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  • impynickers 9:22 pm on July 10, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy,   

    So I decided to defy stereotypes and enter a relationship with a real person, and I am finding that the pool of games that are girlfriend friendly are smaller than I may have initially percieved. Ms.GF is a little inexperienced, though not opposed to learning. I sense that shooters are a little too shootey for this one. My attempts to finally play and validate my ideas surrounding the Syndicate remake were met with complete and utter disinterest. You should see me wringing my hands trying to figure out which games to expose her to first. We started with Little Big Planet 2. Worked like a charm. She was slapping me and dragging me into pits of spikes in no time.

    I think the first major step is to get her exposed to the 3D camera in most modern games. I don’t know where to start with that one. I feel that there are some serious game literacy lessons I want to impart, but I don’t want to come off as too preachy. Any suggestions?

  • feenwager 2:00 am on August 22, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    The trick is to toe the right side of the line between, “It would benefit and enhance your enjoyment of the medium if you had these experiences in your pocket” and “ur totes lam3 4 not plyng teh haloz”.

    Canon, for me, is shorthand for the former. Will I shun you if you haven’t played the Infinity Engine games? Of course not, provided you’re able to intelligently discuss whatever it is that you’re into. There isn’t going to be a John Milton of games, and if there is, he’s an impossible nerd that probably stinks so badly of stale Cheetos that you wouldn’t want to be around him.

  • unmanneddrone 1:35 am on August 22, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    @cgrajko A great analysis. I agree entirely. Canon also seems to dredge up the worst in unyielding fanboyism, which in turn feeds into the damage against smaller devs and perpetuates a culture – a fair amount of the time – of not taking as many risks as one should in a creative medium. I don’t think we see that as prevalently elsewhere as we do in the gaming industry. I suppose it’s only been a recent occurrence where the console market has seen a renaissance of interesting and non-sequential titles appear, Limbo, Braid etc. – that kind of artsy intellectual property being the domain of the PC indie set for a long while.

    Is it a case of games still being part mechanic – so control and interface familiarity is key in not alienating those already “in the know” – and part holistic product iteration? The notion of tweaking and refining an experience based on successive releases?

    Good rundown, though. Really enjoyed reading that.

  • RocGaude 12:59 am on August 22, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy,   

    @sinfony Very nice find. I think I’ll use the Complete ’09 mod as long as it plays nice with the Steam version.

    @cgrajko Great point, Calin. Thanks for throwing down an alternate perspective. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  • ckim 12:34 am on August 22, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    I’m glad that the Game Literacy topic is being as well received as it seems to be, particularly since it’s a topic pretty close to my heart. I probably have a different perspective on the topic of canonization than many of you, so I will do my best to make my thoughts concise and easy to follow. I have a lot of thoughts on Game Literacy itself, but I want to start with the idea of establishing a canon for games, which is likely more political than a lot of people realize.

    The notion of canonicity is bullshit. It’s garbage, and I would go so far as to say it’s actively harmful in the disciplines that adhere to some semblance of a canon. It is, of course, true that some games are better and more worthy of attention than others, but most of the games being discussed are from the last 20 or so years. I think that we’re still a little too close to see exactly what matters at the moment and twenty years is nothing in terms of developing and conceptualizing the framework for discussing the merits of an entire art form. There are, of course, games that stand out and are more worthy of attention than others, but I would caution people against using the rhetoric of a canon, because it serves to be more limiting than enlightening as has been pretty thoroughly demonstrated with attacks on the canon of English Literature over the last 50 or 60 years.

    There are a few reasons that I disagree with establishing a canon, and most of them are probably pretty obvious. The first reason is one that’s been touched upon numerous times in previous discussions: what does it mean for gamers who have not played a certain title? I’ll use a personal example here, since there are a few big games on the lists from the podcast that I haven’t played. I haven’t played Super Mario World in any depth. Does that mean I’m unable to discuss it? If so, why? I’ve watched other people play it, and I’m certainly aware of the cultural importance and significance of Super Mario to many gamers. At what point is being familiar with a game an acceptable substitute for actually playing a game, particularly when playing a game is serving the function of providing literacy?

    My biggest gripe with a systematic and rigid canon is probably the most obvious one: whose interests and values are being represented in such a canon? I think this is a particularly valid concern in an industry that is predominately white and male in the US and ridiculously, overwhelmingly male in Japan, not to mention the burgeoning dev studios in Eastern Europe and other traditionally marginalized areas. A canon tends to obscure artists on the periphery, which is precisely what I see happening with the lists that were made on the podcast as well as the lists that tend to show up when magazines get bored and do shit like “the 10 most important games… blah blah whatever.”

    Anyway, this has probably gone on long enough. Game Literacy is a much larger topic as a whole, and I plan to share my thoughts, but I have quite a bit more to say about it than I do about the canon.

