Monday, March 31, 2008

Something More Than Just "Game"

I'm starting this post to keep track of any discussions on Interactive Storytelling which is certainly an area more than worthy of deep, academic study. I'm starting with 1UP Yours podcast, because this topic keeps coming up repeatedly, making me think that there really is something to this topic.

List of 1UP Yours discussion on interactive storytelling within todays games:

  1. 12/21/2007 1:18:17
    Jeff Cannata: "I think the story of BioShock progressed the medium of videogames. I think it's as close to art as we've gotten in videogames. It's an experience that can only be communicated to you in an interactive medium. ... and it's because I was participating in the story. ... and this is the only entertainment medium where I am an active participant."
  2. 3/21/2008 54:00
  3. 3/28/2008 1:50:00, 1:54:17
    Shane: "Resident Evil ... the storytelling, not its strong point. ...compared to actual good story, Resident Evil does not have one."

Monday, March 24, 2008

In Treatment

I'm not sure what you think about receiving psychological therapy... you know, the one where you sit down with a stranger and start talking about the most intimate thing you've never told even to your partner of the life. But I've been thinking that it's actually really good and healthy for you, as long as the therapy maintains a great personality.

I'm not sure where I've read about this first, but today, I came across a little blog post about a recent HBO special titled In Treatment. You can actually watch it free online. With overwhelming charisma, the therapist has an hour long session with each of his patients... and goodness, it's worth every second. Please, do go watch it... I think it'll be of a lot of help to you.

While watching the show, while being sucked into other people's problems and the calm and wisdom-loaded response of Paul the therapist, I was hit by a tiny fact that everything they talk about.. they're actually very small things, somethings that you and I could be talking about, given a chance and a set of open hearts. The fact that we pay a stranger just so we can talk to them about our problem makes me think that this world has become a such complex and crowded place that, as one of my favorite movie, Crash, appropriately puts, we've come to "miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other just so we can feel something."

It's a sad reality we live in.

On CCM or "Inspirational Music"

I've been listening to many CCMs lately now that I've decided to help out my church's praise night, and I find them pretty good songs, to be honest. I'm not saying this because of the fact that they're Christian music, but I think they would've been good and fairly popular songs had they come out as normal Pop songs.

Now, I'm not saying that I was oblivious of CCM's existance. I did know there were a lot of these musics (from other praise nights and such events), but never had I really acquired copies of those songs and listened to them on regular basis like now.

One thing about CCM for me is that Roman Catholic Church, which I belong, are not so happy with CCM. Reasoning, I think, goes that the relationship between men (and women) and God is not so much about enjoying or having adrenaline rush or.. whatever feeling you get listening to contemporary songs of late. It's about deep contemplation, something like meditation, which I do agree. Since most of us Catholics don't really delve into studyinig what our religion is really about (which I think also has some reason behind this... loi), I can't really say anything other than this.

One thing is clear: while I am listening to these songs, I almost never really think about God or how mighty he is or praising him. I feel like I'm just listening to any other pop song. Guess I'm not really cut out for contemporary way of praising.

Edit: I just Googled CCM and found Wikipedia entry on this subject (All hail Wiki!), and found out its not just Catholic, but any conservative Christians that are against CCM. Ha... funny. I mean, the reasoning for the controversy is funny. Take this: "Some conservative Christians feel that the medium of popular music is unholy, and thus unfit for Christian participation." I bet these people are the same people opposing video game in every possible way.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Technology Nerfs Fantasy

This is a great find. Enjoy:

Watching the great trilogy of The Lord of The Ring, I've always thought how technology takes away many of merits fantasy settings bring. Think about it: Gandalf, in The Two Towers, calls for this white horse, Shadowfax, who's supposed to be the "lord or all horses." Coolness. Now, imagine how that great horse would've seen if a red pickup truck rolls by next to them at blazing speed! Not cool. (Gandalf probably stuck his thumb up and asked for a ride.) A silly thought, I know. But there are tons of this kind of moments in fantasy stories neverthless.

I'm making this point to let you think about how mixing fantasy and technology leads to many awkward development. Take most of Japanese fantasy games, Final Fantasy 7, for example. From the start of the game, Cloud encounters guards who pour bullets on Cloud. What happens to him? Nothing, except costing a few HP points.

Is anything wrong in this picture? I mean, gun is something amazingly powerful and is something to be feared. It enables everyday Joe to commit mass murder, and yet, here we are with games that take this totally away.

Okay, I do acknowledge that it probably was a design decision made by the devs to control the flow of game. However, I have to wonder, couldn't they have inserted some kind of explanation for this? Instead of simply "nerf"ing guns (because apparently guns are not cool but swords are) what about some kind of magic that prevents leathal wound from bullets? (e.g. something similar to that magnetic field generator one of the boss in MGS2 had.)

Stupid designs that we have to take as is because of inability on designers' side makes me mad.

Anyways... how did this post become a rant? Didn't mean to when I started typing. Hrm..

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Gaming, Gamer, and Man-Child

GP: "Prof: Game Industry Barbaric, Continually Chooses Violent Themes"

You know, more I read people's comments on game-related stories, more I get dissappointed with the people who call themselves "gamers." Why? Read on.

While vast majority of people follow news around their area, politics, sports, or world news to keep track of hot issues that may be more important than entertainment, I follow news and blog entries on game industry most of the time (the only non-game related news, I get from Newsweek). One of the source is Game (GP in short), a blog by ECA (Electronic Consumers Association), which covers on political issues surrounding game industry. They report mainstream news to legislation relating to games, and so on. And because we're living in a time when "game" is such a new and hot thing, it's inevitable many of GP's posts relates to someone's negative view at games in general. It is very informative, yet can be very annoying.

The actual posts are good by themselves, although sometimes it consist of flame-starters. However, the response people write to such articles..are obnoxious.

Ok, some articles do deserve to be shot down, like the despicable Fox News' coverage on "SeXBox", or this "Customizable Sodomy" (this is about BioWare's respectable Mass Effect, BTW) but there are plenty of reasonable and well-thought-out opinions on current states of games. Yet, to any story involving anyone saying anything negative about today's games, people are just busy bashing the authors, talking about how ignorant and stupid they are, citing a single or two examples to counter their views (when there are tons that do support them), instead of actually heed the words and reflect on them. I am generalizing the gamer-crowds and do know there are mature and respectable people among the crowd, but looking at the comments and boards, I do find more of one-sided, so-utterly-biased, and irresponsible gamers who simply like to talk shit to those opposing games. And then, they immediately turn around and praise game devs who says practically the same thing.

I guess I can blame this on the anonymity of interweb, but this picture is not encouraging. Maybe "game" is what game is: a toy for people's entertainment. Maybe gamers really are man-child. Maybe gaming is something to grow out of.