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.

Reading 06

Imagery as far as video games and film are concerned is the primary mode of communication of the medias message to the audience. There are other important elements too, very important elements like sound and motion, but without imagery a film can’t be a film and a video game can’t be a video game. It was stated by Marshall McLuhan that ‘the medium is the message’ which means that what is stated is inextricably intermingled with how it is stated. Imagery in film and video games can take on a number of different styles; live action films, animated films, platformer games, first person games. Each of these needs to take into account how to present there overall targeted experience for the viewer or player and because imagery is the medium special care must be taken so that sensible imagery is used.

Computer graphics has acted as a powerful tool, giving artists and designers abilities in expression that was barely imagined decades before. But while CGI has an immense amount of flexibility, it also seems like there are other forms of graphics that can created certain responses that CGI can’t make. We still have a Nostalgia for hand drawn animation and pixelated graphics, these still act as alternatives to live action and high fidelity CGI. But CGI can reproduce any great degree of intensely realistic looking yet fantastical scenes, don’t we want are movie and video game experiences to be more and more believable?

Here I would like to argue that it is not always the case that the images we  see in are consumer media are always more enjoyable when more realistic looking. Like I said before, the medium is the message, so when you want your game or movie to create a specific experience you need to accompany it with the correct form of imagery. This does not just include what things are present in an image but also in what fashion or style they are pictorially represented. As an example I would like to draw upon a contemporary example, there is a cute indie game currently out called Cuphead. it is a two dimensional platformer with while really good controlling and gameplay, has its main selling point of being entirely represented by 1930’s cartoon style animation. The art of the game was meticulously hand drawn and had to pass a high standard of quality. The graphics are not ‘realistic’ but the standards of realism yet the game itself was extremely popular. How do we account? The style of the game matched what it was trying to convey, the game was fun and whimsical and oozed charm. The silliness of it matched the story and gameplay extremely well and overall created a unique experience.

Working forward on this idea that graphical style should match intended experience, we can reapply it to the idea of misappropriation of graphics. So if in the case of CGI we use CGI in a scene in way that would not fit what we are trying to represent than it could actually detract from the overall experience and suffer as a result. An example is in the case of uncanniness, occasionally uncanniness can be a result of CGI that hasn’t caught up to modern expectations. If this uncanniness accidently finds its way into a scene that we are expected to take seriously then the effect may be more hilarious or creepy.

This week I played Super Mario 64, I had originally played Super Mario 64 as a remake for the Nintendo DS and enjoyed it quite a lot. I was never able to find the final star though. Overall the game was really cool and had this interesting form of level travel and game progression. For some reason the game felt really surreal at times and occasionally was quite lonely. The navigation between levels was done on at a hub which itself was a level and story progression wasn’t very clear but was mostly up to the players discretion. The game was a major step in 3D graphics for games and was the first 3D Mario game.


Reading 05

The development of more interactive games seem to be a combination of the visual flexibility and variety of video games with the sense of visceral movement and activity of sport and other skill games. Seeing this early on, it would appear to mostly be a marketing ploy that was designed to convince people of the technological advance of entertainment. These systems though would often be found to have severe limitations, in which when the novelty of a system wore off it would often demonstrate to be more frustrating then fun. Early examples of this are systems like the Wii and Kinect, in which while the motion sensing technology is there it had flaws and limitations. While these motion sensing technologies at best can be fun party games, they become insufficient motivation for individual play.

This sort of frustration is usually enough to take a gamer out of a flow state that they might otherwise be able to achieve in a system with more tighter controls, and which would otherwise be more traditional with a general game controller or keyboard. Traditional games through the limitation of movement can actually be more immersive, this is due to the fact that by having an individual be put into a passive state they become centrally entrained in the input output system of the game. In this passive state of the player, all external input can be melted away so that the only thing that exists in the players phenomenology is themselves and the game; and even this can be melted in a singularity in more extreme cases.

An exception to this though might come from musical games, examples of this are Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. These games had controls that borrowed from arcade style play, and thus had more past work borrowed from them. The inclusion of music allows players to become naturally immersed in the game themselves, this can be seen anecdotally with the huge scene surrounding these dancing and musical instrument games. These games are often tighter then other ray based peripherals because they largely really on discrete trigger based input such as the pads on a dance mat.

With the fast rise of VR we see better implementation of interactive games. The key to this is the advance is the improved immersion of the systems. The VR system submerges the senses in a visual auditory environment mostly free from external noise. This combined with reasonably good peripherals comes together as a unique experience that can engage flow by tricking the senses and narrowing the attention indefinitely. The headset itself acts as a peripheral, where moving your head changes the game view itself closing the gap between interpretation of movement and actual movement. Many VR sets come with motion sensing peripherals for the limbs, these have been shown to be fairly in depth given advances in dual lighthouse techniques.

