Exploring and Unraveling: Things Aren’t As They Seem

On the blog posts I’ve read from some of my classmates so far, I have been quite impressed. Each person I’ve read has really tried to explore what ideas are really present and how these ideas–removed from any glitz, marketing, or common platitudes–guide the mechanics in their respective games. Five posts especially showcase how our … Continue reading “Exploring and Unraveling: Things Aren’t As They Seem”

On the blog posts I’ve read from some of my classmates so far, I have been quite impressed. Each person I’ve read has really tried to explore what ideas are really present and how these ideas–removed from any glitz, marketing, or common platitudes–guide the mechanics in their respective games. Five posts especially showcase how our class has really dived into a lot of game worlds to discover new meanings embedded, intentionally or unintentionally.

Luke in his blog post on Broken Age discusses at length about how the game makes the player question their perception of reality as the in-game characters find assumption after assumption about the in-game world to be false. I’d be interested to see how that concept of an unreliable perception of reality would be applied to countergames, which disintegrate our expectations of what game is and should be. A lot of the counter games we saw in Galloway’s essay collection were very perception-bending, so I wonder how a narrative misperception of reality would pair with a visual misperception of digital objects?

Screenshot from Brody Condon’s Adam Killer

Violet’s blog post on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood also explores and unravels the idea of simulating reality in a way. The player simulates a fantasy reality of going through Kim Kardashian’s career trajectory. I would ask Violet how this celebrity game about becoming famous stacks up to other celebrity games? Does Kim Kardashian just have an incredibly strong brand (which she does), or is there a larger social phenomenon these kinds of games tap into (young people wanting to be celebrities so badly now)?

The societal want to attain celebrity status is not a super hidden feature, even though Violet still explores it well. On the other end of the spectrum, some classmates extrapolated a lot of interesting things by analyzing the real ideas behind some games. Matt wrote about Dear Esther, a game that challenges notions of action in a first-person format, and with the help of some organic chemistry clues hidden in the game, discovered a game that lost any air of pretension and became a touching game about loss and depression. Alec wrote about Desert Golfing and Harvest Moon and how the latter has the disguise of zen to its time-based system but does not have the required neutrality that Desert Golfing has. Emi wrote about complicated gender representation in Bioshock and how the Little Sisters appear to have agency without any power structures (because there is no society) yet are still at the mercy or cruelty of violent men who kill Big Daddies well.

A Little Sister from Bioshock

Each of these five scholars have picked apart in similar ways what makes these very different games. They’ve approached these games’ systems by also approaching characters (usually the player’s character or actions). They only got to the larger points of each of their post by exploring the world through some character’s personal view that became their own, whether that was Kim Kardashian’s journey or Alec’s personal journey of relaxation and frustration. These games were rooted in people’s stories, and I found them to be interesting analyses because of it. I suppose it’s always important to remember that games are always connected to people, never really in a fantasy that’s far from a human author, political issues, or personal stories.

Image Sources:

Condon, Brody. Screenshot from Adam Killer. “Interview: Brody Condon’s ‘Adam Killer’ (1999).” Gamescenes, 31 May 2010, http://www.gamescenes.org/2010/05/interview-brody-condons-adam-killer-1999.html. Accessed 10 Dec. 2016.

“Little Sister Dresses from Bioshock.” Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/pin/515802963548960476. Accessed 10 Dec. 2016.

Integrating Social Media into Kim Kardashian: Hollywood — Too Real to Work

In Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (KKH), social media is an integral part of the game. In a game all about climbing the social ladder in pursuit of fame and commodities, it’s not surprising that the developers attempted to create a way to monetize the out-of-game social media of players. The game features it’s own in-game “social media” system; after the player completes modeling gigs or attends red carpet events, little alerts flash in the bottom corner of the page from fans…

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In Kim Kardashian: Hollywood (KKH), social media is an integral part of the game. In a game all about climbing the social ladder in pursuit of fame and commodities, it’s not surprising that the developers attempted to create a way to monetize the out-of-game social media of players.

The game features it’s own in-game “social media” system; after the player completes modeling gigs or attends red carpet events, little alerts flash in the bottom corner of the page from fans and other famous in-game characters about whatever event. It’s a little jolt of validation for each of the jobs completed and also serves as a benchmark for measuring progress — if the player didn’t talk to the “it-people” at the party, network effectively, or wear a cute new outfit,  it will be reflected in the fake Twitter feed.

While other gaming platforms (notably Xbox, Playstation, and Steam) have made it possible to live chat in-game between active players, KKH did not take this approach. Instead, the intra-player social aspect is pushed to players out-of-game social media: the game prompts you every time you open it to connect to your Facebook and Twitter. As you progress through the game, unlock new items and complete jobs, the game will prompt you to share it on your real Twitter or Facebook — even offering KStars and money to sweeten the deal.

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However, when examining how many people on Facebook are “talking about” #kimkardashiangame, it clocks in at about 80k. According to HashtagTracker, #kimkardashianhollywood has about 110k timeline deliveries. According to OpenForum, there were about 2.4 million active users in 2015; this means that of all the users, roughly 4.5% are tweeting and posting to Facebook. Likely, this percentage is even smaller because of the likelihood that people who do tweet or post are more likely to do it multiple times (eg. not every post represents a separate person).

I think the reason why in-game chat is so popular in established platform games is because it adds to the gaming experience and connects players in-game. It makes the experience feel more “translucent.” But since KKH is effectively “off-shoring” a social aspect of the game to “real” life, it failed. It breaks the “magic circle” of the game to tweet it out to followers that you know outside of the game and who are likely not players within the game.