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 … 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!

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/KnightsOfPenAndPaper

http://www.brighthand.com/review/knights-of-pen-paper-review-the-pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword/

Creativity in videogames enables self-expression (which looks the same, anyways)

In “All the Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games,” Anita Sarkeesian critiques videogame designers for relying on the same body type for female characters, but I found Second Life to not be much different. Even when players are able to fully customize their characters, in my one hour of game play, I found only […]

In “All the Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games,” Anita Sarkeesian critiques videogame designers for relying on the same body type for female characters, but I found Second Life to not be much different. Even when players are able to fully customize their characters, in my one hour of game play, I found only one female avatar that had body dimensions different than the norm.

No matter who is designing an avatar for a videogame, Sarkeesian’s argument fails to consider the magic circle that exists in videogames. People use the videogame environment to portray their “projective” identity. She considers this default, slender-shaped woman avatar a “limitation to creativity.” I think players in Second Life take advantage of the opportunity to be creative in this 3D environment to explore an identity that does not have to be one of their own.

The only time I felt like my personal freedom of identity was threatened was from chatting with a male character. He started to comment on my virtual appearance. At this point, I had not personalized my avatar at all. He said I would look better, with a different hairstyle and a smaller head. To my surprise, he sent me packages of fully customized women avatars. You can put these ‘outfits’ on, and your clothes, accessories, and even height will change. This relationship of exchanging and controlling my physical characteristics was a learning experience, but made me feel uncomfortable. The power dynamic was clear; he could customize me or any other character in whatever way he pleased. The appearance of my avatar became “playable,” and I myself became a sexualized trope in his gameplay. Videogames are spaces where agency can be isolated, shared, manipulated, or threatened.

 

ReferenceS:

Anita Sarkeesian, “All the Slender Women: Body Diversity in Video Games” (2016). See https://feministfrequency.com/video/all-the-slender-ladies-body-diversity-in-video-games/