Wednesday, July 16, 2008

E3 and the New Hotness - Part 1

Another year...

Another E3...

...and it looks AWESOME!

After the fracturing of last year's E3, this year seems to have finally got things right with keeping everything centralized while still keeping out the average joes who are only after nifty swag and freebies (Like me).

But fact of the matter is that there is a TON of new stuff in the works, and I honestly can't wait to get my hands on it!

Right now, I've got a keen eye looking towards Capcom. I'm hoping that Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom somehow finds a way stateside, and that Mega Man 9 is old school awesome!

I'm going to have more to talk about as I go through the press conferences and the like, so with any luck, the future will be just as awesome as I hope.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Super Smash Bros. Crack

I've recently been playing Super Smash Bros. Brawl on my Wii. Apparently, it's so addicting that I'm trying to snag trophies or acheive goals when she steps heads to the bathroom. It's as if I've got this bizarre compulsion to try and unlock EVERY SINGLE THING in the game!

So what, just what, is it that makes me want to try and obtain all the goods and unlockables? Clearly it's not something everyone feels as demonstrated by this Public Service Video below:

And in case you were wondering, here's what such a fight would look like:

Not that great really. But I'm on the other end of the spectrum where I want everything~! I want the trophies, the stickers, the music, the stages, the characters, and without cheating using the hammers to break the glass.

But the problem is that this doesn't bode well with my wife.

I currently only work a part-time job at a Pizza Hut call center (and man do I have stories to tell after only two weeks there), and am trying to find work as an IT worker. Databases, web sites, technical writing, Java, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, whatever it takes!

I get food stamps and live on meager wages and family support. That's it!

So why can't I drag myself away from this game long enough to actually get a job, take care of chores, and basically do all the other stuff a responsible adult should?

I mean really! Sure the game has been hyped to the point that Jesus Himself might have delivered it on launch day:

But that is no excuse to neglect my other duties as an adult and as a husband. Is it

I'm not saying games are addicting. I've been able to drop games in lieu of other, more important matters before. So why is it that this game keeps me coming back again and again whenever I can still an extra minute of play? Is that a sign of a game's success? A sign that some games can be addicting? Or a sign that I need to just get over it and man up to my responsibilities?

Maybe it's one or the other, or it could be all of the above. One way or another, I need to find some way to manage my time properly. That's the most important thing! Especially since doing that means I can post more, and get this site off the ground

Anyone else have this need to get everything ASAP in Smash?


P.S. Image clip from God Mode Online and it's funny, funny comics.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Game Scholar Gets Mad

Okay, now this is getting rather annoying. I want to try and maintain a blog with an intellectual spin on the topic of video games, but apparently with no money, no day job, and no major support to back this kind of a blog, this is a rather futile effort.

And frankly it makes me a bit angry that I can't share my passion for games online because of these stupid real life setbacks.

But that's okay! Apparently anger is the new hotness these days! Just look at the plethora of angry people cursing and swearing online about this and that. Just watch these!

!!!WARNING - Some of these people swear like a sailor!!!

First up, Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw:

Now while Yahtzee may swear up and down more times than a kangaroo on a pogo stick, his wit and intelligent insight along with his hate everything attitude has made him the top of the town. If he wasn't good at this kind of thing, then he wouldn't have been asked to present at this year's GDC (Game Developer's Conference). His work is even previewed on Cable TV shows such as X-Play each week!

Speaking of X-Play, that leads us to other ranter and raver, NOT as foul-mouthed as Yahtzee, but still highly amusing, Adam Sessler!

He hosts a TV show on video games, gets to try them out for free, and then gives his blunt opinions with humor, wit, and enough biting sarcasm to give frostbite.

But unlike the above two, it's not necessary to be sponsored by a fully sponsored webzine, or have a cable TV show, as proven by the man known only as the Angry Video Game Nerd!

Behold the majestic foul language, the pissed off rantings and ravings, the frustration, and most of all, the CHAOS!

SCREW law and order! Give us mayhem and chaos anyday! Why go with the safe and sterile when you can cut loose, get mad, and tear the things you love apart because sometimes they hurt you too!

So now that I've given my two cents on the subject, I've decided that I like it and want in! So from here on out, I intend to provide a married, poor, video game loving man's take on the games he loves, the industry he loves, and how life in general pisses all over him. First, I'll need to think of a catchy title. Hopefully, I'll be able to think of something soon. In the meanwhile, enjoy the rage!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

M-Rated Segregation

A funny thing happened while searching for bargains at my local Toys R Us yesterday...

With a coupon for 20% off any game, I went there, short on cash but determined, to find the best deal. Digging through bargain bins finding a few nice finds, I then noticed something odd about the Electronic's departments layout. In a corner, behind the counter, and next to a couple of quirky electronic toys and gadgets for kids, were the M-rated games.

Now this struck me as a bit peculiar, as I know that for many game players out there, the segregating of M-rated games from every other games is a big no-no to them. I have heard many gamers consider this kind of separation a kind of censorship and indirectly associates M-rated games with porn. Of course, M-rated games as porn is an absolutely ridiculous since that is akin to saying that all R-rated movies are pornographic.

