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).

16
Mar
2010

Heavy Rain Is Not a Party Game

Posted by Cha

I had some friends visiting the other evening who were interested in checking out Heavy Rain. I found it a slightly bizarre situation, with one person playing and another three watching. It's really not the usual way to play it. It was very easy to laugh at mistakes and diffuse the seriousness considerably. At the same time, I think they were surprised at how much tension the game managed to include, even while we were joking around.

I was a bit surprised, I admit. As someone who is rather easily drawn into game stories and emotions I have trouble gauging when something hits the level where it might actually work on other people, too. Judging by the comments I've seen online, Heavy Rain comes close enough to affect a fair number of people, but that still leaves a significant number of people who will find it clumsy and lacking in true maturity and immersion.

15
Mar
2010

Romance and Disability

Posted by Cha

A recent conversation with a friend about Mass Effect 2...

Me: I wish Joker were a romance option.
R: You'd break him.
Me: You can have romance without sex, you know.
R: Yes, but that would be mature. And it's only an M-rated game.

That should tecnically be MA15+ rather than M, but I decided not to misquote. Despite my issues with the maturity debate I was amused.

Joker has become one of my favourite game characters. I am coming from an able-bodied perspective, but to me he seems a great example of including disability in gaming. He doesn't feel token, and his problems seem to be just an element of the character rather than his reason for existing. He is a highly skilled pilot and valued crew member. Plus, he is voiced by Seth Green. I suspect that's been acting on me subconsciously for a while.

15
Mar
2010

Ain't No Rest for the Wicked

Posted by Cha

It must be time for a post about Borderlands.

I don't usually play first-person shooters. But after all the raving on Screen Play I decided to give Borderlands a go. Besides, add some character classes, levels and a talent tree and I'm much more in my comfort zone.

I have the PS3 version, for one simple reason: split-screen co-op. Yelling between rooms just isn't the same as settling down with my partner on the couch. What this actually involved, of course, was a romantic evening of him getting shot and me running around saving his arse. Plus glaring at him whenever he started to pick up a hick accent.

Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but snipers do seem to die a bit.

11
Mar
2010

Wii Fit

Posted by Cha

A few years ago I had a dilemma. After years of embracing a gaming and roleplaying lifestyle I knew I needed to start seriously considering how to incorporate more exercise into my life. I wanted to improve my lifestyle, but my social anxiety was making it difficult. I wasn't comfortable with jogging in public, and failed to make myself join any sort of class. I've never been to a gym, and the mere thought of it terrified me. Still does, for that matter. It's an unpleasant loop -- the anxiety makes it hard to exercise, but the lack of exercise can make the anxiety worse.

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