Last week, the second and final installment of the Episodes of Liberty City downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV, The Ballad of Gay Tony, was released. Unlike the more sullen story of Nico Bellic, clawing his way up from nothing, Gay Tony’s Luis begins with a crisp suit, good job, plenty of cash and all sorts of expensive items to wreak havoc throughout Liberty City. What marks out GTA IV’s DLC from a simple mission pack or extra campaign is that it offers the chance to experience Liberty City from a new perspective, reimagining the gameplay, and thus, the game, in the process.
November 3, 2009
October 28, 2009
I’m a new member of the lab here, and that means that I’ve got a lot of learning to do. I need to learn about the different projects in the lab, learn about the various systems involved in those projects, and even about programming languages used in those systems. But I also need to learn about the theory that drives those systems, and more broadly, the theory that motivates the work in the lab. So for the past few days, I’ve been reading articles–and even a short book–about the theory of fun in games.
September 5, 2009
We can talk about the production values, the voice actors, the longevity, the setting, maybe we could talk about some procedural logic or game studies du jour operational logic, but all there really is to say is that Batman: Arkham Asylum is a fantastic game. The reason why: you get to be Batman. Crazy, no?
August 27, 2009
What is “the mark of the narrative”? In chapter 1 of her book, Marie-Laure Ryan, discusses the transmedial nature of narrative and gives a broad definition provided by H. Porter Abbott: Narrative is the combination of story and discourse. I believe the distinction of story and discourse is quite novel and under-appreciated in the area of interactive storytelling. For the purposes of this discussion, I’d like to deconstruct the nonlinear in narrative to give deeper insight into what this relationship between story and discourse actually entails. The term nonlinear takes many meanings depending on context, which is a result of the complexity in the meaning of both story and discourse.
August 13, 2009
In my last post, I discussed how games are being used to communicate, not just to entertain. Today, I want to discuss The Great Flu, a game recently released by Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The game attempts to educate the public about the dangers of and difficulty in containing flu pandemics.
August 12, 2009
Between being laid out with a kickboxing injury on my foot (not as manly as it sounds, I’m afraid) and food poisoning (which really is as non-manly as it sounds), I’ve had plenty of time to play some more games, without having to write it off to any significant others or advisers as “research”. Gamefly delivered “The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena”, which has touched a nerve that has been twinging a long time (not in my foot): while technology is a great gameplay enabler, it’s also no panacea when the game design is flawed.
August 6, 2009
I don’t need to tell this audience about the momentum building behind educational games. Even when I was an elementary student, going to the computer lab to play Math Blaster, Odell Down Under, or Oregon Trail was a special treat. These days, kids grow up on video games: game consoles are nearly as common as TVs in households; cell phones are standard issue for kids of all walks of life; the internet is available to everyone, with its countless easily accessible, free games.
July 29, 2009
“Jazz Band Revolution” …. Trust me, this is a great idea. A fellow EIS labmate recently gave a class presentation about the “Edutainment Fail.” To its credit, edutainment is responsible for my first interactions with desktop computers. Games such as Oregon Train, Logo Writer, some lemonade stand game, and that typing game were widely used in my early primary school years. I suppose as games became more commercially available, the novelty of games in education were upstaged. Still, it’s apparent that there is a great deal of learning that goes into playing some of the most popular games today, so it begs the question… Why aren’t games used for educational purposes more? Many bridges are in process being built to overcome the gap between the motivation to be entertained and the motivation to learn. Similarly, there are many educational avenues from the experiencing to building of interactive experiences– whether it is to learn about the technology itself or to be engaged by the technology to learn. Let’s be honest, everyone knows that games are more than just entertainment, yet why are they mostly seen as entertainment– If I am willing to learn for the sake of being entertained, surely, I am willing to learn USEFUL things for the sake of being entertained (if nothing else). Being entertained should be assumed for all games; asking for a game that can entertain is like asking for a drink that will quench thirst. Albeit, not all drinks will quench thirst, but we have more options than just water to quench our thirsts. So listen up Activision, Harmonix, and Konami: Games are for more than just quenching my thirst for entertainment.
July 11, 2009
What do Amnesia, Immortality, and Mind Control have to do with Game Design, Immersion, and Suspension of Disbelief?
What breaks your sense of presence in a story? The culture of video game playing has developed a tolerance for the common practices and limitations in designing and producing games. We’ve stopped asking “why?” and have come to expect the typical input arrangements, the impermanence of death, and restrictions of our own free will. Although much of the work in the EIS lab is focused on investigating new practices in creating and playing games, I’ve found, in my personal “research” of popular games, that despite the predictability, certain innovations in narrative are notably novel.
June 25, 2009
In the last couple of months, I’ve been utilizing my Gamefly subscription to the fullest. I’ll talk about that in another post (sneak peek: I heartily recommend it). It’s allowed me to play games I otherwise wouldn’t have done, including Call of Duty 4 and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.
Both games take place in a fictional Middle Eastern country, whereby “fictional” we can replace “Iraq, but we didn’t want to say that.” This is a trend that began with Full Spectrum Warrior, a game released only half a year after Saddam Hussein’s capture, which was set in “Zekistan”. This isn’t all that far off Team America’s “Durkadurkastan.”
June 16, 2009
Spurred on by the delicious gameplay for Splinter Cell: Conviction at E3, as well as somehow managing to contract a cold in the Californian summertime, I found myself downloading Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory from the Xbox Originals service. I expected to be underwhelmed by the graphics, as it’s often easy to let graphical fidelity get in the way of a play experience (for those unconvinced, I dare you to try and play Final Fantasy VII again!).
I am pleasantly surprised to say I am wrong: this game remains a great, thrilling experience.
June 10, 2009
All last week, Microsoft has been trialling 1 vs 100, an Xbox Live version of the popular game show. For those uninitiated, the real 1 vs 100 pits a contestant, dubbed The One, against 100 other people, called The Mob. All players answer each question. If a member of the Mob gets it wrong, they’re out of the game. The more The One can knock out of the game by successfully answering questions, the more money she can win if she walks away. If The One gets it wrong, it’s game over.