Delayed Responsibility

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Posts Tagged ‘Rules of the Game’

Articles: A Rules of the Game Roundup!

Posted by deckard47 on May 7, 2010

Before I get down to business, I wanted to make a quick note of something I’ll (hopefully) be writing about soon: tragically irony-free, unselfconscious use of retro-chic/”art deco” styles in games to fill in gaping world holes and failings. I’m looking at the Bioshock series and Fallout 3 here. Mostly Bioshock 2 and Fallout 3, but Bioshock muscles it’s way onto the list, somehow. I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, since I just beat Bioshock 2, and I’m playing Fallout and Fallout 3 simultaneously (all for Popmatters, actually). Anyway, it’s just impossible to escape the sense that these stylings are approaching unpleasant, completely meaningless levels of recursive, unselfconscious self-referencing and cultural “meaning.” But that’s for another post.

For now, I bring you a trifecta (yes!) of pieces from Rules of the Game. First, there’s Simon’s Section 8 (PS3) review. He feels much the same as I felt about it, especially that awful, nonexistent shooting/feedback issue. Check it out:

Unfortunately, one vital aspect of feedback is lacking from Section 8: the joy of the kill. You don’t notice how important this is in a space marine game until it’s taken away from you: the death scream of a UNSC Spartan flying through the air after getting stuck with a plasma grenade. In Section 8, enemies simply crumple to the ground when they die. Many times, I didn’t even know that I’d scored a kill, or how I’d done it, until I looked at the kill list. This is coupled t0 somewhat vague feedback from gunfire. With weapons that fire slowly, it’s easy to tell whether you’ve scored a hit or not: a significant amount of enemy health decreases, and you’ll notice a tiny radiating color coming off your targeting reticle. But in the case of rapid-firing weapons it can get aggravatingly tough to figure out how many of your shots are making contact.

Absolutely spot-on. Read the rest here, at RotG.

Next, we have Mariam Asad’s excellent piece on Heavy Rain, its camera, and the player. Here’s a bit to entice you:

My reading of the effect of camera angles is grounded in apparatus theory, specifically Jean-Louis Baudry’s essay “The Ideological Effects of the Cinematographic Apparatus.” Baudry argues that the cinema embeds meaning through the camera’s very method of representation. It transforms discrete images (frames) into movement and continuity; the viewer forgets that the apparatus is present. By contrast, the camera in Heavy Rain is jarring and disruptive, which is especially evident through the use of quick cuts during fight sequences. While this is a standard cinematic technique, Heavy Rain takes this to another level by dedicating the L1 button almost entirely to changing the camera angle. This speaks to the significance of camera angles in the narrative design of Heavy Rain, not only as a heavy cinematic influence, but also to the way in which it impacts agency.

There’s a lot of stuff to be said and read about Heavy Rain, but this is definitely one of the more interesting ones. Here’s the link to the full article.

Finally, here’s my review of Zombie Driver. It’s not bad, though I neglect to mention the game’s interesting quest/regard/time passage mechanic, which is quite similar to that used in Dead Rising. It’s basically GTA 2 with hostile zombie hordes, and it’s way more fun than it has any right to be. Plus, those timed quests really are interesting. Here’s an excerpt:

There are so many ways to wreak havoc: hit the turbo button, then throw your car into a power slide, and watch it cut a perfect arc of bloody death through the already dead. Maybe guns are too ostentatious; maybe you’d rather drive as close as possible to the exploding zombies. As you drive by each one, they’ll go off, destroying all zombies nearby, possibly setting off a chain reaction with other exploders. Exor Studios made sure each of these possibilities is as visually violent and tactile as possible. Different zombies make different noises when they attack you and when you run them over. Each gun has a distinctive sound and look, and (of course!) each weapon kills zombies in a childishly pleasing and different way.

So yeah. Go read it, maybe? Here!

Finally, in non-RotG article related news, I’ve a Metro 2033-centric piece up at Game Set Watch. It focuses on the things I wish Metro 2033 had really been about (something I touched on in my review). Here’s a bit of it:

In a game that looks like a scary corridor shooter,  a game whose most common enemies are hard to kill and take an inordinate number of bullets to fell, scavenge-centric survival horror gameplay can be incredibly frustrating. Of course, this scarcity of resources, when combined with an almost overpowering enemy force, creates a powerful atmosphere of danger. Yet Metro 2033 isn’t just content to communicate the horrible conditions everyone in Moscow lives in. They do one better and make combat in the game a pretty horrible experience.

Here’s the rest of it!

That’s it. I apologize for this giant link-dump/article roundup. It’s a bit lazy, but since I’ve been writing so much for these places, I haven’t had time to throw something up on the blog, which seemed unfair. So there they all are, the fruits of my and my comrades’ toil. Until later.

Posted in Analysis, Articles, Reviews | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

News: Rules of the Game Opens!

Posted by deckard47 on April 20, 2010

This is not us!

So, the super secret thing I was telling you about is this: Rules of the Game.

It’s a new site whose direction and design were conceived by SimonFerrari, a site which mixes critical games writing, commercial reviews, and academic games-centric writing and theory. Bobby Schweizer, Mariam Asad, Tom Gibes, Ben Medler, and (bien sur) Simon make up our academic writing crew. Ryan Theodores is our Events specialist, and myself and Andrew Smale make up the critical writing crew (though that list is bound to expand). In fact, you should head over to our Writers page and just look everyone up, because everyone who writes for or on Rules of the Game is awesome.

It’s an exciting new thing, and I think I’ll let Simon speak for me here (on what the site is about):

RULES OF THE GAME is a collaborative effort between game studies academics and game critics dedicated to an understanding that the expressive power of games comes directly from their rules and how players interact with those rules. The academics on our team are graduate students in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Digital Media program, established upon the idea that in order to criticize one must know how to design. Our critics come from a wider range of backgrounds and focuses—from narrative design, to cultural studies, to genre studies, to photography, to game history, and on and on.

I’m terribly excited about this. I’m excited to be working with some really awesome people, and I think it’s going to be a place where I can write really fun and interesting stuff, something I enjoy doing, despite appearances. I’m even more excited to see how all of the different pieces shape the site as we move forward. I can only imagine what interesting, fun things we’re going to explore. There’s already some cool stuff up on the site. Ryan talks about Fathom and Queens, while Simon has two pieces up, one is his critique/pseudo-defense of Final Fantasy XIII, and the other is his analysis of Orbient‘s art style. Finally, I have a somewhat positive review of Metro 2033 up. It’s a tasty set of articles, if I do say so myself, and there will be more and more soon enough.

That’s it, really. I’ll probably post regular, weekly updates (here) listing cool stuff from Rules of the Game, for those who may be interested. I’ll close by parroting Simon a bit: this site is going to eschew as many bad habits and preconceptions as possible (or as we are comfortable with). We’re open to reviewing and analyzing video games, board games, card games, board games, or any other kind of game you can throw at us. We’ll cover whatever it is, and we’ll cover the hell out of it (in a totally clever way), or as Simon puts it “you can be assured that we will always respect your efforts.” Until later.

Posted in Articles, News | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »