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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015
Differentiating yourself from other gamers on the basis of a few primary colors may indicate some powerful symbolic and identificatory impulses.

You see that little car up there on the Monopoly board? Yeah, that’s me.


That car has always been me for as long as I can remember. I have played my fair share of games of Monopoly, and I honestly don’t believe that I have ever played the game as anything other than the car. All of which is kind of weird when you come to think about it, since Monopoly has so much more variety in its playing pieces than many other classic family board games. There’s a car, a thimble, an iron, a little dog, a man on horseback, etc. A much different quality than, say, merely picking from the traditional red, blue, yellow, and green pieces that usually all look the same in most other games. Wouldn’t it then be neat to play as something different once in awhile?


Well, obviously for me the answer is “no” because any time a box of Monopoly has been opened in my presence, I immediately either reach for the car or simply declare, “I’m the car.” Somehow the car has become my identity within the context of a game of Monopoly.


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Friday, Jan 23, 2015
Far Cry 4 looks and plays like a shooter, but it doesn't feel like a shooter. It is really about my quest for collectibles and the chaos that erupts along the way.

Far Cry 4 is ostensibly a shooter, but I find that I spend more time looking at and searching for things while I play it than I do shooting things. I still shoot things of course, but that’s not the point of the game. The point of the game is everything that precedes the shooting: walking, running, driving, crawling, scouting, marking targets, listening, watching, planning, hunting—my trek through the world. Even when combat explodes around me, the shooting is ancillary—just a thing to do to keep me alive, not the reason to stay alive. Far Cry 4 is an adventure game, not a shooting game, and I mean that in the classic sense of the word, not as it normally applies to video games.


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Thursday, Jan 22, 2015
Mario’s out exploring the galaxy, but Captain Toad is about examining the most minute details.

When I was a kid, I had a bunch of Micro Machines Star Wars toys. Alright, “kid” is probably a generous term, but I defy anyone to question how cool those things were.


I especially enjoyed the ones that started off as statuettes and unfolded to reveal a meticulously constructed diorama. They were more than dioramas though, since they all had some sort of mechanical trick. Poke around and you’ll find that the Rancor’s cage door moves and that Greedo can be launched out of his Mos Eisley seat after taking a shot from a miniature Han. Something that initially looked simple was actually a collection of intricate details meticulously designed to make the small environment a densely packed one.


Nintendo taps into the same feeling with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.


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Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015
South Park: The Stick of Truth reveals the strange and ambiguous quality of entertainment rating systems.

I performed an abortion to save the world. Actually, it was one of three abortions that I performed, two of which were performed on men. I also dodged my father’s scrotum while battling an underpants gnome. He, of course, (the gnome) was crushed by one of my mother’s big, swinging breasts. I climbed up a man’s rectum, farted on a man’s balls, and I also witnessed several anal probings by aliens.


What I am trying to say is that I recently have been playing the Mature rated game, South Park: The Stick of Truth.


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Tuesday, Jan 20, 2015

This post contains spoilers for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.


There’s a saying when it comes to writing fiction. Never reference a better work in your own writing. You’ll only make the audience wish they were reading that instead. The saying is only half true. In reality, the effect of making a reference to other pieces of fiction is generally an enhancement of the feelings an audience already has towards your work. Making a reference to a better work in one that the audience isn’t liking, will make them wish they were reading that instead. However, making that same reference in a work that the audience is liking, will make them appreciate it as an homage or possibly as a deepening of the thematic message of the original. This goes for movies, poems, songs, and, yes, video games.


Ignoring for the moment that making a direct reference is complicated, it is a substantial risk because it can have the above effect of making the audience wish they were reading/watching/listening/playing the other work right now. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter does refer to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and other genre fiction, but peppered throughout the game world are a number of side stories that have an unfortunate, detrimental effect. Those short side stories make me wish any one of them were the focus of the game instead of the Carter family.


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