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Matt Barton's picture

Some Thoughts on Videogames, Autism, and Vaccination

In our earlier discussion concerning a non-linear history of videogames, the topic of immersion keeps rising to the surface (a mixed metaphor if there ever was one). I've always been fascinating by the idea of immersion, or "being in the zone," as some gamers like to call it. But what is it about certain games (and certain gamers) that allows this phenomenon to occur? Is it something about the audiovisuals, the rules, the gameworld, the narrative, or the reward system? Or perhaps it is a combination of all of these? Or is it...the vaccines almost all of us received as children in the 70s and 80s?

Matt Barton's picture

Fun in Games: It's Social All the Way Down

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about what makes games fun. I've read quite a bit on the topic, including Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun for Game Design, and of course there are plenty of great articles on Gamasutra and in Game Developer magazine. However, it seems most people who bother with the subject end up with some very general criteria (just challenging enough, lots of rewards, etc.) rather than contexts. My primary thought here is that whether a game is fun or not may have little to do with the actual game. Rather, it's the context of the game and the gamer that's important. Even something like good marketing and packaging can have more to do with making the game fun than anything done by the developers or designers. However, the focus here will be on the social contexts that are often taken for granted by even the best game designers.

Matt Barton's picture

Audioscapes: Hearing is Believing?

As I was playing Dungeons of Daggorath again this morning, I was struck by how much clever audio can enhance a game, more than making up for simplistic graphics and the like. I think we have a tendency to strongly underestimate the power of sound for suggesting certain emotions and sensations.

Bill Loguidice's picture

How do you become a writer?

I was asked a question this morning on the professional networking site, LinkedIn, which moved me to a somewhat long-winded response that I thought I would share, unedited. Maybe it answers this gentleman's question, maybe it doesn't, but it certainly had me reflect on the good fortune that I've had since January 2004, when Armchair Arcade officially launched. While I was doing occasional freelance writing prior to that, it was really the co-founding of this very site that kicked off the most interesting projects I've worked on, including the books and feature film, with the promise of so much more to come. The question was, "Beside writing, how does one really get started as a author and or freelance writer?". My response follows:

Bill Loguidice's picture

Rambling Thoughts on Writing, Methodologies and Techniques with Tips - Mine and Yours

I'd love to hear others' opinions and thoughts on this topic, so I may as well lay my own out first. Matt had sent me an interesting link yesterday about Steven Johnson's writing techniques and mention of his recent use of DEVONthink, which is listed as a "Personal Information Assistant", and is essentially a database for copying and pasting all kinds of info in an organized manner for later access, and is particularly useful for those writing books or research intensive articles or papers. Always intrigued by such things, I checked it out, but alas it's only for the Mac platform so it's not something that's viable for me at the moment since I use those as secondary, not primary systems (which are still all Windows XP- and Vista-based). This got me reflecting on my own ever evolving writing style and idea/reference storage techniques over the years.

Matt Barton's picture

Wisdom of Crowds

Lately, I've been reading a very exciting book called The Wisdom of Crowds, authored by James Surowiecki. I don't usually write about books here at AA, but this one is just as good as Donald Norman's The Design of Everyday Things, another must-have if you do any reading whatsoever on technical topics.

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