Although it’s not entirely new, Bioshock’s presentation of players with moral decisions that they don’t immediately see the consequences of is a very important and interesting inclusion in the game, especially the way it was done at the time the game was made. An article by Ryan Lizardi in Game Studies discusses the nature of… Continue reading Bioshock Infinite (Chain of Causation)
Although it’s not entirely new, Bioshock’s presentation of players with moral decisions that they don’t immediately see the consequences of is a very important and interesting inclusion in the game, especially the way it was done at the time the game was made. An article by Ryan Lizardi in Game Studies discusses the nature of the decision to either harvest or save the Little Sisters and how the player is not immediately notified about the correctness of their decision. Lizardi explains how the sort of historical time capsule created by Rapture allows this decision making mechanic to make statements about the way that the progression of history is influenced by the morality of one’s decisions and the understanding of the “infinite chain of causation”. Games since Bioshock have done this effectively (having played Undertale recently it comes to mind as an example) but to my knowledge it was one of the only games with such a clever morality-based decision-making mechanic at the time of its release. The ability for players to go back and “redo” or “correct” their actions by replaying the game differently and making morally correct decisions allows players to understand the ways that their actions had consequences on both sides of the spectrum (if they chose “wrong” vs if they chose “right”), something you are never able to do in real life which can provide a valuable understanding of this “infinite chain of causation” and bring players closer to understanding the distant consequences that their immediate actions may have. The way that games like Bioshock allow players to revisit morally complex situations and see how their actions create consequences that may not be immediately visible to them is very powerful and could be used very interestingly in the future. I could see decision-making based children’s games being created along these lines to teach children moral lessons and help them understand the infinite chain of causation discussed by Lizardi.
Having played and loved Bioshock Infinite already but not either of the first two games in the Bioshock series, I was very excited to play the first game in the series. I love the narrative and character building present in Infinite, and the overall experience of playing the game was one of my favorite experiences… Continue reading Blast From the Past
Having played and loved Bioshock Infinite already but not either of the first two games in the Bioshock series, I was very excited to play the first game in the series. I love the narrative and character building present in Infinite, and the overall experience of playing the game was one of my favorite experiences with digital art that I’ve ever had. I’ve heard and seen so much about the original Bioshock game that I knew it would be good. Given this and my experience with Infinite I was pretty excited to play Bioshock. My excitement proved valid, with the engaging narrative, smooth gameplay and great graphics all creating a very enjoyable gameplay experience. I find it very interesting that Bioshock doesn’t really masquerade itself as some “art game” and is definitely geared toward a variety of audiences, especially some more hardcore gamers. I find that a lot of games now seem to try to achieve an artistic feel by including some sort of meaningful narrative and de-emphasizing every other aspect of the gameplay or at least making it feel more casual. Bioshock doesn’t really seem to do this, with the enjoyable gameplay style complementing the worldbuilding and narrative nicely. I find the graphic and setting contrast with Infinite very interesting, with very dark and dirty surroundings and characters fighting each other in the darkly colored abandoned underwater city of Rapture compared to the almost angelic coloring and character design present in much of Infinite. The religious references in Infinite contrast heavily and poignantly with the frequent drug references in the narrative and gameplay mechanics of Bioshock, bringing up some very interesting thematic concepts. I really like how creepy the first Bioshock feels, with the sound design and soundtrack creating an amazing sense of space and the sense that there’s always something out to get you just around the corner.
Overwatch is just about as far as a game can get from being “indie.” Blizzard Entertainment is one of the most successful and largest game companies in the world. Though their games are famous for being unique and fun, they lack the messages that smaller games often take pride with. Instead Overwatch went the arguably … Continue reading “Overwatch Sells out”
Overwatch is just about as far as a game can get from being “indie.” Blizzard Entertainment is one of the most successful and largest game companies in the world. Though their games are famous for being unique and fun, they lack the messages that smaller games often take pride with. Instead Overwatch went the arguably more successful route. They created a first person shooter that, despite the unique gameplay, is easily recognizable.
