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Latest Topics

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The quest for realism in video game graphics

Throughout the technological evolution of modern video games, there has existed a prominent lineage of photorealistic pursuit, of aiming closer and closer toward a graphic image that resembles "the real thing." While one might argue that this lineage is just a natural progression in the utilization of increasing graphic capacity, such a progression doesn’t necessarily have to go in a realist direction as there are other ways to achieve visual detail. My hypothesis is that it has to do with mimesis; the concept that an image is (metaphysically speaking) a representation/imitation of a "real" counterpart object, which has permeated Western aesthetic thought and culture since Ancient Greece. I would love to see an article that examines the lineage of realism in video game graphics through the context of mimesis, looking at the aesthetic theories of Plato and subsequent philosophers and how they have influenced Western visual culture. Or perhaps there are some other potential factors behind the lineage that I’m unaware of – nonetheless it would be a really interesting topic to explore!

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    What do you want from a new Bioshock game?

    Bioshock was a revered and renown franchise but except for a remaster of the original 3 games, the series has been quiet since Irrational games closed. With the recent announcement of a secret new Bioshock project called "parkside", there is a chance we will see a new game from the series. What do you want to see out of a new Bioshock game? What new setting would fit a new game? What mechanics would you want to see?

    • I would like a new Bioshock game in the vein of the original. Arkane has shown that the immersive sim genre is not entirely dead in the AAA sphere with Dishonored and Prey. The immersive sim is such a unique genre that could really benefit from having more developers involved in it. The two main things I hope for are pretty cynical but I think they're important. One is that I hope 2K doesn't continue with the AAA trend of nickel & diming players at every turn. I've been pretty burnt out on the AAA scene due to excessive mircotransactions, lootboxes, and game design trends that are meant to get as much time and money from the players as possible. I don't have faith in 2K to no do this, however. The second thing is that I hope the developers learn from Bioshock: Infinite. That game failed on so many levels I'm baffled it got any praise. From its design to its story to its themes, everything about Infinite was a step back from the original. Arkane may not make the greatest immersive sims, but they are good examples of how to make that sort of game in the modern AAA sphere. – Scott Dewalt 3 months ago
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    The state of single-player games

    It seems to be a somewhat awkward time for the single-player experience in AAA games. Recently EA recently shutting down Visceral Games and "pivoting" the design of their planned Star Wars game to something seemingly more multiplayer. At the same time, smaller games on platforms such as Steam and Itch.io are, more often than not, single-player. Are games of this scale filling a gap that is becoming increasingly difficult to financially justify in the AAA space, or are games such as last year’s Doom or this year’s Legend of Zelda indicators that there’s still a place long-term for more focused experiences?

    • I think that some of the best recent games, even if not story-focused, have great single-player experiences. In a year where we can have a timelessly incredible Mario game (Super Mario Odyssey), an arguably superior sequel to an already enjoyable game (Wolfenstein: The New Colossus) and a formula-switching - at least a little - Assassin's Creed game released on the SAME DAY, I think it's fair to say that the single-player experience probably isn't going anywhere. Upcoming PS4 titles such as Insomniac's Spider-man and The Last of Us Part II are set to expand the genre further. – CallumBenson 8 months ago
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    The Witcher: A Book Series to a Video Game

    Analyze the key factors that enabled The Witcher, a fantasy novel written by a Polish author, to become a hit video game that is clearly the work of great art, talent, and money. Why did the Witcher become a video game and not a movie? What about the story makes it intriguing enough to become a game?

    • This is an interesting topic. Something that should be considered is what effects can the interactive nature of gaming have on enjoying a story. – Jiraiyan 7 months ago
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    Importance of narratives in table top gaming

    A steady rise has begun in table top gaming, which can be linked to the increased awareness of gaming through online forums and social media. There has become a larger sense of community in being able to discuss a personal engagement with particular games. I would argue that part of this has been the increase in narrative style table top games, both those being released by large corporations such as the Arkham Horror and Betrayal at House on the Hill style games, but also smaller kickstarters and independent games, such as the beautiful Dreamwell, and smaller games like Stuff and Nonsense. Narratives do not need to be complete directed stories, but also the invitation to engage in story telling, such as in the Fiasco style games. Regardless of type part of their success is that there is a narrative in place, it takes it from being something very generic into becoming an immersive experience.

    It would be interesting to discuss what are some of the latest trends in narrative styles or content, what are the most popular types of narratives that have endured and where we think narratives in games is heading next.

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      The rise of text-based gaming

      When one opens the usual source for their gaming apps there seems to be a plethora of text-based gaming role-playing-games, beyond what we once were seeing. Is this simply due to the ease of making such games versus a visual game? Or is there actually a rise in the market for such game play? Has this then replaced the popularity of the choose-your-own-adventure book? Many questions, does anyone have the answers?

