Tag Archives: video games

For Your Consideration: Adam Prosser Interviews Warcraft Director Duncan Jones

Similar to the last time I did this in March, this feature is meant to provide a brief look at what’s been happening on the internet this week [but without the typical commentary and criticism you’ll find around here].

A few short days ago BBC journalist Adam Rosser interviewed director Duncan Jones about his film Warcraft, which premiered in North America one week ago today. The interview was for Rosser’s show Let’s Talk About Tech for BBC 5Live, and given that he works as a freelancer he uploaded it to his personal YouTube account. A copy of the video can be seen below:

The original version has since been taken down due to it being shared on the Battle.net forums for the game the film is based on. That forum post has in turn also been removed as the negative reaction to the interview unsurprisingly, and it’s depressing that it’s an expected response, spawned death threats. Rosser himself comments that:

While many fans [which I’ll remind you is short for “fanatic”] will always react viscerally to the criticism of that which they hold dear, there’s also something to be said for the way in which Rosser actually conducted the interview. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S5E11 “And the Booth Babes”: A TV Review

boothbabes

Next week 2 Broke Girls makes its way to Thursday to join CBS ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory, which actually segues really well into a lot of what this review is covering. See, while the latter has absolutely killed it for the network it’s also received a fair amount of flak, primarily from the types of people it claims to represent. General nerd news site Bleeding Cool referred to it as “the television show that hates you” back in 2011 and hasn’t stopped since, and I actually took time on this very blog to cover an episode that featured some particularly divisive promos.

All of that is to say that CBS as a network doesn’t have a stellar track record when it comes to appealing to what I’m going to call “nerds” from this point on [Supergirl not withstanding, which I’ve only heard excellent things about]. Couple that with 2 Broke Girls not having a stellar track record with most topics and we find ourselves here, tonight, with me dreading every second leading up to this episode, tempered by a bizarre sense of excitement. Continue reading

Dividing Violence and Video Games

When I had originally planned on writing this post we were a little ways into November, with Remembrance Day having just passed. Walking through the subway stations here in Toronto it was impossible not to spot a bright red poppy pinned to a stranger’s lapel that inevitably forced me to, well, remember the war that lends them their importance.

thrallflandersJust before the day on which Canada and the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations pay tribute to those who have fallen in the line of duty was Blizzcon, the annual convention put on by my favourite video game developer. With World War I on one hand and a company that holds the title of creating the highest grossing game of all time in World of WarCraft on the other the connection was clear.

Asking whether or not it’s possible to have a split between violence and one of the quickest growing forms of both entertainment and narrative device, for mainstream audiences, is a difficult enough question as it is, and I felt it all the more pressing as the longer I put off writing this post the more [extreme] acts of violence I could see reported on the news. I don’t even need to drop any news links for you to think back on an incident that occurred just this past week.

Now before I go any further I want to state plainly that this is not an indictment of violence in video games. As my co-writer Gordon related a few years back being exposed to such can actually be beneficial to the way we perceive and navigate the world. Former Culture War Reporter Stew, who assisted me in writing this, also mentioned that it can be “interesting because the interactivity of videogames presents us with a unique way to actually explore our violent tendencies, or our instinct for survival.” I don’t particularly believe that this aspect of the medium is harmful by any means. Instead what I’d like to explore is what video games could be with its absence. Continue reading

Can Video Games Make Thoughtful Social Critiques?

Just to be clear, I am not a gamer. The only video game I ever successfully completed was Jill of the Jungle, which we owned on floppy disk when I was a kid.

I’m pretty sure I only liked this game because Jane was a super cool tough girl,

In fact, up until this past year I would have argued that video games don’t really have any redeeming qualities. At worst, they are a hotbed of misogyny and xenophobia, as chronicled by female gamers on websites like Not in the Kitchen Anymore and Fat, Ugly or Slutty. At best, they are like a bottomless pit where the lives of children and adults disappear, never to resurface.

Although I suppose the same could be said about pretty well anything.

This year a good friend convinced me to try a Digital Humanities class at my University. For those of you who haven’t heard of the field before (I hadn’t either), Wikipedia defines it as the “intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities”.  If you want to see some examples of the kind of research being done in the field, you could check out two of my past posts describing DH scholar Lisa Nakamura’s guest lectures at my university.

While this class has challenged the way I see technology in general, it has particularly challenged my very negative perception of video games. In fact, Ian Bogost, one of the DH scholars we studied in the course, argues that games can form powerful arguments and unique social critiques. In his book, Persuasive GamesBogost describes arguments made by a game as “procedural rhetoric“, or, more simply as “the art of persuasion through rule-based representations and interactions, rather than the spoken word, writing, images, or moving pictures”.

Below, I’ve included four examples of persuasive games my DH professor shared with the class. Each of these games make relevant and thoughtful arguments that wouldn’t have been as effective if they didn’t appear in their procedural form.

The Parable of the Polygons

Vi Hart and Nicky Case preface their simple browser game by stating that “This is a story of how harmless choices can make a harmful world.” Hart and Case explain that the triangles and squares are “slightly shapist”. This means that the shapes prefer some level of diversity around them, but will become unhappy if they feel isolated in their community. Players are then asked to drag and drop the shapes until all of the squares and triangles are happy with the community of shapes around them.

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Click on the image to play the game

Once the player begins moving the shapes, it becomes apparent that even a slight bias will lead to large scale segregation. Continue reading

The Trial of Michael Brown

These are the facts:

Michael Brown is dead and Darren Wilson, the man who shot him, has been acquitted by a jury.

The public seems to have latched onto this, interpreting the court’s decision as being not only evident of Wilson’s “innocence” but Brown’s guilt.

But guilt over what?

The past days have seen a reversal of public opinion on Michael Brown, with many online posting gifs of the alleged petty theft he committed shortly before his death. Captions have included statements like “a reminder of who Michael Brown really was” and comments as to his size and stature.

Readers, am I the only one who doesn’t think Michael Brown should be tried over how tall he was? Continue reading

Mystery Room: A Culture War Report

I’m actually being half-serious when I say that today’s post very well could have been “Re: Re: Do Western Christians Want Martyrs?”. It’s an extremely relevant topic, and I hope that you’ll take the time to read what Kat had to say, as well as Gordon’s response. No, instead what I have for all of you is another one of my rarely shared new life experiences, this time being the hour and a half I spent on Wednesday night trying to escape a series of dark locked rooms.

Now apparently this sort of thing is, and has been, all the rage according to a friend of mine, but the very concept was extremely foreign to me. Wikipedia’s entry for it is titled “Real-life Room Escape”, and describes it as being:

“a type of puzzle simulation games in which you are locked in a room with other participants and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit.”

It also mentions the fact that their existence stems directly from online video games, which is honestly the coolest thing. Whereas most video games are based on real life activities [stealing cars, shooting ethnically ambiguous terrorists,
running your own farm, etc.], this is an example of an activity that mimicks a video game. That is, and realize I don’t use this word lightly, neat. It’s super neat.

I should probably get to what my time with it was actually like, though. To help prime your expectations a little bit, the course my friends and I went through was titled “Haunted Hospital”.

Zombie nurses not included.

Continue reading