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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Should open world games rethink how they tell stories?

We’ve all observed stories that use the ‘x days later’ device. A linear narrative can avoid weeks, months and years of bunkum by jumping to the next interesting bit. It’s a trick which allows the storyteller to stick to the good bits, providing it is used effectively. It’s a trick we can all accept and appreciate.

Now imagine you were reading a book or watching a film where the inverse happened. Instead of moving time forward ‘x weeks’ into the future, the story instead took a detour which lasted for days or weeks, only to return to the main story as if no time had passed. In most cases, we would find that very odd and a little jarring (unless it’s a dream-sequence or a peculiar plot twist). Yet open world games let this happen all the time.

Videogames can be rigidly linear in gameplay and story, or completely non-linear in either area. In many games story can be absent entirely, but sometimes I feel that the combination of linear story-telling and non-linear gameplay feels unwieldy. We as gamers are meant to follow a pattern of close-knit events whilst simultaneously spending hours on exploration and random side missions.

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World War Two Snipers – Videogames vs History

History can be less exciting than the fiction it inspires. I can accept that with a smile. War movies, TV shows and games can bathe the World War Two era with so much action and violence that the reality is all but lost. That is not a bad thing, in any way. Not only is it pleasing to see what the historical context can be morphed in to, but allowing some distance between exciting fiction and grim reality is often appreciated. However, sometimes the reality is exciting enough without poetic license. Furthermore, the History of the World Wars still offers so much more inspiration yet to be tapped.

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Dying in Game: What’s the weirdest way to go?

It was Nietzsche that wrote, “What does not kill me makes me stronger”. In reality, that’s regularly true. When it comes to videogames, it really depends on how you are about to be killed. In some cases, dying is part of the learning process. In other games, your demise will only result in a minor punishment, or have no impact whatsoever. It’s uncommon for a video game to kill you in a way that doesn’t make you stronger.

In other words: videogame deaths are odd. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, dying in-game usually lacks permanence. Each fatality can be brushed off with nonchalance. Secondly, there is an ever-expanding variety of ways to go out. Whilst they may fit the game in some way, there’s no hiding their bizarre nature.

You-Died

So the discussion I place before you, morbid as it might be, concerns weird deaths. What are the oddest ways to kick the bucket? Do you have a preferred way to go out? Below is a list of some – but by no means all – of the unusual ways game will kill and resurrect the player’s character(s).

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An Apology to The Orange Box

Might the Gaming World forgive me? May my sins be absolved? In my youth, I was foolish fool of fools. In my haste, and childish recklessness, I made a grave error: I sold my copy of The Orange Box less than two weeks after purchase. Please! Hold your chastisements for a moment, dear merciful reader. Allow me to repent, before judgement is passed.

half-life-2-16

As with most games I play, I arrived late to this soiree. I must admit that I had yet to play Half Life 2 by the release of the collection.  I bought The Orange Box in 2009 – the last year of university – on the recommendations of countless, honourable gamers. I’d been told how good the Half Life games were. (Yes, I had not played Half Life 1 at this point either; the scroll of my misdeeds will only continue to unravel.) I had also heard hearty praise of Portal and Team Fortress 2, and was anxious to share in the collective ecstasy.

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What Zelda Items would improve other Video Games? Part 2

Now I won’t say that I offered inspiration to the latest Call of Duty… because I obviously didn’t. What I did do was suggest a change to the game franchise that kind of, sort of, made it into the game. Which I think we can all agree is still pretty impressive… if you’re easily impressed. A year ago, I stated that Call of Duty would be improved by the Power Glove from The Legend of Zelda, and Advanced Warfare included exo-suits. That’s basically the same thing (if you ignore all the differences). I’ve always known I was a visionary…

ocarina_of_time_3d_s-5

I began blogging just over a year ago. So far I’ve written about being a Gamer-Teacher, explored some of my Weird Theories about various videogames and generally talked about why games are good things. Yet the blog I began with was on this particular subject: Which Games would benefit from a Zelda Weapon? Because the conversation were so fun the first time, and I’m looking for a nostalgia trip for myself, I’d like to revisit this topic.

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Animal Weapons – Videogames vs History

If you want a game to look zany, turn any animal into a tool for destruction. The creature might be the weapon itself, useful for bludgeoning, or it might be the ammunition that you fling or fire at your confused opponents. Either way, animal weapons are usually delightful. On the other hand, animal weapons in History tend to be a bit more alarming…

Animal Weapons – Videogames vs History

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Giving Thanks: The Little Things

There are lots of big reasons to love a videogame. Great gameplay, thrilling story, stunning visuals and so on. These are the major factors that decide whether a game will draw us in or not. Yet once we’ve embraced the experience, it’s often the smaller details in a game that make the journey so much greater. When we are reminded of a game we played years ago it’s often the little things that we remember.

I am thankful for those mini moments in videogames. They are the gems that the player can only notice once they are on board, enriching the adventure once they are discovered. These are some of my favourite ‘little things’ from videogames new and old.

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Gaming and Misbehaving: Spore and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

I swear on my honour that I can be a sensible gamer. I do know how to play games properly. It’s just that, now and then, I am compelled to ignore the path the game has laid out for me. It’s why people think I’m so cool and rebellious. [Turns imaginary cap backwards]

Spore and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion are significantly different games. One is a game a God Game where the player controls the ‘evolution’ of a species from primordial soup-dweller to galactic dominator; the other is an action role playing game set in a mythical-medieval world. Yet there is one very clear similarity between these games where I am considered: the way I misbehaved when playing them.

This is the third week of me admitting my misbehaviour. In Dishonored, I was way more violent than the game suggested I should be. In Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, I lost all sense of respectability. As for Spore and Oblivion, I actually started playing both games as intended. I put lots of hours into each game, following the rules for the most part. However, despite several play-throughs of both games, I have never finished either of them. I would deliberately quit both games at a certain point, and go back to the start.

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