AnnieEM

A writer interested mostly in video games and fantasy novels.

Contributor II

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    Latest Articles

    Latest Topics

    2

    Replayability in games: is it really necessary?

    Replayability is a measurement of how much fun a game is to play over and over again – how much new content there will be on each playthrough, how much you can vary your playstyle, how many different endings or paths the different quests/stories have for you to explore each time. It is something it is generally considered good for a game to have, especially in certain genres. Many players want to be able to play their favourite games again and again, but with enough variation that it is never boring.

    However, replayability is something that cannot be (and isn’t) pursued in every game. Many story focused games are not particularly replayable, as their goal is to focus on telling one very good or in-depth story – and to focus on replayability could take away from that. There is also the fact that to make a game very replayable takes a lot of time and effort to code and design all the different playstyles/endings/quests etc. This is time and effort that may be needed elsewhere or would possibly be better spent polishing the main game. Not everyone plays again and again after all, so is it really so crucial to ensure that every single playthrough is entirely unique?

    This article would delve into the concept of replayability, exploring whether it is truly important for games to be infinitely replayable or more important to create a good experience the first time round.

    • Very nice! As a longtime player, may I particularly suggest Hogwarts Mystery for examination? The developers added a replay option within the last year or so, so that players could change their houses or relive certain moments if they wanted. The downside though, is that replay kicks you all the way back to first year, and you lose access to anything you've won or purchased. It's a conundrum for sure. – Stephanie M. 2 months ago
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    • A very interesting topic! Although I don’t think every game has to be replayable, replayability is certainly a feature unique to the game as a storytelling media. If there is only one possible storyline, novels, anime, or film allows the producers to polish the story even better because those media have a better control on the pace of the stories than games. However, Baldur’s Gate and Elden Ring cannot be easily transformed into other media, because they have various possible ending. That is something only possible with games. – AlisaN 2 months ago
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    • Cool point, I've found that replayability has a bit of a personal edge for me. Replaying games at different stages of life is way more of an experience than any new game plus content or add-on. – jsmilo 4 weeks ago
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    3

    Time-out features in video games

    Video games can often be addicting, and it can be very tempting to play for long periods of time without stopping. To stop this, some games (mostly those designed with kids and families in mind) will implement features designed to stop players from going overboard and playing for too long. This can be a pop-up message noting that you’ve played for quite a while and should take a break (such as those seen in Wii games like Wii Sports) or a feature integrated into the game itself (such as the iconic phone call from your dad in Earthbound).
    These types of features serve a useful purpose, especially when it comes to games for kids whose parents might want to regulate their screen time but also for anyone. But of course, they also break immersion and can feel frustrating. This article would discuss the time-out features of video games, and their positives and negatives.

      9

      The rise and fall of the turn based rpg

      Turn based rpgs were at one point the height of video games. Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy are some of the most well known, as their success lead to huge franchises that continue today, but there were also many more inspired by them or experimenting on their format.
      Turn based rpgs still exist today – just look at the sweeping success of Undertale, or at strategic turn based rpgs like XCOM or Darkest Dungeon. But turn based rpgs are no longer at the forefront of gaming, instead primarily being a genre used by nostalgic games or indie projects.
      Even Final Fantasy, a game that was once synonymous with the turn based rpg, no longer uses that play style. The popular Fallout series did similar.
      This article would discuss the turn based rpg, why it was so popular in its heyday, and why many major studios moved away from it.

      • This could be a very interesting topic to discuss. I think it's important to focus on the fact that the turn-based RPG stems from the Dungeons and Dragons model of pre-video game role-playing games. The evolution (for better or worse) has evolved as technology has allowed for more immersive experiences for the gamer. On a personal note, I still love playing FFX, but as much of a huge FF fan I am, there's still a reason they added fast-forward modes on the other ports. – A G Macdonald 11 months ago
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      • You also can't ignore the pokemon games, probably the most popular turn based RPG that's still doing numbers, even if it isn't exactly the same vein as FF. – Cedarfireflies55 10 months ago
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      • Miitopia, which originally came out in 2016 and was re-released in 2021, is an interesting game to consider because it uses a very simplified turn-based combat system. The player can control their avatar in battle, but the turns of the NPC party members are all controlled by AI. If the player wants to, they can even select an option that allows AI to control their avatar’s turns as well. While this is just one game (and it has more in common with Pokémon than Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy), Miitopia’s simplified turn-based combat system could suggest that even when contemporary games do use turn-based combat systems, they are not the intensely strategy-focused systems of the past. – Magnolia 10 months ago
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      • Another thing to consider is that is wasn't just rpgs that were turned based; essentially every video game was, even platformers--you lose your lives and go back to the beginning of the level/game or hand the controller over to your friend. This could be because the notion of what constituted a "game" was perhaps more rigid then. Games were primarily competitive and turns where part of ensuring fairness. So, pretty much all games were turned based. Even solitaire had turns. If anything, it might be rpgs and their focus on narrative experiences that helped evolve the idea of what a game is, which, maybe ironically, led to the downfall of turn-based rpgs. – zmedlin 9 months ago
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      4