Though Overwatch never promised to deliver any sort of political or humanitarian message, it is often nice for a game to at least try to make a statement. Instead Overwatch took a pass and worked its own story. This is a disappointment because Blizzard is such a large company that it can easily afford to send a message to the public without suffering economically. Look at Gone Home, it could have made a horror game, or a shooter, or any other style besides click and read. Yet it decided that the message was more important than selling out to the classic forms of play. Through its unique stance and story people it delivered messages that resonated strongly with people. This is something that all games should strive to do.
Admittedly part of me is glad that there is no political undertones to the game. I play games to relax and escape reality, because of this I am often glad to have a game that challenges me mentally without forcing me to question its messages or meanings beyond the game world. Due to my torn stands I cannot say that Overwatch is a bad game, or that Blizzard is a bad company. I just believe they are missing an opportunity to do some good. The best outlet for the game to spread its potential message would be through its story based clips I mentioned in my first log. The nature of the game could remain the same, but the message and stance of the company would be made more clear. There is just huge potential for them to do some good with their power and success and not taking advantage of that would be selfish and wasteful.
Overwatch is an online first person shooter. It is played on Computers and Consuls; the two systems play the same. What’s struck me about Overwatch is the story. As in most Online shooters there is no single player, or “story” missions. The game can be played with no knowledge of any of the characters … Continue reading “Overwatch A Hidden Narrative”
Overwatch is an online first person shooter. It is played on Computers and Consuls; the two systems play the same. What’s struck me about Overwatch is the story. As in most Online shooters there is no single player, or “story” missions. The game can be played with no knowledge of any of the characters or why they are fighting. In game there are no clear good guys and bad guys because two of the same character could potentially face off against each other. Instead the lore of the game can be found online. Every object in the game and every character its own complex background.
The only time any from is story is mentioned in-game is through shot automated dialog between two characters before the start of a match. Specific characters when on the same team will say dialog back and forth based off their interactions/background in the lore. There are many games that use this design in order increase accessibility. How this works is that Overwatch will write and produce a background story for the game and its characters, but it will not force it into the actual gameplay. Instead the lore is available for curious and dedicated fans who wish to learn more. Blizzard, the company that created Overwatch, created videos online that served as marketing and story. The clips show interactions between characters in a fun and visually appealing manor.
Personally I believe stories are what make a game great. I need to feel engaged with the characters and care about their own narratives. Without having context a game feels very flat. Consider Call of Duty multiplayer. You know nothing about the character you play as except what team they are on. It fun in terms of mechanics, but it lacks the depth of games such as Overwatch. The unique abilities and storylines really separate characters from one another and bring the player further into the game world.
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.
Bioshock is often pointed to as an example of a game that turns the mirror back onto the player, making them question the very nature of the game following its major twist and conclusion. As Bioshock nears its final chapter, it is revealed to the player that the phrase “would you kindly” was used throughout the game to … Continue reading Game Log #2 (Bioshock) – Player Choice →
Bioshock is often pointed to as an example of a game that turns the mirror back onto the player, making them question the very nature of the game following its major twist and conclusion. As Bioshock nears its final chapter, it is revealed to the player that the phrase “would you kindly” was used throughout the game to get the player character to perform specific actions. Both the character and the player were subconsciously controlled throughout the entire game without realizing it, a revelation that functions as a reflection on games themselves. In most games the player is expected to obey the game’s instructions without question in order to complete a mission/task, and Bioshock highlights this specifically. How much choice does the player of a game like Bioshock really have? While the player has control over their weaponry, powers and approach to each mission, ultimately the phrase “would you kindly” draws each player of Bioshock to the same confrontation with Andrew Ryan.
It should be noted that Bioshock’s self-questioning nature is a well-covered topic, and the game is regularly pointed to as a “deep” or “thought-provoking” video game (for example, I’m sure several members of our class will be examining Bioshock in Game Logs this semester). The phrase “would you kindly” is a particularly well-recognized term in circles familiar with gaming, and it has become a sort of video game meme on the internet as a result. I have played Bioshock through once, and my play through this semester allowed me to view the game with new eyes. I was aware of the game’s twist and message from the beginning, and so this allowed me to observe the game’s functions from an alternative point of view. Ultimately, I realized that the game directs the player in many more ways than just with the “would you kindly” phrase. For instance, a large, yellow navigation arrow looms at the top of the screen, constantly directing players to the level’s end goal. While I chose to play Bioshock without the arrow because I enjoy exploring the entirety of each level, the arrow functions in the same way that “would you kindly” does, always pushing the player towards a singular goal and inhibiting exploration. The game’s on screen prompts also suggest a similar lack of player choice. Text phrases like “PICK UP EVE” can be read almost as commands, partially explaining why I tended to bound through levels picking up everything I could get my hands on. While it was almost always beneficial to do so, my compulsive collection of items may have been spurred on by the game constantly telling me what to do.
