Challenge in Gaming: What’s the best way to be tested?

I began playing Wolfenstein: New World Order a few weeks ago. I started the game in the usual way, by selecting ‘New Game’ and then perusing the available difficulties. I was curious to find a whopping five levels of difficulty available to me. It struck me at that moment that it’s been a very long time since I saw a game settle for an ‘Easy-Medium-Hard’ spread of difficulties. I also found it odd that New World Order was eager to throw so many options at me right out of the gate.

Personally, I could never begin a game on anything except ‘normal’. It makes much more sense to me to attempt a higher difficulty on the second play through, when I have the intricacies of the gameplay sussed. Games will often hide their highest settings, allowing them to be unlocked after the player has gone through the game once. I struggle to imagine anyone running headlong into Wolfenstein’s “ÜBER” setting on their first go and then enjoying the experience.

It’s not that I don’t think people would enjoy the most difficult setting. It’s the level of challenge present that I think would turn first-time players away. Playing a games ‘extreme’ difficulty is meant to be taxing, but if a player has mastered a game’s ‘normal’ setting, they can gauge for themselves whether they will be able to take on something greater. Whether or not a Gamer enjoys ‘challenging’ games, every game challenges us in some way and it’s up to us to decide how enjoyable that is.

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How do you become a ‘Grown-Up’ Gamer?

Hello internet, it’s been a while. Ten months since my last blog in fact. There have been many reasons for the long pause: my marriage last August; the extensive renovations on our new home; the workload that comes with being a teacher, and other very grown-up things. For a few months I wasn’t even really playing video games, never mind blogging about them.

I have, of course, started gaming again. I’ve hardly made up for lost time, and the amount I can play has adjusted. The last few months have led me to the startling conclusion that I am, in fact…

a ‘grown-up’.

The way I game has changed gradually over time, but it’s only this year that I have truly embraced the fact that the way I play needs to be altered. Maybe you’ve been through a similar experience? Perhaps you have yet to feel a change. I’ve found a few ways to adapt gaming to suit my adult life.

  1. Become more selective.

When I was younger, if two decent games were the same price as the game I really wanted to play, I would go for the two games. It would pass the time until the newer game dropped in price, and the older games often turned out to be better than expected. Besides, I’d get through all the games I wanted to play eventually.

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What do you want from a Boss Fight?

I’m terrible at sticking to one game at a time. Whilst I should be dedicated to The Witcher (especially since I’m blogging about it once a month), I’m also playing Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask on the 3DS and Lost Odyssey on the Xbox 360. I hop between each game depending on my mood, preference and proximity to gaming platform. I mention this poor gaming discipline in order to make a point about boss battles.

These three games offer up boss fights in very different ways. Majora’s Mask, as with the rest of the franchise, delivers the most comprehensive boss fight package. The lair’s superior is given their own room, theme music, new game mechanics and a fancy, introductory banner with their name on it. Lost Odyssey is slightly more conservative. The boss is provided with introductory and concluding cutscenes and a new set of attacks. Most basic of all are The Witcher bosses, which are usually bigger, more vicious versions of previous foes. There is, however, more effort made to entwine each boss into the narrative of the game.

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How Historically Accurate is The Witcher Part 3?

Compared to other RPGs I’ve played, The Witcher is a very intimate game. Even counting the segments of the city of Vizima as separate locations, the list of places I’ve seen so far is very small. The cast of the game is also quite lean. Both of these conditions are hardly negatives; it gives a feeling of familiarity and makes the interactions more personal. It also helps to enrich the story, in my opinion at least.

This intimate setup has impacted on my observations. Whilst with Skyrim I could skip about, cherry picking historic details, this games narrower landscape has led me to make a more specific consideration of the world.

In the third instalment of my ‘grown-up’ look at the historical accuracy of this fantasy adventure game, I’ve picked out one feature of the main character and two features of the city to analyse. The field of discussion is quite specific, though the History addressed is quite varied. Let’s start with a piece of History that has had one foot in fantasy for a long time.

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Objective Survive, Chapter 3 – Slightly Videogame Related Fiction

Have you read Chapter 2?

You manage to avoid being shot in Level 3. The same black-clad enemies came for you and your two new friends, but they were fended off with ease. The man and woman seem to be dealing with the unseen masses with a dislocated calmness, and only three extra people enter through the door you defend. Eight masked characters stepped into the room on-by-one, and were felled before your handgun under a mess of red numbers.

Your task is so straightforward, that you notice a few peculiarities. Not only do these enemies do exactly the same thing every time they enter the room – creep in, walk forward stealthily, die – but they are all physically identical. They are all the same height, wearing the same armour, same black masks and handling the same pistol. They even drop the same number of rounds for you to collect.

