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.
Looking on back on the various topics I discussed in my Game Logs, I am actually surprised by the lack of constant themes that tie my logs together. I find it pretty impressive that the games I chose were able to spawn unique topics of conversation that did not overlap with each other, especially when considering the … Continue reading Game Log #11 (Reflection): Summing it All Up →
Looking on back on the various topics I discussed in my Game Logs, I am actually surprised by the lack of constant themes that tie my logs together. I find it pretty impressive that the games I chose were able to spawn unique topics of conversation that did not overlap with each other, especially when considering the fact that one of my games was Ratchet and Clank (not exactly a work renowned for its intellectual musings). There are some notable similarities, however, between some of the topics I discuss in my posts and posts authored by other members of the class. While on a base level this is perhaps not the most earth-shattering revelation, given the fact that as a group we studied the same topics and read many of the same assignments, I do find it interesting the Game Logs of my classmates actually serve to support some of my arguments and suggest that my posts were not simply incoherent ramblings.
For instance, Patrick’s post on death in Infinity Blade III relates to the concept of death in games that I discuss in Game Log #10, specifically in how we both explore how games can use death as a mechanic that ultimately leads to the development of a player’s skill. While Patrick tends to focus more on how this mechanic assisted his immersion in the gameplay, we both come to similar conclusions that death does not always act as a simple punishment for the player. Instead, it can provide a player with greater knowledge, skill, and power that will assist their next attempt. Another one of Patrick’s posts discusses the definition of a casual game in a way that mirrors my thoughts in Game Log #5, in that we both played iPhone games that defied the simplistic tropes tied to most mobile experiences. Several posts also discuss race in a manner that reflects some of the discussion I attempt to carry out in Game Log #6. Sam’s mention of potentially unintentional racial undertones in the intro of Grand Theft Auto V and Desmond’s exploration of Arab representation in Metal Gear Solid V point to the sort of conclusions I make concerning the depiction of Lee’s character in The Walking Dead.
I found Violet’s take on The Last of Us to be particularly intriguing. While her analysis tends to center around feminist critique, it also shares some interesting parallels to the popularity of zombie media I discuss in Game Log #7. I argue throughout my post that the recent decline in zombie games and the continued popularity of The Walking Dead can be attributed to a lack of public interest in the same old shoot-em-up gameplay that has characterized zombie games for years. The personal, human issues discussed in The Walking Dead are at the forefront of its appeal, with the apocalypse setting eventually fading into the background. I found it interesting that Violet’s distain for The Last of Us’ inability to accomplish anything interesting with its protagonists’ relationship resulted in her calling the game “another tired hyper-masculine experience.”
I am satisfied with the similarities that cross between my posts and the posts of my peers, as they allow me to fill in the gaps where my Game Logs fail to speak to each other. If I had to find a significant similarity that exists between two of my blogs, however, I would have to point to the personal anecdotes I use in Game Log #3’s discussion of Bioshock’s music and the gameplay of Halo I mention in Game Log #10. In both of these instances I used memories of my old gaming days that I had not thought of in years in order to prove my points. In writing Game Logs about them, I was able to determine what it was about these memories that made them so special to me in the first place. This was certainly an educational and valuable experience, as I was able to greater contextualize the joy I felt playing Bioshock and Halo for the first time all those years ago.
I was intrigued by how many of my classmates wrote on similar topics, even though we played different games. I noticed a multitude of themes, but I’m going to focus on three: player choice, the difference between casual and hardcore games, and broader significance. I’m defining player choice as the ability of a player to…
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I was intrigued by how many of my classmates wrote on similar topics, even though we played different games. I noticed a multitude of themes, but I’m going to focus on three: player choice, the difference between casual and hardcore games, and broader significance.
I’m defining player choice as the ability of a player to do/be whatever they want within a game. I looked at this when addressing Dragon Age: Origins and how it failed to be an open-world by limiting where a player could explore. Luke found a very similar experience in Pokemon X, where certain pathways are blocked to a player until they complete other quests. Paul addressed it in regards to Bioshock, and how the player think they’re making independent decisions, but it comes to be revealed they’ve just been following commands the whole time. Bioshock thus draws attention to to the fact the player lack choice. This is similar to Alec’s point about Dragon Quest V, where player’s must occupy a male character, and the only choice they get is the character’s name. I feel like this came up because games are so often marketed as stories that you get to experience in whatever way you want, but most actually require players to follow a specific path to completion.
So often we believe that there’s a strict line between casual and hardcore games, but I think we discovered that those distinctions aren’t as clear cut as we believed. I wrote about how Mystic Messenger was still casual even if parts of it seemed hardcore, using “A Casual Revolution” by Jesper Juul. Ryan did a similar analysis with the article, looking Super Smash Bro’s. He pointed out that game didn’t fit cleanly into casual or hardcore. The article came up again in Luke’s analysis of Pokemon X, which also doesn’t fit neatly into either category as it makes use of elements from both.
The last category was how a lot of people drew in external sources, by relating games to their broader significance in the word. Luke talked about how psychological studies around conservation use Pokemon to make their argument. He pointed out though that those studies missed certain elements because they likely hadn’t played the game, showing the misconceptions about gaming in the world. Paul did something similar in his analysis of Bioshock talking about the cultural significance of its science-based narratives. This game was just a recent example of the cultural trend to present fantasy elements grounded in science.
Even though we played a wide variety of games, we still got hung up or interested in similar issues, which I think may show the limits of videogames as they exist now, and places for them to explore in the future.