But here at Toys R Us, they had done just what all gamers had feared by putting the games in a separate section. Yet when I think back about it, and I know some people may disagree on this, it somewhat made sense that those games would be separated.

NOT because I think separating games that are M-rated away from the other games is a good practice. Far from it! I just think that this is, after all, Toys R Us.

Toys R Us does not cater to a family market like stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, or Circuit City. Toys R Us is aimed at a market of kids from Zero to 17 or 18. Action figures, kid-friendly movies, dolls, Bikes, puzzles, board games, and even toys for infants and toddlers.

Before the 16-bit era of Mortal Kombat, having video games that were not suitable for children under 18 (unless a parent says they feel their child is mature enough to play them) in a store such as Toys R Us was beyond comprehension. Sure there were the old risque Atari games and the rare, unlicensed NES game, but those would definitly merit an AO on the modern rating scale, and were no where near what would now be an "M-Rating". Toys R Us would have made doubly sure not to carry any of those when they were out.

The M-rating is like the R-rating for movies, and video game content only reached this middle ground between "All Ages" and "Adults Only" recently when the technology became capable of handling such content.

So in the olden days of the 80's and early 90's, Toys R Us had little to worry about because they simply didn't carry the obviously "Adults Only" games. Not to mention many of those games were unlicensed and therefore not exactly legal. And so Toys R us was able to easily maintain its kid-friendly image and way of doing business.

Then in the mid-90's when Mortal Kombat and Doom hit the scene, it was obvious that games had no come to the point of sophistication where the content of video games could be extra violent or adult themed without being pornographic. Kids who played these games were growing up and becoming more sophisticated while a new generation of younger kids were just getting introduced to the video game medium.

The answer to this was the initial beginnings of the Ratings System which has fine tuned and refined itself since its conception and is overall, in my opinion, doing a great job in labelling their games.

However, using the ratings system as a form of censorship whether within the ratings board or by those that use the ratings board is something I am strongly against.

Which brings us back to Toys R Us using the ratings system to segregate M-rated games from the other games they carry. Is this a form of censorship, or is this just Toys R Us trying to protect its kid friendly image?

Frankly, I see it as the latter.

Toys R Us does not carry adult products of any kind, and by those I mean adults only movies or adults only toys, or anything like that. It is in place to stay consistant with the kid-friendly concept of what a "Toy" is. When this middle ground of games that are for more mature audiences comes about, Toys R Us still wants to appeal to the game players that have grown up with them without losing game sales to competing businesses such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

So this specific store's response was to section off a nook of their NORMAL game storage space behind the counter to the M-rated games. It did NOT involve putting them behind a curtain so no one can see the boxes or making it so you have to prove you're 18 to look at them. The space they were given looked no more or less different from the space given to the other games. The only real difference was that it was sectioned off to ensure that parents would be able to make smart choices for their kids.

In conclusion, I think segregating M-rated games in a store is best handled via a case-by-case basis. If a store sells pornography or adult themed media, such as FYI, and then groups M-rated games in with them, it would definitly not be okay and could be viewed as a form of censorship. Those M-rated games should be treated no differently than how they treat R-rated movies which they also carry. If a store like Toys R Us carries no adult media or products and is suddenly faced with a product they have normally carried having adult, but not obscene, content, then separating those seems like a logical response.

Maybe, some day in the future, the ESRB can provide a guide to stores to help them determine whether or not segregating M-rating games is okay or not. For Toys R Us, I can see that being an okay thing to do, but not for stores that normally carry material that would be considered R-rated.

In the meanwhile, let's watch and see what happens.

~Stephen "Game Scholar" Broida

Monday, August 6, 2007

What's in a Game? Part 1 - Games According to Webster

Now that the site has been launched, now is a good time to begin a theoretical look at what it means for something to be a game. And what better place to start than with the Dictionary definition of "game"?

(Do note that some terms and references not related to the subject at hand have been omitted, spefically slang.)

First, a look at what had to say...

game1 /geɪm/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[geym] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, adjective, gam·er, gam·est, verb, gamed, gam·ing.
1. an amusement or pastime: children's games.
3. a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.
4. a single occasion of such an activity, or a definite portion of one: the final game of the season; a rubber of three games at bridge.
7. a particular manner or style of playing a game: Her game of chess is improving.
8. anything resembling a game, as in requiring skill, endurance, or adherence to rules: the game of diplomacy.
14. Informal. a business or profession: He's in the real-estate game.
19. to play games of chance for stakes; gamble. –verb (used with object)
24. play the game, Informal.
a. to act or play in accordance with the rules.
b. to act honorably or justly: We naively assumed that our allies would continue to play the game. <1>

...and then from Merriam-Webster..

