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Title: - Video Game Theory and Criticism  •  Size: 57166

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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)

  •    Getting a Rise out of Yerkes-Dodson Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Thursday, November 04 2004 @ 06:46 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I came across an interesting bit of learning psychology yesterday which is, apparently, widely known in the learning theory world. But I haven’t seen it applied in the game design literature (then again, I didn’t look very hard). The Yerkes-Dodson Law, articulated in 1908, holds that at low and high levels of arousal, performance on a task suffers.

    The consequences of this that managed, mid-levels of arousal are best for maximum performance. Likewise (and I’m quoting from the link above), you want different levels of arousal for different types of tasks:

    • lower for more difficult or intellectually (cognitive) tasks (the learners need to concentrate on the material)
    • higher for tasks requiring endurance and persistence (the learners need more motivation).

    This might remind some researchers of the concept of “flow”, much discussed by game researchers. But to me, this casts some additional light on the conversation about adaptive difficulty in games. Scott Miller has a good article on his blog on this subject.

    The short of this though is: Games that successfully manage arousal provide players with an ongoing sense of achievement. Finding a game “too hard” or “too boring” may actually be a symptom of arousal mismanagement. That is, “too hard” might be too much stimulation during a complex task and too boring might just be too few explosions and dull music while mindlessly blowing away enemies.

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 06:11AM by Anonymous


       Videogame Voter's Guide Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Friday, October 29 2004 @ 05:16 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Among all the Felliniesque shenanigans of the current American presidential race, I suppose that there’s no sort of weirdness that is out of place. Still, I do think it’s odd how little attention the current race has given to critical digital issues of copyright, privacy and freedom of speech and of the relative silence of the videogame faithful on the topic of a preference for president.

    Maybe we videogame nerds are too introspective and introverted to peek out from behind our monitors and televisions to notice that the something big is happening next week. And it’s probably too late to do much about it now anyway.

    Still, in the eleventh hour, my conscious got the best of me and I posted a screed on the Denver Post Online site title Videogame Voter’s Guide. I’ve long said that the surface of videogame reflects a clear picture of the warped reality surrounding them. So, with that in mind, I’ve tried to provide a clear picture of the Republican and Democractic candidates cast in the image of the videogames that best represent them.

    And for the record, I’m voting for Kerry. So should you.

    Most Recent Post: 08/26 11:28PM by Anonymous


       Smart Remarks on Difficult Questions Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, October 19 2004 @ 07:35 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    There’s a great scene in the class Steve Martin movie “The Jerk” where his character leaps with joy shouting, “The new phonebooks are here, the new phonebooks are here!”

    I feel a little like that since receiving my advance copy of James Newman and Iain Simons’ "Difficult Questions About Videogames"

    The book offers 969 responses from 71 contributors to 13 maddeningly direct questions about videogames. For example, the question that opens the tome is, “What is a videogame?” The answers always seem obvious until you actually try to articulate an answer.

    I haven’t yet plowed through the book in the detail it deserves. But my first pass through shows that the project lives up to its promise, colliding a wide variety of contributors offering a delicious collection of answers. Although packaged in an attractive square-bound package, the book has all the electric random energy of the blogsphere, ideas bouncing and shooting about.

    read more (358 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 08:02AM by Anonymous


       Games Put Sports On Ice Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Wednesday, October 13 2004 @ 08:03 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    In the Denver Post over the weekend, columnist Mark Kiszla wrote a piece about videogames and sports. The nut of his argument was this:

    "The rules of sports fame in the USA have changed.

    "The virtual reality of bytes and ballers has fundamentally altered the way kids fall in love with sports.

    "The most direct connection between a boy's heart and the pros are the 'A' and 'X' buttons of a control pad.

    "The fields of dreams for teens is no longer Yankee Stadium or Boston Garden, but the playing platforms of XBox or PS2."

    Kiszla sees videogames as a gateway to sports. But I have to wonder if the opposite is the case, games are consuming sports. And all that will be left over time are the bones.

    read more (374 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 07:02AM by Anonymous


       LvN Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, September 27 2004 @ 10:03 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    The Ludology versus Narratology debate (which I’ll just call LvN from now on!) pops up in the most surprising places.

    While at the Austin Game Conference, this little exchange took place on a panel about risk in massively multiplayer online games:

    read more (271 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 08:29AM by Anonymous


       Austin: Women’s Game Conference Report Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Thursday, September 16 2004 @ 09:21 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Although the urgency of reporting “what happened” at the AGC and WGC has passed, I’m finally getting around to organizing my thoughts on these two-day events.

    In a way, maybe it’s better that I waited. Now I have a better idea of what is worth reporting. Or, to put it another way, here’s the stuff that was meaningful enough to hang around in my head, waiting for a chance to be heard.

    My primary attraction in heading to Austin was the WGC. While there have been several international events, and GDC ran a track on women in gaming this year, this was the first dedicated WGC in the US that I know of. And even as the industry continues to do lip service to the idea of getting more women into gaming, I was curious to see what this looked like in practice.

    read more (1638 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 08:22AM by Anonymous


       Austin: Some Thoughts Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Friday, September 10 2004 @ 11:05 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Everything in Texas is big. Except the Austin Game Conference. And it is cozy.

    Two days long, and sharing the time with the Women's Game Conference, Austin provides a great regional conference with a global feel.

    I'll post up a more detailed summary and photos in the next few days. But for now, you can catch up on a few things that ran on the Denver Post site:

    Turning Partying Into a Game: The ultimate massively multiplayer game.
    Mover Over Boys: Initial thoughts on the Women's Game Conference
    Exploring Austin: Getting ready to cover a game conference

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 08:18AM by Anonymous


       On the Ground: Austin Day 0 Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Wednesday, September 08 2004 @ 11:29 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I've made it to Austin for the Austin Game Conference and the Women's Game Conference.

    I'll post words and pictures of interest as I can.

    Also, I'll be blogging my more mainstream impressions on the Denver Post site. You can find those links (along with my other Post stuff) on the right.

    So, to review--that's theory in this space, jokes and wisecracks on the right.

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 03:48AM by Anonymous


       Austin Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, September 07 2004 @ 12:43 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I'll be at the Austin Game Conference this week to soak up all the game fun that Texas has to offer.

    If you'll be at the conference (or happen to live in Austin), drop me line!

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 07:33PM by Anonymous


       Fairly Predictable Stuff: The FPS and the greater problem Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, August 31 2004 @ 05:47 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    The following editorial was contributed by buzzcut readerChuck Griffiths . Chuck takes on the issue of innovation in the game business by staring down the barrel of one of the most cliched genres of all, the first person shooter.

    Every medium has its burdens: The creations that are made only to sell, and which rust the wheels of progress. Using tried-and-tested formulae they are made, released and once they have been embraced by the public, seem to attract even more imitators. Literature has its science-fiction “airport” novels and its Mills and Boon (Romance novels, ed.). Cinema has its hackneyed plots of loose cannons, loose morals and loose women. It’s Hollywood, it’s mainstream - it’s largely terrible. Not always, of course. But too often.

    Videogames are the same, and a particular style seems to stand out. It’s a genre that is bloated, flaccid and contains countless examples of the same ideas, yet also generates huge revenues with almost every child it conceives and ejects into the world. It is the “First Person Shooter”, characterised by the way the player views the action through the eyes of the avatar. As a general rule, the player can see the character’s surroundings and a firearm protruding into the digital space as they move though the game world. Today’s “FPS” collection is where you will typically find the least innovation or unique ideas. So, why is it probably the largest catalogue of games around? .

    read more (1599 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 02:07PM by Anonymous


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