A True Inclusive Game

          Fortnite is my console game of choice for two reasons: the objective of the game and the inclusivity of the game characters.  The objective of the game is to be the last man, duo, or squad standing, depending on the game mode you choose to play.  Fortnite is revitalizing the late night gaming culture that was prominent when Call of Duty was first released.  Groups of friends may stay up until the early morning hours simply entranced with this game, a tradition that has seemed to die in recent years.  A big contributor to this revamp is the idea of the world versus you- or the world versus you and your crew- much like Call of Duty.  Along with the objective of last man standing, a key contributor toward achieving this is through building forts to gain both a protective advantage as well as a visual advantage over your opponent.  You gain the resources, as well as the weapons, by exploring different locations and discovering items that are laying around.  This game, thanks to its overall objective, plays into the four types of gamers that we discussed as a class the first day of school.  The “spades” have the ability to player kill, the “clubs” have the fort building/exploration aspect, the “hearts” have to communicative component to the game, and the “diamond” players have the overall objective of being the last person standing.

The other reason why I chose Fortnite is because of the inclusivity of the in-game characters.  For the game, your character is randomly chosen for you and the characters include a variety of races as well as both female and male options.  With how inclusive society has become, this game perfectly accommodates a highly demanded societal request.  This inclusivity also, in my opinion, creates a wider range of fans of the game itself.

(This is the cover photo for Fortnite.  Notice the characters that featured.)

(This is an in-game picture of building forts.)

Source: A True Inclusive Game

Call of Duty: WWII

The history of Call of Duty is a long and popular franchise that has been in the consoles of gamers around the world. The newest addition of this franchise sets back in 1939 during the great war: WWII. This console game is supposed to be a great representation of how strenuous and bloody the war was. The game provides several different game modes for you to enjoy: Nazi zombies, a campaign and a chance to play people around the world in online. Nazi zombies is a game mode that was first started in the first Call of Duty. The game places you in a house with a single pistol and a desire to prevail over the living dead as they try and take you down. The online portion is for the hardcore gamers, it gives you the opportunity to level up, customize weapons, and play with your friends where ever they may be. The campaign is the game mode that I was most interested in. The game follows a famous group of soldiers, the 1st Infantry Division, otherwise known as the Fighting First. You play as a simple man from Texas, Pvt. Ronald ‘Red’ Daniels. The campaign takes you through the war’s greatest and most memorable battles like the Battle of the Bulge, D-Day and several others that make you proud to be an American. Being a first-person shooter game, you would expect it to be like any other, however, this isn’t just any other video game. In my opinion, this game would be better suited to be called an interactive movie. While you are going through the harsh terrain of Europe, you also have an incredible and thought out story line that deals with a hot head C.O. While Red wishes to get back home to Texas to see his loving, pregnant wife, he otherwise has a deep love for his country and his company. We see as Red evolves and becomes a better man and an even better soldier.

Source: Call of Duty: WWII

Rotating Developers of my CoD games

Call of Duty is a first-person shooter franchise with the most current game, Call of Duty: WWII, available on Microsoft Windows (PC), PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.  Since the first game of the series (2003), 18 consoles have graced the series with 3 main companies dominating the consoles: Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo.

After the initial release, the series has mainly been developed by Treyarch and Infinity Ward. Every so often another developing company, like Amaze Entertainment or Gray Matter Interactive Studios, will develop a Call of Duty game, but the popularity of these select games are minimal.  This has led Activision, the famous American video game publisher, to rely on the two main companies, Treyarch and Infinity Ward. My two favorite Call of Duty games are Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (created by Infinity Ward) and Call of Duty: Black Ops (created by Treyarch).

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty: Black Ops

But according to president and CEO of Activision Publishing Eric Hirshberg in 2014, Call of Duty changed to a 3 year development cycle, adding Sledgehammer Games as the third developer.  Sledgehammer Games developed the most recent game of the series, Call of Duty: WWII, which I am currently playing.  But the game I am playing today would be different if Activision had not added Sledgehammer Games.

Call of Duty: WWII

 

Call of Duty: WWII Gameplay with ice pick weapon

Activision did this to “ensure a high level of quality for the series” (McWhertor).  Additionally, “[the change] will give designers more time to envision and innovate each title, give content creators more focus on DLC and micro-DLC, and will give teams more time to polish, helping to ensure that Activision delivers the best possible experience to their fans each and every time”  (McWhertor).  The addition of Sledgehammer Games is a smart strategy by Activision to create a Call of Duty game that becomes part of their successful 80:20 rule (Hayes and Disney).  (“This is where the 20% of all game titles published represents 80 per cent of all sales” (Kline)). The idea is that to cover against frequent failures of games, a company must develop several games that make up for the losses.  And Activision has added Sledgehammer into their developing rotation in order to diminish the failures and increase their profits.

This strategy of creating a better game experience for video game consumers comes because of late 1900’s Nintendo.  After Nintendo developed a research and intelligence network, they developed high-caliber games that were strongly associated with hardware platforms such as the NES. Similarly, Activision is attempting to do this with their Call of Duty games and Xbox, PlayStation, and PC’s.  Call of Duty has become a house-hold video game name while Xbox, PlayStation, and PC are standard consoles households, and with the addition of Sledgehammer Games, this is not likely to change.

 

Sources:

Hayes and Dinsey, with Parker, Games War, 32.

