How Does Your Game Keep You Contained? Part 2

The hero seeks a new adventure. Every Mutant Ewok of the Decidedly-Evil Forest has been murdered; the Casually Racist Imps have each been forcefully evicted from the Cave of Moaners; the hero has made so many Dragon’s Teeth necklaces that they’ve considered setting up a little jewellery store in the city centre. (It’ll bring in a little extra money in the winter when all the big quests have dried up.)

But now the hero sets off for new lands. They clamber aboard their newly acquired sailboat – made from the bodies of two dozen Ents that really did deserve it – and casts off across the ocean. The wind takes the sails and adventure steals our hero’s heart!

What exciting new lands will our brave and sexy hero discover? What new monsters will they vanquish in the heat of violent battle? What… erm… what is the hero doing? I think… I think the ship is stuck… on… nothing. Okay then… now the ship is turning back. Well… that’s… all praise the mighty hero?

Continue reading “How Does Your Game Keep You Contained? Part 2”

How Does Your Game Keep You Contained? Part 1

A lone hero seeks adventure in a dangerous world. In one hand they clasp an ancient sword made from the devil’s weirdest nightmares. In the other hand they hold a giant handgun so powerful that it doesn’t need to be loaded to kill from two miles away. From head to toe, the hero is clad in armour that prevents attackers from remembering why they were even mad in the first place. There is so much arcane magic coursing through the hero’s veins, that one sneeze can level an entire cinema. Only a 1 or 2-screen cinema, but it’s still pretty cool when it happens.

Yet today, the hero will meet their match. No enemy, real or imagined, has ever managed to best this courageous, mighty and inexplicably handsome warrior. Today is the day when the hero faces…a fence which is slightly too high to jump over.

cannot go

Continue reading “How Does Your Game Keep You Contained? Part 1”

Do You Care for Quick Time Events?

I’m okay with Quick Time Events. There, I said it. Don’t worry; I’m aware that bad QTEs exist. After all, gamers often state categorically that they “love video games” knowing full well that bad games exist. Similarly, I’m fond of Quick Time Events despite the fact that many examples are quite awful. Quite a lot of them actually…

Let’s face reality: QTEs aren’t going anywhere, whether you like them or not. We could, as a gaming community, continue to scowl angrily each time an unwelcome prompt appears on screen. Or we can embrace this game-play quirk. Rather than dismissing all QTEs, perhaps we could classify what makes a ‘Good QTE’, and ask for more of that ilk?

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School Trips to Game Worlds: A Space Station for All Subjects

Two weeks ago, I argued the case for an educational visit to Rapture. Last week, I set my sites on Neo-Paris. The third video game location I have in mind would probably make for the best school trip ever.

Practically every subject is potentially covered in this game location. Not only that, but this location is absolutely spectacular; if I could choose to visit any game location, for educational reasons or not, this would be my ideal destination. As with the two previous school trip proposals, this discussion implies that any excursion should be organised before the events of the game in question; it’s just safer that way.

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​School Trips to Game Worlds: Who fancies a Sci-Fi Croissant?

After finishing my first playthrough of Assassin’s Creed 2, I was left with a singular thought etched into my mindset. It was not the idea of being an assassin – what it would be like to run across roof troops and leap from inexplicable heights into bails of straw. No, I was left with a strong desire to visit Venice. Whilst playing through the latter stages of the game, I found myself wondering whether the city really is a gorgeous as the game suggests, and just how much Venice has changed since the 16th Century.

Last week, I gave my proposal for a school trip to the fictional city of Rapture. The submerged scenery of the Bioshock games may be aesthetically pleasing, but the true worth of the city is in its educational possibilities. When the city was in its prime, Rapture would have opened the eyes and minds of any student able to visit. I also asked you to consider the following question:

If you could organise/embark on a school trip to a video game location, where would you go?

Continue reading “​School Trips to Game Worlds: Who fancies a Sci-Fi Croissant?”

School Trips to Game Worlds: Where would you go?

Two weeks ago I was on a school trip in Berlin. Each time I go on this trip (this was the fifth time) a student looks up at the Reichstag building, turns to me and demands to know if that was the building ‘they’ assaulted at the end of Call of Duty: World at War. Every trip, without fail, and it always makes me chuckle.

Berlin 29 Mar - 1 Apr 20050064c

Returning to my blog after a two week hiatus, I find myself mulling over an odd question (which formed somewhere between leaving the amazing city of Berlin and challenging my students to Mario Kart on the coach ride home) that I wish pose to anyone who has ever been a student or teacher:

If you could organise/embark on a school trip to a video game location, where would you go?

Continue reading “School Trips to Game Worlds: Where would you go?”

​More Reasons to be a Gamer-Teacher

A student once asked me if Richard the Lionheart was ginger (we’d just finished a lesson on the Crusades). I stated that, yes, records show that King Richard I had red hair. The student gleefully announced that he had seen Richard in the city of Arsuf when playing Assassin’s Creed. Once again, a video game has provided a visual queue for a student’s studies. AC1_Altair_RichardOur hobbies and our professions are usually kept far apart. This is usually deliberate; a hobby allows you to take your mind off the work waiting for you. In other instances the career and the pastime are so different that they rarely cross paths. I usually put aside my enjoyment of video games when teaching… but every so often the two benefit each other. Continue reading “​More Reasons to be a Gamer-Teacher”

How do we stop Nathan Drake?

There’s going to be another Uncharted game?! Quick, hide all the precious historic artefacts! Raise airport security! Alert the United Nations to the threat! Make sure… What? No, I don’t think I’m overreacting.

The recent announcement of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End has by now generated a tonne of excitement. I’m sure that it will make for a fine addition to the franchise. However, our collective excitement for another instalment should be put on hold. We need to talk about Nathan Drake’s bad habits, and whether or not we can afford to let him run around on another adventure. screenshot_13large Continue reading “How do we stop Nathan Drake?”

What Video Game Can You Always Depend On?

Some of the greatest games only get one play through. Whether the adventure lasts for ten hours or one hundred, or occupies your gaming time for several months, there will come a point where the most entertaining game fulfils its purpose. The story is complete; all achievements are unlocked; each puzzle solved; every enemy slain. No matter how great, most games fail sooner or later.

But not every game. Amongst the shelves of past games or buried in a hard drive is that game you can always return to. Regardless of how long it’s been since your last visit, that game will always deliver. When it seems like you’ve played every game in your collection, a little voice reminds you that you could always play that game again, and you can’t think of any objections. I would very much like to talk about that game today.

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The Execution of Yoshi Cromwell

The stage is set. Mario’s desire for a male child is an ever-growing concern. His first wife, Pauline, has failed to produce the heir he craves. Age and stress have taken a toll on her body. Mario wants a new, younger wife that will secure his succession, and the vibrant Princess Peach has presented herself as an appealing alternative. A major barrier stands between Mario and his new wife: Bowser refuses to allow Mario and Peach to marry. How will Mario solve his Great Matter?

Last week I introduced a revision lesson that I use with Sixth Form students studying the reign of Henry VIII. The lesson uses the Mario games as an analogy for Henry VIII and the impact his actions had on the English Church. It’s a great lesson for everyone involved and the students recall a huge amount of information through the activity.

Continue reading “The Execution of Yoshi Cromwell”