Aesthetic of Until Dawn and why i love it!

Hello again!

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This week we’ve talked about game genres and the three dimensions of games; mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics. We especially talked about aesthetics. Aesthetics is basically what attracts us to a game. I’ve never thought much about genres or aesthetics in games, because i consider myself a casual gamer, but i’m obviously not, i’m a active gamer. Don’t really know what that means, but i guess i like to play games and especially with others. And i also do watch some gaming videos on YouTube. But i found the aesthetic part very interesting. So there’s nine different types of aesthetics; sensation, fantasy, narrative, challenge, fellowship, discovery, expression and submission. A game can consist of either one or more of these, and these makes it easier to categorize a game or market them to the public. So i wanted to look at the aesthetics of one of my favorite games Until Dawn. And yes, i got inspired by all of the presentations we had in class. They wear awesome!

 Until Dawn is a horror adventure game, i have i hate/love relationship with the horror genre because i sometimes get scared, but at the same time it’s thrilling and exciting. So Until Dawn was released August 2015 by Sony Computer Entertainment for PlayStation 4. The game is developed by Supermassive Games and the story is written by Graham Reznick and Larry Fessenden. The Game also uses real actors as the main characters, for example Rami Malek (who stars in Mr.Robot, which is one of my favorite TV-shows), and they do a really great job! So i wanted to ad the trailer for the game so you can get a better picture of what it’s like, so watch that before you continuing reading, that way you might understand more.

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The plot of the game is set on the fictional Blackwood Mountain where eight teenagers (Sam, Mike, Chris, Ashley, Emily, Matt, Jessica and Josh)  meet up one year after the disappearance of Josh’s twin sisters (Hannah and Beth). After arriving they get attacked by a madman and must attempt to survive until sunrise. So in this game you alter by playing the eight different characters and you get an introduction to the characters (which looks like the picture above to the right). The game is influenced by the butterfly-effect which means the different actions you make throughout the game will have different consequences. This will also effect which characters will survive until dawn. This means you can play the game over and over again, and get different endings each time. I think this makes the game more interesting and fun.

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Over to the aesthetics of the game (or at lest what i find compelling to this game). I would say that Until Dawn plays heavily on narrative. That will say the game tells a story and it’s basically a interactive movie. Especially in Until Dawn you have a part in how the story will develop and end. I think this is the reason why i like the game so much, and i think it stems from my childhood. When i was about 10 year old i read the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, and some of the books where similar to how Until Dawn works. In these books you could choose your own ending and you had to jump back and forth in the book. I fell in love with this concept but i didn’t find anything else that was similar until this game. So i think the narrative of Until Dawn is very unique and can appeal to many people, but the fact that it’s a horror game might scare people away. But there is other game that is similar, for example Life is Strange, which is not a horror game. Would recommend that if you don’t like horror games. But i think these types of butterfly effect games are awesome and i think everyone should try at least one!

Also, if you’re to scared to play it yourself, i would recommend watching other people playing it, that usually makes it less scary.  The people who plays the game also have a lot of witty comments which makes it hilarious. So here is a video of someone from BuzzFeed playing the game, enjoy!

And one last thing, regarding the blog post from last week, it seemed someone was interested hearing more about the SKAM research project i did last year. I didn’t write much about it, because i didn’t think it was relevant, but i figured i might as well wright more about it. So maybe over the Easter break  there will be an extra blog post about it. A little Easter gift from me to you!

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A letter to the President of America

“I’m hearing more and more people seeing the level of violence in video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.” – President Donald Trump said only a couple of weeks ago at a meeting with senators and governors from many states in the United States. The issue on gun violence in the US is and video game violence has been heavily discussed by the media, politicians and the people. But why then, Mr. President, does it seem that for the most part, school shootings seem to be happening in your country?

Some video games do in fact contain a lot of grotesque violence and let players decide the ethics and moral values they want to express in the game, and some won`t let you get through it without turning to violence. That is the cold facts. That is how one can choose to tell a story, by using emotions and feelings to produce a game that can connect with an audience. But the beauty of video games is that they don’t necessarily need to mirror any society in any way, many games are of the fantasy-genre, with no strings attached to the real world. They could, of course, mix real world and fantasy world. It is true that a large percentage of popular video games contain violence.

Using video game violence as a bogeyman to protect your position in power and keep your image in tact might prove to be a little too late. This is not some new phenomenon; many researches have spent hours and hours on research on the question of video game violence and how it may enable the players violent tendencies and make them to violence act in real life and there has not been a conclusion that it does. Most researchers and projects on video game violence tend to say that it doesn’t make people become violent, but one take is that it is an escape, and maybe some people get off by playing violent games. So why do we keep coming back to this? Well, I don’t know for certain, but trying to make sense of these horrific tragedies is not a bad thing, but in my opinion, and I know how complex and sensitive this issue is for the American people, the focus should be more on gun control, and a more thorough background check, training and mental health awareness.

