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by G. Christopher Williams

26 Oct 2011


Returning to a bloodstain, a virtual scar marking the world of Dark Souls is a common enough occurrence.  The game’s box announces to the player, “Prepare to Die!”, after all.

Dying is an essential experience in Dark Souls, as it seemingly is in most video games, where an understanding of extra lives and of health bars are an essential part of living in virtual worlds.

by G. Christopher Williams

19 Oct 2011


I only half watched Sony’s new “Michael” ad late one night (see below if you haven’t seen it yet), as I was fixing myself something to eat during a commercial break.  I stopped, somewhat mesmerized by the array of video game characters that suddenly appeared as (more or less) live action characters on my television screen.

The sight of a “real” Solid Snake discussing war in a throaty whisper was what gave me pause. Then I was kind of charmed by a portal opening behind the flaming head of Sweetooth and catching a fleeting glimpse of Chell briefly flitting by.  It was the Little Sister, peering at me through the crowd in that ever eerily distant way, that left me a little stunned.

I’m not sure exactly why.  It was seeing that strange creature transported out of her home medium into the “real world” of the televisual that made me realize that “my characters” had somehow arrived in what I think of as the “real” mainstream media.  You know, television, that thing that my mother and father watch, not video games—that space left for me (a late-thirtysomething in obvious arrested development) and the kids.

by G. Christopher Williams

12 Oct 2011


So, I never touched Demon’s Souls.  And it wasn’t because I was scared (okay, maybe I was a little bit scared).  It really was that I don’t have access to a Playstation 3. 

This was disappointing to me, as I heard all of these stories about the game’s ability to evoke tension and fear because of its punitive nature (death packs a real wallop in the game, real loss).  People either hated the game’s punishing nature or spoke about it as if it had the ability to change your life (or at least the way that you see most video games) through its sense of the value of death and its consequence.

by G. Christopher Williams

5 Oct 2011


Katarina from League of Legends (Riot Games, 2009)

Y’know, I was terribly amused by the parody of the long term grind (that which is necessitated by the turn-based role playing game genre in general) in Half-Minute HeroHalf-Minute Hero more or less does what it suggests by boiling the time consuming “play” of that genre into the shortest character development of a role playing hero possible.

Gone, in that game, is the necessity for spending hours just killing, killing, killing in order to get strong enough to advance the plot by beating the next big boss in a dungeon.  Indeed, while I whiled away many an hour playing JRPGs as a kid and as a teenager, these were not games that required much skill or even intellectual acumen.  Winning a battle required pressing a button in a menu to “Attack” and then healing once in awhile if a member of your party was in the danger zone in terms of their hit points.  All the “skill” required by a boatload of turn-based RPGs is simply just persistence (and that’s really a character trait, not a skill, right?).

This is partly why I tend to avoid turn-based RPGs these days—as my own “persistence” has evolved into simple “impatience” as I have aged alongside the genre.

Which is why League of Legends is so very tantalizing and so very compelling when played in short RPG-lite bursts.

by G. Christopher Williams

28 Sep 2011


Okay, so maybe on the face of it, a game like Zynga’s Cityville (one of many spin offs of the wildly popular Farmville) and Sid Meier’s Civilization World (a transformation of the classic video game into a social game format) only vaguely have some things in common.

Both games focus on the development of cities, creating buildings and growing populations, in order to show your opponents that your civilization is superior to theirs. 

But wait a sec, CivWorld is obviously a game about showing off your prowess in evolving a superior civilization, while Cityville is a co-operative playground in which I own my own city, build it, and help others in building their own cities. There’s no competition in Cityville, right?

Not so fast, though, while CivWorld might be more of a traditional “game” in that it has an end goal, a way to win, along with clear rules about how to achieve that win, really there is a potentially more subtle competitive aspect that underlies Cityville as well. And frankly that aspect of competition is why Cityville‘s monetization will probably remain more financially lucrative for Zynga than CivWorld ever will be for 2K Games.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

In Defense of the Infinite Universe in 'No Man's Sky'

// Moving Pixels

"The common cries of disappointment that surround No Man’s Sky stem from the exciting idea of an infinite universe clashing with the harsh reality of an infinite universe.

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