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Title: - Video Game Theory and Criticism  •  Size: 63191

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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)

  •      Critical Elements   
    Critical elements are the terms used to describe the experience of playing a game. Critical elements differ from the design vocabulary--the terms used by those who create the games.

    This section collects ongoing thoughts about the terms required to describe the gaming experience, as well as some thinking about how those terms can be applied.

       Why Interactivity Doesn’t Matter Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, March 13 2006 @ 04:52 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I’ll explain my argument in a second. First, try out these links.

    Try out the The Big Red Button

    Then play a little 1D Tetris

    And if you have the time (and a PC), enjoy a little Progress Quest

    Now, tell me why interactivity matters.

    read more (226 words)

    Most Recent Post: 05/29 02:55AM by eben


       Nintendo Versus Everyone: The Business of Business Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, May 31 2005 @ 10:34 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Videogames are big business. We like to make that point clear when talking about games. The fact that entertainment software generates a lot of money helps us justify our interest and even our play.

    Strangely, journalistic reporting and academic discourse on the subject of business trails almost every other aspect of game thinking. You’re as likely to find good Neo-Marxist feminist game criticism as you are in depth analysis of the medium as a business.

    We see plenty of reporting and regurgitation of marketing hype. And we could subsist on an endless diet of wild speculation. But we rarely get the kind of business analysis that we need.

    This gap was painfully obvious to me post-E3. Because while everyone was busily laying bets on the horse race between Sony and Microsoft for the dominance of the next generation of gaming, Nintendo was quietly disregarded on the side.

    Business-wise, this was weird. Because as far as I can tell, Nintendo is the business story to watch. And strangely enough, you don’t have to try very hard to see why. I can only conclude that most of us are not looking at all.

    read more (2676 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/25 06:16PM by Anonymous


       PSP: Out of Focus Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Wednesday, March 30 2005 @ 11:35 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I saw an interesting sign on my way home yesterday:

    Denver Bookbinding Company: We do more than just bind books!

    This reminded me of the PSP. Here’s why:

    read more (1095 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 01:46AM by Anonymous


       Videogames Are Software Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, January 18 2005 @ 07:04 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    The NPD Group just released its report on 2004 videogames sales.

    My conclusion from much of the data dicussed: The videogame industry wants to be an entertainment industry, but it still works like a software industry.

    I think the numbers speak for themselves.

    read more (365 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 04:24PM by Anonymous


       The Yawning Gap of Game Studies Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, July 12 2004 @ 09:42 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Let’s study games.

    In a giant pile place all the games anyone has ever come up with--from Senet and Poker to Pong and Everquest, from Badminton and Bingo to Chess and Grand Theft Auto III. Now ask yourself, “What do all the things in this pile have in common?” Or, to borrow Jesper Juul’s finely worded inquiry: What is the heart of gameness?

    Gameness is one of those tricky qualities. It doesn’t seem to be particularly hard to seperate games from not-games—some things fit, other things don’t. But when you really try to describe why football and Solitare go together, it gets difficult. Jesper’s keynote on gameness both proves the complexity of answering the question and underlines the general lack of consensus on a best and final definition of games. You can easily point toward gameness, but it’s hard to put your finger right on it.

    Still, without descending into that lexical quagmire, we can surface a couple of common features. While some might argue these features are not sufficient to describe games, they are certainly necessary pieces. So, we can say that games needs rules and something that makes the game entertaining. And even if you think that a game needs all kinds of other things to be fully realized, these two features, or characteristics are essential. They are the only things that reliably link puttering around in The Sims to undoing your competitors in Monopoly or returning a Tennis serve.

    The trouble is, and the point I want to focus on here, is that video games have one extraordinarily distinct component that other games don’t have. There is something about video games that makes them very different from all other sorts of games. And this difference that makes a world of difference, (to paraphrase Gregory Bateson) is the difference that separates video game studies from the rest of game studies as much as motion separates film study from the study of still photography.

    read more (1281 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 04:43PM by Anonymous


       Value of Fun Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Friday, May 28 2004 @ 02:42 PM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    I took the family out to see Shrek 2 yesterday afternoon. The matinee prices were outrageous--it was $20 for two adults and two kids, and one of the kids was actually free.

    The movie was fine. But this did point out that the cost of cinema is rising at a steady rate while game pricing has held more or less steady for years.

    In the raw calculus of fun, games keep getting better as an investment, while films get worse.

    read more (596 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/27 12:03AM by Anonymous


       The Intimate Computer Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Monday, February 23 2004 @ 05:32 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Lately I've been in the mood for a computer game. Despite the towering stack of console games sitting, waiting for review, and in spite of the inordinate amount of time I already spend sitting at my desk, I just feel like playing on the computer.

    In one sense, there might be some psychological reason behind this urge to play on the PC rather than the TV—the desire to turn my workspace into a play space. Maybe. But what I'm wondering is if it is something else. I've begun to speculate about whether there is an issue with the physical proximity of the player to the screen and the relative size of objects in your field of vision. That is to say, I am beginning to think that the computer is simply a more intimate game medium.

    read more (847 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/17 02:00AM by Anonymous


       Small Gods: The Isometric Perspecitve Considered Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Sunday, September 07 2003 @ 04:57 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    The Orc camp was a smoking ruin and I looked down and said, “It is good.”

    This time it was virtual fun in the world of Divine Divinity. Next time it might be some other planet or plane. But that unique perspective on the game world, up-high, looking down from roughly a 45 degree angle--the isometric perspective--gives any game of any genre a certain feel.

    Isometric perspective games, from Diablo and Starcraft through to SimCity 4 all provide a view of the action from an eye in the sky that many equate to a godlike presence on the part of the player. At least, the player is supposed to feel more like god than someone floating above the map in a blimp.

    Stephen Poole speaks for a common conception when he writes in Trigger Happy:

    “Foreshortening implies a subjective, individual viewpoint, so it’s absence in isometric graphics, along with the elevated position of survey, conspired to give the user a sense of playing God in these tiny universes.” (p.122)

    Poole is as good a critic as video games has. But something has occurred to me lately, and that is this interpretation is actually wrong in a sort of inside out way.

    read more (896 words)

    Most Recent Post: 08/28 04:21PM by Anonymous


       Car Toys Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, August 26 2003 @ 04:36 AM UTC
    Contributed by: David

    Talk about guys and dolls.

    While most people think of motor sports as a macho past time, leave it to a videogame to show their softer side. Auto Modellista bleeds testosterone and gasoline right up to the point where you select the option to dress up your car.

    read more (997 words)

    Post a comment


       What happened to video game endings? Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version
    Tuesday, February 25 2003 @ 08:23 PM UTC
    Contributed by: blink56

    Who among us gamers can say that they have beaten a horrifically challenging game only to get a two-frame ending? I know I've been there. If you need examples of poor endings just go to and browse their collection of game endings.

    read more (497 words)

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


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