1 a (1) : activity engaged in for diversion or amusement : PLAY

(2) : the equipment for a game b : often derisive or mocking jesting : FUN, SPORT 2 a : a procedure or strategy for gaining an end : TACTIC b : an illegal or shady scheme or maneuver : RACKET3 a (1) : a physical or mental competition conducted according to rules with the participants in direct opposition to each other (2) : a division of a larger contest

(3) : the number of points necessary to win

(4) : points scored in certain card games (as in all fours) by a player whose cards count up the highest

(5) : the manner of playing in a contest

(6) : the set of rules governing a game

(7) : a particular aspect or phase of play in a game or sport b plural : organized athletics c (1) : a field of gainful activity : LINE (2) : any activity undertaken or regarded as a contest involving rivalry, strategy, or struggle ; also : the course or period of such an activity (3) : area of expertise : SPECIALTY 3 <2>

Of the many different possible definitions, the one that caught my eye the most was's definition number 3, the one that said:

"a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.

This is the definition that I intend to work with for this section, but in my honest opinion, I think that this definition is FAR too limiting. I intend to add and subtract from this definition until I have a definitive definition that nobody could disagree on.

Essentially, I intend to do for video games what Scott McCloud did for comics. In his 1993 graphic novel/book "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art", Scott defined comics as:

"juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer"<3>

When Scott McCloud was faced with questions about his definition, he noted that it wasn't what was said in the definition, but what wasn't said. By not referring to superheroes, funny animals, science fiction, romance, art styles, or anything like that, it allows the definition to encompass all of those things and more. The only thing it leaves out are single panel comics, which are considered, according to Scott, as "cartoons" instead of comics.

So how can I take the dictionary definition and turn into something more accurate like Scott McCloud did for comics?

Well that's going to be what this entire section will be about. Defining games, and from there, defining video games. This should result in a sufficient, indisputable definition that game players and game makers can both agree upon.

Getting to this conclusion will not be easy, but by keeping track of everything here, it should be possible.

~Steve "Game Scholar" Broida

1. "Game." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 06 Aug. 2007.>.

2. "Game." Meriam-Webster Online (Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary, Eleventh Edition). Meriam-Webster Inc. 09 Aug. 2007.>.

3. "Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art." Scott McCloud. Harper Paperbacks. 27 Apr. 1994. (pg. 7-9)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Projects for The Game Scholar

Here's a look at some of the projects that will appear here on The Game Scholar's Journal.

1) What's in a Game? - A look at what the definition of a game is, and what components make up what a game is. Also includes various types of games, kinds of games, game genres, what a game can and can not be, and what a game does or does not have to be.

2) A History of Games - A look at the evolution of games from the earliest games known to humanity to the latest and greatest games out there.

3) The Medium of Video Games - Focusing solely on video games, this section looks at what video games can and can't do and what they can and can't be. This includes when a video game is a work of art, when a video game is fun, and when a video game is more than a game.

4) Video Games and the Controversy that Loves Them - Video Games are currently under a lot of heat from politicians, private organizations, and critics. This looks at some of the worst attacks on video games and offers a response to counter the attacker's arguments.

5) Masters of the Game - This is a feature that looks at people who deserve recognition for their contributions to games with an emphasis on video games. From well known game makers and designers such as Shigeru Miyamoto to those who many may not know such as Howard Scott Warshaw.

6) Games in the Future - An outlook on what may happen in the future of video games and personal commentary on what will be the next big thing in games. From hardware, to software, to game mechanics, to game mediums and beyond; this section will look at the games of tomorrow.

7) What's the Matter with Games these days? - There are some things about game makers and game players that does not reflect kindly on them. This looks at the glaring problems with the game industry in terms of how they make their games and what they do in the games themselves. In addition, it also looks at the game players and some of the bad habits they portray from a sociological perspective.

8) The Game Scholar's Rants - Miscellaneous editorial pieces on topics at hand, whether they are or are not about the game industry.

Stay tuned as I begin to fill out these catagories with articles that will expand the minds of the people who read them. (Maybe).

~Steve "Game Scholar" Broida

The Beginning of The Game Scholar's Journal

This is the start of an ambitious project that I hope to maintain for the rest of my life; hopefully.

As it stands right now, there are many gaming news sites for the game players. The latest games, the latest tricks or cheats, the latest in mouth watering goods that promise to tantalize and amaze the game players.

There are also game sites for the game makers. These sites are filled with white papers, articles, business forcasts, and more technical "how-to" guides than you can shake a primive 3D object at.

But over time, I've noticed that there is a kind of divide separating the game players from the game makers. Most game makers have a hard time finding the time to play games, even the ones they work on, and game players often have a lack of understanding of how a game works from the inside out.

I have studied game design and have played many, many games over my lifetime. In this blog I hope to find a way to bridge the gap, address some issues, and link information from notable game designers and game makers to the game players who enjoy their creations. In doing this, I hope that game players will have a better appreciation for what game makers create, and game makers will have a greater appreciation for where the game players are coming from as well.

Along the way, I intend to look at graphics, music, ludology (a really fancy word that breaks down to "Game Play"), technology, philosophy, politics, and more.

Perhaps, some day, all this will come together in a more physical published format that can reach an even wider audience, but in the meantime, this will be a good place to start.

So keep an eye peeled, as this should grow rather quickly.

~Steve "Game Scholar" Broida