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by G. Christopher Williams

10 May 2010

This week our discussion of game worlds moves from the claustrophobic halls of the asylum to the vast reaches of space.

Continuing our consideration of game worlds and their effect on our experience playing games, we consider both the broad galatic maps of Mass Effect as well as the narrower confines of intergalatic ports of call and the bridges of starships and how they impact on Bioware’s collection of characters.

by Nick Dinicola

7 May 2010

Mitch Krpata once tried to describe the different ways that people play games. One of the categories that he came up with was the Completist gamer: “A Completist may be less interested in maximizing his ability to play a game, and more interested in making sure he doesn’t miss anything [. . .] The reward is having no mountains left to climb.” (““A New Taxonomy of Gamers: Skill Players: Drilling Down”, Insult Swordfighting, 10 January 2008).

I’m definitely a Completist. I enjoy exploring every inch of a game world for collectibles and side quests. Normally, achievements appeal directly to this compulsion as they are (essentially) another kind of collectible. However, my Completist nature was recently challenged when I played Mass Effect 2 on the Insane difficulty. There’s an achievement for completing the game on Insane, and it taunted me as the only achievement that I was missing, but I underestimated just how hard the increased difficulty would be. I wanted my whole crew loyal for the end, but there were multiple missions that I avoided because I knew how hard they’d be. My galaxy map soon became so cluttered with so many abandoned side missions that it was hard to read the name of each nebula. I had beaten the game once before, so I knew what was necessary and what wasn’t. I constantly wondered, “Should I complete everything, or should I just complete the achievement?” And I wondered why, exactly, I was playing the game on Insane. Was I playing for the challenge or for the achievement?

by G. Christopher Williams

5 May 2010

In observing some fundamental patterns in stories, myth critics, like Joseph Campbell, have observed that one common element that leads to closure in epic journeys is the story of the return home.

The classic example of the story of the return home is, of course, Homer’s The Odyssey. Having participated in the war with Troy, Homer commits an entire epic poem to the story of just getting from the conflict back to the place where Odysseus started, the island of Ithaca.  Essential to this particular story (and other stories like it) seems to be the need for a hero who has spent an awful lot of time gallivanting recklessly in wild and foreign lands to get his shit together and get back where he belongs.

by L.B. Jeffries

4 May 2010

There are people who make money by selling things that don’t exist—even when the buyer knows the thing doesn’t exist. Out of curiosity about how this works, I picked up Julian Dibbell’s Play Money, which is a personal account of his experiences working the Ultima Online gold farming scene back in 2004. I use the term grey market throughout this post because selling in game goods is not exactly illegal, just a violation of the EULA with a company. You risk getting banned and losing your accounts, which can be expensive but not dangerous in the traditional sense. In economic terms, each MMO is probably best viewed as its own independent economy. No two are precisely alike in terms of how you get rich off them. Yet there are still a couple of basic principles that are universal, and I’ve tried to extract those from the book for this post.

by G. Christopher Williams

3 May 2010

First things first, a number of readers have been requesting that the Moving Pixels podcast be made available via iTunes. Your wish has been granted, and you can now access the podcast through Apple’s site. Please check us out there and any previous episodes that you may have missed.

This week we are changing gears. Following our six-part series on storytelling, we have decided to shift our focus to game worlds and how they contribute to our experience in gaming.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

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