Level 4 takes you by surprise. You were unprepared for three foes entering the room directly after one another. They sauntered into the room in formation, mimicking each other’s movements. You hesitate at the sight of this new encounter for a moment, and then rattle the trigger frantically. Two of the enemies collapse before the red numbers fade, but the third takes two swift, strafing strides into the room. They fire their pistol up at you, and for the third time you are shot. Burning pain snatches at your chest. You take the enemy off their feet a moment later.

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Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party – Guest Number Five

When someone describes their fantasy dinner party, it’s quite common for a villain to make it onto the guest list. For every five noble, heroic or inspirational persons considered for the fantasy evening, the sixth person is often villainous, cruel or despotic. It’s a curious thing, that we would make space around our dinner tables for a Charles I or a Ghenghis Khan instead of a Mary Seacole or a Confucuius.

The reasons for this are odd but understandable. Sometimes people want to see what makes a dictator want to be dictatorial. Being able to sit down with a tyrant and find out what makes them tick garners a certain appeal. No matter how evil the person might be, there is a belief that around the dinner table surrounded by sensible people, that person can make for unique company.

My fifth guest is base in that logic. I have four good guys so far, but now I’m going to risk upsetting the balance by adding a baddy. And not just any bad guy… one with god-like powers of destruction and a fondness for tyranny. But I think he’s an awesome character.

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Is Minecraft Bad for Adults?

Did you know that bananas are good for you? The high potassium and low sodium content in each yellow packet of mush is great for your cardiovascular system. They are also high in fibre, which helps you poop. Which is nice. There’s also research that indicates that bananas help reduce the risk of kidney cancer. Having said that, bananas can also be really bad for you.

If you eat too many on a regular basis, they can cause severe drowsiness, headaches and the sugar can harm your teeth. Potassium overdose is also a risk… if you try to eat more than 30 bananas in one sitting. Given that this fruit is also slightly radioactive, it is also technically possible to suffer radiation sickness if you eat about 250 bananas a day. Though, of course, if you’re trying to eat 30-300 bananas a day you probably have much bigger problems.

Every time someone asks the question “is X good for you?” the answer is almost always “Yes, in moderation”. Too much of a healthy, enriching item can have negative effects; small amounts of something harmful can have positive effects.

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How Historically Accurate is The Witcher? Part 2

A month has past. I haven’t played a lot of any game lately; we are approaching exam season after all. Yet my designated gaming time has been mostly devoted to The Witcher. I’ve completed Chapter 1 and I’ve made (what I assume is) serious headway into Chapter 2. From a gamer’s perspective, I’m enjoying the quirky, if slightly clunky gameplay and intriguing story-telling. From an Historian’s perspective, I am quite enamoured – despite the fantastical overtones the game is letting its historic side shine.

Part 1 was more of an introduction than anything else. This time around, I’m still far from an overall view of the first Witcher game, but there are a few areas that I feel I know well enough to discuss. As with my ‘analysis’ of Skyrim, I will never assume that I am an absolute authority on The Witcher or History; that’s why I title these blogs with the question, “How historically accurate is…”.

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Objective Survive, Chapter 2: Slightly Videogame Related Fiction

Have you read Chapter 1?

The discarnate voice offers no more explanation. The words it spoke create more questions as they rattle around your mind: Is this really a game? It seems so real. How did you get here? Can you leave? Most games let you choose to play. How many more ‘levels’ are there going to be?

The woman’s accusatory voice jolts you from your confusion, “Hey! I get that you’re new, but it’d be a shame if you got shot again, wouldn’t you say?” She pushes her chin upwards, gesturing to the wall behind you, “Get up there and watch the back door. Think you can manage that, bru?”

She turns away from you, shouldering her shotgun and jogging back to the doorway. She and the skinny guy take up the same spots they defended earlier. The world outside is still unfeasibly quiet. You remind yourself of the fire exit in wall behind you and turn to face it. With your new pistol held gingerly out towards the metal door, you turn your gaze to the place where the woman had gestured.

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Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party – Guest Numbers Three & Four

This week is a twofer. The next two guests I would invite have a lot of similar traits, and it seems sensible to introduce them side by side. Firstly, they are both scientists, though their fields of expertise do differ. Secondly, these men are true intellectuals – men of ideas, creativity and invention. Thirdly, they are very gentlemanly in their own ways. As such, they contrast the rough and ready natures of my first two guests.

So far, Alyx Vance and Jim Raynor have been invited to my make-believe evening of food, drink and entertainment. Whilst these two characters are a little rough around the edges, I believe they would make excellent house guests. Having said that, a little refinement wouldn’t hurt; guests #3 and #4 will add a touch of civility to the evening, without butchering the light-hearted atmosphere I’m aiming for. They’re both odd, awkward fellows in their own ways, but they are sure to make for good company.

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