I recently read Ian Bogost's book How to do Things with Videogames and was quite impressed. There are many good essays in this book worth discussing, and hopefully once this hellish semester/winter from hell is over, I'll actually have some time to blog about them. At any rate, one in particular that I think will interest folks here is called "Habituation," which tries to complicate Bushnell's argument that a great game is easy to learn, but hard to master.
According to Bogost, this maxim is misunderstood. Most people assume that this maxim applies to the game mechanics or rules being easy to master, but what it really refers to is conceptual familiarity. The reason Pong succeeded where the earlier Computer Space did not is that most people are already familiar with ping pong, so they brought a lot to the table, so to speak. By contrast, Computer Space was based on the game Spacewar!, which only a tiny fraction of people had played, and no one was familiar with the zero-G dogfight.
|Greetings once more to all my fellow Armchair Arcadians! Yet again, I've found my blogging schedule horribly delayed by "Life, The Universe, and Everything". If I weren't such a chipper and optimistic guy, I'd begin to think that it was some kind of Secret Illuminati Conspiracy, trying to derail the "Great Things" I want to accomplish in my life. Sadly, it's nothing so dramatic or interesting. I know all too well what the real causes are:|
Occasionally, I like to go off topic here at Armchair Arcade and use this valuable platform to discuss other subjects. In this case, I'd like to discuss a video a Facebook friend of mine posted, or, more correctly, reshared, which you can see here, and which I've also embedded at the end of this blog post. It's a popular video on Facebook (and apparently, elsewhere), with close to 80,000 likes, 466,000 shares, and 465 comments as I write this. The titles is, "This video will CHANGE your life." A lofty and tantalizing statement, certainly, but the question is, will it?
I've been quiet on the blog front of late as I've been focused on writing three new books for 2013 (and hopefully do what I can to help get the documentary out as well). However, with the latest NPD figures for videogame consoles being dissected across the Web-o-sphere, and Sony likely firing the next salvo for next generation platforms with their upcoming PlayStation-centric announcement (and Microsoft to follow soon thereafter), I thought this would a good time to break my silence and chime in with my perspective on the current videogame-centric happenings.
First off, it's clearly not looking good for pure videogame stuff with three lackluster hardware launches in a row: 3DS, Vita, and Wii U. The 3DS recovered sufficiently with a dramatic price cut that was very much against Nintendo's previous corporate policies that discouraged losing money on hardware, which allowed it enough time to hold out for the software situation to pick up. While it will never reach the sales heights of the blockbuster DS, considering how much competition both direct and indirect there is now versus then, it should still end up selling quite well when it has run through its complete lifecycle.
After watching one of Marks latest videos, it got me thinking about some of my favorite video gaming memories. We're all getting older- a point driven home every time I notice the yellowing of the boxes on my older games.. and it suddenly dawned on me just how much gaming history I've actually lived through.
So.. anyway. The point is, we all have gaming moments that we hold dear.. Not necessarily because they relate to amazing games... sometimes it's the people, events or times that those memories are attached to..
Hello Everyone! I hope that you've all had a terrific Christmas and New Year break, and are as excited as I am about the possibilities and promise of 2013. I've been absent from Armchair Arcade for too long (again... job-related...), and am working on some articles to remedy that. (I still owe you good people the last article on the Houston Arcade Expo.) For now though, since it's the time of year that people tend get all gooey and sentimental, reflecting on the past so that they might get a better grip on the future, I thought I'd chat a bit about a topic near and dear to our hearts as gamers in the 21st century: SaaS - Software As A Service.
In my book Dungeons & Desktops, I wrote in the introduction that I think CRPGs are the greatest learning tools ever designed. To my shame, however, I did not properly defend that statement--at least, not directly. While I think most of us would agree that the basic mechanics of a CRPG teach us valuable transferable skills like resource management, long-term planning, team management, statistical analysis, and so on, what makes them better than other learning tools, including other types of videogames?
As someone who has been to bat for several Kickstarter projects lately, I'm becoming concerned with what's going to happen on the other end. After all this community support, will it be back to business as usual when the products hit the shelves? Will all this "fan outreach" end when they start worrying about maximizing their sales?
How will I feel when the games that I've not only helped fund, but--like many of you, have also promoted heavily with every social media tool at my disposal--how will I feel if those games end up on the shelf with the same kind of closed-source, DRM-encrusted, shrinkwrap-licensed bullshit that plagues the rest of the industry?
After some preliminary research, I've found that while most of the big game projects at least promise a DRM free version (at least as a limited option to backers), there are few promises that they will *exclusively* offer DRM free versions.
Let's consider how some of the Kickstarters I've supported are handling these issues:
I finished my last post my saying I would have a look at the 2d fighting games that Capcom put out for the Dreamcast so here we are. Fighting games then - they have been around for some time - I can remember Karate Champ in the arcades with it's 2 joystick control and it was a game I steered clear of after a few tries - my money wasn't going far and a kid on a budget had to be selective back in the day - I can remember watching quite a few games though. It's a genre I've always been in two minds about - I've been like a moth to a flame really. They attract me - but my level of skill is such that I get frustrated very quickly. I read reviewers laughing at the simplicity with which they can dispatch CPU controlled characters at the highest difficulty setting but I struggle at the default difficulty. I guess I'm too predictable - when I find a few moves I can execute I tend to stick to them and fighting game AI seems to be able to deal with this approach quite easily. Even a game as old as Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES seems to be able to figure me out pretty quickly.
I've typed this article up on an Apple laptop - and had to google to find out how to type the hash symbol. How lame is that? Jobs had some strange ideas about what people use - what was it with Java support in the iPhone/iPad default browser? Noone uses Java? What a load of rubbish.
Anyhow, it has been some time since I posted here on this subject (i.e. my far too big collection of games that I will never get around to playing to the level of commitment that the games probably deserve) and here are two I've been putting some time into recently and keep going back to - Gunbird 2 and Raiden III.
My last post in this blog was about a shmup (Darius Gaiden) and I make no apologies for following up with another two - because I'm going to rant a little bit about high scores again. Look at Darius Gaiden on the Sega Saturn - a lovely game that is tarnished because it doesn't save high scores (boo!)- taking a big chunk out of the reason to own it which is a crying shame as its an excellent shooter with a lot going for it. But a shmup with no high score is bordering on pointless. Gunbird 2 and Raiden III both do it right - though the OCD part of me thinks that Gunbird 2 could have gone a bit further with how it supports high scores.