game. Though some might argue that this leans closer to hard core, the game welcomes players, naïve and experienced, to join and learn about nerd culture. It’s narrative covers topics from fantasy to sci-fi as the TV Tropes link can show below. What made the game seem more relevant for inexperienced players is the final battle with Mom. Granted, I only made it to “A Journey’s End,” but I found a video with this ending: “WOWOWOWOW! GAME IS OVER, GG WP! Congratulations, you beat the game! You’re a hardcore player!” Suddenly the narrative tells the player that they are a hardcore player, which strikes me as something odd for a casual game to claim. But this indisputably recognizes how this casual game introduces themes, motifs, tropes, concepts from a variety of games (tabletop and videogames alike) and rewards the player of any skill level after defeating the Final Boss (Mom) by giving them the title “Hardcore Player.”
It should be safe to say that this game acts as a tutorial for people who want to play games in general. Knights of Pen and Paper uses a simple clicking mechanic to introduce a variety of ideas using humor and “dumbed-down” explanations to bring players to a common understanding. And as for the nature of the game, I think the amount of grinding (repetitive monster-fighting in this case) alone is enough to welcome noobz (new players or newbies) to the world of the hardcore gamer.
Check these out!
In the previous Knights of Pen and Paper log, I mentioned how this mobile game is a sort of metagame in itself. My definition of metagame is similar to metatheatre where a game comments on itself or other cultural phenomena. I also brought up the Magic Circle, but there is an element of reverence that … Continue reading The Magic Circle of Reverence →
In the previous Knights of Pen and Paper log, I mentioned how this mobile game is a sort of metagame in itself. My definition of metagame is similar to metatheatre where a game comments on itself or other cultural phenomena. I also brought up the Magic Circle, but there is an element of reverence that I should discuss that explores how Knights of Pen and Paper is a metagame. The question I answer to the best of my ability is this: how does the Magic Circle and reverence combine in Knights of Pen and Paper to make a mobile metagame?
An understanding of the Magic Circle is necessary to see how this applies in Knights of Pen and Paper. The Magic Circle, as we discussed in class, comes from Johan Huizinga and his discussion of play and playgrounds (magic circles). With regard to this game, the Magic Circle is something similar to a sacred ground or ritual that gamers partake in while playing games, especially tabletop games. I thought the game would aim for a realistic story, but it seems broken as the Game Master and other characters make comments that point to the recognition of imaginary and real realms.
So how does reverence come into play? As Ian Bogost talks about reverence in his chapter “Reverance” in How to Do Things with Vidoegames, he explains how a videogame uses a church in a setting for Resistance: Fall of Man. Though people were outraged at the thought of using a real church as a setting, Bogost argues that the game shows people the significance of the church. In Knight of Pen and Paper, the game occasionally pokes fun at lame monsters or overused settings, but there is praise in its many jokes. With the little items that can be bought to customize the room, the buffs (upgrades) respond to cultural gags for those who identify as nerds.
Knights of Pen and Paper is undoubtedly a metagame. Not only does it break the Magic Circle, but it also breaks the Fourth Wall (basically the threshold separating performers and audience). And by making jokes about Dungeons and Dragons and other nerdy stereotypes, the game comments on its rules and other cultural topics. This form of metagaming expands itself to an audience that might be learning about tabletop games or to those who are veterans from the days before videogames.
After playing Knights of Pen and Paper, I remembered the fun of playing tabletop games in real life. From my own experience, translating tabletop games to videogames is no easy feat. The issues people face in this conversion has nothing to do with creating the right environments for fantasy or sci-fi, but they lie in … Continue reading Is Knights of Pen and Paper a Metagame? →
After playing Knights of Pen and Paper, I remembered the fun of playing tabletop games in real life. From my own experience, translating tabletop games to videogames is no easy feat. The issues people face in this conversion has nothing to do with creating the right environments for fantasy or sci-fi, but they lie in the numerous actions people can make in tabletop games. In this log, I would like to discuss my thoughts on Knights of Pen and Paper and its relationship with tabletop games and videogames.
