Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Gaming Cultures... Its a way of life

Ahh the gaming culture personally i think its birth was around the same time doom raided the offices of the world bringing in the concept of cross network gaming and larger communitys of people with a common interest of gaming.

Im sure there are many people out there who would disregard gaming as a culture without fully understanding the community scale and dare i say almost cult status of it in modern society. With LAN partys becoming more and more common in which i myself hold one once a month between my friends, its clear that it is becoming more and more a regular part of our lifes and definatly the more dominant choice of entertainment in the household.

But obviously me saying this doesnt explain the sheer scale of gameing as a culture and its importance. LAN events such as i-36 at Stoneleigh Park which is the biggest LAN party in the UK with thousands of participants each year who get along with each other becuase they all have one common interest.. not to mention there is nothing more satifying than a friendly game of shooting the hell out of your friends and random strangers lol...

When i take a look at myself and games in my life i realise it occupys a huge part of my life.. even when i go out to try and escape from that fact i normally get asked what im doing a uni and unless i lie and say im doing something boring like law, i get 3 hours of game talk so all in all i cant escape it. Its worse now because i feel i have to buy the latest games and consoles simply to study and keep in touch with new graphic movements and styles so what started off as playing games for the fun of it is now an obsessive education move (or at least i try to pass it off as that).

What scared me was when i realised i had so many friends on xbox live that i had never met in reality and the same goes for msn. These days i try to meet as many of them as possible as i have travelled across the country once or twice to meet people as have they travelled to meet me.

Eiter way gaming as a culture is increasing even more as wii brings older generations into the picture and cross network gaming spreads further worldwide..

Game Industry?? meh its doing alright...

Probably one of the fastest growing industry's in the world and still snubbed as a lazy profession by most ( from my experience it is mostly plumbers who have this view i say this because Ive been told it by 3 different ones now... it cant be a coincidence). Even in this Global economical meltdown although slightly effected by down turn in sales from costumers moth filled wallets in which has resulted in several companies with to much ambition and very little budget to cease to exist. Other than that the games industry is virtually unscathed and continues to grow at an alarming rate.

After talking to a few of my friends/colleagues who work in the industry or at least did work for many years in the industry, they all seem to give similar responses tho granted it depends on their job but the universal answer always boiled down to pressure. When working to a tight budget and/or deadline naturally the pressure is on to be fast and still maintain a professional level of efficiency in the work that is produced. I know at least some of the bigger company's hire in house councillors which straight away to me says that plumbers really need to read this.

I guess the big question is what are the implications of the meltdown on the future of the games industry and to be honest if anything i think it will create a boom as new companies will pop up and of course this will also bring new creative idea for games.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Gameplay?? Ahhhh blasphemy

Yes Yes before i even start this i would like to say i use this word and do accept it as a valid term to describe the overall quality of a game so even tho im going to possibly moan about it i do use it.

Ok then, well i guess ill start with what is gameplay. Gameplay is a made up term stringing the words game and play together, that is the obvious observation and even more obvious is what it is used to describe... Well for some my mother thought it was a new way of saying i want to play a game, which i suppose makes sense.

The definition of gameplay is kinda sketchy really but overal very similar and to help me get this across i will be qouting from two sources which are the following..

Normally i would dismiss most information on wiki but to be fair i think the definition and information provided on there is a good representation of what it is. Game play is used to describe the story quality,graphics,sound,features and replay value and in my mind shows the word really is just a use for lazy game reviewers as mentioned in another blog a while back.

Either way it provides the information neccessary for gamers to decide whether they would like the game or not but the term is used more widely and has been accepted and is now used by game companys which brings me to the gamesutra link. The link if you havent read it already is a interview with Peter Molyneux, one of the lead developers on the Fable series. He achknowledges the word gameplay and in his reply to the questions he tells not only of its importance but the increasing demand for more of it to enhance the gaming experience.

Gameplay is something that can be perfected with perfect planning and excellent storyline and graphics but of course this also requires time and gamers are notoriously impatient when it comes to release dates. So no gameplay is not just a random load of graphics and other bit mashed together. It takes planning and concideration of what the customer wants and the best way to fit it together seamlessly.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Show the characters some lovin ^_^

If there is one thing i always take note of its characters.. From there personality to their actions that follow because of the decisions they make due to it.

A character can have extremely strong influences over your emotions whether it be the connection of getting a innocent character like Heather through a death infested mansion to routing for the uneducated and extreme underdog 'Rocky Balboa' willing him on to win and get that last punch in, its from films and games like 'Rocky' and 'Silent Hill' we get these funny attachments to characters and their lives.

The question is why??? We know its just a film or a game yet we do actually care.. i think there is several reasons for this and the obvious one for a gamer at least is it effects their life in the sense they desperately want to complete their game.

Aside from that as far as games are concerned its the same reason we get attached to movie characters.. Subconsciously i believe we all picture ourselves in their position. Asking questions such as, i wonder what its like to be in that position?what would i do? and what would i do in their situation?... In a sense we do what Mike said in the other weeks lecture. We run simulations in our heads of ourselves in their position and this gives us a sense of emotion towards the character.

Another example i remember well was in the 'Lord Of The Rings'. Poor little Frodo didn't want that ring but he was burdened with it and it turned his quiet life in the beautiful green Shire into a journey through hell. Apart from the sympathy that he was lumbered with that stupid ring there was also a sense or admiration later as he had the chance to just walk away and leave the rings fate in the hands of other but he chose not to. This made the little hobbit an underdog and hero and the instant reaction to a underdog and hero is to back them up and that what everyone who went to see that film was doing, this even spread to other characters in the film.

When it comes down to getting an audience to feel like this much of it i think is dependent on a joint effort between both the script writers and the actors... The script writers may define the narrative and story that puts the character through scenarios we can picture ourselves in, but they don't put the soul or personality into a character that is required to allow the audience to fully relate to a character, that is down to the actor.

The actors often are the ones who define the characters looks along with the directer but its how they are portrayed and the sense of realism and belief in the way they vocalise their lines and its this belief factor that is key to triggering some of these emotions and connections.

Moving off films and back to games...

A good game character is crucial to a game and once again I'm going to refer to an underdog as a example. "Guybrush Threepwood Mighty Pirate" oh how misunderstood Guybrush is lol. Hes the pirate that sucks at being a pirate yet we love him for it because he doesn't give up and lives in this fantasy world that he's the greatest pirate that ever lived. Whats so clever about Guybrush is everything! from his gormless expressions and long rather silly looking face, to his rather childish voice and dim witted comments throughout the game. In a way even if monkey island didn't have a great storyline (which to be honest it doesn't really) it would still be a great game because we all love following Guybrush on his unfortunate adventures.

In other words, and this applys in films to! it takes a good character to make a film or game sell and preferably more than one gets the biggest hits and overall makes the difference between a hit and a miss with film goers and gamers.