One of the most interesting things about the IndieCade East conference is that it takes place in [a] museum. I’m always fascinated by how the placement of video games in museum spaces changes their meaning and context. The Museum of the Moving Image is open for regular business during the run of the festival, and festival organizers work hard to make sure that there is enough space that not only can dedicated festival-goers see the event, but the regular public in New York City can see some of it too. As a result it provides a unique opportunity to watch people play indie video games in a public space. I played a lot of games at the show, but watching other people play games was more interesting.
Kickstarter, Greenlight, Early Access, pre-alpha, alpha previews, closed betas, open betas, demos, full release! Post-release, DLC, expansions, mods, third-party utilities and patches, hell, even subscriptions, pay to play, free to play and voluntary donations… gaming evidently isn’t like any other medium. But we all knew that anyway, and that’s kind of why we love it.
Once, when I was teaching, I brought the original BioShock into the classroom to show it off to students. We plugged the 360 into a big projector and played it large. I handed the controller to a student and let him play around.
I was kind of fascinated by the response.
I’ve been awfully positive on Tap-Repeatedly lately, mostly just writing little blurbs about indie games I have enjoyed. I have more of those! But first a digression while I download an Android/iPhone game called Transformers Legends, and then rant about it.
We don’t usually bother with news around here, but sometimes it’s News and deserves a remark.
The Industry said a collective “whoa” on Friday when it learned that John Carmack, programming megamind and id Software co-founder, creator of Doom and Quake and Rage, has left the company he built. Several months ago Carmack took on a new role as Chief Technology Officer at Oculus VR – they of the eventual Oculus Rift headset – and it’s on this role that he is going to focus his attention.
Or, XCOM: Enemy GETS TO MOVE DURING MY TURN
Or, XCOM: Enemy CAN BE HEADSHOT OUT OF SIGHT THROUGH A CAR WITH AN 88% CHANCE TO HIT
Or, XCOM: Enemy IS LESS DANGEROUS THAN MY OWN PANICKED SOLDIERS
“No,” is my guess.
I’m as guilty as the next fan of speculating unfairly about things, though I’ve tried – hard – to withhold judgment on Eidos Montreal’s upcoming Thief. It hasn’t been easy, and I haven’t been wholly successful. But I remind myself that this studio also gave us the workmanlike but excellent Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and I feel a little better. “Teams” and “studios” aren’t the same thing, though, and so far there’s been little evidence that the development team behind Thief understands the franchise they’re working with to the degree that the Deus Ex folks understood theirs.
The Stanley Parable is a game about branching narrative structures in games. Well, except I talked to Davey Wreden for a bit at Indiecade last year, and he said it’s not really about that. But the game is pretty sarcastic, unless it’s very sincerely telling you something about how it feels about branching choices in games, so maybe I misinterpreted that conversation, or maybe Wreden was just pulling my leg.
The Stanley Parable is a game about pulling my leg.
My mind is in twain. Part of me wants to say “Well, we saw that coming.” Another part of me wants to say “Holy mudcrabs!”
Valve has been teasing three big announcements for a while now, and they’re all expected this week. The first? SteamOS, which is (almost) exactly what it sounds like. And the whole earth trembled.
Stop the presses! Aaron Alexis played video games, including “violent” ones. Indeed, the man who killed a dozen people at the U.S. Navy Yard on Monday was in fact a male under the age of sixty. And while the UK Daily Mirror is hardly what I’d call a “source,” I’ve heard this same coverage on NPR – coverage focusing on the Alexian love of video games rather than the voices in his head, voices so bad he called the police and switched hotels to dodge them; rather than the diagnosed PTSD brought on by participating in the 9/11 cleanup; rather than the history of arrests for gun crimes; rather than the flood of reports indicating that Alexis had numerous social problems and that many “close” to him feared the man well before the attack.
If video games were Roman defeats, Rome II: Total War would be Manzikert, which was a pretty bad showing for the Romans, one with a high cost. But the long-term effects of that battle are complex and far-reaching, over-analyzed and often over-weighted. Some historians go so far as to describe Manzikert as the event that kneecapped the Roman Empire, which is ironic because the part of it you know about was long gone by 1071 and the other part would totter on for another four hundred years. Me, I don’t buy it. Manzikert was bad, but post-Manzikert misgovernance did more damage than the battle itself. Byzantium could have recovered, it just failed to. Similarly Total War: Rome II has ample opportunity to recover from the scattershot problems of initial release and turn itself into a genuinely remarkable game. If Creative Assembly bungles that opportunity, then Rome II, like Manzikert, will be remembered as the beginning of the end.
Viewing the comments threads on video game web sites is like stepping into some alternate universe where people are sincerely anticipating Grand Theft Auto V.
Maybe I could’ve written “I am old and out of touch” and said the same basic thing. Or maybe I’m being a hipster; I’m not buying Grand Theft Auto V, you plebeians, because it is too mainstream, and it’s what everyone will be playing and I’m way too cool for that. Or maybe it’s because I’m a woman and chicks just aren’t into this sorta thing.
Except that none of these things are true.
I’ll admit it, I was wrong! All this time I have thought, hell, fervently believed there were only three ways to get rich: (1) Inherit it, (2) Steal it, or (3) Earn it. Except for the first choice, none of those sound particularly fun; but, it turns out there is another way, a far better way and one that can be a bucket of fun, gaming enthusiasts. Did you know that computer gaming is now considered a professional sport? For example, just last month U.S. immigration officials classified the world’s top video-game players as professional athletes. Wow, does it take forever for the U.S. government to wake up, or what? We all knew how special gaming was, but all we got from the government was a lot of crap.
Exhausted from a trip, you drop your bags at the threshold of a dark, strange, lonely house. The night is late and stormy. No one comes to greet you; no one is home. You did tell them not to make a big deal, not even to pick you up at the airport. “Like, really, seriously, you don’t have to pick me up.” Exact words, in a tone that said “Nothing would make me happier than to reach the gate and see you smiling there.”
A tone that said “please pick me up, I’m so tired. Pick me up, I haven’t seen you in a year and I can’t wait. Pick me up, I’ve missed you and I love you and I want to hear everything that’s happened. I wish you’d stayed suspended, waiting for me, but I know you haven’t, and I’m not sure where the new house is, I’ve never been there. So please pick me up. It’s been so long. Please pick me up.”
But no one did. So, all on her own on a dark and stormy night, 22-year old Kaitlin Greenbriar, has gone home.
Unequivocally, I say Rockstar is greedy, selfish and without remorse. They make it difficult, even impossible for a customer to receive satisfaction when there is a problem. The truly ironic thing is, they pretend they are trying really hard. One gets the impression, early on, that he/she is being helped. But, before long, you realize that your emails don’t seem to have been read, by real eyes in any case. I cannot help but believe there are thousands of others who feel as I do.