Bookmark of the Week

Posted: November 30, 2010 in Website recommendations
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http://www.psychologyofgames.com/

This one is for all of my game designer friends out there. Incredibly interesting articles by an incredibly interesting guy.

Oh what tangled webs we – Braid?

Posted: November 11, 2010 in Game Reviews
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I’m a little late getting on this bandwagon, but let’s talk about Braid shall we? I’ll start by saying I loved the game, but I did have problems with it. I’m not sure of why really, I think it has to do with some of the creator’s (Jonathan Blow) comments. Namely, his critique of how games relate story and how integrated the story is in game play mechanics. I found Braid to be a step in the right direction, but I can’t help wondering how the game would play without the books giving snippets of story. I can’t go back and try to experience it that way, so right now it’s just kind of a feeling. The feeling is, “Could this game have been better without the story book elements?” It’s an interesting idea; the player would have to glean a story and a meaning from the game mechanics and visuals without the story books to drive the player into a certain way of thinking. What could I have read into the game by just playing and not reading? How would I have reacted when I catch the Princess? Would I notice the imagery of each level? Honestly, it’s impossible for me to answer these questions. My mind has been tainted. I took hold of a narrative. Granted it was a pretty nice narrative, but I can’t help but feel Blow copped out a bit, but who am I to judge and which of the two of us can now swim in a hot tub full of money?

SCMRPG

Posted: October 30, 2010 in Game Reviews

It’s been a while since the first time I played this game. I would have though that having had played it before the second play through would give me a different perspective on the whole game. The odd part was that it really didn’t. Granted I had a much easier time placing the propane tanks this time around (Yay RPG Maker limitations) but that’s not really the part the gets me, it’s more the stigma associated with the game. It’s awefully hard for us to humanize our enemies, heck everytime we go to war we fight against them. If we look back to past serial killers and our enemies at war time, we as a species have an amazing tendency to forget that our enemies are indeed, to at least some extent, just like us. I guess that’s why I enjoy the game, for me personally I have a real feeling of, “There but for the grace of God, goes I.” I played the same games these kids did, I listened to the same music, I wore black and trench coats and I was ostracized a bit as a nerd. heck at the time Dylan and Eric were only a few years my senior. I can relate to their frustrations with their surroundings and their problems in school, however the part that gets me every time is wondering what made them go over the edge. The game designer apparently had a very similar view point. The game doesn’t try and justify the actions of two boys, it just tries to help you understand them, to humanize them. Understanding why people do monstrous things does not mean you condone it, or that you also are a monster; it means your just as human as they were.

Yeah James! Let me speak!

Posted: October 25, 2010 in Game Reviews

I hate to say it, but upon Billy’s (I think that’s his name, I only got the game to run once on my comp) first line I laughed out loud for so long I had to go back and start the game again. I don’t know why I found his voice so hilarious initially, but by God it was the light of my day that particular evening. I loved the concept behind the game, being tasked with organizing repressed memories almost like defraging an old hard drive but not like that at all. At one point I had to put a box on a shelf that was above my reach I tried to hop up and put it in and in the process had the box explode triggering a cinematic, at this point I went mental. I started throwing any box I can get my hands on, Billy’s voice became so grating and repetitive that I found myself regretting a marriage that I never had. No wonder James was sick of that whiny, whiny man. And then it hit me, despite my objective nature when it comes to games, I found myself immersed in a game that if you step back from it, really doesn’t have that much going for it. I wondered why it did this and I think its because of its strong cathartic element. We all wish we can just let go of all of our baggage, all of the memories that we want to forget but carry with us. We all want to just tell people how we feel, and in a way the game lets you do so vicariously through a married couple about to call it quits. Brilliant. Okay Billy, your turn.

How’s that for a monstrous title? Any way,  I’ve been lax in my reviewing duties so here’s to me desperately catching up while other deadlines catch up to me.

 

So I played The Graveyard, and I found myself put off by it. I didn’t particularly think about why I didn’t like it, or rather the root of why I didn’t like it.  This came up in class and since then I’ve had about two weeks to mull it over and I think I finally came up with an answer.  Art is about balance. Great art is about balance of message and aesthetics. I found that the game out lived its message within the first 30 seconds.  There are even arguments about whether or not The Graveyard is even a game, and up until last week I sided with the “not” camp. My opinion has since shifted to it being mediocre art and a bad game. I say this because of the immense amount of possibilities that existed for it but how weak it felt. It was too detailed to give a minimalist feel, the composition was boring and the gameplay didn’t draw in the player at all.

This game was supposed to be a commentary on the triviality of death in modern games, but instead of being deeply affected by playing the game, I felt as if I had a mouth full of cardboard; not disappointed, just perplexed and bored. It does have gameplay, but very weak gameplay though not in a way that would compliment being elderly. It just felt disconnected, to a point where I wasn’t able to connect with the medium, therefore leaving my wanting. I think that there’s a good game in there somewhere, but in it’s current state it just comes off as pretentious,  which oddly enough doesn’t make it bad art, that’s a job reserved for the fact that it’s just a pile of cardboard.

So, Guillermo del Toro…

Posted: October 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m not sure if any of you read Kotaku on a regular basis, but I found this. I love his work, so this is actually rather nice to hear from him.

Back from the Dead

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Game Reviews

I know I know, I live! It’s amazing! Stop the presses! The reason for this joyous dusting off are more game reviews, but this time it’s a little different. I’m reviewing their artistic merits! So let’s get on with it shall we?

Today I’d like to talk about I Shot Andy Warhol by Cory Arcangel (Too lazy to link, but you’ll need an NES emulator) Anyway, so where to start. For me, I think the art here starts with the process Arcangel goes through to create the game, the lost art of cartridge modding. It’s a little something that makes me nostalgic a bit since I haven’t had a system that uses cartridges since the ol’ N64. The farthest I got into modding was snipping the tabs off on the bottom of japanese cartridges so I can play games on american systems, oh, and modding the case of my old PS2 for a similar reason. Honestly, even though the game was different and meant to be thought provoking, my first reaction was a comforting sense of nostalgia, like eating mom’s cooking. I just wish I had a zapper that would work on an LCD screen. The shooting gallery also had an interesting effect on my thinking. Arcangel brilliantly deduces the order in which the average player would go through the three different galleries. This leads to the saturation of the idea that this game is about Andy Warhol, so by the time you get to the third gallery, you’re brain interprets the soup cans as Campbell’s brand , even though the color scheme is off. Even better, it was the original level from Hogan’s Alley, the game that was the basis of Arcangel’s mod. That was my personal favorite part of the game. Pretty sneaky sis…