Easter come Early!

Within the video game realm there are a lot of different aspect that go into it such as the production, marketing, the assembly of the game itself, etc. However, one aspect of the game that not all games have (but the ones that do are super cool) are Easter Eggs. An Easter egg is a creation put into a game that is normally hidden that reveals something cool or special about the game itself but isn’t necessary to the game itself. One of the first examples of this concept being put into a game is the game Adventure made in 1979. Within this game there is an Easter egg that comes in the form of a secret room where the programmers name, Warren Robinett, was written. Obviously, this contributes nothing towards the overall game experience, but for those who figure this hidden message out, it makes them feel closer to the game and create a sort of emotional attachment.

Now, within Super Smash Bros there are a couple of different Easter Eggs the developers snuck into the game. One of the most well known of these would be the Starfox Smash Taunt Easter egg. This Easter egg allows either Fox or Falco, both members of the Starfox series, to be able to call upon their teammates to come shoot the enemy in their ships. However, this only works on two stages, the two Starfox stages. This Easter egg is one of the more well-known Easter eggs in the game, and really isn’t that tough to figure out, which kind of undermines the point of the Easter egg.

A tougher Easter Egg to find is on the bottom of a Barrel of one of the stages. If you zoom in ust right, you can see the bottom of a barrel says,

“2L84ME” which translates to “too late for me”. With some insider’s information, and if you follow the

SSBM series, we see that this refers to the usual KO after being shot from the barrel.

As we can see having insider knowledge and knowing more about a video game franchise or series helps develop how the user will interpret the Easter egg. Those with more knowledge of the game will find it to be much cooler and fascinating, then those without such knowledge. Either way, Easter eggs are a great way for producers to express themselves and their creativity within the gaming industry.

 

Work Cited:

Easter Egghttp://supersmashbros.wikia.com/wiki/Easter_egg. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.

The Easter Egg Puzzles That Are Hiding inside Video Gameshttps://www.newscientist.com/article/2129408-the-easter-egg-puzzles-that-are-hiding-inside-video-games/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2018.

Source: Easter come Early!

Racism in Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans is a game available on the App Store for any person over the age of nine. Embedded in Clash of Clans’ gameplay is racist undertones—a claim that may raise some eyebrows, considering Clash of Clans markets to nine year-olds as its youngest intended audience. Nonetheless, hidden in Clash of Clan’s gameplay are dominant cultural messages about race.

Anna Everett and S. Craig Watkins discuss race portrayal in video games in their article The Power of Play: The Portrayal and Performance of Race in Video Games. Everett and Watkins introduce the concept of “racialized pedagogical zones,” which has to do with game creators drawing heavily upon racist mainstream perceptions and intensifying them to create problematic, racist embedded messages within the gameplay (142).

This is immediately apparent in Clash of Clans, which, on the surface, appears to be a harmless casual game. In Everett and Watkins’ article, they reference a study by the Children Now organization which found that in the top-selling console and computer games, “black and Latino characters were often restricted to athletic, violent, and victim roles, or rendered entirely invisible” (143).

The vast majority of characters in Clash of Clans, as shown in the two screenshots below, are either white humans or mystical animals, such as dragons or golems. However, there is one black character: the Hog Rider. The Hog Rider is unlocked when the Dark Barracks are upgraded to level two, and it is a black man with a mohawk that rides on top of a hog with a large hammer in hand. The Hog Rider attacks any enemy defenses first, moving quickly and dealing out damage at a high rate.

The above two screenshots are of the character list. Notice the magical characters, like dragons and golems, side by side with white characters with only one black character represented in the Hog Rider (the character on the right side of the images that costs 45 dark elixir to train).

This construction of the Hog Rider as a black man perfectly fits the stereotype that Everett and Watkins warn of. The Hog Rider is athletic, as he must be strong to destroy enemy defenses quickly. Additionally, he is violent, as he first goes for enemy defenses in a reckless manner. This depiction of the Hog Rider reinforces dominant cultural stereotypes of black men as violent and athletic.

Furthermore, the game reinforces the notion that Everett and Watkins put forth, that “hegemonic whiteness is positioned as the taken for granted racial norm in game-world environments” (145). The game introduces “heroes” as you progress further; the Barbarian King is unlocked at Town Hall level seven, and the Archer Queen is unlocked at level nine.

The above two images are screenshots of the “Heroes”: the Barbarian King, and the Archer Queen.

