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Latest Topics

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Do Gamers Today Complain Too Much?

Analyze how gamers today condemn and criticize games solely based on limited information and trailers. Specifically prior to the launch of some of the most critically acclaimed games of this year Horizon: Forbidden West and Elden Ring gamers criticized reused animations and lackluster gameplay elements before getting their hands on them. This trend has been increasing over the years with developers being bombarded by complaints and criticism for rather minor transgressions in otherwise fantastic games.

  • Something worth noting about modern criticism is that outlets like Facebook and Twitter make it easier to track public opinion. Similarly before YouTube decided to hide the down vote button it was also a good source of public opinion. I think what is more likely going on is getting peoples opinions is easier, then say twenty years ago. Not only that but game reviewers often have to/will put out day one reviews with out properly analyzing the game, and may overly focus on one negative aspect of a game. Or they may intentionally misrepresent some aspects to try and make their review more entertaining. Tim Rogers in his review of Kingdom Hearts 3 admitted to being intentionally negative about some aspects when he reviewed Kingdom hearts 2 many years ago. And he simply did it to just to get more clicks on his review. (This led to fan backlash towards him and calling him out for his poorly constructed review of Kingdom hearts 2.) I would like to point out games like Cyber Punk 2077, Skyrim, and Battle Field 2042 also launched in unplayable states with frequent crashes. So, are gamer's complaints completely unwarranted or justified. ( I know you were focusing on Elden Ring and Horizon, but I think this is an interesting topic and can lead to many interesting discussions about the discourse surrounding video game critics.) – Blackcat130 6 months ago
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  • I think an interesting avenue to explore in this topic would be the nature of fandoms, the ever-increasing expectations for the next blockbuster game to blow people away (resulting in gamers critiquing and nitpicking small details such as reused animations). Fandoms have a tendency to breed extremely passionate people who will both go at ends to protect their respective franchise, or criticize aspects and expect to be completely shocked by the next entry of an artist's work, as they have been before. When gamers criticized Elden Ring for example, their judgment could have stemmed from their initial experience of game creator Miyazaki's games such as Dark Souls 1 to 3, where the same animations are used, but are part of that game and therefore part of that gamer's experience. When they notice these returning aspects, they automatically assume laziness and cop-out to try and 'impress' the player with things they have already seen and done, when those are but small features. A negative comment will always seem louder and leave a bigger impression than a positive one. – AlGrater 6 months ago
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Assassin’s Creed and Feminine Freedom

As the Assassin’s Creed franchise continues to grow and explore more of the world, so too has its options for players expanded… Sort of.
More recent assassin’s creed games have allowed players to choose which gender they want their player character to be; such as choosing between Kassandra and Alexios in Odyssey, or choosing how they want Eivor to present in Valhalla. These characters’ stories, however, are frequently defined by their womanhood and their importance severely limited by production decisions.

For example, Kassandra has a male lover and a child in the ‘canon’ of Odyssey (Legacy of the First Blade), no matter if the player turns down male lovers and plays her as a solely sapphic character. In Valhalla, there are certain times during the game where a female Eivor will be presented as male. In earlier games, the female playable characters received even less recognition; Evie is only playable for ~30% of Syndicate, and Elise was initially designed to be a playable character in Unity, but that was scrapped by Paris Editorial.

Why do the Assassins Creed games have such a hard time allowing the player to play as females, and to then not have their gender be a limitation or a core aspect of their narrative? The company needs to have a linear narrative, thus the character has to do certain things so the desired story can exist. However, particularly when it comes to female characters, this often contradicts the player’s desired narrative choices for their character.
This topic would examine the roles of RPG companies vs players in determining the female characters’ narratives and ‘playability’ in Assassin’s Creed. Should players just accept that their character’s decisions are always limited by the company’s desired storylines, or should companies be working harder to have inclusive storylines that honour the players and their choices?

  • I've never played Assassin's Creed myself, but I think this is an interesting topic, and one I've seen discussed in regards to different games. There are a number that have male and female character options, but the game assumes the player will be male (sometimes leading to dialogue or scenes having funny implications). I do think that a player's character decisions will always be limited to some extent by the framework of the story and gameplay mechanics around them, since you can't have everything. But that doesn't mean that companies shouldn't have more inclusive storylines, especially if you're trying to give players options that are ultimately unsatisfying. – AnnieEM 7 months ago
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Horizon Zero Dawn and the End of the/our World

The narrative of Horizon Zero Dawn is fascinating, and while there are many potential themes to be examined, I keep coming back to how it handles apocalypse and the end of the/our world. In the game’s past, the Earth faces annellation. When all seems lost, the solution is not to cling to some far-fetch hope for salvation, but instead to for pave the way for something new. Obviously, the crises facing Elisabet Sobeck, Aloy, and today’s humans are all very different. Nonetheless, I think this game offers some food for thought as we face our own climate crises: do we accept coming devastation and focus our energies on creating the conditions for a new, better world to emerge? Or do we cling to what we have and try to save the world we know? Where do we locate hope for the future? Do we have to chose between what we have and what might be? Is it possible to have hope for the emergence of something new without total destruction (as happens in the game)?