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Although video games are age-restricted, it is probably one of the worst kept secrets in the world that these age-restricted games are not so restricted as they wish to be. When GTA V was released, it was banned by a chain in Australia, but this is a matter of free speech. I know I`m not giving any answers to the issue in this blogpost, but I am adamant that we cannot let the beautiful story telling vehicle that is video games be controlled by fear and claims. You can`t just get rid of violence, violence is a true aspect of humanity, and it always has been. Video games should be free from such control. Diversity is key to any part of life. And a key to an open society where all voices can be heard.

Until next week!

Joachim

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A little love story about FIFA

Games is a big part of my and many others life. Why is it that a reality that is so far away is so interesting? I love games, it makes me forget all about the other things I probably should have been doing, also school. I love sport and action and that reflects in the games I like.

 

My love for FIFA

I have played FIFA since I was 6 years old, then we used the PS2, a lot have happened since then. The game has seen many changes in 15 years, good and bad. EA release a new version of the game in September every year. If you had the previous game u still must pay full prize. My parents did always ask why I bought the new version when the old was almost the same. I understand why they ask that, but when EA release the new game, that’s the game that get prioritized. And u always want to have the newest game. The most played game mode in FIFA for 10 years is FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team). This is the most successful game mode in FIFA ever. You buy player card, each player has it own card. The card is rated after the last year performance. Then u can buy the players u want, it’s a online game and the players I traded online so the prices is always changing. This year u can also play with old Icons from the old days, like this Iconic Henry card. A GOAT as most of the YouTuber’s like to say.

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PlayStation vs PC

I have always liked to use the controller instead of a mouse and keyboard. U can relax more, use the tv or a monitor. The control on the PlayStation is just better to use for me that play a lot of FIFA. I also have a laptop, but I don’t use it for games. I love football and that reflects in how much I have played FIFA, I used to have a PSP (PlayStation Portable) that I had with me everywhere I traveled. When I was younger there was a fight of which gaming platform that was the best, I liked PS and others played on Xbox or PC. U can play FIFA on all this platforms, but you can’t cross between them. U can only play against players on the same platform as yourself.

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As we have talked about in class, there is a lot of money in games, I want to talk a little bit about how EA makes money on FIFA and how the community have reacted on how things have change. The game-play itself has seen upgrades that has given the game a more realistic feeling when you play. But how much you must pay to get good players is a lot more then u must pay to get the best upgrades in other games. In the game u can buy FIFA Cash, this u can use to buy packs that have players and other cards in them. U can also use FIFA coins that u earn from playing matches and selling players. The Cash is very expensive, and most people don’t have the money to get a dream team. U can of course play a lot of games and earn a lot of coins, but that takes a lot of time. I think the amount of cash u need to use to get the team u want is all too much.

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MY TEAM SO FAR

I don’t have the time to play as I used to have, but I enjoy playing with friends when I can. I have not used any money on FIFA other then the game itself and I have been lucky and gotten a pretty good team. I don’t think FIFA is the most played game in class, if don’t have played it from a young age it will be hard to get good. And you need to love football, or soccer as they say in America.

 

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week 6

 

 

 

 

 

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Video Game History

 

Video game history is a topic who’s been close to my heart for several years. Especially the video game crash of North America in ’83 is for sure one of the highlights for myself. It all started with a boom of video games who were introduced and ready to capitalize on the multi billion video game industry during the late 70s and early 80s. Several home consoles from multiple manufactures were made and pushed, ready to make a big buck from the willing consumer. The manufactures thought the regular people were ready to pay up for literally anything, and they made games as quick as possible to cash as much cash inn as possible. This all ended abruptly from 83 to 85 when the industry collapsed inn on itself and gained a loss of about 97 percent. The biggest contender for the catalyst of this crash were E.T the Extra-Terrestial, the game to tie inn for the superb movie. This abomination of a game is mostly recognized to be the catalyst of the crash. And the rest is history. But when the night seems like the darkest, it’s close to dawn. And the video game industry’s dawn were a well known video game creator, Nintendo. And the brilliant mind of Shigeru Miyamoto and Satoru Iwata, two of the most credited and legends of the video game industry managed to rise the former giant into the massive culture video games are today. Without Nintendo who know what would happen to video games, if we ever would get to the length and glory of video games today.