The development of AR to me is uncertain, because it necessitates the interaction of a visual virtual environment and visual input from the actual environment. Improvement upon development would probably be slower then in VR because of this fact. The success of Pokémon Go! may prove me wrong, that was a AR game so the key to AR might be in the mobile scene. If the AR system can be successfully integrated in our mobile tech then that suggests a huge future success for AR.

Reading 04

To me, certain video game consoles have a sort of feel to them, which is informed by the specs of a console itself and the special audiences that surround them. Xbox consoles are more geared towards young adults, PlayStation consoles try to sell themselves as serious hardware, and Nintendo consoles go for the family friendly market.

I would believe it would be fairly rare for a console player to choose between a console purely on specs, if even at all looking at the specs. When I was growing up and a lot younger, there would be occasional discussion about the console wars, this was usually between what was superior; Xbox or PlayStation. The people arguing for PlayStation would talk about the consoles overall quality while those on the Xbox side might talk about its games or some ‘otherly’ aspect of the console. The handheld games were their own topic of discussion, and it was universally agreed that Nintendo’s where the best, if there was any possible competitor. From those that I knew, if a person was serious enough about having a console then they would probably also have a handheld. Most console gamers tried to keep PC games out of the discussion.

Most gaming adults that I am familiar with will have multiple household consoles, because it would allow them to play different games in either the way they want to play them or in the way they were intended to be played. A good example of this are Nintendo game systems, for what they often lack in high spec hardware they makeup for in game quality and overall console reliability. Some gamers may prefer playing older consoles just for the sake of nostalgia.

Going off of the articles, I would say that the superior console series is the PlayStation as far as hardware goes. But, usually an Xbox is cheaper. So if someone just wanted to have a console to play games with out as much consideration for performance an Xbox might be their thing. Usually more sophisticated hardware directly translates to more high end graphics quality and potentially more complex gameplay. For my gaming experience, unique style usually outweighs graphical ability and a game doesn’t need to be so complex as intriguing to keep my attention.

My favorite console was my Nintendo GameCube, it was the first console I’ve ever owned and brought me countless hours of entertainment. Some favorite games on the Nintendo GameCube were Mario Cart, Smash Bros., and Pikmin. I remember quite fondly of playing with my younger brother and sister on the GameCube, whether it was Mario Cart, Smash Bros., or Mario Party. Though we later got a Wii and after which I sort of grew out of consoles in general I will always happily remember my GameCube.

For this week I gave the game Sonic the Hedgehog a try, it was a fun an fast paced game and a little different from what I was used to in a platformer. Supposedly this was done by Sega in order to show off there hardware quality.

Reading 03

Computer gaming and console gaming are overall very similar to one another, they are done on two different machines that function very similarly. The advantage of computer games over console games is that the personal computer is more capable of handling a larger variety of different games and supporting software. The person savvy with a personal computer can not only play a variety of games, but customize a computer to fit their needs with games. A console on the other hand has an advantage in its compactness and ability to be instantly set up and played with the use of a television or monitor. Choosing between using a computer or console to play games is largely dependent on personal preference. When I play games, I usually prefer my personal computer. The main reason for this is because it’s what’s most available to me, in which I would have my personal computer for work anyway. Furthermore, I use a form of software that can be used to transfer games I already own from one computer to another, so I don’t lose my games when I need to update my computer.

A disadvantage I found to consoles is that more often than not, old games from the same company aren’t always backwards compatible with new consoles. The was an issue with early Nintendo system, but not necessarily so now. Furthermore, if someone wanted to keep up with the games a company put out, they would also have to keep up with the current consoles of the company. There is a sort of disadvantage to PC gaming, which is the lack of a plug and play nature that is otherwise present in console games. PC games usually take the extra steps of manipulating software and game environments while consoles games have more tactile and ergonomic setups.

As far as particular games go, I would say that first person and third person games are more better suited for consoles. These types of games are better played with console controllers and large viewing sets, these are more associated with consoles than personal computers. While larger sets and video game controllers can be used with modern PC’s, controllers come and are optimized for consoles. Also, if a first person game is competitive multiplayer, consoles affirm that identical hardware is used by all players involved so that no one player is liable to bog play because of inferior hardware on one side or another.

On the other hand real time strategy, economic games, and other sufficiently complex games are more well suited to PC environments. The main reason for why I think this is because a keyboard environment allows for the huge degree of controls necessary for some of these games. Also because there is a larger variety of personal computers and customizable desktops, the needs for complex games can be scaled with the computer used.

I tried some cool DOS games.

