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Title: - Video Game Theory and Criticism  •  Size: 58818

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Friday 03-Mar
  • EA's "Black" opens like a film. So why doesn't it feel like one? (16)

  • Thursday 02-Mar
  • Considering Gravity (7)

  • Monday 13-Feb
  • The Medium Is Not The Message (21)

  • Thursday 19-Jan
  • All Your Readers Belong To Us (10)

  • Friday 13-Jan
  • Censorless Violence (12)

  • Tuesday 10-Jan
  • Disneyfied (Disney Fried?) (20)

  • Friday 30-Dec
  • The Escape from Xmas (14)
  • Videogames: Closing the Annoying Gap (24)

  • Tuesday 15-Nov
  • Gerbils (19)

  • Thursday 13-Oct
  • Suddenly Serious about Games (12)

  •    EA's "Black" opens like a film. So why doesn't it feel like one? Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Friday, March 03 2006 @ 07:08 PM UTC
    Contributed by: rjgeddes

    Just when I thought it was safe to play a video game, it turns out I actually have to watch a crappy movie first.

    As I sat through the opening credits of Black, EA's new piece of glistening gun fetishism for X-Box and PlayStation 2, I couldn't help but wonder what's happening to the video game narrative.

    Awful storytelling is nothing new to the medium, of course (All Your Base, after all, Are Belong To Us). But where there was once no style and no substance, the industry seems to be dripping with the former and still painfully lacking the latter.

    read more (360 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 08:17AM by Anonymous


       Considering Gravity Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Thursday, March 02 2006 @ 05:52 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    What’s the biggest issue in massively multiplayer games today? Virtual inflation? Ownership of digital property? Identity and behavior in second-selves? How about gravity?

    For the past two semesters I have been using games (Second Life and SimCity, mainly) to teach students about urban planning and design. One of my favorite questions is ask them is:

    “What makes this game real? What makes it not real?”

    Ask a room full of planners and architects-in training what’s not real about SL and you know what they say?

    • Gravity is weird
    • No pollution
    • Screwed up perspective
    • Insubstantiality of matter (OK, they don’t say this exactly. But that’s the idea they always try to get at.
    The funny thing is, in the world of MMO study, these issues tend to take a back seat to more traditional economic, legal and social science concerns. I’d argue, to the contrary, these differences are at least as important as to whether virtual land ownership gives you legal standing in the real world.

    read more (751 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/23 01:18AM by Anonymous


       The Medium Is Not The Message Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, February 13 2006 @ 08:49 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Explain this to me:

    My kids have a Gamecube hooked up to a 15” LCD monitor/television in their room.

    At some point recently, the screen was damaged. And by damaged I mean that more than half the screen was illegible. The TV was trashed. You can see from the picture included here. If you look very hard you will see that the game Simpsons Hit and Run is on screen. But you have to look very hard.

    The other day I walked into the kid’s room to discover that one of my sons was playing Hit and Run, on the broken screen. Apparently he could see just enough to sort of drive around the town—perhaps simulating driving a car with severe glaucoma.

    At first, I thought this was an obsessive, or maybe desperate, attempt at entertainment. But my house is filled with games and alternative game systems—including Game Boys and Game Boy Advances among other things. A game critic’s kids are never at a loss for videogame fun. Then, a few days later, I witnessed another kid playing at the house, working his way through Hit and Run on the damaged screen. I asked them what they were doing and they said, “Playing a game.” It was if they didn’t notice most of the graphics were gone.

    So, the question I have is this—What’s going on here? Is McLuhan wrong, is the message just more important than the medium? Or is this the perfect example that McLuhan is right—these kids would rather mess with the medium, even when the message is garbled?

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 04:13PM by Anonymous


       All Your Readers Belong To Us Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Thursday, January 19 2006 @ 04:14 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Last night Brian of Kotaku and I hosted a little videogame night at the Denver Press Club.

    In addition to quaffing a drink called the Tomb Raider, which every seems convinced Angelina Jolie drank on the set of the movie, and a tasty shot of whiskey I dubbed "The Critic," we made broad boasts about our gaming and writing skills.

    This ended in me challenging Brian to a winner-take-all round of Guitar Hero. With little to bet (we are gaming journalists after all), I wagered all the buzzcut readers against all the Kotaku readers.

    The sad details of my ham-handed attempt rock are detailed on Kotaku.

    Still, I'm man enough to settle up on my debts. So, I must now ask all two of the buzzcut readers to pledge their loyalty to Kotaku. Or as Brian gloated, "All Your Readers Belong To Us."

