Reading 09

From my experience I still found a lot of charm and enjoyment from the arcade we visited. In one of my earlier posts I mentioned how arcades make a special atmosphere that takes the visitor to what might be called an alternate reality, with the poorly lit labyrinths of flashing games occupied with individuals focused on there tasks for entertainment and challenge. This experience may be compared with what one might about from the early days of Coney Island, though I have never been.

There I hanged out with friends, ate pizza, and primarily engaged in games both arcade and not. The first thing I did was play mini golf with a group of other people. The game didn’t have any structure to it though that was intended, it was mostly used as an outlet to look at the neon colors of the course and strange imagery of the compact room. People challenged their skills at it but only partially, myself included. It was mostly an excuse to chat a bit and hit a ball and it was fairly pleasant. The decided ending point was when everyone who wanted to make it to the last hole had a chance to. Once a ball was hit on the last hole it fell down into a recess that couldn’t be retrieved and thus ending the game for the player.

After playing mini golf I had some lunch and then participated with someone in a few arcade games. Overall we tried out two. One was a bright and exaggerated version of Space Invaders, neither of us really had any idea of what was happening during the game but we both found it fairly amusing if a bit seizure inducing. Next we tried a more physically active game where we had to cooperate to try and hit as many shining buttons as possible, it was frantic and required fast reflexes on both our parts, by the end of it our hands hurt from smashing large plastic buttons so furiously.

The modern arcade has a strange if somewhat niche place in the current system of entertainment and gaming. It appears to mostly be a place people spend to celebrate or enjoy company with friends, if in a somewhat novel way to how most would ‘play’ together. I noticed at the particular arcade we went to that a lot of arcade games where derived from games not originally found in arcades, such as Mario Kart, Plants vs. Zombies, and a mobile game called Crossy Road. This is a clear indication of how modern personal games can feed into public arcade games, where the success of the later is emulated in the other.

Given the previous statement and the certain nostalgic and classic feel an original arcade game can give, I would be delighted to see more original arcade games being produced once again with off the wall game concepts and fresh design. Arcade games have always meant to be flashy but seeing some art in the process would be refreshing, if at least as a novelty and nothing else. Such would really but the magic back in the cabinet.

Reading 08

The growth of mobile gaming as a means for more social and casual gaming is overall positive in my opinion. Having games be more casual allows them to be more approachable to people that would otherwise not be into gaming. Making games more social adds dimension to it on said social scale and promotes meaningful human interaction and dialogue and overall can elevate the medium. Mobile gaming itself I find to be fairly neutral as a platform, the general idea is making gaming more portable so that it can be enjoyed by anyone anywhere is they have the correct platform. The fact that mobile gaming is surpassing PC and console markets isn’t too surprising considering the earlier fact that mobile games are more casual and more social.  Given that they are more casual, they are easier to pick up and thus there might be less inhibition for a potential player to invest in a game given they are sure to enjoy it. If a game is more social then its brand is more likely to spread across social spheres as people communicate it and share it. Also, given mobile games are more publicly exposed in general then they can spread buy through mere observation by other individuals.

A good example of what I have described was the recent advent of Niantic’s Pokémon Go. This game got really popular really quickly, and it had all of the characteristics I described above. It was casual, pretty much anyone could get into it and pickup its play scheme, and it was social in which you could interact with other players through the game for cooperation and competition. The cooperative competitive aspect was very interesting, there where three teams in the game each of which was associated with a certain type of play style. The public response to the game was bonkers and greatly out did Niantic’s previous game Ingress (though by the look of it, the same game seems far more interesting than Pokémon Go). People would flock together in order to play and talk about the game in large groups celebrating a common obsession.

The use of micro transactions in games seems kind of manipulative to me. The majority of games on the mobile market have a ‘design to addict’ quality to them, where they are meant to give quick and dirty rewards to players through almost casino like games. Micro transactions in conjunction with this make for some rather grimace worthy business practice. I don’t really buy into instant gratification games very much, though I have sometimes. My favorites are usually unique and artful puzzle games such as the one I played for this week.

The game Monument Valley is a nicely visualized geometric puzzle games featuring impossible objects and there navigation as there main selling point. I really enjoyed this, it had such great visuals and offered some really mind bending puzzles. The fact it was on a mobile device was interesting, but also kind of fit it as well because your approach to your phone is different from your laptop or desktop and because of that it changed how I approached the game. There’s a second title in the series for this game and I anticipate that I will play that too.