  • This could be a great topic, though I think HZD is a bit too rosy in terms of imagining alternatives for humans. I think a post-human or even anti-humanistic reading on HZD might provide nuance. – ProfRichards 1 year ago
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  • This could a great topic to explore especially with the optimistic way HZD looks at the future. – SunnyAgo 3 months ago
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Published

Alternatives to Microtransactions in Games and Apps

Cell phones are ubiquitous these days, as are phone-based games and apps. These activities are colorful, fun, and addictive–if you have the money for an addiction, that is.

Most if not all cell phone games, as well as some apps such as Lumosity or adult coloring books, are free but have in-app purchases. The in-app purchases are usually tied to premium content or the ability to play the "full" game. For instance, in Jeopardy World Tour, you can play rounds for "free," as long as you have virtual cash. To increase virtual cash, you can wait more than 24 hours for your bank to build, or you can purchase virtual premium currency with actual money.

Even the best-intentioned game/app users end up engaging in microtransactions more than they mean to. In many online worlds, people who spend a lot of real money actually have a nickname; they’re called "whales." Whales or not, most players complain about microtransactions, but admit they don’t know an alternative.

Could there, or should there, be alternatives to microtransactions? If yes, what might those be? Are there currently apps or games that don’t depend on microtransactions, and if yes, what makes them successful? How are these games or apps able to "survive" without monetary microtransactions? Examine and discuss.

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    Mario, Link, and Scott Pilgrim: Relationships in Video Games

    Scott Pilgrim vs The World uses a video-game-like series of boss battles as a thinly veiled metaphor for relationship drama. It has been compared to Mario’s video game series, in which the hero fights giant gorillas and dragon turtles in order to win back his lady love. The Legend of Zelda is another famous example of this trope. What other video games and game-related movies portray relationships with this kind of drama? What are the pros and cons of the different portrayals? Are these relationships healthy? If not, is that made clear enough to dissuade people from following their example?

    • Examples include Legend of Zelda, Mario, Scott Pilgrim, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Edge of Tomorrow (Live Die Repeat). – noahspud 1 year ago
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    • I'd recommend tackling Scott Pilgrims source material the graphic novels and what it has to say about video games and romance. Especially since the video game is based on the movie which is rushed and lacks a proper payoff that the comics have. – Roneish 1 year ago
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    8

    Casual Violence in the Borderlands Franchise

    I, for one, love the irreverent humor of the Borderlands Franchise. But part of that humor comes from revelry in casual violence. While violence is common in many other videogames and other media, it is commonly only funny when that violence is non-lethal. Nevertheless, in Borderlands 2, for example, we might laugh at Brick praising you for killing all his men, and at Tiny Tina torturing and murdering the psycho while having a pretend tea party with him and her stuffed animals. The game attempts to justify and authorize laughing at murder: bandits infinitely spawn and the villains’ cruelty makes us feel better for killing them. The Borderland’s Presequel seemed to introduce nuance to humor in murder by showing the descent of Handsome Jack into evil even as he (mostly) tries to do the right thing, but the story, as many critics have said, was weak by comparison to the others.

    I’m wondering if there is more nuance to humorous murder in this game, or if part of the fun of it is that there is no nuance to it. How might the series make us think it’s okay to laugh at murder in other ways? Does the franchise succeed in justifying this laughter in violence? Does it deliberately cause laughter at murder only to show us our own guilty pleasure at laughing at the worst humanity is capable of? What are your thoughts on the franchise’s take on violence?

    • This would be an interesting topic to analyze especially when attempting to understand the use of violence in the Borderlands universe. It seems that violence in borderlands is just a part of everyday life and therefore isn't really thought of as anything out of the ordinary. It will be interesting to see if this normalization of violence adds or detracts from the nuance, if there is any at all. – JakeGreenwood 3 years ago
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    • This game franchise is definitely very heavy in its depictions of blood and gore. When playing any combative game, an excess in blood and gore usually takes away from the storyline, however, the casual displays of regular violence seem to make the gore more bearable, and the story more digestible. – haleyalexa26 12 months ago
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    The Rise and Fall of Zynga Facebook Games

    When Facebook first came out in 2007, social games came with it. Most of us played these games hoping to build connections with friends and improve our standing in fantasy worlds/virtual lives.