      The effect of streaming and let's plays on the video game industry

      The gaming community, from twitch streamers to youtube let’s players, is synonymous with video games at large.
      This has had a number of effects, both on the way that games are made (with features like ‘streamer mode’ which substitute copyrighted songs so that streamers don’t get copyright strikes) and the way games are marketed (with big streamers becoming just as important to get good reviews from as critics).
      This article would discuss these effects, and more, that streaming has had on the video game industry. Both in terms of the positive and negative sides – and perhaps what this may mean for the future of video games.

      • I think an interesting point to discuss in the article is the accessibility that streaming provides. For example, someone who may not have the ability to afford the latest console, game, DLC, etc. can watch someone play it for free (more or less) and still enjoy it, even if they're not the one playing it. – LeoPanasyuk 12 months ago
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      • You may want to mention how this contributes to a game's popularity. Millions of people have watched Let's Plays of, say, Undertale or Detroit: Become Human, but how many have actually bought and played those games? Likewise, a Let's Play can also damage a game's reputation or lock players into the idea that they can or should only play it a particular way, all of which might be worth exploring. – Petar 11 months ago
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      5

      Modernizing Old Stories

      In the new Death on the Nile (adapted from Agatha Christie’s book), they made a number of changes to ensure the work was better appreciated by a modern audience. This included changing certain motives and secrets for characters (having a former kleptomaniac instead have a secret lover, for example) and adding a romantic subplot for the main character.
      Regardless of whether one thinks these changes work or not, I wanted to open up a discussion on why we feel the need to modernize old stories (even bringing some into the modern day rather than keeping them set in the past), and if these efforts help our understanding of these stories.
      After all, movies tend to be made for a wide audience. There is a risk that many viewers won’t understand what certain decisions or plot elements imply, because they don’t have a knowledge of the time period it was originally created in. Changes are made to ‘translate’ the work for modern audiences. But on the other hand, it can easily go too far and attempts to modernize can remove beloved parts of the original work.

      • This could be an interesting larger discussion, for instance the modernisation of Shakespeare's works. – Sarai Mannolini-Winwood 2 years ago
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      • I think that one reason why certain stories lend themselves to modernization is that at the time they were written they would have seemed "modern" to begin with. A lot of the technologies and cultural references used by Agatha Christie would have been considered modern, even cutting-edge, at the time her books were written, and it's only nowadays that they seem old-fashioned or "period." This was also the reason why the BBC decided to set its "Sherlock" series in modern times. Sherlock Holmes would have been considered a "modern" detective at the time the novels were originally written, and so, paradoxically, the best way to honor its original vision is to tell a version of the story set in modern times. – Debs 2 years ago
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      • Updating language is always a good reason to 'modernize' a story. Without the ability to actually understand Shakespeare, for example, people might be mislead into thinking it's high-brow classical storytelling instead of a collection of dick jokes stuffed into a thriller jacket. – kgy121 2 years ago
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      • Nice topic, but it feels a little broad. Try narrowing it down. For instance, you could do a whole article on the language issue alone. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
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      • It may be of great importance to end the article by drawing a line between the elements that are essential to protect an art piece's identity and the elements that can be changed in response to time, place, and culture without altering its identity. – Samer Darwich 2 years ago
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      • One unavoidable problem is the change of thought with time. The core of the old story was based on The Times and social environment at that time, but now The Times and social environment we are living in have undergone great changes, and the core of the ideas conveyed are sometimes difficult to be accepted by the contemporary era. – Bruce 1 year ago
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      • Interesting topic, I think it would be helpful to point out that this is a common theme even as far back as middle ages. New texts would be written based on older texts of the same story and adjusted to suit whatever social or religious climate that was prevalent. While the modernization of text to film is new, at its core modernization of stories is not. – KayleyBingham 8 months ago
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      4

      The dog dies: use of animal death as an emotional pull in film

      A number of movies, tv shows, and other pieces of fiction use animal death for one main reason. Generally, it’s to show a particular character is evil, and to pull on the viewer’s heartstrings by showing the death of an innocent creature (most often, a dog).

