Undergrad Labour Studies student and lover of analyzing symbolism in video games and how gaming has evolved as a whole.
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The Role of Choice in the Mass Effect Universe
Many video games provide a morality system and dialogue options, but Mass Effect goes above and beyond to put the player in total control of the universe. Your choices affect not only your relationships, but also major cinematic moments, character deaths, the difficulty of the third game in the series, etc. Your choices will even be carried over to the next game in the series. If you choose to start with a later game, some events will not have happened in-universe because you have not had the opportunity to make a choice. How does this level of control affect the player’s relationship with the game?
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Genre Mixing: What Makes it Work?
Most video games tend to fall somewhere in between genres, rather than belonging to one strict genre. However, sometimes games will combine two starkly contrasting genres, and that can create an experience which can be exciting but may also sometimes feel forced.
One example is the Persona series, which is part dungeon crawling RPG and part dating-sim style socialization, and ended up being wildly popular despite the unusual concept. What process do game creators need to go through to create a successful game that heavily mixes genres?
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Humanity, Philosophy, and Artificial Intelligence
The concept of artificial intelligence has often been used in film to explore philosophical concepts about humanity and living as humans (examples include the recent Chappie and classic sci fi favourite The Matrix). Why do creators use AI as their method for exploring humanity and what do such films show us about how humans see themselves?
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The Legend of Zelda and Music
Music has been thematically important to The Legend of Zelda series since A Link to the Past, and has played an even greater role in future games in the series like Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker. Explain how music is used symbolically and culturally in the Zelda games.
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Perceptions of Maturity in Anime
Anime is often treated by the general population as immature and silly along with its fans. Certainly there are fans who perpetuate this image, but those types of fans exist everywhere. Many anime which carry adult themes are generally watered down (eg. Death Note is widely known to be an anime about a character who kills using a magical notebook, but the humorous aspects of the show such as L’s mannerisms are so overplayed in the community that it is still perceived as somewhat immature despite the very relevant criminological and philosophical themes it explores).
What has created this image of anime as a whole as being incapable of being maturely written, and is it an accurate assessment of the majority of anime? Has this image negatively affected anime being seen as an art form?
One of the weirder ones I’ve seen was Pokemon Quartz, which was a port of Ruby that had all-original (and generally pretty weird) Pokemon designs and was really poorly translated into English with a lot of unnecessary profanity and sexual comments for no apparent reason. It had a redesigned map and characters and words cannot do it justice.
Great article! It’s really interesting to think about the efforts animators go through to humanize animated animals. A lot of the time efforts to make animals seem human (or like other animals, as with the horse in Tangled) aren’t very subtle at all, but I guess in some cases – like with Daffy – the animators really make an effort to characterize their designs without making it obvious.
Great article! I never really got into cosplay (lack of time/money/skill of any sort) but I attended an anime convention with my sister a few years ago (she wasn’t old enough to stay in a hotel room by herself) and I thought it was so cool to see everyone dressed up! It’s a great way to meet people who have similar interests to you, and there’s a lot of fun in seeing someone dressed up as a character from an obscure show/game you don’t have any friends to talk to about.
I see cosplay in a similar way to fanfiction: a great creative outlet for young people interested in the arts, but for whatever reason completely disrespected by a good majority of the world despite the dedication and creativity it actually requires.
Excellent points and I agree 100%! I absolutely love that gaming has reached a point where reaching the ‘end’ of a game is not necessarily difficult, but to fully ‘finish’ it is a lot harder. You’ve got a lot of good examples in there of ways gaming has changed, and I think the existence of walkthroughs has allowed for a lot more creativity for game designers because they have to make things a lot more difficult than “get to point B from point A and you beat the game.”
At the end of the day it really allows every gamer to make their own experience, and I think that’s really important.
I think fan fiction is a great way to practice writing consistent characters! Writers get a lot of criticisms if their characters act out of character (for lack of a better term), so most authors are careful to ensure everybody acts in a way that would make sense given their behaviour in the original book/TV show/etc. It’s an easy way to practice writing characters in different scenarios.
I’ve always been fascinated with Pixar’s ability to appeal to adults’ emotions while still remaining lighthearted enough for kids. I know everything flew over my head when I was a kid, and it seemed super weird to me that my mom couldn’t watch more than ten minutes or so into Finding Nemo because it upset her too much.
Exactly my thoughts. I like to use walkthroughs if the game has collectibles you can miss, or on tough timed missions. In my opinion it doesn’t matter whether or not you use a walkthrough, people should do what makes it a fun experience for them!
The community is the worst part of the game (and part of why I stopped playing shortly after I started playing against other players). I’ve seen people get super pissed at amateurs not doing well in not matches, even though losing against bots doesn’t matter.
That being said, if you can get 2 or 3 people you know irl to play on a team with you regularly, it can be a lot of fun and you can drown out the voices of any randoms (and be a little less likely to deal with trolls). It is a really fun game with a lot of variety in gameplay but if you have a hard time dealing with the community it can be a little intimidating.