As I mentioned before, the translation of tabletop games to videogames is quite difficult. This leads to videogames based on Dungeons & Dragons, for example, to fall through in terms of popularity. People want to play table top games because they offer a sense of creative freedom. Videogames, however, face plenty of limitations. It is too difficult for game developers to make a game that allows the player total freedom to do whatever they want since there are only so many programs most computers or consoles can run until the game crashes, especially for role-playing games. And in most RPGs (role-playing games), a narrative must form with cued actions from non-player characters (NPCs) according to the actions of the player.
Then how does Knights of Pen and Paper blend these two elements? First, it pays respect to the gamer stereotype. The room you play in looks like a basement where most people imaging tabletop games to occur. Also, though the player cannot say what they want, the party is created by the different “players” you can choose to fill the available chairs. In a sense, you control the “player characters” while the Game Master controls the monsters… until the game goes rogue!
The plot thickens when the Game Master reveals that he is not controlling the actions of his NPCs which reminded me of our class discussion of the Magic Circle. Knights of Pen and Paper seems to act under the premise, “What if the Magic Circle was a Magic Circle?” The objective to defeat those responsible for breaking the circle that separates reality from imagination is then born for the game’s plot. Using this plot, the player can experience the history of tabletop games (namely Dungeons and Dragons) and the tropes associated with these games, making this mobile game a metagame.
After doing research on ICO, Interactivity in Ico: Initial Involvement, Immersion, Investment by Drew Davidson caught my attention. Besides the fact that he types Ico and not ICO, Davidson’s study of the game revolves around initial involvement, immersion, and investment in the game’s narrative and mechanics. Davidson describes initial involvement as, “literally, the start of … Continue reading Understanding ICO: Davidson’s Analysis or Andrew’s Evaluation? →
After doing research on ICO, Interactivity in Ico: Initial Involvement, Immersion, Investment by Drew Davidson caught my attention. Besides the fact that he types Ico and not ICO, Davidson’s study of the game revolves around initial involvement, immersion, and investment in the game’s narrative and mechanics. Davidson describes initial involvement as, “literally, the start of the game.” Everything cinematic before the player assumes control of Ico is part of the initial involvement. This, for non-gamers, is Davidson’s academic description of a tutorial. After assuming control of Ico and protecting and walking with Yorda the first time, the tutorial or initial involvement ends.
The immersion occurs after the tutorial is finished, allowing the player to explore the environment and solve the puzzles ICO presented. This is where I begin to disagree with Davidson. Immersion and later investment is not something that should be described chronologically. As a person who studies performance, I think Davidson misses the point of the mechanics available during the initial involvement. The relationship between Ico and Yorda starts with their first successful escape. Granted these describe stages for the player’s dedication to the game, but that would be assuming that after the initial involvement that the player decides to quit (which is still likely).
I cannot say it is necessarily wrong to analyze ICO this way, but I think the emphasis on the game-like qualities undermines what ICO attempts to express artistically. With the narrative presented, it would seem more appropriate to analyze the game as if it were a film or some form of literature. The study has opened my eyes to how the investment or, “[satisfaction from] completion of the game,” plays a key role in ICO’s success, but I want to defend this game’s emotional expression.
In summary, ICO has been a pleasure to play. I use Davidson’s writing here to show how I think the study of games should be flexible depending on the game itself. As I mentioned in my second post for ICO, I respect Anita Sarkeesian’s feminist critique, and although I disagreed with her use of this game, her analysis seems more fitting than Davidson’s. And as a side note, I learned that some versions of ICO have multiplayer capabilities for someone to control Yorda, making her active and therefore more empowered than she is originally portrayed. ICO has shown me that games with compelling narratives demand adequate analysis of the story and visuals as well as its mechanics which ultimately enhance the emotions expressed.
Check out Davidson’s Analysis: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=958723
After watching Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on the “Damsel in Distress” trope, I would like to challenge her use of ICO in some of these videos. It is important to recognize that although the game does feature something similar to the “Damsel in Distress” trope that Anita Sarkeesian describes, the appearance of said trope is justified … Continue reading Defending ICO from False Accusation →
After watching Anita Sarkeesian’s videos on the “Damsel in Distress” trope, I would like to challenge her use of ICO in some of these videos. It is important to recognize that although the game does feature something similar to the “Damsel in Distress” trope that Anita Sarkeesian describes, the appearance of said trope is justified and does not disempower Yorda.
