UCLA Writer's Program. MFA dropout. Wielder of B.A. in English. Writer of the whimsical. Lover of the video games. Eater of the foods. Find me: therealstinamarie.blogspot.com
Yearly-Release Games: How Much Do We Still Care?
Gaming companies like Ubisoft and EA have essentially built their reputations upon their franchises that promise annual releases. Ubisoft took an unexpected break between Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (2015) and Assassin’s Creed: Origins (2017) to reexamine the franchise, to "evolve the game mechanics," and to ensure that they were delivering the promised "gameplay experiences that make history everyone’s playground."
In other rumored news, EA may forego the annual releases of their sports games, like FIFA and Madden NFL, in exchange for an online "subscription" service that requires an annual fee to update rosters and stats ((link)
The writer should examine if Ubisoft delivered on its promise with AC: Origins by investigating Ubisoft’s reported sales in comparison to its other AC games, critic reviews, and notable bugs or technical issues. Did Ubisoft indeed improve the newest game by taking a short break, or has anything really changed?
The writer should also assess how, or if, EA’s rumored subscription service will benefit players. Contingent upon price, how would a subscription service be better (or possibly worse) than re-purchasing a slightly updated version of the same game year after year?
Lastly, the writer should examine the bigger issue at hand: Do we still care about annual release games? What do they offer that non-annual release games do not, and vice-versa? Can the methods employed above by EA and Ubisoft work in their favor and possibly revive their franchises, or are the franchises past the point of revival?
Viral Videos and Heroic Acts
Sharing viral videos of heroic acts seems to be a double-edged sword. On one side are those who argue that sharing videos of heroic acts encourages others to do the same, and reminds our world that “good deeds” and “good doers” still exist. On the other side are those who argue that publicly sharing heroic acts is not in fact heroic, and that it is done for attention. Some critics even claim that some of these heroic acts are staged.
Analyze our culture’s attitude toward heroic acts. Consider the arguments on both sides, and the truth and facts behind these arguments. Also consider the celebrity-ism behind viral videos. Individual such as Antoine Dodson (“Hide yo kids/hide yo wife”) and Kai, the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker, not only became well-known for their interesting personalities and rather funny news interviews, but because of the “remixes” that their videos inspired. What can be said about our culture turning heroic acts into laughable, light-hearted memes?
Last, consider the way technology affects these heroic acts and the attitudes of people on both sides of the argument. For example, prior to the social media and viral video revolution, heroic acts were often shared through mediums such as newspaper and word-of-mouth. How has our culture’s attitude changed in this regard?
How Much Do We Really Care about Accuracy in Films?
In the wake of its release, Hugh Jackman’s "The Greatest Showman" has received a handful of negative reviews due to its inaccurate portrayal of P.T. Barnum. Several negative reviews argue that the film leaves out P.T. Barnum’s true nature and behavior, such as his exploitation of his circus “freaks” and the fact that he and/or his circus abused the animals in the show. Moviegoers have given the film poor reviews simply because they dislike P.T. Barnum and the fact that the film did not portray him as the person he apparently was—not because they dislike the movie.
This then begs the question: How much should we care about accuracy in films? Should we take the film for what it is, a movie intent on promoting whimsy, family fun, great music, amazing dance sequences, and general themes of inclusion and self-love? Or should we care that the film did not show the true, nitty-gritty details of a man who was not as “great” as the film cracks him up to be?
The writer does not have to focus on "The Greatest Showman," of course. S/he can focus on any films that do not accurately portray the person that they are portraying. In doing so, assess the importance of accuracy, its effect on us and our opinions, and perhaps how the alternative truth(s) might affect us and our opinions. What do we gain and what do we lose by receiving an inaccurate portrayal of a person that our culture idolizes and celebrates?
Teaching video game "form & theory" at the university level
We cannot deny the impact that video games have made and continue to make on our popular culture. Consider the evolution of the gaming industry. How, in fact, has it evolved? How has it become more mainstream? What do video games offer us emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically? What can we learn from video games that we can apply to every day life, as well as in our intellectual and educational pursuits? After analyzing these factors, consider how (and perhaps, if) video games should be taught, possibly someday at a university level. What universities might already do this, and how do these courses operate? How are they taught? What do they offer?
The Evolution of the Horror Genre in Video Games
"Horror" has become a rather subjective term nowadays in that people define it differently and recognize certain qualities of a horror game differently. What is it about certain horror games and/or horror franchises that makes them so successful and so appealing? Is it atmosphere? Is it the amount of jump scares? Is it audio? Is it all of these things combined? Analyze the way the horror game has evolved over the past few decades.
The writer may want to consider (but is certainly not limited to, or required to consider) notable franchises and games such as the Silent Hill franchise, the Resident Evil franchise, Doom, Alan Wake, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Amnesia, Until Dawn, Outlast, and/or Dead Space. What is it about these games that makes them so successful in the horror genre? How thin is the line between horror and just plain silly or ridiculous? Lastly, how might publishers prevent recycling and rehashing the same horror tropes when making a new horror game?
From Princess Peach to Lara Croft: the Spectrum of Femininity in Video Games
Analyze the diverse spectrum of female characters in video games. First, how exactly do we define femininity? What makes these female characters and their femininity unique? How is their femininity addressed or portrayed? How has femininity in video games evolved over time? Can certain characters fall into more than one "type" of femininity (for example, Lara Croft, who has been both sexualized and emasculated on different occasions and through different games in the series)? It might be helpful for the writer to condense his/her list into a "top five" of female characters that best represent this varying spectrum of femininity in gaming.
Quality Over Quantity in Video Games
Some franchises have been severely capitalized on by their publishers because of their popularity (for example, the Assassin’s Creed series). At its current rate, Ubisoft is putting out one to two games a year in this franchise. No matter how many games Ubisoft puts out, fans always seem to buy the next installment, even if they grumble about it while handing over their money.
On the other hand, other publishers like Naughty Dog have one or two notable franchises which have stretched over a span of years. The first game in the Uncharted series came out in 2007, and the final installment is set to release in 2016. Consumers will hand over the same amount of money for a poorly-produced, glitchy Assassin’s Creed game as they will for a quality copy of the Last of Us.
Where do you draw the line? Do you purchase games in a franchise you love without a second thought? Does the increased capitalization on certain franchises deter you from purchasing their games? Why do you think people will inevitably buy a game in a franchise that they realize has been milked to death?
When and how should a publisher call it quits on a franchise?
I’m specifically thinking of companies like Ubisoft and their Assassin’s Creed franchise (although whoever chooses this topic doesn’t have to focus on either of these). Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind the AC series. But there has come a point where just about everyone rolls their eyes at a new AC release (even if they end up purchasing it anyway).
Besides the obvious answer (i.e. easy money), why do publishers continue to milk their popular series to death? When should they call it quits, and how? Is there a "right" way to do it? Do they continue to milk these series simply because it is a safe move? If all stories must eventually come to an end, why do some companies stretch out these series until it becomes unbearable?
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