Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
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.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
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.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
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.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014
Despite how it may look on the surface, The Wolf Among Us doesn't follow standard approach to morality in games exactly, but instead builds on the idea of options not being built on a binary system at all.

Up until very recently, one of the ideas that was getting all the buzz in video games was the concept of offering “moral choices” to players. Games built around such offerings nearly always boiled down to whether you wanted to play a good, traditionally heroic character or one who was a bit of a prick. Those who tried to play as a character with some amount of complexity were summarily punished because the game system required the player to maximize one side or the other in order to get access to the best items, abilities, or what have you. In fact, most games boiled down to a single choice that the player was forced to make over and over. These weren’t moral choices at all, but mathematical problems hidden behind a thin veil of fiction.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Friday, Jun 13, 2014
Bound by Flame is bad in such good ways.

The best part of Bound by Flame is its story, but even that is far from flawless. It’s quite flawed, but those flaws actually make the story more interesting. In a weird twist, the things that make Bound by Flame unique—at least amongst its epic fantasy RPG peers—are also the things that make it a lesser story overall. There’s barely any character development for either the protagonist or the supporting cast; the world isn’t well developed; and the game sets up an epic war only to end after a single skirmish. The narrative constantly undercuts everything that makes an epic fantasy epic and almost gets away with it.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
PopMatters' LUCY Giveaway! in PopMatters's Hangs on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.