    One of the biggest provider of such games was Zynga. From Farmville to Cafe World to Hidden Chronicles, they churned out plenty of games with plenty of connections and worlds to explore. Yet in a few years, most of these games vanished. Hidden Chronicles, Cafe World, and others are now just Wikipedia pages, although you may find some Facebook groups still asking for the games to be brought back. Meanwhile, other games similar to these, such as Pearl’s Peril, are either floundering or closed.

    Examine some of these games and discuss why they didn’t last. Compare and contrast them to some games that are popular on social media now. Are the newer games easier? If yes, how? Are they more fun or satisfying? What problems might they still share with the old games? If older games were to return successfully, what improvements would they need to make?

    • I imagine the disappearance of these games has been largely due to the rise of mobile games and steam. I couldn't imagine people playing Facebook games when their out as they have their game on the phone. And when their home on the PC I imagine free to play games like Apex, Valorant, and league which are pretty easy to run on most PC's are more favorable choices. Just speculation as I have not done research on this topic. – Blackcat130 1 year ago
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    5

    Why is it so difficult to make video game film adaptations?

    Movies based video games have a fraught past. From the goofy live action Mario Bros movies to the more modern and highly divisive Assassins Creed film, the level of success has not been high or constant for that matter. For the piece you could research a short history of some prominent video films and their failings, as well as any successful video game films, and give some insight on why the movie industry has such a strong disconnect from the gaming world.

    Is it because studio execs don’t think the gaming community wants movies based on their games? And do they?

    How does this relationship compare to the relationship between books and film? Why is it so easy to adapt a book but not a video game into film?

    One could be quick to jump to the idea that it’s simply economics: studios don’t think the video game adaptations will make money. But this all changes in 2020, with the video game market being worth more than film and sports as of recently. Video games are where the money seems to be, so why aren’t these films put in the right hands with the right funding?

    • I think one reason for this may be that the broad details of the video game’s plot aren’t fixed, whereas, in a novel, theatre script, or even a manga, it very much is. In this case, things would start to delve into a discussion of the script writer’s abilities as a creator of plots, as opposed to an editor. From here questions for an article can take a number of different directions. – J.D. Jankowski 2 years ago
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    • Additionally, video games are designed for you to be part of the action while movies are designed to have you be an observer. Some of the sequences that make video games really exciting don't translate as well to film. Character development in games may happen over 10 to 20 hours in a game like The Last of Us, but films only last 2 or 3 hours. – Sean Gadus 2 years ago
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    • I think the biggest struggle lies with the familiarity of the characters. The adaptation of a book into a movie is almost easier because despite the idea we have of the character in our head, they have yet to exist in a visual format. We haven't see or heard from them, we only imagine what they would look or sound like. Video games are more challenging to adapt because we already have a reference to work from. The character has a face, and someone has already spent a painfully long time developing their voice. It's hard to imagine them as anything but what they already are, so no matter how much money a studio puts into the movie, they have a lot of work to do just to break away from the preexisting conceptions. – Nello 2 years ago
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    • The thing with video game storytelling that is so difficult for film to get right is that the nature of the medium is inherently interactive and nonlinear, whereas film (sans really a few examples throughout history) is not actually interactive and is linear most of the time. You as the film viewer have no leverage in determining what route the film goes down, whereas in videogames the player can often be just as much of a storyteller in the process. Granted videogame film adaptations were fraught with problems since their inception, and most of those examples were adaptations of mostly linear games with little to no branching storylines and narratives. I think the problem there is in the transcription of a game world to a cinematic one. For example, the Super Mario Brothers film works too literally in translating the game's characters and events, making the primary antagonist a grotesque humanoid. Perhaps then the problem is a team of filmmakers not working directly with the source material and understanding its vast array of storytelling; the director of Warcraft, for one, seemed to just work from the given world and randomized a story he thought would cast as wide of a net as possible. I think it's entirely possible to make a good film adaptation of a video game, it'll just require a sophisticated and detailed approach, along with some luck for good measure. – Thatboyd 2 years ago
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    • video games are far more immersive (in my opinion) so it just makes it difficult for a film to have that same pull – moonchild 2 years ago
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