24
Mar
2010

Relaxing Games

Posted by Cha

Most of the time, I want games to challenge me. That can involve many different things. A lot of my favourites have heavy action and/or themes, and can have be tensed up and on the edge of my seat. I also enjoy more mentally challenging games, including puzzle-solving, or mastering complicated game mechanics or item management.

I find these things enjoyable, but I wouldn't call them relaxing. I wonder sometimes if a game can be truly relaxing. I have a very broad definition of what I will call a game, but I think some interactivity is required. And as soon as there is interactivity there will be consequences for actions, even if that's on an extremely basic level.

If I want a really soothing experience I'm probably not usually going to look to gaming. But, games can still calm me somewhat. I'm sure this is a very individual thing -- one person's relaxing is another person's slow and boring, after all.

23
Mar
2010

Earth Hour 2010

Posted by Cha

This Saturday at 8:30PM is Earth Hour, so my lights, consoles and computers will be staying off. It's a very small sacrifice. When it comes to the scale of anthropogenic climate change I think this must have a rather small direct effect in the scheme of things. But it is also a valuable symbol, and I consider that important. It's unfortunate that raising awareness remains such an important part of this issue.

The power use involved in gaming is something I think about fairly often. The number of consoles and gadgets I use has increased over time. Recently I've started turning non-essential things off at the wall when I'm not using them, but I still wonder about the impact of spending so much time on electronic entertainment.

There are far worse things I could be doing -- I don't own a car, and it's extremely unusual for me to utilise air travel. But that doesn't mean my own habits are not worth thinking about.

19
Mar
2010

The MMO Blues (aka Final Fantasy XI)

Posted by Cha

I've been feeling very enthusiastic about gaming recently. I just started this blog, there are some exciting releases on the horizon, and I've been having some fun experiences.

Then Steam had Final Fantasy XI on sale for $US9.99, and in a moment of morbid curiosity I decided to give it a spin for the 30-day trial. If I wanted to sap away some of my gaming enthusiasm this was a really good way to go about it.

After several hours of patch downloads, and an unnecessarily convoluted sign up procedure, I finally managed to create a character and set foot in the game world of Vana'diel.

The first obvious thing about FFXI is that the keyboard setup is non-standard. It took several minutes to work out how to move around, interact, and access the menu to change the damn keyboard setup (it's under the '-' key, followed by an arrow sideways to access another menu). Not a very welcoming beginning.

18
Mar
2010

Links, March 2010

Posted by Cha

The guys from Game Taco Podcast were kind enough to give me a link on their blogroll. After two episodes I think they are really starting to click, and they have conducted some interesting interviews. I look forward to hearing their future discussions.

Coelacanth: Lessons from Doom is an interesting look at game design with less representational graphics, and how it may actually serve gameplay.

For any current World of Warcraft players, the Daedalus project is looking for survey participants. They are "trying to find out what our behaviors in WoW reveal about who we are in RL."

17
Mar
2010

Some Thoughts on Immersion

Posted by Cha

In the non-fiction comic book Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud talks about how a simply-drawn cartoon character may actually increase our emotional investment versus a more photorealistic character. The theory goes that an iconic representation is a partially blank slate, and we can more easily project ourselves onto them. Tintin is an example of a comic where you will find panels including both detailed background art, and a much simpler, more cartoony character, thus drawing us into the scene.

By this logic, in third-person gaming a cartoony avatar (say, a World of Warcraft character) may be easier to identify with than an avatar rendered in more detail (such as a Heavy Rain character).

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