Sometimes here on Tap we occasionally link to Kickstarter or other crowdfunding projects. We don’t always cover them all (I haven’t even covered the ones I’ve funded!) because there’s so many, but today I am linking to one in particular. Why? Because I tried the demo on iPad at GDC, it’s clever, it’s clay, and I’d like to see it happen!
Now here’s a funny thing: this article has absolutely nothing to do with what I’d originally planned. But this is a situation where the story changes in telling, rather than an editor telling you to change the story. In a nutshell, this month’s Culture Clash column for the International Game Developers Association was meant to talk about the portrayal of sexual violence in literary media, using the two movies I mention below as a basis.
But the piece just wasn’t working. I have strong opinions on the subject but despite knowing a great many words, my strong opinions weren’t coming out the way I wanted them to. So I took a walk, and as so often happens, a completely different concept with the same building blocks popped into my head. That’s what you see here. I hope it’s more than just another article about the debate over “fun,” or at least another way of framing it, but I leave that to your judgment. Enjoy!
While other Tappers may be settling into Guild Wars 2, I slipped into a slightly less high-profile beta: RaiderZ. RaiderZ is a Korean-made free-to-play MMO, being localized for North America by Perfect World. The game is sort of a Monster-Hunter-style game, where players fight lots and lots of creatures, from big to small. The closed beta just began this week, and I’ve spent a few evenings in the game now. So what are my initial thoughts? Read on…
Hidden Path Entertainment kickstarted the viability of commercial-grade tower defense games with 2008’s critically acclaimed Defense Grid: the Awakening, and has now turned to Kickstarter to partially fund the development of more Defense Grid – potentially up to the Big Prize, a full sequel.
I electronically buttonholed Jeff Pobst, the CEO of Hidden Path Entertainment, for an exclusive Q&A about the company, the Kickstarter, and the future of Defense Grid.
It was the final Guild Wars 2 closed beta last weekend before its highly anticipated release on the 28th. My brother, Lewis B, who left Tap a couple of months ago to write for MMOG site Ten Ton Hammer, invited me and fellow MMOG noob Steerpike to join him to see what all the fuss was about. Between the two of us, our combined MMOG experience before the beta weekend amounted to making a character in Ultima Online, killing a carrion spider in Dark Age of Camelot and spending eight minutes in Rift. We were surely destined for doom.
Former GSC Game World marketing director and rumor-guy Sergey Galyonkin, the fellow who broke the news of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. developer’s collapse a few months ago, has a new juicy rumor for us: that Bethesda Softworks, of Elder Scrolls and Fallout 3 fame, has acquired rights to publish another game in the STALKER franchise. Assuming the rumor’s true at all, it should be noted that Bethsoft hasn’t picked up ownership of STALKER IP. That, apparently, still belongs to former GSC honcho Sergei Grigorovich, the fellow who abruptly shut down the Ukrainian developer in the first place.
Franchise or publication rights, it still seems like an odd choice for Bethsoft to pick up, y’know?
Girls. That mysterious species. Do they play video games? What kind of video games do girls play? How can we get girls to buy our video games?
These seem like simple questions, but in an industry dominated by men, appealing to fifty percent of the population sometimes becomes a tricky proposition. It’s been proven statistically that girls (and women) are playing games. But what kind of games are they playing? This time, on Tap Vs. Tap: Games for Girls.
There are giants in this industry, and then there’s Ernest Adams. A developer, lecturer, scholar and teacher, Ernest’s book Fundamentals of Game Design is the essential text on the subject, while his newest work Game Mechanics: Advanced Game Design, written with Joris Dormans, is a much-needed formalization of game mechanics grammar and understanding.
In his spare time, Ernest founded the International Game Developers Association and shipped 15 games over 23 years.
He’s also one of the nicest people you’ll meet, and I consider myself fortunate to be able to call him a friend; one who’s assisted me many times in my career. All that you need to know about Ernest in order to get along with him just fine is that he has no time or patience for people who are stupid or disrespectful – and that being one of the nicest people you’ll meet doesn’t mean he won’t be aggressive about subjects that anger him.
Ernest has written a column for Gamasutra since the place was founded over 14 years ago, with a largely free editorial hand. Unfortunately, that site chose not to publish this piece as it was written… something that makes me bite my tongue. Interestingly I went through a similar incident several months ago with my Culture Clash column for the IGDA. Perhaps wrongly, I elected to rewrite the piece to assuage the opinion of someone who frankly had no right to judge what I said.
Ernest chose another path, and here is his view, in his words, without dilution; because courage to stand up to wrongs (editorial and social) is another one of his qualities.
“We need to stop asking whether something is a game or not.” This was a point made by Dr. Daniel Pinchbeck, during his GDC Microtalk, “Things we need to stop talking about.” Likely, he was inspired by the reception to his own work, Dear Esther. The game is critically acclaimed, but critics can’t seem to decide if it’s “really a game” or not. Pinchbeck’s point was that it didn’t really, ultimately, matter.
In spite of this, it doesn’t seem like “what is a game?” is a conversation that we’re going to stop having any time soon. Game academics, or, ludologists, if you prefer, have been working on nailing down just the right definition for the fuzzy word “game” for decades.
Long ago, there was a time when single analog sticks ruled and Nintendo held the world in its 3D clutches…
The age of Nintendo 64…