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Tuesday, Jun 24, 2014
When we talk about video games, we don't seem to have the same understanding of "choice" as we do in other media or even in real life.

Morality is conditional. There is no way to determine ahead of time what the appropriate moral decision is for a given situation. A truly complex decision is woven with so many thread and contains so many competing needs that a truly right path may be too difficult to follow through or may not even exist. When we go through life, we are confronted by thousands if not millions of choices every day. Most end up being choices of no consequence. For instance, walking down the sidewalk and observing an insect on the path, the choice to step on it or not presents itself. So small is the choice that it probably doesn’t even enter the person’s mind.


Generally when we call something a choice, we speak of those moments that seem to possess potential consequences and that require conscious thought when considering it. They may be small things, like what to order off the menu or (along the same lines) what car to buy. What we call a choice are things that we stop and think about, weighing whatever considerations we feel necessary and then picking an option that seems reasonable.


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Monday, Jun 23, 2014
The Wolf Among Us explores a very real broken economy through the unreal lives of its fairy tale inspired characters.

Having reached its midway point, The Wolf Among Us forces its protagonist to confront his relationship to the economic forces that are causing Fabletown society to unravel.


This episode we discuss Bigby’s and our own complicity with those forces.


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Friday, Jun 20, 2014
Playing Hack RUN is like living Watch Dogs.

Early on in Watch Dogs, our protagonist Aiden Pearce meets with his contact for the hacker group DedSec who goes by the alias BADBOY17. To his surprise, BADBOY17 is neither 17 nor a boy, but a grown woman, and he tells her, “You’re nothing like I was expecting.” She responds, “Funny, you’re exactly what I was expecting.” And with that one sentence, she sums up everything that’s wrong and disappointing with the character of Aiden Pearce. He’s exactly what you’d expect.


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Thursday, Jun 19, 2014
Will Fantasy LCS have the power to bring new fans into the eSports scene, including those who do not watch or even play video games?

I used to hate American football. From a viewer’s perspective, especially one who grew up watching soccer, it doesn’t make any sense. Not only is there a glut of obscure rules and strange plays (The onside kick? What’s that all about?), the sport is also extremely slow paced. Half the team sits down while the other half takes its turn defending or moving the ball up the field in short individual bursts. In fact, a Wall Street Journal study estimated that the average time the ball is in play during a given football match is a mere eleven minutes. What a bore.


Then, several years ago, I started playing fantasy football. For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s that thing all of your coworkers talk about during the football season, even the ones who never go to a game. Each participant in your average fantasy football league drafts individual players from the entire NFL and fits them into specific slots on their team. These teams then face off each week, earning points based on the performance of real life players. If, say, Tony Romo throws four touchdowns, your team might come out big. If, on the other hand, Romo gets sacked and fumbles the ball, he could actually earn negative points for your team that week.


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Wednesday, Jun 18, 2014
At some point, League of Legends champions have become for me toys that are just displayed on a shelf, gathering dust, having never been played with. Smite asks me to tear open the packaging and actually get down on the floor to appreciate all the toys I have again.

I wrote last week about the completion of my two year quest to unlock every League of Legends champion without spending a single dime (”On Having Caught ‘Em All”, PopMatters, 11 June 2014). In doing so, I raised some questions about some tendencies in myself as a gamer towards completing sets for the sake of completing sets. Indeed, I have written in the past about how video games play on a very human (or maybe a very modern) need in ourselves to complete tasks, checking off lists of minor goals to achieve “greater goals,” and how I sometimes love doing so and sometimes loathe doing so (“Post-It Note Gaming, or the White Collar Warriors of Skyrim, PopMatters, 8 January 2012).


Another thing that I noted on having completed my quest was that I had almost immediately taken up with playing another free-to-play MOBA that allows me to scratch my collector’s itch by allowing me to not merely collect “champions,” but to now collect “gods” by playing matches of the game Smite and earning “favor” (the equivalent of League‘s influence points) in, perhaps, a new quest to catch ‘em all. While it seems certain to me that I never got over the mania of action figure and comic book collecting that I did as a kid, playing Smite, though, and attempting to start a new collection from scratch has given me a few new thoughts on the sorts of reasons that motivate one to play the sorts of games that include playable collectibles.


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