I’ve been surveying YouTube for years, reading up on channels who devote their left over times to light up on these subjects, and one that was released recently is from Video Game Historian, and it’s about Nintendo’s NES and how it was pushed gently into the American market, trying to revive the giant who we’re left beaten and alone. You should give it a watch, and this includes all of his videos if you’re interested in Video Game history, especially the history of the North American market.

The Story of R.O.B the Robot

 

 

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This week on NETNARR + Nintendo

Lets just start this blog post plain and simple, no “Hello” or “hi”, just plain and simple. So as usual this blog post are about my school week and about what we did the last week. This time, it’s the same. This week we continued on gaming history where we started by watching a video about game genres. The video made some good point like for example how we describe “Portal” as genre. The game is in “First-person” view and it has a portal gun. Shouldn’t we describe it as “FPS” (First Person Shooter)? Not quite there yet. If the game was heavily based on shooting at persons, aliens, or simply anything where the objective is to kill and its first person, then yeah its a First-person shooter, but Portals genre is a Puzzle-platform game. We learned how to define genres like “Action game”, “Adventure game”, “Strategy game” and “Process-oriented games” and at the end we continued on the lecture with gaming history.

From arcades to Nintendo and Shigeru Miyamoto. If you don’t know Shigeru Miyamoto is the one who created the Nintendo mascot. The italian mushroom eating super hero Super Mario. He also created “The Legend Of Zelda” where Link the main character dressed in green clothing are chosen to save hyrule and princess Zelda from the monstrous Prince of Darkness Ganon, the main antagonist of the game series. With other words, Mr.Miyamoto has created two iconic video game characters. It was pleasant to learn the history behind Nintendo and my the two childhood heroes who I spent hours on playing, drawing and talk to boredom to my friends and family.

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and to the end of my blog post I would like to give the four students who shared a presentation about games that had made an impact on them or a favorite game. creds for standing up in front of us and share something personal and influential in front of us. It is interesting and impactful to get lectured in games by gamers.

See you next week!

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The video game crash

The video game crash of 1983.

 

Today, the video game market is flourishing, with it being one of the largest sectors in entertainment, but it hasn’t always been this way. Just in 1983, the whole video game market collapsed after it became over saturated with poor quality games and shovelware. In just a few fatal years from 1983 to 1985 the revenue from the video game industry dropped from $3.2 billion dollars to around $100 million. So what caused this enormous decline, and what was the aftermath?

 

Since the video game industry was just in its infancy, there were no clear dominant consoles like we have today with the Wii, Playstation and Xbox. A lot of different companies were jumping on the video game wave, and put out too many consoles. Another reason why the video game industry crashed was the home computer, at the time, many people just bought a computer, which in addition to playing games, could be used for a slew a lot of different applications.

 

Another reason were the games themselves, they were abundant, and in poor quality. A prime example of this is the E.T videogame based on the movie of the same name. The game was produced by Atari, and launched for the video game console Atari 2600. The game was also made by just a single developer, and he had a very strict deadline of just a couple of weeks. Atari bet a lot of money on this game, and reportedly spent upwards of $25 million to secure the rights. When the game was released it got awful reviews, and the game did not sell well at all. In the aftermath of this incident, Atari had so many cartridges lying around that they reportedly buried 728.000 copies of the game in a landfill in some desert. The game was a huge loss for Atari, and many contribute this to a major point in why the video game crash happened in the first place.

 

In the aftermath of the video game crash, a new player in the game wanted to enter the home console market, it was a Japanese toy maker, and that was Nintendo. When Nintendo wanted to release their new console, the NES, in the USA, they had to tell retailers that it wasn’t a video game console, but rather a toy. This was because the scepticism of video games at the time was so large that retailers wouldn’t even stock them on the shelves. Nintendo of course, found great success with the NES, and the video game industry hasn’t experienced such a catastrophe since, Nintendo even released their seventh video game console in 2017, which has sold almost 15 million units as of march 2018.

