Latest Blog Posts

by Rick Dakan

18 Nov 2010

I studied history in undergrad and grad school for six years, but I’ve never worked a day as a historian or a teacher. I have defended my college degree as being an influence and resource on my writing as well as a good way to learn how to think. Also, I can recognize the first 15 Roman Emperors by coins or busts, which is amazingly useful. But now I have an all new benefit to crow about: I get a lot more interest out of Call of Duty: Black Ops because I know something about the historical events that form the game’s backdrop.

These are subtle, fleeting pleasures to be sure, but I really do appreciate the ways that Black Ops works on multiple levels, depending on your familiarity with the era. It can be played like any other Call of Duty game, in which flashing images and maps scroll by at high speed while a serious sounding man expresses concern and ruthless resolve in the face of the enemy. Like those other games, I often went into missions with no clear idea why I was there or what I needed to do. Because Black Ops is spread out across many years and continents and moves forward and backwards in time, this can all be even more confusing than is maybe necessary.

by Kris Ligman

16 Nov 2010

I take back what I said last week about Fable III. It is indeed entirely possible to achieve the best ending with no sacrifice to one’s morals, but it came at the expense of something even more valuable: my belief in the system.

by G. Christopher Williams

15 Nov 2010

With all the furor surrounding Minecraft in the indie game community, the Moving Pixels podcast crew couldn’t help but have a discussion of the game. 

While a couple of us have only had a more limited experience with the browser version, nevertheless, this sandbox building experience is worth considering and raises questions about what motivates us to play.

by Nick Dinicola

12 Nov 2010

Normally I hate it when a game offers false choices, giving me two options when only one will actually progress the plot, the other simply halting things until I change my mind. It’s not really a choice at that point; it’s an illusion and a bad one at that. The first half of Fable 3 avoids this kind of blatant false choice but only because the game doesn’t try to hide its linearity. Instead of giving you two choices, one right and one wrong, it only ever gives you one choice and then just waits for you to pick it. Instead of giving players a false choice, it gives us a forced choice.

by Jorge Albor

11 Nov 2010

There is a board game called Pandemic in which players act as agents of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), stemming the onslaught of virulent diseases around the world. Conversely, there is a flash game series of the same name in which players create and evolve a disease to infect and kill every human on the planet. While not explicitly educational games, both experiences offer various learning opportunities. In fact, most games could be far more factually informative than they are. The genre of education games aside, how much room do we have for learning in games? How much educational information can we squeeze into digital games before players become bored, distracted, or indoctrinated?

Games are—by definition—learning experiences. Players procedurally come to understand the game world. Drop some seasoned gamers into any first-person shooter, and after a few moments of random button tapping and stray gunfire, they will be dishing out headshots with the best of them. But how much could the average Call of Duty fanatic tell you about the AK-47? Could they tell you how the AK has become the modern day weapon of choice for guerilla fighters around the world? Could they tell you how arms dealers traffic supplies of AKs from conflict to conflict? With some additional information in the game, maybe some could.

//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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