Kline, Stephen, et al. Digital Play: The Interaction of Technology, Culture, and   Marketing. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt818w1.

McWhertor, Michael. “Call of Duty Moving to 3-Year, 3-Studio Dev Cycle,    Sledgehammer on 2014 Game.” Polygon, Polygon, 6 Feb. 2014, www.polygon.com/2014/2/6/5387530/call-of-duty-moving-to-3-year-3-studio-dev-cycle-sledgehammer-on-2014).

Source: Rotating Developers of my CoD games

Postal Redux: Shooters and Society

Videogames are often a means to leave the real world and give your mind a time to relax. And as technology became more and more advanced, some studios decided to make them more and more realistic. As games became more and more realistic, mature videogames began to raise eyebrows as the line between real world and videogame world began to disintegrate. I argue that mature, violent videogames can be allowed in society but in the wrong hands, they can lead to horrible outcomes. Like DoomPostal was society’s scapegoat for the gun violence seen in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

Postal was released in 1997 and was heavily criticized for its over the top violence. It is important to note that this was released in the same era as Doom and Grand Theft Auto, and society was getting nervous about the mature video games being released. Players take control of “Postal Dude” and are challenged to proceed through levels killing the required amount of people with various weapons. There is no story (only still frames with what could be called poetry…), you are just thrown into the world with a gun and an objective: rack up maximum points with maximum carnage.

One of the many still frames that are used between levels. Note the graphic text.

On the surface, the game is simple run and gun game that focuses merely on the violence and bloodshed of victims just for the sake of being violent. But if you dig a little deeper, you need to have a detailed strategy in order to stay alive and maintain your best weapons (ammo is limited). This includes hiding when necessary, taking out hostiles in the correct order, and looking for ways to take out large groups at once. Like Doom, there is a method to the madness and a well crafted method equals a better score. So if Postal is encouraging a strategy for mass murder, could someone argue that it is teaching players how to commit mass murder?

One of the first levels encountered. The goal is to kill hostiles (typically police and the army) and leave the civilians alone.

Though Postal is not what we would consider realistic by today’s standards, it was most certainly cutting edge for the time. The line between realistic world and “just a game” was definitely blurred which caused some people to think that this game would harm the minds of the players and cause them to be more violent.  Their thinking was justified, how could this be considered just a game? It was very much a part of real life. Remember, “going postal” was a term familiar in the 90’s. It was actually created due in part to this event. And this is only one of the few tragedies that happened in the 90’s. The United States Postal Service even tried to sue Postal developers, Running With Scissors, for defamation. Society had an argument against games like this, they obviously had negative relationships with real world events. But at what point does the suppression of what games are released become an issue with Free Speech?

You should be allowed to publish any type of videogame no matter the content. But, I think that mature videogames need to be monitored more effectively. You shouldn’t have minors owning violent/explicit games. If their parents want to buy them the videogame, they should be informed about the content in the game and be okay with their child playing said game. If you are of age to buy mature games, you should ask yourself if you are ready to see the explicit content and if you think you will be harmed by it, you should not buy the game. Mature videogames get bad press because people do not play them maturely. I have often seen grown adults act childish over GTA: Online and misrepresent the gaming culture. To play mature games, you need to act maturely and be aware about what it is you are actually doing in the game. It is important to know when videogames are just games and when they are real. As games become more realistic and virtual reality allows players to step inside the game world, we have to take a minute and remind ourselves that it is just a game.

A large explosion in Postal, not uncommon.

 

Source: Postal Redux: Shooters and Society

I Beat the Game (The Stanley Parable Log #1)

The Stanley Parable is an unusual game. Originally a mod for Half-Life 2,  it places the player in the shoes of Stanley, an employee at an unnamed generic corporation. Stanley pushes buttons in a specific order based on what his computer says every day, but one day his coworkers vanish and his computer gives no instruction.

This is where the gameplay starts for the player. The game’s mechanics consist only of movement via WASD and the interaction button E (which sometimes opens doors and does little else). The player interacts mainly with the narrator; a sophisticated British voice narrates Stanley’s intended actions, but the player is capable (and often subtly encouraged) to disobey these suggestions. For example, on my first playthrough, I came to a point in a hallway with a door with the words “BROOM CLOSET” written on it in large letters:

Although the narrator says something like, “Stanley continued down the hallway,” the door clearly stands out to the player. I went inside, and the narrator responded in disbelief, then impatience, then anger:

The narrator eventually runs out of lines, and the player can move on or sit in silence interminably. But this makes up only one of very many instances where the player can disobey the narrator, most of which lead to different game outcomes and endings.

This conflict between narrator and player, storyteller and listener, constitutes the core of The Stanley Parable. It uses the interactive medium to play on tropes of video games and narratives in general. A clear example of this commentary comes at the end of the, “main,” storyline.

After discovering and shutting down a mind control facility in the basement of his office building, Stanley steps out into the open world a free man:

 

This idyllic countryside and peaceful epilogue appear to represent an escape for the protagonist. However, they come across as almost too perfect; this image seems unbelievable and unrealistic, suggesting that Stanley has not in fact reached freedom. Further reinforcing this impression, the screen immediately goes black and cuts back to the beginning of the game.

This is but one of many endings for the game, which in it’s loading screen claims that, “THE END IS NEVER THE END IS NEVER THE END…”

 

Source: I Beat the Game (The Stanley Parable Log #1)