February 2012

Mass Effect and the Insignificance of Human Civilization

The narrative in Mass Effect reveals some of the greater questions in literature and society today.

A recent opinion piece in the sci-fi fan site, Pop BioEthics, makes a pretty grand claim: that the science fiction universe of successful video game franchise Mass Effect is the most important of our generation. Written by Kyle Munkittrick, the piece lays out a well-conceived appraisal of the Mass Effect universe’s, “ability to reflect on our society as a whole.” Most importantly was that it points to the insignificance of humanity within the greater intergalactic community, but also to the abstract insignificance of civilization at its center; something Mukittrick referred to as “cosmicism”.

The Binding of Isaac

Arcade-style dungeon crawler delves into dark, disgusting territory

As difficult as it is to come up with brand new modes of gameplay these days, it might actually be harder to take a primordial genre and make it feel brand new based on its aesthetics alone. Most gamers have played through hundreds of dungeon crawlers during their lifetimes, from canonical SNES titles to one-off flash distractions to minigames within larger playing experiences. We've all delved into countless subterranean environments to fight off monsters in search of treasure. What's one more game in the mix?

If it's The Binding of Isaac, it's quite a lot more than just another dark and scary cave adventure. This indie Steam release will make you feel so uncomfortable as you play it that you won't be able to stop. Like a Lynch film or a Burroughs novel, Isaac renders disgust as its own form of pleasure. It's deliriously addictive, dark, and subtle enough in the way it tells its story to rank among my favorite art games. 

Zuma: a Fun, Unusual Game for Your Computer

If you are looking for an unusual and amusing game, you may just want to try Zuma for your computer. Zuma can be both a fun and maddening game for both experience gamers and novice ones. Pop Cap Games, one of the most respected names in the industry, produced the game; they are also the geniuses behind such beloved games as Plants vs. Zombies.
 
This a fun and funny game. For starters, you as the gamer are the bejeweled, fancy frog in the middle of the computer screen game board. Shoot balls from the frog’s mouth by simply clicking on the screen at the precise place where you want to the ball to go. You clear balls from the chain of them by getting three or more balls of the same color in a row. Whatever you do, don’t let the chain of balls hit the skull, or you will lose the game and/or round. 
 
Also, try to maximize your score. The game will show you the highest score you have ever attained for that particular round, and you want to always try to best yourself. Shoot coins that appear at various places on the board to aquire some extra points.

Top Video Game Experts Envision The Future of Gaming

...and it looks pretty cool.

I great series in Popular Science recently delved into the topic of the future of entertainment, particularly in how it applies to the video game industry. The gaming industry, which is a more than $10 billion animal and growing each year, is utterly unlike any other type of media. Music may change in production or accessibility, but it’s enjoyed essentially the same way it has been for millennia. The same for the written word. Even television and movies are extensions of theater, which has been around since the ancient Greeks. Video games, however, have the interactive quality that allows them to transform the way that we experience entertainment. Thus, PopSci asked the biggest names in the gaming industry what the future of entertainment will look like.

Battlefield 3 Developer DICE Looks For Anti-Cheating Expert

But they should probably focus on the other issues with the game...like the game.

If you’re like me, you’re getting a little frustrated with EA’s most recent mega-shooter, Battlefield 3. The game is rife with glitches, and although it’s still an incredible online gaming experience, there’s enough cheating, clipping, and interface problems to make me want to hang up my assault rifle for good (or, god forbid, go over to that other mega-shooter…). My frustration, however, abated a bit when I read the recent news that  BF3 developed DICE has hired an anti-cheating expert specifically to address its cheating issues with online play.

Reported on Gamespot yesterday, Dice has recently creted a position in their studio that is wholly concerned with counter-cheater measures in both current and future titles. If you’ve recently picked up the Multiplayer game, you will notice that many players on XBLA use clipping to crawl beneath the actual level, use modded consoles or trigger switches to “lag out”. Cheating is even more prevalent in the PC version of the game (which is always the case). There’s nothing more frustrating than spawning with your team and immediately being killed by some douchebag spawn camping beneath the floor. Bullets pour out of a rock and you sit, staring at your screen, and watching the spawn counter tick down so it can happen all over again.