These characters are deemed essential in the game, as they do not cost money to train like normal troops, and can take high damage from enemy defenses while simultaneously dealing out high amounts of damage. These characters can be considered the best in the game, and are unsurprisingly white. By representing these two characters as white, Supercell, Clash of Clan’s developer, reinforces the stereotype of “white heroism” in society. As Everett and Watkins specified, “whiteness” is accepted as the norm in video games, and Supercell only furthers this notion with their skin color decision of the heroes.

 

Works Cited

Anna Everett and S. Craig Watkins, “The Power of Play: The Portrayal and Performance of Race in Video Games” from The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning (2007), pp. 141–164.



 

Source: Racism in Clash of Clans – Interactive Digital Narratives

I Literally Have No Vowels

Words With Friends 2

 

Words With Friends 2 is basically your epitome of a casual game. No gore, no element of fear, and certainly no punishment, this game combines the classic elements and mechanics of scrabble with the ability to connect online with other individuals, hinting the “with friends” portion of Words With Friends.  The game even offers a chat box to communicate with your opponents.

Another element that makes this game fall into the casual game category is the fact that this game is about as juicy as it gets. There are bright colors, inviting sounds, and prizes to be won with the completion of weekly challenges.  All of these elements combined with extreme playability makes this game one that is accessible to almost anyone. Take a look at the trailer below to get a feel for the game and the casual atmosphere that the developers at Zynga intended with its design.

Is there anything interesting that can be said about a game like this? The academic intrigue that can be found in this game partially lies within the juxtaposition of the seemingly friendly, low risk vibe with the high stakes competitive atmosphere. You might be asking, how is this game high risk? You can’t die, there are no punishments for a loss, and, most importantly, there are no zombies trying to eat you.  Well, the punishment in this game is one that isn’t quantified within the game.  What you’re risking with this game is your pride. A win cements your superior intellect to your friends while a loss leaves you embarrassed and desperate for a rematch.

This game centers around agon competition that involves strategy, skill, and intelligence while mixing in alea factors of tile selection and opponent word placement.  This combination of agon and alea components offers another interesting component of Words with Friends: how players respond to the game. With a game that can be tied to intellect, a loss can feel like a real blow. I am interested to know if players view losses and victories differently.  What I mean is, are losses written off as unlucky results of chance while victories pinned to a players superior skill? There may be an element of this in all games that combine aspects of agon and alea, but is it more apparent in a game like Words With Friends that centers around the players intellectual ability.

A look into the tile bag

These questions will be analyzed further in upcoming blogs along with other aspects of Words With Friends. At surface level this game may not seem like much but, like any successful game, an incredible amount of thought and creativity has gone into its design and therefore this game has a lot to offer upon further inspection.

Source: I Literally Have No Vowels

The Addictiveness of Balls and Numbers

Source

The mobile game Ballz checks off every characteristic of the “casual game.” It has a pause button which allows the player to stop and resume at any time. There is a fixed map which everything takes place on and every interaction can be easily learned in a short amount of time. In fact, there is only one thing you can do in the game. Aim.

The objective of the game is to bounce your ball off the randomly generated blocks. The blocks contain a number of at least one and gradually increases with each round. Each bounce with the ball causes the number to decrease by one and the block disappears once it hits 0. If any block reaches the bottom, the game is over. Like many casual games, Ballz is deceptively simple. I found myself getting stuck in the 30s for days at a time. While the mechanics of the game are easy to learn, they are difficult to master. It’s all in the angles. After playing several hundred rounds of the game and making it to Round 121, I realized that only way to advance is to bounce the balls off slightly horizontally so it rapidly builds momentum and destroy blocks left and right. The game is more or less built on repetition and luck (as you do not know how many blocks will enter the frame the next round, what number they will be, or what position they will be in).

In terms of “juiciness” or positive feedback loops, the game is similar to Tetris. We like having the ability to destroy and simultaneously clear spaces. There is a counter in the upper corner which shows your high score, incentivizing people to play more and beat their own record. Like many app store games, there are some microtransactions as you can buy points which enables you to change the color of your ball. That’s it. A simple reskinning. Unlike other games such as Candy Crush or Clash of the Clans, there is no buying of lives or “pay-to-win” strategies. Your money only gets you a tiny, superficial aspect of the game, an option of individualization. The strongest contrast between Ballz and other mobile games is that it has no narrative. Unless, you want to compare it to workers getting doing their work only to receive an exponentially large course load, but I wouldn’t read into it that deeply. Given its simplicity in both mechanics and aesthetic, Ballz is a definitive example of a casual game.

Source: The Addictiveness of Balls and Numbers