      This technique is often very effective, and many viewers feel very emotional at the death of animals on screen, to the point that sites such as ‘Does the Dog Die’ exist simply to warn viewers who find animal death (among other things) to be too much. But due to being effective, some find it over-used, a bit of a cliche.

      So, why is it used so often? Is it just so effective that it’s worth the cries of unoriginality? Is it just such a simple way to portray a character’s cruelty? And why is it so effective, anyway? Why is the death of an animal more effective than that of say, a child?

      • This topic is so refreshing and alluring. It reminds me of "Bad Moon" (1996), a movie about a werewolf who attacks a family, but the family dog, a German shepherd--the hero of the story--confronts the beast and saves the day (sorry if this qualifies as a spoiler). I wonder how many movies there are out there where the death of a dog is the main part of the plot and not just an excuse to sympathize with the main character or to trigger the journey, as in "I Am Legend" or "John Wick." – T. Palomino 2 years ago
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      • Building off of T. Palomino's comment, I feel like this topic could be fruitfully contextualized by unpacking the duelling tropes of "kick the dog" and "save the cat" as screenwriting techniques that are specifically poised as shorthands for modulating the audience's which characters are innately evil vs. inherently good. – ProtoCanon 2 years ago
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      • What I've always found funny about white America is that a dog dying on film was always viewed as more heartbreaking than seeing a black man attacked and maimed by dogs on film. On a different note, Cujo provides an interesting look into the death of an animal. Because we are introduced to Cujo before he is fully rabid, we see that he is a gentle animal. His eventual 'going insane' is not his fault. Thus, although we do not root for Cujo to be victorious in his pursuit of humans, it is somewhat tear-jerking when the animal dies. This also begs the question, are these innocent animals really innocent just because they don't act based on evil intentions in the same way as humans? – Montayj79 2 years ago
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      • I've often wondered why I'm so affected by the death of a dog in TV and movies. I love dogs, but I'm also a mom. When a child dies on a movie, I'm horrified and feel deep sympathy for the parent characters, but it doesn't affect me the same way as the death of a dog (ONLY speaking about media, of course!) I'm also widowed, so when a spouse or partner dies, I find it sad. Still...that deep, hurt, sad feeling after the death of a dog on TV is more affective. My thought is that it's because dogs are: 1. Totally innocent. 2. Completely loyal. 3. Totally trusting 4. Helpless 5. Unaware of mortality So, when you have a character who can do no wrong, who's entire personality is based on being loyal, trusts almost anyone, is mostly defenseless (they can bite, yes, but their loyalty toward people usually tells them to hold back) and especially is unaware that it is can die (or is dying, or about die) it completely tugs the heart strings. – brandy 2 years ago
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      • A couple things I'd like to point out. In this article please clarify that this hook is mainly used with dogs (even the article title can be reworked). You don't see turtle, rabbit, or cat deaths. The "dog" is a symbol not just a pet. It's a symbol of friendship and companionship, so is it just a way to restate "death of a companion" much like death of a wife - a construct overused already? Second, does it REALLY allow filmmakers to put less work into having to build that "I lost someone dear" empathy for the character? Losing a father, wife, or girlfriend is extensively overused and might have lost its touch. You see a movie with the lead having lost his wife and going on a revenge-killing spree is redundant, but doing the same for a dog is fresh (until it becomes mundane). Is that the sole purpose? I'd wager it is, but the piece needs to have at least 3-4 examples and the importance of the animal clearly marked out for reference and comparison. For example, how much screen time did they get? Did we see any bonding moment or did the movie start from "dog dead now, dust off your shotgun"? If there was no bonding moment (basically if the dog was not a character in the movie but a hook symbol), have we truly become that shallow or is this device such an ingenious shortcut to gaining sympathy and must be celebrated or at least respected? A lot to unpack here, but we really need at least 3-4 good examples. – Abhimanyu Shekhar 2 years ago
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      Latest Comments

