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Resident Evil

Gaming Experiences: Video Game Memes and Shared Vernacular

It always amazes me by how permissive some memes can get with the internet culture, specifically video game memes. It’s not like the general lifespan of a meme where somebody posts some witticism on the internet and it takes off, plateaus, crashes in a firey forest of overuse and misuse only to be resurrected for nostalgia sake. Video game memes are a special kind of coincidence. Where the hive-mind of the gaming population experiences the ridiculous, the outrageous or the cringe-worthy at roughly the same time only to be used as the punchline of ridiculousness in the future.

Karting Etiquette
Karting Etiquette

VG Memes aren’t passed around as readily as Internet Memes and that makes the experience a bit strange for me. It’s not like someone made a funny, then people start passing it around to one another. It’s more like something was coincidentally strange and people just happened upon it at the same time. Like everyone watching a TV Show or skit from SNL at roughly the same time and now it becomes part of the collective consciousness of pop culture. Like using punchlines of Michael Bay for the over the top spectacle, Tarantino for excess in violence and blood, or M Night Shyamalan for degradation of work; we have similar remarks for Hideo Kojima and heavy handed plot, Suda 51 for heavy handed plot, Telltale for Character-Driven adventure games.

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Game Design: Introducing your characters (what rapport do you speak of?)

A foggy night with a pale moonlight shimmers among still water. Murmuring in the distance interrupts the tranquil silence. A ripple in the water catches your eye and you trace it back to where you think it came. The camera closes in on your face as you try to make out what could be ruining the tranquility of the scene.

Introducing your character into a story is important to give a grounding for who the player will control and their significance to the story. Will I be analyzing my character or the story around them? Will I be able to impose any free will through them? Are they reliable, are their perceptions to be trusted?

You not only establish a rapport with the character but you establish the ground rules for interaction with them.

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Player’s Agency and Lack of it for Suspense Games

After watching a few streamers play through Five Nights at Freddy’s it reminded me that the player’s agency, their ability to control their actions to elicit outcomes, is extremely important to create a consonance (harmony) between the player and the game. And it is when that agency is reduced or limited is when cognitive dissonance sets in. You’re playing a game and you aren’t jiving with it. The actions that you want to do and the reactions that you’re getting on screen aren’t connecting. In psychological terms, you have multiple mental beliefs that are conflicting with one another causing discomfort – cognitive dissonance. The actions that you want to do and the actions that you’re allowed to do are in conflict, causing the anxiety and discomfort. But in a game like Five Nights at Freddy’s (FNAF) or any other suspense game designed to instill paranoia and anxiety, it’s the lack of agency that helps to inspire these emotions.

We can always look back on games the past games like Resident Evil where Jill Valentine moved like a Old 70s Buick, or Panzer Artillery Tank, which actually worked as a benefit to the game. The lack of mobility took away any agility that we could have had and made even the slightest danger – zombie, hound, Lisa Trevor – much more tension-rising than normal because we knew maneuvering pass them was a chore and a half.

Maybe Jill can finally be the "Master of Lockpicking"
This isn’t entirely accurate. The character in the image can probably control better than Jill.

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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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