It’s way too early to declare that AAA gaming is dead or even dying, but as Bill Harris points out, there’s an unappealing aroma emanating from that corner of the market: Would I rather buy one $59 game or 20 mobile games? With almost no exceptions, I’d rather have a mobile games. They fit into my 10-minute lifestyle really well, and I can start them up in 5 seconds. I was slow to jump on this train, but Chris Kohler was right: this is absolutely the elephant in the room for Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft. Sorry, the market just isn’t [... read the rest ...]

Ever wondered why some people rabidly defend the bands that they love, while attacking products that compete against their favorites?  Ars Technica has an article up that helps explain the phenomenon: You may think you’re defending your favorite platform because it’s just that good. But, according to a recently published study out of the University of Illinois, you may instead be defending yourself because you view criticisms of your favorite brand as a threat to your self image. The study, which will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology, examines the strength of consumer-brand relationships, [... read the rest ...]

The trend over the past few years has been to “gamify” real life activities in order to incentivize people to behave in desirable manners or work towards things that are perceived as valuable but difficult to commit to.  Entire companies have sprung up around the concept -  for example, MeYou Health, as discussed on a recent Gamers With Jobs conference call. Usually gamification takes the form of rewarding fake “points” for performing a task (or abstaining from a bad behaviour), which then bestow fake “achievements” upon the player after an arbitrary number of points have been collected.  This entire trend [... read the rest ...]

Modern game review scores

Ever wondered why I write “post mortems” for games that I play instead of scored reviews like most sites?  This image – I forget where I found it – pretty much explains the farce that is game review scores over the past decade: When game reviewers are beholden to game publishers for the money that keeps their web sites and magazines alive, it takes fairly little imagination to figure out how we got here.

My contradictory position on co-op

It seems that almost every game that is released these days has some form of online cooperative gameplay built into it. Magicka is best experienced online, Portal 2 will release with a co-op campaign, Bulletstorm has a co-op horde mode, Red Dead Redemption featured co-op posses, and pretty much every stock shooter comes with a cooperative mode for you to play with your e-friends. Even more disturbing are the games that are all but unplayable without some online buddies: Left 4 Dead, Monster Hunter Tri, and Lost Planet 2 are some of the more egregious examples of this recent trend. [... read the rest ...]

Lorne Lanning, creator of the Oddworld series of games had this to say to EGM (#245.0, March 2011) on the topic of making meaningful and topical video games: Art hanging on walls and in galleries around the world isn’t going to change the world, that day is long past.  Where is the new trends in public consciousness going to occur?  It’s a very simple equation – where is the most mindshare being spent?  Is it in a book, in a movie, in a game?  The first talk I gave at GDC touched on this, it was, how many hours of [... read the rest ...]

I have four quick stories to share today. What happened to downtime? A few weeks ago I spent a significant amount of time standing on my digital porch and yelling at all of you smartphone wielding kids to get the hell off of my digital lawn.  Among my arguments was the assertion that smartphones encourage obsessive use, which in turn leads to elimination of quiet time and introspection.  It turns out that I’m not alone in worrying about the negative implications of this trend: The need to be connected is, in fact, very basic in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the [... read the rest ...]

In a recent post over at Kill Ten Rats, Ravious presented the following line of thinking: Secondly, even though [Vindictus] was really fun there was not going to be any persistence to my actions. There is a big reason that I just cannot play single-player games anymore. I want desperately to finish Mass Effect, a really fun game, but I feel whatever small time I spend on my real-life friend’s Minecraft server is magnitudes more meaningful than going through some personal single-player game. It is a very human reaction to want to make a noticeable effect on the world and [... read the rest ...]

Fake your own adventure

Over the past few years a lot of the high profile western role playing games have emphasized individual autonomy and moral dilemmas as a vehicle for storytelling.  Throughout these games, players are placed into situations in which they have to make a choice and their actions and decisions have ramifications on how the plot unfolds. In theory this is great because it adds a layer of realism and depth to the experience, allowing for greater immersion into the world that the game in set in.  In practice, however, a disappointing number of players min-max their experiences, like this recent commenter [... read the rest ...]

Not to be outdone by the bluster and stupidity of U.K defensce minister Liam Fox, the Canadian Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay, has come out swinging against the upcoming Medal of Honor game. “The men and women of the Canadian Forces, our allies, aid workers and innocents Afghans are being shot at, and sometimes killed, by the Taliban,” MacKay said in a release. “This is reality. I find it wrong to have anyone, children in particular, playing the role of the Taliban. I’m sure most Canadians are uncomfortable and angry about this.” It boggles the mind that politicians feel [... read the rest ...]

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