A few weeks ago, Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends, whose fans otherwise heap overwhelming praise on the company for their positive community interaction, stunned many players by a competitive scene policy announcement. Professional eSports players participating in the upcoming Season 4 Championship Series would be prohibited from streaming competitors’ games entirely. While Riot quickly backpedaled on the policy, the approach and subsequent apology reveals the precarious edge upon which eSports and labor rights reside.
Latest Blog Posts
It’s almost the end of the year, so why not wrap things up by partaking in two of the Internet’s most time-honored traditions: ranting and list-making?!? Yes, it is time for year-end retrospectives. This year, current events and big fall releases have provided plenty of topics to shout about, so I’ll take advantage of my modest little soapbox to broadcast a few of my personal diatribes. In the interest of giving equal time to my curmudgeonly and cheery sides, I’ll make sure make sure to balance positive and negative trends I see as we close out 2013.
There’s an interesting aversion in the games space to discussing film—or other media for that matter—as it relates to games, and perhaps rightly so. Game makers and enthusiasts sometimes share a concern that by comparing games to film, we water down our own value. And it is true, using film—or any other media for that matter—as a metric for success in the games industry is a losing battle.
However, ignoring the lessons other media imparts is also a harmful form of self-delusion. We crazy wonderful humans tell stories, and lots of them, in all sorts of ways. Engaging other media is a fruitful practice that empowers our own craft. To that end, this is a spotlight on this year’s important films that might be worth considering in relationship to games. Each was selected for its own reason, but all prove insightful. Do not consider these reviews or even personal suggestions. I encourage readers to watch these films in particular with consideration to the lessons we can learn about game artistry.
There is a beauty to asymmetry, well, at least in playful systems. We may find facial symmetry arousing, but symmetry in game is just so normal. No matter which side of the monopoly board you are on, you play by the same rules as everybody else. It is the rare game like Android Netrunner, which features divergent rules for each player, that offers something special, something thematically rich and mechanically unique in the ways that it evokes satisfying play.
This week, Jorge and I talked about Call of Duty: Ghosts on our podcast. At one point in the conversation, Jorge raised a good question: Why do Call of Duty games still have campaigns and who plays them? It’s difficulty to get solid numbers, but cobble together some sporadic achievement data as well as anecdotes from the community and it starts to seem possible that less than half of the people who played Black Ops 2 finished the single-player campaign. Seeing as how the game sold monstrously well and that its campaign was (in my opinion) much better than that of Ghosts, it seems safe to assume a similarly low completion rate.
This brings us back to Jorge’s “why and who” question. I am one of those people who play CoD largely for the campaign, and while I can’t speak for the masses, I think my experience represents some of the practical and philosophical reasons why single player persists in an environment dominated by multiplayer. I’ll start with the practical aspect and work my way towards wild philosophical speculation.