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Growing Up with Gaming (short essay)

It occurred to me just before I sat down to write that people in my generation are the first to grow up not knowing what life was like before gaming (as we know it) was a thing. Being born between 1984 and 1990 when the NES reigned supreme over the gaming masses, those of us born in this era grew up with names like Mario, Link and Megaman as a constant throughout our lives. Just like us from the past, those born around the 2001 will never know of an age without the name Master Chief in their gaming vernacular. Or kids the were born in the mid-90s never knowing a time before the Internet in every household, or  2007-ish without a smartphone or tablet in your household.

What’s important to remember is that while many game designers were around and developing games while we were growing up, there is a fresh generation of minds that have been exposed to a rich history of game design, good and bad. This might be an incestuous relationship because our ideas tend to be anchored to past experiences so our inspirations are “borrowed” from ideas that we’ve played in the past instead of coming up with something completely original. Regardless, our game-design parents and mentors helped to foster our experiences, our morals, our social dilemmas, our peaks and pits through our gaming experiences. Our games were growing up while we were growing up.

Every one should check out Zac Gormon at http://magicalgametime.com/ His work hits so many feels buttons, it's not even fair
Every one should check out Zac Gormon at http://magicalgametime.com/ His work hits so many feels buttons, it’s not even fair

Continue reading “Growing Up with Gaming (short essay)”

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Where have all the Metroid’s Gone? (Nintendo Change-ware Neglect-ware)

Nintendo has a lot of series under their monolithic umbrella of games. Mario and Zelda games get trotted out in a near yearly cycle. Fire Emblem has had a lot of success in a once per generation fashion. Pikmin and Star Fox skipped a generation but are still able to perform to current generation expectations.

But what about the old franchises that were Nintendo staples? Metroid had a handful of games in the previous generation but has no titles coming out in the near future. Kirby has had titles every so often, but has had to re-invent itself over the past few games to seem fresh in idea.

Can...can I use my missiles yet? No? ok... Maybe later, then.
Cancan I use my missiles yet? No? ok… Maybe later, then.

Continue reading “Where have all the Metroid’s Gone? (Nintendo Change-ware Neglect-ware)”

Gaming Experiences: Bonding over Single Player

Every one should check out Zac Gormon at http://magicalgametime.com/ His work hits so many feels buttons, it's not even fair
Every one should check out Zac Gormon at http://magicalgametime.com/ His work hits so many feels buttons, it’s not even fair

Sitting down in front of the couch, friends by your side. One of you pops in a game and everyone’s voice gets hoarse as the chatter escalates to yells and cheers because someone just got a clutch head-shot from across the map just as the countdown reaches 0. There are games design for multiplayer and those designed for single player. Goldeneye, Halo, Mario Party, Unreal Tournament, League of Legends. Many games and franchises build their fan base around single player experiences and multiplayer experiences, but that doesn’t mean that those socializing bonding moments can’t be found in single player games.

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New Controllers Brings New Interactions in Games

Yes, yes. Bad, we get it. Christ, that joke is older than the internet.
Yes, yes. Bad, we get it. Christ, that joke is older than the internet.

Remember when the Powerglove was supposed to be revolutionary? A kids imagination running wild with fantasies about moving Link or Mario around with just a flick of the wrist , an attack with a finger twitch, and a jump with a twist it. But this was still not as intuitive partly because the Powerglove was an elephant’s turd, but also because the games weren’t built for controls other than the native controller. This is also why the gimmicks of the Wii and all of its peripherals seemed like gimmicks, because they felt like after-thoughts to the game instead of being involved in the initial inspiration of the game.

Arcade games had a better potential with these kinds of non-directional pad controllers because they had a game in mind where non-d-pad interaction was part of the core design. Light-gun games where you shoot the screen, punching games where you hit a physical pad, dancing games where you mash buttons on the floor. Having the space for peripherals outside of the d-pad helped inspire completely different genres of games or, at the very least, re-interpret the genre in a different way to help spawn different types of games.