Bioshock’s “would you kindly” phrase works in conjunction with several game mechanics to guide each player of the game in a particular direction. While Bioshock does offer different endings and multiple ways to tackle each level, players are guided down a particular path that leads to the same levels in the same order. In more ways than one, Bioshock questions player choice and the very nature of games
I started up a new file for Bioshock, which I’ve never played before, and the first thing I noticed was how “janky” the camera movement was. I normally play third-person games, because I like being able to see the character I’m playing and what’s around them. Bioshock doesn’t give players that freedom. They’re locked into…
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I started up a new file for Bioshock, which I’ve never played before, and the first thing I noticed was how “janky” the camera movement was. I normally play third-person games, because I like being able to see the character I’m playing and what’s around them. Bioshock doesn’t give players that freedom. They’re locked into a first-person perspective, which limits what they can see at any given time. This adds a new layer of challenge and intensity to the game. Intensity because as a player, you cannot see what’s lurking around every corner; you expect enemies at every turn. It adds a challenge because enemies can sneak up on you, attacking you from behind and gaining an advantage because you don’t see them coming. In a third-person game, a player generally has free movement of the camera and exists in a sort of “God-space” above the player-characters head, which makes it difficult to surprise a player if they see an attack coming. Essentially, Bioshock uses a limited perspective to heighten the horror-esque elements of the game.
In Bioshock, the player can only see directly in front of them, which makes for a more intense experience
The first-person perspective in Bioshock harkens back to horror-films. Often, these types of films will feature a shot of the villain approaching a victim, carrying a weapon that can be seen on the camera, like most standard first-person shooters. Silence of the Lambs famously uses this method as “Buffalo Bill” stalks Clarice Starling around a dark basement using night-vision goggles.
Silence of the Lambs uses a first-person (shooter) perspective to heighten the scene’s suspense
The difference is that in horror films, the first-person perspective usually comes from a “bad guy,” not the “good guy” protagonist of videogames. However, in both cases first-person perspective forces an element of mystery. For film, the mystery often comes from not knowing who the attacker is. The film then goes on to explore that mystery, with the villain reveal as the big surprise. In videogames though, the first-person perspective creates a mystery around the environment. The players must move around and explore in order to uncover the mystery. While the first-person perspective elicits horror and mystery in both media, it does so in different ways.
This is the excerpt for your very first post.
As I’ve played portal more and more, the level environment of the main facility in the game has begun to remind me more and more of a stylized futuristic insane asylum. The padding in the elevator walls and on some others in the facility, the flat lighting and Glados’ initially soothing voice being piped in from unseen speakers are all reminiscent of some sort of wild futuristic mental hospital complete with puzzles. The cameras placed around the facility to monitor Chell and the constant knowledge that Glados is watching you add to the sense that the player is trapped in an insane asylum. The back parts of the facility that Chell makes her way into later in the game are reminiscent of another different potential vision of a mental institution, with frantic-looking writing scrawled on the wall in various unknown substances. In fact, the entire facility that Portal is set in could be seen as a sort of asylum-gone-wrong scenario – but not for Chell, rather for Glados. By the end of the game it becomes fairly clear that Glados has gone crazy and had probably constructed many (if not all) of the levels as obstacles not to test the portal gun but as some sort of twisted test (or perhaps intended torture or killing) of Chell. Chell might not be crazy enough to be put in a mental institution but Glados is crazy enough to make an entire high-tech obstacle course just to mess with Chell for fun. It’s like a twisted version of the whole “mouse in a maze” experiment trope, with vats of acid and armed robots trying to stop Chell. In a sense, the entire facility is like a reverse madhouse, meant to protect the insane Glados from those who would try to reach the controller of the maze.
image source: https://brcondron.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/first-blog-post/
Chell soars across the room in her Air Portals and dunks into another blue portal! The crowd goes wild! “Bzzzt!” When I began my play-through of Portal I conjured up my past exposure to science fiction’s dystopian future subgenre through various tabs on my internet browser. Some of the included films were The Island (2005), Total Recall (2012), and […]
Chell soars across the room in her Air Portals and dunks into another blue portal! The crowd goes wild! “Bzzzt!”