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The History of Video Games (Part I)

So now we have completed our second week of video games in #netnarr. Therefore it’s definitely time to take a look at the history of video games*:

  • 1940 – One of those milestones was the first computer which played the traditional game Nim, designed by Edward U. Condon.
  • 1950 – Ten years later Claude Shannon and the famous Alan Turing created the first chess program for a computer.
  • 1955 – With Hutspiel the era of video war games It was a game which was common for the cold war, because the players represented the protagonists NATO and Soviet Union.
  • 1961 – This concept was also used in a computer simulation game of the Raytheon Company, which was first too complex for the consumers, so the company created an easier version, which was called Grand Strategy. Over the next years further war games like Spacewar and STAGE were also able to win the market.
  • 1966 – Ralph Baer had the idea of playing a video game on a television. One year later he developed a game called Brown Box which gave players the possibily to play tennis and other games. Two years later the first home video game system was launched, which was based on his designs.
  • 1972 – The legendary Pong was born. This famous video game was developed by Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn, but it was Willy Higinbotham, who invented the first video tennis game, which had a huge impact of Pong. Three years later after the launch of Pong, Atari introduced their first home version.
  • 1977 – Five years later Atari released the first Video Computer System, a home console, which was known as Atari 2600 and included “a joystick, interchangeable cartridges, games in color, and switches for selecting games and setting difficulty levels”. After that one can truly say, that Atari and Nolan Bushnell were the first who made a lot of money with video games.
  • 1978 – Other pioneering video game was Space Invaders 220px-Space_Invaders_flyer,_1978.jpg by the Japanese company Taito. The inventor Toshihiro Nikishikado didn’t want humans to shoot against humans as it was common in the usual war games. So he decided to create monsters.
  • 1980 – Finally the one and only Pac Man was created by the company Namco. The developer Toru Iwatani said later, that he was inspired by a missing slice of a pizza. The game was different than the others, because it was more colorful and not pessimistic like the war games or violent, shooting games. Therefore it was also suitable for girls and  couples.
  • 1981 – The brilliant Shigeru Miyamoto invented Donkey Kong. Moreover Jumpman, better known as Mario, had his first appearance in this game. Later on Mario became a star in his own video game The Super Mario Brothers.

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As you can see, it took a long time before video games become what they are today. A lot of inventions and ideas were necessary and especially a few brave, creative developers were needed to revolutionize the industry.

* http://www.museumofplay.org/about/icheg/video-game-history/timeline

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Last but not least I want to call attention for the game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which was presented by my classmate Rikke this week. This game totally changed my point of view on video games. The story of this game was really powerful and emotional and gave you so much more than just enjoyment. It motivated the player to think about schizophrenia and mental disorder, because you truly felt the feelings of the character. You could experience her life instead of just hearing about it. This game is the perfect example of an added value that video games have over other media.

 

Monsters Are Not Created Here

We’ve been continuing learning about different aspects of game theory like game genres, game aesthetics, game history, and video games as cultural object. Considering I’m a noob at anything when it comes to any knowledge about video games, I find mostly everything we learn about in lecture very interesting. Hearing from other students in class about games they play, makes me understand better how big this gaming community is, and also why they choose to play specific games. I’m not going to lie, I spaced out a little bit when a guy talked about World of Warcraft, not because it sounded boring, but MAN that’s was a lot to keep track of (still interesting<3).

As I understand, an important part of why a game becomes popular has a lot to do with the aesthetics within the game. Also, in that way it’s said to be easier to categorize video games genres. I’ve never really considered such a thing as video game genres, but then again I DON’T REALLY HAVE A CLUE. Categorizing video games into genres seems to be more complex than categorizing, say, films into genres. Sure, video games probably includes action, drama, and science fiction, which are a few common film genres, but I sense there’s more aspects in games compared to films that should be considered when talking about game genres – which is were game aesthetics comes to play.

Now, I watched the youtube clip Mia included in lecture: – “Aesthetics of Play – Redefining Genres in Gaming” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uepAJ-rqJKA) a second time because one, it seems like an important part of video games, and two, so I could get a better clue to why aesthetics in video games is essential. Aesthetics in video games is the underlying emotive reasons we go to that game, or said in another way, the elements included in a video game that attracts us to that game. The youtube clip showed us 9 types of aesthetics that can be included in a video game, and in short those are: – sense pleasure (game that stimulates your senses i.e. sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell), fantasy (game that allows you to step into a role that you can’t participate in real life), narrative (game as drama), challenge (game as a obstacle course), fellowship (game as a social interactivity where you as a groups work together to achieve a goal), competition (game as expression of dominance), discovery (game as uncovering the new), expression (game as a platform to express yourself), and finally abnegation/ submission (game as pastime).

I did get a better understanding of game aesthetics by watching the youtube clip, and also why game aesthetics should be taken in consideration when discussing game genres. For instance there are a few core aesthetics that almost every game within a genre will have in common. By looking at game aesthetics we are able to know that certain games within a game genre don’t fit in with the rest. Therefore should game aesthetics be a tool to define game genres. I may be wrong about this (read: noob) but it’s at least how I interpreted it.

