Feedback Loop: How Halo Could Improve Democracy Forever

May 30 Comments Off on Feedback Loop: How Halo Could Improve Democracy Forever Category: Feed, Games, Nightmare Mode

It turns out that the characters we play and the stories they’re in can change our patterns of behavior and our attitude towards others. Armed with better stories, game developers can change the world.

Imagine the latest Halo game with an all new DLC. As Master Chief during election season, it’s your civic duty to get to a voting booth, no matter how many Grunts get in your way. This could be the near future if game writers decide to embrace the responsibilities that come along with the latest research from Tiltfactor’s Geoff Kaufman.

Kaufman’s recent study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, examines the phenomenon of ‘experience-taking.’ The principle is that certain types of fiction, specifically those where the participant can take on the identity of the protagonist, push the participant to merge the character with their selves, “feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters as if they were their own.”

One particular part of the study shows promise to provide a solution to the political conflict arising from Halo 4’s scheduled release date.

Feedback Loop: Many choices, or none, make a game.

May 09 Comments Off on Feedback Loop: Many choices, or none, make a game. Category: Feed, Games, Nightmare Mode

Is just one choice all it takes to turn a novel into a video game? Before you say yes, consider when a game is created out of many choices and when we are left with none.

Richard Eisenbeis looks at Katawa Shoujo in an April 24 Kotaku article. Eisenbeis holds up the dating sim/visual novel as proof that one choice is all it takes to turn a novel into a game. It is a shallow analysis and the implication that one can stick a choice in a novel and have a game is just false.

If we step away from the screen with only Eisenbeis’s assertion, we lose out on understanding what developers have to do to take a story and turn it interactive.

Creating a good game means understanding the times when a million choices create an interactive work and the instances where no choices are required.

Whoever wrote the ending to Red Dead Redemption is one dumb cowpoke

June 17 Comments Off on Whoever wrote the ending to Red Dead Redemption is one dumb cowpoke Category: Feed, Games, Nightmare Mode

Image via Wikipedia

In which Rockstar chooses to whistle Dixie.

I finished Red Dead Redemption and it was a fairly fun game. Despite excessive horse riding, I enjoyed myself. Then I got to the end and I never wanted anything to do with the game again. This is why.

Below are spoilers, so if you intend to play through Red Dead yourself do so and come back.

Rockstar has a tendency to write reluctant protagonists. Manhunt dealt with a main character forced into action by a threat to his family. San Andreas’s CJ Johnson falls into working with an antagonist to help his own family. Niko Bellic, from GTA4, wouldn’t stop whining about how he wanted to live the American dream in peace, even while he was shooting people. Red Dead is no exception. The main character, John Marston, is so eager to be done with his mission he practically gets killed in the first 30 minutes of the game.

Unlike previous Rockstar protagonists, Marston is justifiably reluctant to go on an armed rampage. Our player character is an ex-outlaw and the FBI is holding his family hostage to get him to kill off his old running buddies. He tried to get out and …

Dead Space 2 and the value of multiple simultaneous perspectives

June 13 Comments Off on Dead Space 2 and the value of multiple simultaneous perspectives Category: Feed, Games, Nightmare Mode

Image used under Fair Use from EA

By integrating choice and multiple user-controlled view-points into the game, Dead Space 2 provides a refreshing alternative to traditional video game cutscenes.

In the extraordinarily crowded field of video games, many seek attention through cutscenes of increasing complexity or realism. I found it somewhat ironic then that Dead Space’s particular unique treatment of cutscenes was mostly ignored.

Despite increasing complexity, user interactions with cutscenes, excluding quicktime events since there are whole games based around just that mechanic, have been pretty limited. You have two choices with a rare third. Choice 1: Skip. Choice 2: Watch. Then some games, oddly, allow you to fast-forward through them.

As a result, video game players and participants in video media in general tend to present two types of video. You can skip this or you are not allowed to skip this. Video games, television, web videos, heck, video advertising in general all subscribe to this binary choice.

The problem is perspective. For almost all video engagements, only one point of perspective is presented and one line of narrative.¬†Participants¬†are only presented with the whole of the screen and its single focus. Despite our allegiance to single viewpoint video the technology (starting with …

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