Tag Archives: Video Games

Guns, violence, video-games, and the media

"Don't blame [GTA San Andreas logo], 'cos it ain't San Andreas' fault"

Within mere minutes of any mass-shooting, the media (and assorted interest groups) are keen to tell you why the shooter(s) did what they did. In the recent shooting at Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut, everyone was keen to explain in detail exactly why Adam Lanza murdered a bunch of people and then killed himself.

Of course, since (at the time) they didn’t even have the right name, the various motivations espoused for Lanza’s killing-spree were nothing more than purest fabrication. Fantasy and lies, basically. If anyone actually has gotten it right (and the truth will probably never be known) then it was only by accident – not by any great feats of journalism, investigation, facts, statistics, or deductive reasoning.

Violent video-games (in fact, just video-games generally) once again take pride-of-place as the culprit for this incident, and that’s demonstrably a load of hooey. I won’t try to tell you why Adam Lanza (or many of these other mass-shooters) did what he did, or what would have made things better – I don’t have authoritative information on that – but I can show you that video-games are not to blame.

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A satisfying ending

A number of games feature multiple endings to their narratives. Right off the top of my head, I’ll name four: All three of the Deus Ex games, and Mass Effect 3. These come particularly to mind for a singular gaming conceit: The magic pick-an-ending button.

Regardless of what you’ve done, how you’ve developed and defined your character’s personality, who has lived and died, who you’ve befriended or opposed, you’re presented with three choices right at the end. Press the button (so to speak) and get the ending.

In narrative terms, that’s a cop-out. That isn’t even phoning it in.

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Hatters gonna hat

I’m a social gamer. This doesn’t mean that I play what are commonly called “social games”, because generally, they aren’t actually social, and while they might be compelling to some – particularly to those whose experience with electronic entertainment is a bit limited – they’re not generally a lot of actual fun.

No, I’m a social gamer. I like to communicate about games. I like to talk about them. I like to write about them. I like to have enjoyable cooperative gaming experiences with my friends and family – in the same room, if at all possible. I also like to just play them.

That’s the sort of social gamer I am.

Now, here’s the sort of social gamer that I am not

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Jagged Alliance: Back In Action

Play it now – Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

I had Meltdown slip up behind one of the guards, who was kneeling behind a short barricade of sandbags, watching for an external threat. The guard had no time to react when Meltdown shot her twice in the back of the head. I knew there was another guard nearby, and expecting that he might hear the shots, I had Meltdown drop to her belly and slither around the other side of the barricade where she would be out of sight.

As expected, he heard the shots, and dashed out just in time to spot Meltdown before she got behind cover, but not with enough time to aim and fire before she was out of sight.

I expected him to try to circle around, and prepared Meltdown for that, but he didn’t. Instead, he hunkered down partly covered by the trunk of a small tree, aimed his pistol and just waited. Meltdown had nowhere to go, and all he had to do was wait.

While this standoff continued, I instructed Fox to belly-crawl towards him, along the side of a building. There was a low, concrete barrier to the guard’s left, just slightly to his rear. Fox easily slipped into position.

I coordinated the two. Fox would pop up, and fire a shot at the guard, then drop again. As soon as she fired, Meltdown would move up into a crouch and empty her magazine at the guard, who would hopefully have turned towards the new threat, but be denied a target as Fox vanished from his sight.

It worked beautifully. Fox took a shot over the barrier, catching the guard by surprise, and then dropped as he turned towards her. Meltdown popped up at the first shot, aimed and fired three of her own shots, taking him down.

He didn’t stand a chance, and that was just the way I wanted it.

There were other guards, but they were far too far away to have heard the action. I instructed the girls to reload, and began planning their approach towards the next guard post, checking the lay of the terrain, cover and patrol routes.

I was just fifteen minutes into playing Jagged Alliance: Back In Action.

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Play it now – Game Dev Story

Play it now!
Got an Android device handy? Want a cool little management game for just a couple bucks?

Give Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story a whirl. Currently, the game is 40% off to celebrate the release of their newest game, Hot Springs Story.

Game Dev Story is just what it sounds like. A game about developing games.

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No faith in Yee

California State Senator Leland Yee has just spent somewhere in the ballpark of a million Californian taxpayer dollars to have his bill on violent video games struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. Again.

Yee says he’s going to do it again. In fact, that would make the third time he’s heaped all of that money into a pile and metaphorically set fire to it.

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Arx Fatalis gets update and source release

Arx Fatalis is actually really rather a cool game. Think Ultima Underworld, fully jazzed up and with a nifty story full of surprising twists. I might produce a review of it at some later stage.

Arx isn’t a new game by any stretch of the imagination, being more than eight years old, and it had persistent performance issues except in the lower resolutions and on some specific hardware. Nevertheless, a patch (1.21) suddenly appeared which fixes all of that – although it actually maybe feels a little fast now.

Apparently it is the final patch for Arx Fatalis, but it is accompanied by the source-code under the GPL 3 (with a couple minor exceptions).

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It’s the DLC, darnit

I’ve been thinking about The Sims 3 and Bioshock 2, and Dragon Age and other titles which I just haven’t picked up (and it doesn’t look like I am likely to). I know why that is. It’s the DLC/addons.

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Recommended reading: keeping and gaining users in the long haul

It actually isn’t as common as you might think that an MMOG makes it to five years. At GDC this year, six panelists from among the survivors got together and talked about their strategies for keeping old players and acquiring new ones.

And there’s sound advice in there for more industries and enterprises than just MMOGs.

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