[ingressi]Welcome to the first international issue of Sunday Gaming – the finest, fanciest and craftiest compilation of games writing from all universe.[/ingressi]
What is with the sudden change in language, you ask? Since in our previous iterations we have been mostly curating articles published in foreign (non-Finnish) media we feel that removing this extra loop will serve our readers best. Gone are the small but unfortunate translation errors. This is now strictly business. Furthermore, we have received several requests from our readers to translate our content in English, and while the majority of our articles will remain in Finnish these monthly write-ups will be the first of the gentle steps towards our more international and multicultural output.
Let us begin with the most lovable pieces written in July
What would have the fabled Nintendo Play Station look like? Polygon met Dan Diebold whose dad had one of the prototypes hidden in his attic. I rather like the cross-over design of the console and wouldn’t have minded to have one on my shelf back in the day. Take a look at the pictures, if you don’t believe.
A study finds out that gamers are sexy, or at least they think they are. Michael Kasumovic and his colleagues decided to investigate the attraction to violent games by surveying 500 American adult male and female players. One of the results they had was particularly interesting: women who played violent games saw themselves as more sex-driven than those who played them less. Link to the full research is here.
From an evolutionary perspective, this makes some sense. Like other animals, in our ancestral past, those who successfully competed and secured resources and mates had the most offspring.
No Mutants Allowed is a rather obscure fan site and message board for one of the most loved RPG series of our times: Fallout. Luke Winkie writes about the loathing reactions the NMA community had intrinsically built towards Bethesda’s exhumed Fallout series. I’m not alone when I say that the tone of the first two Fallout games was far more gruesome and unforgiving than the series recent installations and therefore I remain skeptic towards Fallout 4 as well.
_Fallout_ and _Fallout 2_ are the dying gasps of an entire generation, one where you rolled D20s for stats and drew your own maps. Maybe it’s odd to miss the punishment, _but that’s what a wasteland is_. Bethesda offers you a gift, while Black Isle gave you a world, just as savage and unfair as the real thing. How could they possibly understand?
One of the most powerful aspects found in Telltale’s adventure games is remembrance: what you do in the past affects your future. Ben Kuchera writes how this narrative mechanism gamified his family life in the real world. Do you have kids? If so, have you had same kind of experiences?
When I rock a baby to sleep through the night because they have a fever, I hope some part of them will remember. When I miss an important date for a work trip, I hope it doesn't congeal into a trend that I was never there. "She will remember this," I think, when I kiss a scraped knee or comfort a crying child. "He will remember this," I fear, when E3 season means I'm working 12-hour days. When something goes very wrong or very right, you can see it on their faces sometimes. "They will remember this."
In combat games artificial intelligence is always programmed to win. What happens when you apply it in professional wrestling where the outcome of the matches is planned in advance? Hieu Chau hits the spot on writing how many a professional wrestling game lacks the in-ring psychology and the communication with audience that makes those matches memorable in real life. We simply can’t have a good wrestling game as long as we strive to design them as purely combat games.
One of the only wrestling games to have tried to achieve this basic level of wrestling psychology is _Fire Pro Wrestling_. A long-running series that originated in Japan, the Game Boy Advance version of the game is particularly unique in that has a special “Audience Mode” which offers several different strategies on how to win a crowd over. If you want to win the audience’s approval through the high-flying acrobatics of the Mexican lucha libre style of wrestling, the crowd will want to see that reflected in the match. If you want to learn how to put on a wrestling clinic by putting on a big show, the mode allows you to choose that option, too.
July came with the most unfortunate news of the president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, passing away. Rich Stanton and Keith Stuart think back in their collaborative article how Iwata used the blue ocean strategy to turn the tide for Nintendo and lead the company into a better era.
When the Wii was first revealed, the industry scoffed once again. The graphics processors were inferior to those in the latest PlayStation and Xbox machines and the Wii remote controller seemed like a gimmick. But then people started playing early titles like Wii Sports and Wii Play – they were intuitive, fun and social. Anyone could get involved. Word of mouth spread and by mid-2007, Wii had sold more units than the PS3 and Xbox 360 put together. People were holding Wii parties, and everyone who attended was going out and buying their own machine the next day. It sold over 100m units.
Have you played EarthBound? Rich Stanton continues on his personal tribute to Satoru Iwata how EarthBound was one of the earliest games to present the player a “living world” with its characters being much more than just 2D sprites – they were humans. I love EarthBound, and occassionally I love humans too.
This is why Earthbound feels human. It is about innocence and childhood, but also growing up and what this does to your view of the world. We all had those moments where some part of our brain was permanently altered, and I remember every one of mine sharply. Earthbound is a great coming-of-age tale because it is bittersweet.
Holy guano, Batman! Definitely not all Bat-games are good. Here’s a good rundown of the most atrocious games featuring the Dark Knight written by Zack Kotzer.
The _Arkham_games, as they progress, try to present every bat-thing at the same bat-time, resulting in a compiled bat-game that broadens itself out of its own bat-identity, trying to be the bat-thing that everyone bat-wants and becoming a bat-stew.
Summer is a season for sports, and us being gamers it means e-sports. We shouldn’t, however, turn our ears away from the toxic behaviour present in these competitive games, namely Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that according to Emily Richardson has a serious language problem. One of the key factors in this type of behaviour, as we well know, is the possibility to stay anonymous. There are myriad of other factors as well so read the whole article.
The first to put forward the idea that anonymity was a key factor in deindividuation was Leon Festinger (1952). Obviously, violent crowds and lynch mobs are a far more serious case study, but the concept of deindividuation has, in recent years, been assessed in volatile players online. The anonymity that usernames grant us combined with the reduced sense of responsibility – perhaps relating to the notion that we’re retaliating or justified in our actions because of the way another player behaved – could explain in part why competitive gamers frequently turn into asshats.
For those who doubt that Commodore Amiga had any significant impact on games industry, Keith Stuart has a very strong piece on his personal memories how 30 years ago Amiga 1000 started to redefine the gaming landscape in and outside of UK. Often underlooked demoscene culture is also mentioned which helped to create studios like Remedy and Lionhead.
The Amiga 1000 was the theory, but the later Amiga 500 (more streamlined and cheaper) was the practice. It was a thrilling time of discovery and uncertainty, unharnessed and unsullied by the coming mega-publishers. The tendrils of the Amiga generation stretch out and unfurl across the rest of games history, they reach toward us, through the people who started making games in that era and still make them now, and through the resurgent indie scene, which owes many of its ideas to that golden era.
On a slightly different note, Kickstarter and Kill Screen collaborated to ask game designers about their favorite games, games that influence them and perhaps most importantly their design methods.
Closing off this month’s edition we have Simon Parkin from Eurogamer talking to Jenova Chen, the designer and director of Journey about his childhood experiences and how they helped to create meaningful game worlds that make players feel different. You should, of course, have played or watched a video of Journey before reading this.
"When I'm walking in the convention centre I am thinking about where I need to be and at what time. I am in _task solving mode._ I am not interested in socialising. This is exactly how it is in most video games. The vast majority of multiplayer experiences are about task solving. But if players are in task solving mode they are not in the right frame of mind to exchange emotional connections. So to prepare them we had to remove everything about tasks: all quests had to go from Journey, all puzzles. And so then, it's more likely the player will be ready to engage in social contact."
Music of the Month
How about a classic this time? There’s an eternal debate whether Phil Collins took over Genesis as a better frontman than Peter Gabriel, and it’s a debate I will not take part of. Instead, I came here to smash the worlds with Sledgehammer. See you in the next edition of Sunday Gaming!