Sarkeesian’s description of the “Damsel in Distress” explains the origin from the French phrase, “Demoiselles en Détresse,” and how it functions as, “a plot device in which a female character is placed in a perilous situation from which she cannot escape on her own and must be rescued by a male character, usually providing the core incentive or motivation for the protagonist’s quest.” Sarkeesian also explains how the female characters are either, “relatives or love interests,” which obviously provides incentive into why they should be rescued in the first place.
So does ICO exploit the “Damsel in Distress” trope? In my opinion, ICO’s use of anything resembling the trope is only part of what the game is trying to explore as a whole. Ico frees Yorda after receiving a vision of the cage, and though this is necessary to complete the game, Ico’s main quest is not to “save Yorda.” Ultimately the quest Ico and Yorda embark on can be described as “escape from the castle.” After finding Yorda’s Mother, the quest takes on a “Damsel in Distress”-like quest, but serves to illuminate their friendship. After struggling to escape, Ico goes to rescue her not as a confirmed love interest, but certainly as a valued companion.
To recap, this log post is not discrediting Sarkeesian’s argument regarding the “Damsel in Distress” trop in videogames. I agree with her accusation of game developers lacking a motivation for the protagonist using this trope in order to find substance in their game’s plot. However, when I spotted clips of ICO, I had to take a stand. Games such as Dishonored or Super Mario may use this trope in a way that drives the plot forward, but ICO uses this to explore the depth of Ico and Yorda’s relationship. Would Ico rescue Yorda in the face of her evil, shadow magic manipulating mother? Yes. And this objective reveals the heroic elements of Ico’s character rather than exhibit the problematic mindset of the game’s developer.
Sarkeesian’s awesome playlist including the “Damsel in Distress” trope can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLn4ob_5_ttEaA_vc8F3fjzE62esf9yP61
For my first game log (excluding the Portal game log), I decided to play Ico. What intrigues me about this game is that it came out before Shadow of the Colossus, a game that somehow comes up in virtually every discussion regarding “boss battles.” I found it odd that the predecessor to such a game … Continue reading Starting ICO: A Cinematic Opening with Little Dialogue →
For my first game log (excluding the Portal game log), I decided to play Ico. What intrigues me about this game is that it came out before Shadow of the Colossus, a game that somehow comes up in virtually every discussion regarding “boss battles.” I found it odd that the predecessor to such a game would seem so hidden, and I decided to play. Please keep in mind for this log and for the sequential posts regarding Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, I have been using the The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection for the PlayStation 3.
First, allow me express how the beginning of this game does not feel like a game. It feels like an interactive movie. The player can control a camera, zooming in and out of focus. The lack of dialogue supports this sensation, providing details through imagery rather than excessive explanations. Also, seeing as how the control of the camera seems disconnected from Ico (the protagonist and player character), it made me wonder if I was going to enter his head space or relate to his struggle. It certainly provides a sense of helplessness as all you can do is watch what is happening.
Second, once Ico breaks out and the player assumes control of his body, the introduction to gaming mechanics confused me. I had no idea what I was doing. The button that made Ico call out (later revealed to be a call for Yorda) made me think, “Wow! There’s even a button to call for help. Should I use it if the bad guys can hear me?” But of course, I learned that the temple was abandoned… until the visions came.
I cannot emphasize enough how the lack of dialogue had me more invested in these characters than most games with dramatic cut scenes. The entire situation between Ico and Yorda (once freed) did its job in conveying a blossoming relationship between the two characters. The mechanic that allows for Ico to hold Yorda’s hand, holding R1, simulates the continuous gripping throughout the gameplay . And the couches that act as save points, items quite out of place compared to the rest of the environment, provided an excellent visual to the level of intimacy between these characters. I think Ico explores the complexities of these characters and their bond, and I would like to look further into their story.