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Philosophy

Cultural Context and Impact on Perception

The ending to Braid has always been a surprise when new players pick it up. The story is obstuse, given in disjoint bursts so there is already varying amounts confusion to the understanding of what’s going on in the game already. Some sort of story about being obsessed and about the longing for someone, the sleepless nights and the wasted time. Then you go through the puzzles about controlling and manipulating time to find yourself at the game’s ending.

Your obsession leads you to finding a princess, whom the player may automatically assume (as one typically does) that they’re their savior, helping her try to escape from the knight once clutching her. You help her by clearing a path of escape, using the pulleys and switches to move  obstructions hindering her path of escape. Then you’re forced to hit the rewind.

You watch your actions play out with a different narrative. You’re actually the one in pursuit of the princess, trying to hinder her escape by blocking her path, chasing her away with your obsessiveness into the arms of another.

The moral lesson was the dangers of obsession and control, but the storytelling lesson is one of context. The learned context from many years of gaming, that you always assume that you’re the hero of the story and that princess always needs saving by you alone. The shallow context given to you in the story that doesn’t explicitly tell you that you are the hero of the story but it does little in dissuading you from this belief. You come into Braid, like many games, with these preconceptions and the story plays on them, making the reveal even more impactful.

What’s worth exploring is how much context the player brings with them into a game, and how that changes the impact of the game for the player.

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Let’s Talk About: When does a game truly die? Or Games that need to inspire.

We’re well within the lifetime of the Eighth generation of consoles. That means seven generations of game consoles have come and gone. Libraries of games within each generation and only a handful of them are ever talked about, reminisced on, and dissected with scrutiny. Thousands of games long forgotten with just as much potential as the game next to it when they sat on the store shelves, but rarely purchased and less likely to be remembered once the next gaming generation has spawned a fresh slate of shelf-space to remember.

But do these games ever really die?

The mortality of a game and its ideas is one thing, but its legacy is something to not be taken likely. Passing on the seeds of what a game has explored to future generations.

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About: When does a game truly die? Or Games that need to inspire.”

Let’s Talk About: Genres and Better Describing Games

When does a thing stop being that thing.

A Genre is a broad term to try and classify. You start to create titles and classifiers and begin to find that many of those classifiers that you use to try and segregate can still be used in conjunction with another to classify something new. Look at games for example. There are very few games that have distinct classifiers that segregate themselves from other games.

Call of Duty: First Person Shooter, Online Multiplayer. Ok, not that hard. Does it have a story? It has a single player mode with a story, yes. Call of Duty: First Person Shooter, Online Multiplayer, Story-Based. Does it have Cooperative modes? Sometimes. Call of Duty: First Person Shooter, Online Multiplayer, Story-Based, Cooperative. What time era is this? This is largely fiction or non-fiction? Are all First Person Shooters like this? Are all Story-Based games First Person Shooters? Do all First Person Shooters have Cooperative play? We can actually keep adding onto the genre listing for a quite a bit.

And we have to keep making more and more qualifiers to describe a game because we can’t make assumptions about genres anymore, nor was it ever a good idea to start. It’s like trying to classify movies as either drama or comedy. For there to be tension, there needs to be drama and struggle, choice and impact. Action movies have drama. Sports movies have drama. Documentaries have drama. If a comedy didn’t have drama then it would literally be a movie with only stand-up. No, that’s not fair either because good stand-up, storytelling or joke telling, still builds tension and releases it conveying the drama of the situation. The only clear lines you can draw are ones like Animated or not, and even those have movies that blend the genres together like Heavy Metal (1981).

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Thoughts on Gaming: Shared Experiences and Common Connections

There was a time in my youth that I remember only a handful of games that every kid had to have. Super Mario, Mario Kart, GoldenEye, Super Smash Bros, Unreal Tournament, Starcraft, Counter-Strike… Of course there were many other great games in the 90s and early 2000s, but there weren’t many that were ubiquitous among the community. You didn’t even have to be that good at all of these games, but you knew that somewhere during your weekend gaming hang-outs, one of these games would come up and you would spend the next few hours of raging and mocking over these games.

Old-Venn

But it also seems like there aren’t that many of these kinds of ubiquitous games around today. We have our Call of Duty annual wintertime jam, Super Smash Bros groups, League of Legend crews, World of Warcraft guildies, but these games being largely ubiquitous isn’t a given anymore.

New-Venn

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Our lives on a Hard Drive

Just how much of our life can fit on a hard drive? (2 TB)

If you’re a writer, then your hard drive will fail long before you ever fill it up. At 1000 words per hour, with each word being on average 6 letters, and chugging mouth loads of caffeine trying to write until your fingers whither and die,  that means you’ll fill up a drive in roughly 3e8 hours or 38000 years. Considering the average lifespan of a hard drive is roughly 10 years, good luck writing. Thankfully, you don’t have to pass your Hard Drive off to the next 600 generations of offspring as their birthright to fill up the family hard drive with some sort of writing. Since they can’t actually go out and experience anything because of their need to type, it’s probably better off that they don’t write all day and night.

You see this? This is what you'll be doing when I die.
You see this, son? This is what you’ll be doing when I die.

Continue reading “Our lives on a Hard Drive”

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