The first one I tried was The Oregon Trail, it’s a really neat resources management and travel game with a brutally punishing system. Decisions have to be made from available options and current resources, there can be unforeseen consequences that impact you in the long run.


The next game I played was Prince of Persia, it was a puzzle platformer but the gameplay was something new to me because I wasn’t as familiar with the sort of discrete and flighty movements that the character was controlled with. Overall it was a really cool and intriguing game, one I am definitely revisiting later.


The last game I played was Wolfenstein 3D, which was one of the few first games that attempted a first person shooter setup. Its not true first person shooter though because lateral character movement is non-existent. It’s really cool none the less and a very interesting piece of game history.


Reading 02

The arcade game is one of the most iconic ideas in game culture, from this period of arcade golden age we saw beloved characters such as Pac-Man and Mario enter the scene, along with grand inspiration for games to come in the future. Arcade games shared a huge part of the 80’s culture, which characterized new ideas and forms of amusement that reflected the fast times. These games can still be enjoyed today in many different forms through emulation and derivative systems. While nostalgia can play a huge role in these games continued appreciation, I would like to make other arguments about their very structure and context that also contributes to their staying power.

The games for one were easy to pick up and hard to master. This was born out of the fact that arcade games had to attract players them a chance, but keep challenging them to come back for more. This made the game structured to posses an apparent easiness to them, but also technically difficult to actually play them. This structure of challenge and frustration made these games very habit forming for players involved. Playing a game like this will imbed the imagery and iconography of the game into the players long term memory. Given that these devices are designed for the enjoyment and entertainment of the player, the emotional context that these memories would be associated with would end up being positive and nostalgic.

Because these games had minimal graphical capabilities, they had to rely on unique and novel forms of gameplay. Many classic action genres emerged from arcades, including platformer, racing, and fighting games. The huge varieties of play mostly functioned to have the games stand out from their competitors, though as time went on more formula based conceptions started to take hold as manufacturing became cheaper and cheaper. These sort of experimental forms of gaming still cause old arcade games to stand out even today, despite their lack of visual sophistication. Even if a particular game design didn’t work at the time, the novelty factor of the arcade game could be enough to make it successful. Even now it can be considered a good game design philosophy to make sure that gameplay remains of central importance to a game, with all other factors either being periphery or functional for gameplay.

There was also an interesting culture and atmosphere associated with arcade in the 80’s. Arcades where softly lit so that play can be focused on the screen, the spaces being dark and labyrinthine with the game machines. This caused all focus to be on gaming and game related socialization. The use of lighting in these darkened spaces added a sort of magic and style to an escapist environment. The use of competitive scoring caused these spaces to develop communities of both casual and hardcore players, with many records being set for classic games in arcades.

The combination of these factors all lead to the memory of these games still being alive today. The understanding of these games in their context helps us appreciate them for what they are and where their from, so that we can still enjoy them today.

Reading 01 Response

The development of video gaming came about from the exploration of electronic and computing technology and the demonstration of its use. The few early noncommercial games are Nimrod and ‘Tennis for Two’ which were played with the bulkier electronics of the time. While Tennis for Two was created using specific electronic configurations, Nimrod was programmed on an early computer. The development of early computing was what all0wed complex systems of rules to be implemented to play games. Only later were games being made to market to a public audience, the introduction of this was first started by the game Computer Space which was the brainchild of Nolan Bushnell. This was adapted from the earlier game Spacewar! built at MIT labs. The game Computer Space was sadly a commercial failure, this was attributed to the games complexity in a market at its infancy. The next iteration was Pong from the same manufacturer, which while simpler became a huge market success due to its playability. Though Computer Space was a commercial failure, its DNA lives on in other games such as Atari’s Asteroids, as referenced in Matt Barton’s article. The stimulation of interest gave video gaming a firm foothold in the entertainment market and spurred innovation for electronic systems of play A big hindrance to early commercial gaming was the ability to fit competent hardware into a commercial product. Often the games used were quite simple by todays standards. The Magnavox Odyssey was one of the first home game consoles and supported multiple games using program chips and surface mounted TV displays, a huge achievement for video gaming.

Early video games were largely limited to either a two dimensional play environment or a none dimensional abstract rendering of am more classic game. The example of Spacewar! had players navigate in two dimensional space, but also had a rap around environment that gave the illusion of navigating the surface of a sphere. Pong also hosted a two dimensional environment, except it was limited to the area of a box court. The early competitive games all required the interaction of two players. These earlier video games share the idea of dedicated hardware as with many modern console games, though for earlier video games this was due to current restraints on flexibility as apposed to an appreciation of optimizing game performance. Many games still today make use of two dimensional space concepts in order to organize play, this is largely due to the ease of which a player can comprehend the structure of a two dimensional movement as apposed to any hardware limitation. Modern games are by and large much more capable of handling demanding game play, this is due to advances in computer technology with system components becoming smaller and more efficient and with computational elements being abstracted so that game designers can be more focus on the actual game construction. This allows for games with three dimensional environments or games that have many operating objects like real time strategy and economic games. This is not to say that earlier games couldn’t be as engaging as modern games, when playing Spacewar! and Pong in class I became very engaged in developing techniques and strategies for playing the game and had a lot of fun watching the tournament play out.

