Rewards in Gaming

Rewards for consuming entertainment is a novel invention that is unique to the medium of games. By investing time into them and achieving certain goals players are given various gifts within the games to encourage further investment.

In more narrative games, the rewards are the experience the player gains in itself. Like in movies or books, we are rewarded with sentimental attachments to characters, resolving plot arcs and witnessing great events. Where games differ though is in the rewards tied to mechanics and gameplay. Continue reading

7 Days of Games – 19/02/18

The week is the 19th of February 2018 and it has mostly been pretty dour. President Trump tried to alleviate my ongoing mid-life crisis by taking me back to my youth in the 90s with the assertion that real world violence is influenced by digital violence in games. Relating to this are the discussions suggesting taxing violent games like one would tax alcohol, cigarettes and other things bad for your health. History of course remembers how Grand Theft Auto directly inspired the torture methods of the inquisition and how those patriotic early Americans burned women at the stake after extended playing of Outlast.

Speaking of historical sins, Dynasty Warriors 9 came out to about as much enthusiasm as shown by its own AI. Apparently taking a regular Warriors map and spreading it so thinly across a massive open world then removing iconic weapons from characters doesn’t go down particularly well, even in a fanbase that has seen more copy and pasted games released baring PS2 era graphics than there are twelve year olds on Xbox live who have slept with your mother. It is easy to say that despite the already stale yet fresh in the eyes of Tecmo Koei addition of an open world, the gaming community seems completely burned out on the franchise.

Speaking of Burnout, Burnout 3 isn’t being remastered but Paradise is. The fact that the series is still somehow twitching is a good sign but then it is still owned by EA so maybe a swift rock to the head would be the greatest mercy.

Something else that could use the mercy of being put out of it’s existential misery is the hopes of Half Life fans. After the twin disappointments of Valves card game, Artifact, and the Portal spinoff, Bridge Constructor Portal, another nail in the coffin of Valve fan’s dreams come with the preorder bonus of Gordan Freeman ‘s outfit in the PC edition of Final Fantasy XV. Not content with culturally appropriating the clothes of Middle-Eastern Assassins, Noctus can now don the iconic clothes of a mute scientist with a crowbar. The behemoths won’t know what hit them. To be fair though, a launch price of £34.99 is a great show of good will and does a lot to alleviate the pain of the endless Half Life 3 taunts.

Something that’s pain only seems to be growing is the Metal Gear franchise. Metal Gear Survive released and ironically signals the death of the series. Industry Satan Konami had access to the Fox engine and all of the things that made Metal Gear great aside from the obvious gaping blackhole that is Hideo Kojima yet only managed to churn out a generic zombie survival game that’s only unique feature was to give said zombies shiny unicorn horns because reasons. Fans who hoped to see Metal Gear live on post Kojima were not given a confidence boost by this uninspired effort. Fingers crossed for Metal Gear pachinko, eh?

To round off this round up, reviews have started to roll in for medieval life simulator, Kingdom Come Deliverance. The reception has seemed overall positive aside from some glaring bugs, but then Bethesda has conditioned us to associate sword based rpgs with more bugs than Pixar’s Bug’s Life. The game has the potential to wrestle the coveted award for ‘Most janky rpg that people still love’ from Bethesda’s hands while they are too busy trying to port Skyrim to the Tamogochi. I joke but here I am replaying Dark Souls 3 in anticipation of Dark Souls remastered on the Switch. We all become that which we hate in the end.

The continental split in gaming.

2017 was an interesting year in gaming. We had a strong first half that tapered off into a weaker second half. Mostly though, it highlighted a growing rift in the industry that I’ve been observing for a few years now: The commercial vs the creative.

As AAA game have dived further down the path of maximum monetization we are seeing a pushback. These games are, without a doubt, still massive sellers that dominate the charts, but gamer frustration at the poor business practices, lack of consumer empathy and drought of originality is beginning to show.

Look at any top games of the year for 2017 and you will see that the ‘top dogs’ are starkly lacking. Titanic games like Call of Duty, Destiny 2, Shadow of War and Star Wars Battlefront 2 had the budgets and talent to succeed but only achieved anger from the public, Battlefront 2 potentially having inadvertently drawing the battle-lines in the microtransaction war for the year to come as governments are now stepping in. Continue reading

A study of microtransactions in games

The business practice of selling small in-game content to players has become a reluctant norm of the modern gaming industry. The audience reaction to this varies widely between utter disgust to complete indifference. There are arguments for and against them but I am here to try and layout the argument for why they represent a very real threat to the medium that we all love.

The key argument I most often see in favour of microtransactions is that game developers and publishers are businesses that need to make money. The more impassive take the stance that if you don’t want them then nobody is forcing players to buy them. Both of these facts are true but don’t accurately reflect reality.

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Below is my evidence on why all players should take a stand against this business practice. Continue reading

Nier Automata and Depression

The overarching theme of Nier Automata is that of humanity. It is of consciousness, awareness and the self.  What makes this interesting though is that there aren’t any human characters but instead artificial beings desperate to find meaning in their lives. It is a Sci-Fi trope as old as the genre yet it always evokes strong reactions because of the question it raises about the fundamentals of what humanity actually is.

Depression is an illness that preys upon the darker aspects of humanity and the uncertainty that surrounds it. To be depressed is often to question the core pillars that hold up our individual lives and the structure of society. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Is there something more?Why can’t I get to be where I want to be? Why don’t I fit in? What right do I have to this life when so many more deserving died before their time? It is a constant cycle of darkness that needs to be fought constantly so that it doesn’t simply overwhelm you. Continue reading

Death in Games – Narrative/Mechanical Synergy

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Video games hold a unique position in media by being directly driven by the actions of its audience. Chose your own adventure type books and interactive movies have tried to achieve this to varying success but are held back by being limited to set outcomes.

Character death has been traditionally a big deal. When the protagonist dies, it is a monumental moment that often marks the end of the narrative. It is emotional and it has meaning. Games are the first medium where death just happens. Sure, narrative death in games holds true to its movie and book counterparts but mechanical death is treated in a very different way.

In early games, death was there as a fail state. The player lost and couldn’t experience the full game. Since each attempt meant another coin into the arcade machine, failure and death were a very common thing. Continue reading

Loot Boxes in Shadow of War

God Damn it, Warner Brothers Games. How many times do we have to watch the triple A gaming industry try to shoot itself in the feet to try and bleed out more cash from its customers? How many bad business practices and anti-consumer moves do we have to see before enough is enough. Will it ever be enough? Increasingly I doubt it.

*sigh* So, the incident that has sparked this is the announcement that WB Games will be adding loot boxes to Shadow of War. Loot boxes are shady enough at the best of times, but for a single player game that is full retail price and has paid DLC, it is simply shameless. Continue reading