      I played Darkest Dungeon a year or two back, and while I found it quite challenging it was really interesting. I found the fact that the game had the ancestor commenting over your shoulder through the entire experience was a really great (and fun!) choice – it really makes you feel that he’s not just some distant man who sent you a letter and then died. He’s still with you, watching and commenting on everything you do, making sure you carry out his will.
      Whether you interpret his comments as diegetic or non-diegetic, it does come as a constant reminder, especially as you learn more about him through his pre-boss monologues. Great article topic for sure!

      "Darkest Dungeon": The weight of legacy

      I hadn’t heard of this movie, but now I’m definitely interested in watching it. Being on the internet, I have definitely seen North Korea addressed in strange ways – one that stands out in particular was when pictures were published showing people in NK during their day to day lives, some looking happy and most looking fairly normal, hardly the doom-and-gloom some people seem to indicate. Some people accused them of being actors, pretending that things were good there to create an illusion to the rest of the world. And sure, these pictures didn’t show everything, but this was instead of the more likely explanation – that even though there are some terrible things happening in NK, many people are still able to go on with their lives and at times be happy.

      Loyal Citizens of Pyongyang in Seoul: Understanding Enemies of the Empire

      I really liked this article – censorship is and always has been such an important topic. I knew about the Minecraft ‘library’, but hadn’t heard about some of these other examples (like the rice/bunny ‘mi tu’ idea).

      The Minecraft Loophole: Modern Subversion of Censorship

      Oh mostly just takes I’ve seen a few times online – said by people with little real knowledge, I have a hunch. Doesn’t make it feel any less incorrect, but hardly anything huge.

      Lovecraft & Racism

      I must admit I felt some trepidation reading the title of this article, as there have been a lot of takes I really don’t agree with on this subject – saying that Lovecraft wasn’t actually really that bad, or that his views were perfectly normal in the time period (and as such should be excused, I guess?). But this article handled that subject quite well, and I do agree that it’s good to note that he’s far from the only writer to include his bigotry in his work. Of course, some of his work is more obviously bigoted or inspired by his bigotry than some other writers.

      Lovecraft & Racism

      I remember seeing one analysis that posited that a lot of the best horror games are short for that reason – the longer it is, the more likely the horrors will lose their impact. Varying things up (in later stages of the game or in sequels) can definitely help prevent this as you’ve said.

      Analog Horror: Analyzing an Eerily Nostalgic Genre

      Analog horror is definitely an interesting topic, and I’m glad to see an article on it. Good stuff!
      I think another thing worth noting about the old-style cameras used for found footage and analog horror is that because the visuals are less ‘crisp’ and distinct, viewers can’t always see things clearly and this adds to the horror. With analog horror, it can be hard to tell if that indistinct shape on the camera was a horrifying monster, a person, or simply a visual glitch – adding to the tension felt by the viewer. If you use a crisp, modern camera, it can be harder to get this indistinct blurriness. Similar goes for ‘weird noises’ in analog horror works using older recording devices, which once again are very uncertain – is that spooky noise an audio glitch, or a monster? It definitely sets analog horror apart from other styles of horror media made today, where they use clean and crisp visuals and sounds and as such need to work harder to make them especially horrifying.
      As someone who likes a bit of analog horror, I’m definitely interested in seeing how this genre evolves in the future, and to what the analog horror based off of the technology of today will look like.

      Analog Horror: Analyzing an Eerily Nostalgic Genre

      I definitely think the demographic part is an important point to raise. After all, a lot of what becomes popular (here in the West, but in Japan as well) is shonen and seinen, and they tend to be watched by a lot of women rather than just men. As a female viewer myself, I tend to watch more shonen/seinen than shojo because a lot of the shojo that gets brought here and becomes popular is romance (a genre I’m not super into). While these labels can be helpful in some circumstances, the sheer variety in what is considered ‘shonen’ or ‘shojo’, and the fact that some pieces are hard to put in these categories, means that at the very least more classification is needed.

      Marketing vs. Genre in Manga - How They Can Get Confused