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 04:05PM by Anonymous


       Censorless Violence Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Friday, January 13 2006 @ 10:25 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    The NPD Group just released it's 2005 industry report. The good news, North American sales are up 6% to $10.5 b. More peculiar is this list:

    1. MADDEN NFL 06 PS2
    4. MADDEN NFL 06 XBX
    7. MVP BASEBALL 2005 PS2
    9. NBA LIVE 06 PS2

    Anyone care to guess what's odd about the list or even what it is?

    read more (167 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/26 06:29PM by Anonymous


       Disneyfied (Disney Fried?) Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, January 10 2006 @ 09:59 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I just got back from a typically hectic and entertaining week of vacation in Walt Disney World with my kids.

    I’ve been to the Florida and California parks on many occasions and they never fail to both amaze and appall. Like a lot of visitors, I get a huge kick out of experiencing the near-reality fantasy life of a Disney theme park. And like many (more than probably admit it) after a few days I’m desperate for a dark, dingy and desolate downtown bar. Unreality finds its antidote in savage reality, I suppose.

    That is to say, I think I have a good grip on the good and bad of Disney fantasy. And I always find something new each trip This time I was kind of overwhelmed by just how religious the whole thing is. And my “religious,” I don’t mean right wing American Christian. I mean the religion of the mouse--with devotees toting mouse icons and partaking symbolically of the body of the mouse in the form of mouse shaped ice cream. Disney World is deeply, and fundamentally, religious.

    Still, what I wanted to sort out, and now I need your help, is trying to figure out:

    What is the relationship between videogames and Disney World?

    Put on your thinking Mouseketeer caps and post in the comments section.

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 08:06AM by Anonymous


       The Escape from Xmas Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Friday, December 30 2005 @ 07:20 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    General NewsIf you have gone the whole year and missed reading The Escapist, then make it your New Year's Resolution to start.

    I wrap up my year of writing about games by gibbering at the notion of an annual summary in my latest Escapist piece, The Year of the Turtle.

    On a personal note, buzzcut has been a fantastic and interesting place this last year. My New Year's wish is to hear more from like-minded videogame-heads who continue to ponder the imponderables of electronic entertainment.

    Happy New Year!

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 07:50AM by Anonymous


       Videogames: Closing the Annoying Gap Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Friday, December 09 2005 @ 10:41 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    In case you missed it, Jesper Juul’s new book is out: Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds.

    I’m looking forward to getting a copy and catching up on Jesper’s good ideas. He always has a very interesting and informed point of view on games.

    But even before I crack the book, I have the tiniest of bones to pick—he’s taken his considerable knowledge and insight and placed it firmly on the opposite side of a debate I’ve been engaged in for a while.

    It’s “videogames” not “video games.”

    read more (246 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 12:15AM by Anonymous


       Gerbils Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, November 15 2005 @ 04:51 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I don’t know what it is with kids and gerbils. But I suspect it has something to do with videogames.

    If you’ve followed the various discussions on this site, you’ll know that I like to reconsider the question of “What is a game?” by comparing things that are obviously not games to the definition and seeing what shakes out.

    So, this time around, I’d like to ask the perfectly reasonable question:

    Are gerbils a kind of game?

    read more (515 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 07:16AM by Anonymous


       Suddenly Serious about Games Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Thursday, October 13 2005 @ 08:28 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I’ve never been a big advocate of serious games for the simple reason I think once games become serious they turn into mere systems in the same way that porn becomes a medical illustration once it ceases stimulating you. So, it might seem a little odd that this semester I am teaching an undergraduate course in the University of Colorado’s College of Architecture and Planning based around videogames. “Planning in the Gaming World, “ is a class designed to encourage an appreciation for the art and science of urban and regional planning though videogames. Yes, whether I like it or not, I am now officially a part of the serious games movement.

    We are only half way through the semester, but I think that the basic idea is working. Students confront serious issues of planning the human environment through the virtual worlds of SimCity and Second Life. A typical assignment has them read a bit of planning literature, try to do something in the game world (like describe an interesting place in Second Life or lay out a functioning city in SimCity) then come to class and try to put it all together.

    My approach is admittedly Socratic and the students seems to vacillate between finding the whole effort intriguing and compelling or completely pedantic and impractical. To which I say, bully for the modern American undergrad that only wants a vo-tech degree from the university. My course should leave them filled with doubt and confusion for years.

    I hope to generate some sort of report or academic essay out of the experience. Because whatever else I might have to say about the idea of serious games, this class is going as well as anything I’ve ever taught along the lines of confronting students with big, hard, meaningful questions and getting them to grapple, or at least gripe, about the process. As one student said, “I’m not sure what we are learning, but it sure feels like something big.”

    Best of all, I’m happy to report that the thing that seems to be working the best is the videogames. And that’s because whatever academic wrapper I happen to package around the games, the students grasp the fundamental truth—these games are fun, even if their teacher is not!

    (Check out the current version of the syllabus in the File Downloads section for more information).

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 09:40AM by Anonymous


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