Finally, I would say that by learning about game aesthetics I can understand better why people choose to spend a great amount of their time playing video games. There are reasons, emotive reasons, to why people go back again and again to play games. I keep saying I find a lot within gaming interesting, but I think that’s because the reason for playing a video game is much for the same reason why I keep spending A LOT of hours on Netflix binge watching Game of Thrones for the third time or watching all of the Marvel Comics movies. Maybe not exactly the same, but you might see what I’m getting at. Content in films and tv-series can touch upon an important, maybe difficult, real life issue for example mental health, LGBTQ rights, race issues and so on. What stuck with me from Thursdays lecture was that video games can do exactly the same. The game Senua’s Sacrifice is a video game that, among other things, raise awareness of mental health. Senua struggle with psychosis which leads to a important thing in real life; people dare to talk to other people about the issue and people may be able to really UNDERSTAND and get a sense of how it’s like to have a mental health problem. I won’t go in dept with this because I might misunderstand things and I don’t know that much about this game but I liked the idea of this game. And lastly, I think Senua’s Sacrifice is a great example of showing that video games can be a place for learning, and not a place were monsters are created…

(“Video game violence and glorification must be stopped — it is creating monsters!” – Donald Trump on Twitter, 2012)


I’d like to end this blogpost with a throwback to last blog post where I argued i’m definietly a casual gamer… I have solid proof this time that I am indeed a casual gamer.

 

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Invading and exploring spaces

 

By now we are deeply embedded in the fabric of video games, and we have left the world of digital art behind. Well, not really… Video games are, in their own right, rich interactive artworks representing various visual genres.

Sprites can be seen as artworks within artworks, these 2d portrayals of video game entities, either representing our hero the protagonist, various enemies or objects. From their inception in the 70’s and through the 80’s they were highly pixellated, and has become an iconic representation of the first wave of computer games. The french street artist “Invader” brought these ancient sprites to the streets in the form of mosaics. Often basing his works on the alien enemies from Space Invaders, he is invading the world, one city at a time.

A touch of adventure

The arrival of touch devices like the iPad, led to a playful and innovative exploration of ways for the touch interface to control games. A genre that most elegantly adapted to the world of touch, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, is the point and click adventure game. As the classics resurfaced on these new devices, there has also been quite a few newcomers to the genre during this decade.

Machinarium (Amanita Design, 2009), Broken Age (Double Fine Productions, 2015), and Samarost 3 (Amanita Design, 2016) are all good examples of games that builds on the point and click tradition and successfully gives us new and creative experiences, stories and challenges.

Most of these games have parted from their roots in interactive literature, and as the graphics are getting more realistic and expressive, the games often depend solely on the visuals to tell the story. The ever more advanced graphics can for instance let body language and facial expressions add a layer of nonverbal language, and convey atmosphere and emotion.

The 8 core aesthetics help us understand and express why certain games appeal to us; Sense pleasure (Especially sight and sound for most games), Fantasy, Narrative, Challenge, Fellowship, Competition, Discovery, Expression and Abnegation. The more of these aesthetics a game is able to touch upon, the more appealing and captivating the game will be.

The Danish game developers Playdead have made a couple of games that has really struck a nerve with me, Limbo (2010) and Inside (2016). Both being puzzle platform adventure games, with a dark and sinister vibe to them. They are leaning slightly into the horror genre, although in a cartoonish kind of way. So, when the little hero have to die gruesome deaths over and over in order to solve the puzzles, it feels bad, and empathy steps forth. These two games also parts with the point and click tradition by only applying directional control + “grab”.

Although all the above mentioned games have linear narratives and a strong ludus, they do to different degrees give you a freedom to the pace and order in which you discover the things and clues that unlocks the progress of the story. This way they throw a playful paidia into the mix, which will make the gameplay more interesting, and let the player drive the narrative instead of the game just dragging the player through the story.

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Expanding this freedom, and introducing vast 3d landscapes, has led to games like The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, 2017), the 17’th in the series. This is a gem of an action adventure game, with stunning graphics, and with many puzzles and quests that for the most part can be digested in a nonlinear manner.

Peer Game Showcase

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It’s been very interesting to see all the game presentations, and I will probably try several of the games. But the game that has left the most profound impression on me this far, is the dark fantasy action-adventure Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Ninja Theory, 2017). I’m amazed by the amount of emotion and atmosphere that this game was able to present, and it really moved me. I felt strong empathy for Senua the main character, and I can imagine that this game is a powerful experience that shakes the senses. It instantly ended up on my wish list, which also means that I will eventually need a gaming pc or a PlayStation 4 in order to play it. But first I guess I’ll better finish reading the books for this course, and also finish up Breath of the Wild and Inside.

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