Early games such as Spacewar! and Pong were cabinet based given the size of the hardware used. To this end they were coin operated and placed in public spaces in order to generate revenue for the owner. Arcade cabinets are no longer sold as widely today given the convenience of home consoles and computer games. There are special interest groups that still do play arcade games, but such practice is far and few in between. There are still console games around though with dedicated hardware such as the Play Station and the Xbox, the ancestors to these being the Magnavox Odyssey and early Atari systems. Consoles still keep the minds of gaming enthusiast because it separates the entertainment device from work and business devices. As game systems developed they stopped looking like dedicated electronic systems and started to look more like dedicated computer systems that could extend there range of games and play. Thus leading to the variety of video games we have today, that both learn from their predecessors and improve off them.

Reading 00 Response

Why do people play games? People play games for a variety of reasons: to socialize, for experience challenge, or just out of curiosity and interest. Over all I think people like to play games because its fun and they enjoy it, they don’t participate in a game with the same attitude they may do a chore or engage in a financial overview meeting at work. The primary function of game is to entertain the player, but the way the player finds joy in a game can vary. A player might like to play with others, as a means of spending time with their friends or to make new friends over a nice round of Sorry or Scrabble. Board games or social video games engage and embody special forms of social interaction that can take place while fitting in the medium of the game. It may be that a player enjoys the challenge of a game, and really likes competitive aspects of it. Pitting ones wits and skill against another in a no stakes environment can be a good way for someone to express a competitive ethic. For myself, I find games to be interesting as systems of action. I like looking at and playing with creative and intricate games embodying varieties of action that can be engaged in by the player.

My favorite non-video game growing up was probably Uno. For me it was a classic way to spend time with friends in high school, with my family and siblings, or just anyone for that matter. It was right at my level as far as fun and engagement was concerned. At the time I found the game to be fairly engaging and to be a safe form of group interaction. Pretty much everyone new how to play it so there was rarely a barrier to join and there where often house rules that certain groups would employ for their own purposes. Another game that I hold dear is Monopoly, simply because of the many rainy nights I would have played it with my siblings and family.

I believe the elements of an entertaining non-video game are challenge and amusement. A game needs to add challenge in ways that actively engage players to participate in the game, if a game lacks a certain degree of difficulty then a player might lose interest. On the other hand if a game is too difficult to understand then a player would be less incline to play it due to the comprehension barrier or degree of effort to play a game. Another important factor is amusement, as far as a game is able to amuse a player. I separate amusement from challenge because while challenge emphasizes overcoming, amusement emphasizes surprise and self generating novelty. When playing Settlers of Catan in class, I was surprised and delighted to find that despite my best laid plans and careful development I was overcome by the person who had refused to use their reserves until the very end.  A game that is amusing is capable of surprising the player in unexpected ways, this can help prevent a game from just becoming a purely mechanical exercise if elements of chance and variance are introduced. Amusement can take the form of the unexpected consequences of a game mechanic and the unexpected consequences of a players decision or action. Though, a game that is all amusement and little challenge can also be disinteresting, because such would hardly be a game if there was no working objective for the players.

All games have some sort of aspect of play that ultimately makes then similar in one way or another. Board games and video games can be very similar in terms of playstyle and mechanics. A commonality between board games and video games is their compactness and clear visual components. The main difference between video games and board games is the range of activity and the mediums they work through. The board game necessitates the immediate presence of the players in most examples, making intimate social interaction a necessary element. In video games, the players can be in each others presence but not necessarily, as online video gaming becomes more ubiquitous. A board game usually works within the confines of its physical pieces and the sets that can fit on a coffee table; the games content is generated through the cooperation of the players and their adherence to the games rules. In a video game the content can be generated virtually in any number of different ways, in which the relevant game itself manages player interaction and enforcement of game rules. As we see from Alex Herns article, the difference between a board game and a video game isn’t always so cut and dry, with games borrowing and utilizing any concept that can be synthesized. Board games and video games are only superior and inferior as far as they satisfy what someone looks for in a game. Board games are superior in promoting intimate social interaction and developing management and self regulation skills, while also being heavily limited by their medium. A video can take on many playstyles even to the extent of simulating board games, but can have issues in terms of being isolating.