      • The following article on The Artifice could be a great source of history on text-based gaming: https://the-artifice.com/text-adventure-gaming-history/ – Misagh 3 months ago
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      • I think this is actually a super interesting topic, that I haven't seen anywhere near enough people write about. I think you're absolutely right that the ease of making a "visual novel"/text-based video game is remarkably easy, compared to some AAA titles we see coming out with big money and big assets behind them. We can see this over-abundance in this genre by looking up the tag "visual novel" on Steam and seeing the complete nightmare that is the "newest releases" section of that tag... However, one doesn't need to look far to see that there is a demand in the market. One of the biggest best games of the last year on Steam was the visual novel/horror mix game "Doki Doki Literature Club." Now, this game may have gained infamy because of the fact that youtubers played it cause it had good jump-scares and whatnot, but this is through and through a game that is 90% scrolling text and reading. And people loved it. This game would not have been noticed or made anywhere near as much of an impact if it weren't for the fact that the text and writing in the game was PHENOMENAL. And people recognized this! Then there are other recent releases like Undertale and Persona, whom have heavy JRPG elements attached to them, but have hours of cut-scenes and text to delve into as a player. This market has always been around, with releases such as the Fate games, the Ace Attorney franchise, and Danganronpa to name a few, but the popularity is rising by the day. Especially as we begin mixing genres and incorporating large blocks of genuinely engaging text more and more into our "normal" games! It's a very exciting time to be engaging with visual novels and text-based games! :) Er... sorry this note got so long. I hope it was at least kind of helpful! Good luck working on this topic, I look forward to reading about it! :) PS: You should absolutely check out "Valhalla" on steam. It's a visual novel about working at a bar in a cyberpunk dystopian future. It's a MUST play! – BioLizard 3 months ago
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      • What really helps with the rise of text based games, at least based on my casual research, is the amount of time people have to play games anymore. Even with few graphics, text-based gaming allows for more freedom with which to play a game. It is obviously usually pretty story driven, but gives the player something more to do than simply read something. Even the thought of ebooks helps lend to this. People enjoy interaction, and text-based gaming is a simple enough interaction that helps even the most casual gamer find the time to play a game throughout their busy schedules. – VideoGameProf 3 months ago
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      Interactivity in Games: When Agency Matters.

      Discuss examples in videogames when interactivity matters. Do Cut Scenes or sequences with Quick Time Events have a completely different meaning when they become interactive? Some examples are the final bosses in God of War 3 and Metal Gear Solid 3. How does timed decisions in cut scenes create tension and meaning? Some examples include Mass Effect and Telltale games. Does introducing interactivity in these games make them more immersive?

      • Fixed suggestions by Pamela Maria – Zander Jones 2 months ago
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      • I like this topic as it something that has been talked about when it comes to video games Should games offer more independence when it comes to gameplay or be tied to a lot of cut scenes and quick time events. Explore the negatives and positives of these features – cbo1094 4 weeks ago
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      • I like this topic as it something that has been talked about when it comes to video games Should games offer more independence when it comes to gameplay or be tied to a lot of cut scenes and quick time events. Explore the negatives and positives of these features – cbo1094 4 weeks ago
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      Monster Prom and Queer Horror

      Monster Prom (2018) is the latest in a line of explicitly queer indie dating sims since the popularity of The Game Grumps’ Dream Daddy (2017). It’s tone is light, comedic, and playful, owing it’s mash-up of horror and sitcom tropes to predecessors like The Addams Family (1964), The Munsters (1964), Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), a slew of campy monster beach party movies (e.g.: 1964’s The Horror of Party Beach), and even the recent popularity of the Monster High (2010) toy line and webseries. Monster Prom owes a lot to the "all-ghoul school trope," but it is also unapologetically queer; the game’s Kickstarter page includes a blurb on the subject: "Don’t worry if you want to romance a certain love interest as a certain character! In Monster Prom characters don’t like boys or girls… they like people." This is a kind counterpart to the long tradition of queer-coded monsters and villains in horror cinema, a topic extensively covered in Harry Benshoff in his book Monsters in The Closet: Homosexuality and The Horror Film (1997). Monstrous and villainous queer subtext can be observed famously in classic monster movies like Frankenstein (1931)– which prominently features two men privately collaborating to create new life (and was, directed by a gay man, James Whale)– Dracula’s Daughter (1936)– which features a butch female vampire and her effeminate male manservant– and later films like Nightmare on Elm Street II: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) and Reanimator (1985). The purpose of this article is to trace the trickle: how did our media shift from implicitly queer monsters as villains to explicitly queer monsters as love interests? Also consider the quasi-ironic queer nerd slogan: "The Babadook is a gay icon" and even the non-normative love story that takes place in The Shape of Water (2017).

      • TheCropsey, I am unfamiliar, but fascinated, with the idea of a queer subtext in the 1931 Frankenstein. Could you explain it in more detail? – Jos 2 months ago
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      • Another example: Monsterhearts, the tabletop rpg about the messy lives of teenage monsters. You can find examples on YouTube – noahspud 1 month ago
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