“Hey, can you do the round-up, I’m busy,” said Kris to me this week. I was about to protest – my weekends are usually reserved for an oh-so-taxing mix of gaming and feeling sorry for myself after Friday night, you see – but then I learned just what was keeping Kris so busy. So you know what, Kris? I’m happy to handle This Week In Videogame Blogging if it means you can have all of the cats.
First off, Josh Straub at Game Informer enlightens us on his definition of game “accessibility”, as informed by his being a disabled gamer. He says that it’s not about dropping a game’s difficulty, as many of us might believe, and relates his experience of playing Uncharted 2:
I am a disabled gamer and I am determined to keep playing. Sometimes, my disability prevents me from moving my hands fast enough to execute certain sequences in games. For example, one of my favorite games of all time is Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Near the end of the game Drake is in a Tibetan temple, in which there are levers he must crank to open doors. The way the player makes Drake open these doors is by tapping the triangle button repeatedly. Because of the delay in my muscles, there is no way for me to tap fast enough to get him to open the door. When I realized this, I was forced to confront the idea that I had just spent $60 on a game, progressed most of the way through it without help and now had to rely on somebody else to get me past that point. Beyond that point, however, the game was easy for my hands to handle. It was literally two small sequences, opening two small doors that made the game inaccessible. For me, game accessibility is not an empty phrase or a buzzword – it’s a part of my life.
At the New York Times (gasp! Mainstream coverage!), Amy O’Leary traverses the well-beaten path of sexual harassment in online gaming. While the first half of the article mentions topics you’ll be familiar with by now – the fighting game community, Anita Sarkeesian, et cetera – it’s worth a read for the second half. O’Leary digs up some interesting stuff, most notably the experiences of XboxLive’s former head of enforcement.
Okay, now. I thought our own Eric Swain was pretty full-on with his love of Driver: San Francisco, and now Brendan Keogh is in on it too. Through the lens of Driver, Keogh discusses players’ need to make a world make sense, and describes how we react when things don’t go as we expect.
Next up is something we’re a couple of weeks late on, but it’s still worth a watch: a video analysis of what makes horror games actually, you know, scary.
Meanwhile, at the Fengxi blog, there’s an interesting write-up on Anna Anthropy’s use of metaphor in her game Dys4ia:
Anna’s uncertainty and anxiety regarding her body is represented through a tetris piece that can’t properly fit through a wall. The aggravation of her breasts during hormone therapy is translated through a pair of breasts dodging obstacles as it floats upwards. The harmful words of naysayers berating her and denying her goals are represented by projectiles which a shield that you control needs to avoid. And the beauty of it is that it makes so much sense! Anna as a shield, words as dangerous projectiles, a body as a tetris piece, trying to properly fit-in with its environment? Dys4ia’s use of metaphor is straightforward and effective, and we as players instatntly understand what it’s telling us. That’s the power of comparison.
At Moving Pixels, G. Christopher Williams actually attempts to answer the question of “u mad?” He’s a braver person than I, evidently. His piece is an interesting consideration of why League of Legends players so obsessively want to know if they’re hurting their opponents. The answer speaks quite directly to the lack of consequential signifiers in online competitive play, he says.
The Mary Sue’s lovely regular contributor Becky Chambers does it again with a look at the concept of “flow” in games, or as she puts it, That Time J.R.R. Tolkien Wrote A Short Story About Video Games.
Excitingly, Robert Yang of the Radiator blog has a piece on the level design one of my all-time favourite games, Thief. He says: Thief 1 and 2 didn’t have an “open world” structure. They got around this constraint (and arguably, surpassed the “open world” as an organizing principle) by inventing their own level design conventions and expectations.
Kotaku’s Jason Schreier addresses the divide between the people who make games and the people who play them. He wants to talk.
The biggest problem in gaming today is that the gaming industry thinks we’re all out to get them. They think gamers are the enemy, a group that needs to be treated with disdain and avoided whenever possible. They think the only way to fool us into buying their products is to cover everything in a shroud of secrecy, only drip-feeding us pretty trailers and juicy soundbites during carefully-tailored marketing campaigns. They think we should just sit there and lap it up.
Alan Williamson has a similar sentiment, only he feels that gamers need to discuss their hobby with each other, too. If you’ve ever been told to “relax, it’s just a game”, you’ll know where Williamson is coming from. Over at Nightmare Mode, he says:
Games are evil. Games rot your brain. (I say: let’s rot!) Games are toys. Games are ‘only entertainment’, with the lofty aim of being taken as seriously as whatever trash Hollywood is promoting this week. No matter how many Journeys we make or how many people are pissed off with Mass Effect 3‘s ending, it seems we’ve barely scratched the surface of games becoming acceptable mainstream art. How many people do you know that own a Wii or love Angry Birds, yet have a real problem identifying themselves as a gamer? An elitist culture surrounds geekdom, where you’re not a ’real geek’ unless you’ve got a Super Mushroom tattooed across your face and speak only in arcane memes. This is where the term ‘newbie’ arises in the gaming lexicon: it’s there to discourage non-geeks from encroaching on ‘our’ turf.
And speaking of Nightmare Mode, I’d like to end this week’s round-up with a heads-up for you. If you’re keen to contribute to the happy party of games criticism we’ve got going on here, Nightmare Mode is currently seeking contributors. If you feel you’re a good fit for the site, then it’s time to get pitching. Who knows; maybe we’ll see your name here on TWIVGB in the future?