Continue reading “New Controllers Brings New Interactions in Games”

Forever a Fan: A game’s constant reprise to mind

A funny thing happens when I walk by an arcade. My neck cranes, scanning the room and if I gaze on a series of the flashing arrows scrolling up a screen my eyes lock onto the machine and my body tries to move towards the machine on instinct. The feeling intensifies if the machine happens to be part of the few generations that had the best track list, but regardless of the version there is always an urge and a rush of the good brain chemicals that get me feeling excited and anxious to hop on the machine and give it another round for old times sake. The machine, if you hadn’t guessed was a DDR machine. If you talked to 13-year-old me and told him that I’d be working at a place where there were several DDR machines in the area with easy access to, he’d be ecstatic because what 13-year-old me thought was that I’d be a fan of the series for life. Maybe that was immature thinking, but the more places that I pass where there’s a DDR machine there or the disappointment that I find when there isn’t when I’d thought there would be, the more I believe I had it right back then, though my reasoning was wrong for it.

You can call it nostalgia or not being able to let go of past experiences, but there are many groups among the community that live with their game of choice and have become “Forever Fans” of their game.

Continue reading “Forever a Fan: A game’s constant reprise to mind”

Gaming Data: Metacritic Scores over Time

The whole mess of it. Top is critic score data, bottom is user score data.
Animated summary. Poorly compressed, however...
Animated summary. Poorly compressed, however…

There’s also something to say about the user scores in all of the pictures. There is a trend that Users are grading games more harshly than the past. You can attribute this to the hedonic treadmill, where our future experiences require more novelty in order to get enjoyment due to the worn out novelty from past experiences. Or, you can attribute this to fanboys and ragewars about a game, franchise or console allegiance. Or, you can even attribute some of this to it being easier to hate on something than to find redeeming qualities in a piece of creation.

All data was collected from Metacritic.com around April 30th, 2014, graphed with Tableau.

Teaching the Player p2: Reactive vs Planned Game Design

                Past Articles in the series can be found here

 

Old Man: It’s dangerous to go it alone. Here, take this.

                Link: But, what am I supposed to do with it?

                Old Man: <shrugs>

 

Some of the more thrilling parts of life are the times that you’re anxious, you don’t know what’s coming up, but it’s approaching fast and all you can do is traverse yourself through it. You’re given something new and unexpected and you are forced to adapt with the goal of thriving in a new environment. This can also be a source of fear and concern because you aren’t in the normal comfort zone that you once thrived in when getting to this point, yet you’re expected to perform at the high quality that got you to this point? You don’t even know if the rules have changed at this point, the tools being the same, or the uses of any new tools that you may come across.

Of course I’m referring to game design and not my previous post, silly person. But why can’t these causes for frustration and anxiety translate between gaming and real life? If the tools you’re given aren’t explained to you and the tasks that are presented to you require a certain level of proficiency using those tools, how are you supposed to operate at a level of high proficiency?

Continue reading “Teaching the Player p2: Reactive vs Planned Game Design”

Teaching the player: Prelude and First Screens

You know what sucks in a game? Being force fed how you are supposed to interact with the world. You know what also sucks? Not knowing what to do, or knowing exactly what to do and making it nearly impossible to accomplish. There are a myriad of ways this can be done correctly or incorrectly and I’m sure there were active decisions as to why certain designs were chosen, but they all contribute to or take away from the player experience in one form or another and it’s left to a good level designer to understand what works best for their game and how to design the level around making the most out of the player experience.

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This is your Gaming on Data p2

What Developers are making?

A Tale of CrapWare

With a crash of thunder and spark of genius,
Came a brave little console, here to guide us.
But how will he get there, through peace or through wrath,
Little Wii-Knight, motion controls in-hand, creates his path.

The Developers Apirations

#Titles per genre per console. Top: Colored by Consoles Bottom: Colored by Genres Sorted by Most inside--Less outside
1. #Titles per genre per console.
Top: Colored by Consoles
Bottom: Colored by Genres
Sorted by Most inside–Less outside

What’s interesting about having all of this data at your disposal is seeing quickly how consoles can be remembered, or to drudge up old arguments with harder proof about what assumed at certain points but couldn’t really prove it yet. What the above shows is just how much developers spread across various genres on various consoles. Below are the pictures split-up.

Continue reading “This is your Gaming on Data p2”

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