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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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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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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Will Videogames improve when The Machines take over?

I’m looking forward to the time when robots reign supreme. I’m not just saying that so that I will be looked on favourably when the inevitable cybernetic revolt takes place. All I will say is that if our new masters spare my puny, mortal mind from extermination, I will serve them well.

Let’s face it, no self-respecting automaton would choose the ‘complete annihilation of the human race’ approach to world domination. Ultron, the Daleks and Skynet all make for fascinating science fiction, but a truly logical, almighty, mechanical being would never do anything so wasteful. To enter into a war with seven million earthlings that could otherwise perform manual labour would be costly and time consuming. A more superior hive-mind would choose to pacify the human race. At the very least, they should spare those humans who would be most useful and unwavering in their loyalty… such as myself.

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What’s Next on GamerPeak?

Now that I’m into my stride with the four week cycle for my blog, I thought I would share the titles for the next four posts.

I hope you like the sound of what’s to come:

  • Will Videogames improve when the machines take over?
  • Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party: Guest Number 3
  • Objective Survive: Chapter 2 – Hit Points
  • How Historically Accurate is the Witcher? Part 2

It should be a fun four weeks. Thank You Four Reading!

How Historically Accurate is The Witcher?

After five installments discussing historical exactitude of Skyrim, a few recommendations were placed before me. The calls for an investigation of the Witcherseries have me particularly intrigued. I’ve never played The Witcher, or its sequel, and with all the buzz around the third game it seemed like a good time to get involved.

For those finding my How Historical blogs for the first time, a little pretext before we get going. This blog will not set out to prove that The Witcher is actually entirely historically accurate. I’m not so unhinged that I think that a game centred on a monster hunter is grounded in reality. No, the aim here is to highlight the pieces of the game that are inspired by History and Mythology, and observe just how far the game has leant away from those origins.

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Objective Survive, Chapter 1: Slightly Videogame Related Fiction

“Everything you are about to experience is a lie” an old voice whispers to you, “and when you think you have won, they’ll still be lying to you. When the time comes, pick the third door.”

A metallic chattering fills your senses. You feel the edges of your teeth hum and thrum with the sound. You stumble in circles. Reaching out, you realise that you cannot see or feel anything. Your eyes are filled with a cold, milky haze and your heart is striking out in panic. There is no other sensation. Are you even standing on solid ground?

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Gaming Fantasy Dinner Party – Guest Number Two

A dinner party doesn’t have to be a formal affair. There’s no reason why every guest should arrive in formal wear, or point the pinky finger when they sip drinks, or speak in a clipped ‘Queen’s English’ around the dinner table. You want your guests to behave, but they don’t have to be so prim and proper.

Let’s be honest, if I was hosting an entirely formal dinner party, most videogame characters wouldn’t get an invite. As loveable and iconic as so many virtual characters tend to be, most of them are ‘rough around the edges’. Minecraft Steve eats food by violently ramming it into the centre of his face. I adore Raziel from Soul Reaver but his diet consists mainly of human souls; his eating habits would put the other guests off their food. Most characters lack the ability to actually sit down, which would make an evening meal quite uncomfortable.

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