When I began my play-through of Portal I conjured up my past exposure to science fiction’s dystopian future subgenre through various tabs on my internet browser. Some of the included films were The Island (2005), Total Recall (2012), and I, Robot (2004). These three films are similar in that they share a futuristic setting with a persistent skepticism by the protagonist of the “reality” in which they live in. Albeit Chell doesn’t talk (gameplay still in progress), there hasn’t been an indication that she is hesitant to progress. With GLaDOS’ constant bickering, it doesn’t feel as if Chell has any choice in the matter as GLaDOS continuously talks about progressing through the rooms as obstacles needed to be completed. Themes that were also included in my research of the genre were Artificial Intelligence, robots, advanced weaponry, distorting space and time, and bionic enhancements.
The interaction with the turrets during my gameplay reminded me of the game Azure Striker GUNVOLT (3DS). I would build a barrier using blocks and hide behind them until I was ready to make my move. Although Azure Striker GUNVOLT is a 2D platform game the game strategies were similar. The aesthetic choices were also similar. The backdrop in Azure Striker is a darkened cityscape and the chambers that hold the various bosses resembled the room structure in Portal. Interestingly enough, one of the bosses in Azure Striker uses portals to make their attacks.
The most important aspect of the game, personally, was the bionic leg enhancements on Chell’s legs. Without the enhancements the portal physics would be pointless. As a basketball fan, the joy in executing 360 degree spins into a second blue portal and soaring out of the orange portal was priceless. Did I mention I am using the WASD + trackpad combination to complete the game?
This notion of intersectionality between various media allows for deeper exploration and appreciation of a video game. Without an understanding of futuristic dystopian sci-fi or personal appreciation of air gliding in basketball, Portal would have been a mundane puzzle platform game.
As Kline describes in Digital Play, video games originated as “the play of an overwhelmingly masculine world, centered around themes of abstract puzzle solving, exploration, sport, and centrally, war” (107). He lists activities that society generally associates with men, and thus, makes the playing of video games a masculine activity. Portal subverts the notion of…
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As Kline describes in Digital Play, video games originated as “the play of an overwhelmingly masculine world, centered around themes of abstract puzzle solving, exploration, sport, and centrally, war” (107). He lists activities that society generally associates with men, and thus, makes the playing of video games a masculine activity. Portal subverts the notion of a gaming community meant for men by manipulating first-person identification.
In film, the viewer identifies with the camera and the perspective it shows, as though the camera itself acts as a character, that character being ourselves. Similarly, in video games that use a first-person perspective, the player identifies with the character they play. Since society takes video games as a male-dominated space, men generally assume companies make games for them, thus, in most first-person games, the player plays as a man. For examples, think Call of Duty and Bioshock. (I literally Googled “first person shooter male protagonist” and got a list of games that have female protagonists, which tells you how much male protagonists dominate the field.) Now, Portal complicates that identification by making the player-character, Chell, a woman. However, the player does not even see Chell throughout the game unless they go looking for her. Since the game lacks mirrors, the player must take advantage of the portals and fire them in such a way that they can look through one and see Chell. Otherwise, one could play through the entire game and not realize her identity, since there is no other indication of her gender. I think it likely came as quite a shock to male and female gamers alike that the character they were playing was, in fact, a woman.
The first-person perspective also prevents player’s from turning Chell, as a female character, into a sexual object. In third-person perspective games, while the player identifies with the player-character, there is a separation between them, as the player watches them, rather than seeing through their eyes. Hence, female characters from those types of games, like Lara Croft, often get objectified and sexualized. Objectifying or sexualizing Chell is incredibly difficult though, because the player is constantly seeing through her eyes. In order to sexualize her, the player must also, in a sense, sexualize themself. Additionally, Chell’s outfit prevents this sexualization because it covers most of her body, and makes her chest flat. It’s through the first-person viewpoint that Portal manages to subvert the first-person shooter genre, by removing the typical male protagonists.