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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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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The Gunblade – Video Games vs. History

Whilst I would never consider myself a violent man, I find weapons fascinating. Whether they are a work of fiction or non-fiction, I see them as curious inventions that say a great deal about our species. Our History is full of strange and striking creations of war. It’s when Fantasy and Reality collide that things get really interesting.

The Gunblade – Video Games vs. History

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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?

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Gamer-Teacher: Video Game Music in the Classroom

During a school day other teachers wander into my room as I teach. Occasionally they will remark on how wonderful it is to hear classical music emanating from a classroom, and how pleasant it is to see students appreciating quality music as they complete their work. As they leave, the students share a collective smirk; that teacher doesn’t know that Sir is playing the Halo soundtrack.

I’m not the first person to see the benefit of using video game music whilst studying. Video game music is designed to be in the background. It is intended to be entertaining without becoming distracting. Whether you are trying to improve your concentration or make a laborious task more interesting, music from games offers a wonderful solution.

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Gamer Logic: Why walk when I can…

In real life, I am able to walk in straight line, without feeling the need to leap into the air every two seconds. I can park my car between the white lines; I have no impulse to roll out of the car before it has come to a stop. When I catch the train, I make a habit of going as a passenger; I’ve never thought that the journey would be more efficient if I was driving. Furthermore, I have never looked at a parachute and thought “this would make travelling to the shops so much easier”.

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