  • simmiemac 11:27 am on August 20, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    I’ve just finished the Game Literacy section of the podcast, great discussion guys!

    You touched on it briefly, but I think it’s worth expanding on – videogames have a practical barrier to them that movies and books don’t. You have to actually play a game. You have to be able to translate the actions on a joypad into the actions on-screen.

    If you’re talking film literacy then it’s driven by content. The content of a film is way more important than the way in which it’s made. You don’t really have to teach someone how to watch a film or play – it just happens without any input. My dad can watch a movie without knowing how to work Avid, or Final Cut, but he can’t play a game without understanding play mechanics. To get to the stage at which you are appreciating the content of a game you have to have mastered the mechanics. That level of interaction is what makes games fun but it’s a huge barrier to entry. The games you list for literacy are good ones, but what’s missing are games that teach you how to play games.

    I think you need to be eased in to literacy, baby steps.

  • unmanneddrone 12:03 am on August 20, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Dwarfs, Game Literacy, ,   

    @beige Yeah, the architecture thing appears to be a more apt parallel. I think it does away with a lot more of the high-brow fluff and pomp that doesn’t stand up to outsider scrutiny, though the crusaders for legitimacy throw up as reasoning – for better or worse. If described as creator interpretation-turned construct – a veritable artificial playground (undoubtedly a pejorative term for the Eberts and such, perhaps a cementing of the “it’s a juvenile pastime” defense) or a recalculated bento of stylised space-time (bordering on super-stretch?), then I think we’ve got a nice little piece of techno-business that will befuddle the dinosaurs and tantalise the newcomers.

    Although, this legitimacy cry is, of course, a tiny section of dynastic change. We’ll laugh about those curious old days when the cultural relevance of the medium was questioned and challenged.

    @feenwager In honour of the new SoS format, I shall go sans pantaloons for as long as possible today. You guys really were on fire on the podcast. Utterly loved it.

    Oh, I threw this at the wonderful @angryjedi last night, but for anyone interested in an arcade-style Delve Deeper/Dungeon Keeper/Badman-esque Dwarf management sim (we’ve gone Dwarf-crazy here, it seems!), there’s a free open beta for…

    Dwarfs Open Beta Deluxe – http://bit.ly/9HOoAM
    Indiegames.com Preview – http://bit.ly/as5grr

    According to the site ( http://bit.ly/9Mo2YC ), ““Dwarfs” is an arcade/strategy game set deep underground. Your goal is to explore a vast, randomly generated dungeon, while at the same time protecting your home town from harm.”

    It’s good fun, and has a charming sense of humour. And free, so nobody can say no. Unless you hate dwarves…and that kind of discrimination went out of vogue a while back.

  • cptcarnage 4:20 pm on August 19, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy,   

    I agree with your assessment that you don’t need to have played all the games from the past to appreciate what there is now.

    I just don’t think that kids today (say 8-15) would get anything before the SNES (well except for Mario). Heck in a few years time if you said a game is not 720p they will scoff. SNES seems to be where controls/gameplay/story really came together, don’t get me wrong I love old NES games but I don’t think you could get someone who wasn’t there at the time to appreciate them. You could call it the 16-bit wall (or 8-bit wall).

    Little background on me, my grandfather played the Gold Box DnD games, which I still own ;-), including Eye of the Beholder and Pools of Radiance on 5 1/4’s. He was the main reason I started playing games, I watched him work through Dragon Warrior (Got it through Nintendo Power) and it clicked for me.


  • impynickers 3:44 am on August 19, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    @Myself HOWEVER, the caveat here, to my objection to a ‘legitimacy’ of appreciation due to prior conditions of literacy. To be hip, or jive with this here gamers culture. To cultivate ‘refined’ tastes … as one might call them. To understand what its all about, I would say prior knowledge is quite necessary to get all the buzz. It seems evident that we are a form of social club with the purpose of savouring the taste of fine vidya games. This taste comes from a vast field of prior knowledge and appreciation.It does come down to opinion, but in the same way some like their wines bitter or sweet. An in-exact science, but with fine delicious results. I guess I take issue’s with the concept of ‘legitimacy’ or ‘relevance’ in these matters , but mutual appreciation establishes a form of personal legitimacy. I guess.
    To a budding young gamer looking to refine his tastes, I would say …. look into your heart Jim, or Joe, Dean or Jeff … you really don’t have a name. This is a hypothetical situation. So how could someone without a name possibly have an opinion about video games? Thats just silly. Now wake up. Just wake up.

    I was half asleep when I wrote this. Rambling is my thing. To bed with me.

  • impynickers 2:40 am on August 19, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    Anyway, my last post got convoluted. To surmize : I don’t believe someone needs necessarily a back cannon of video games to appreciate what is essentially a contemporary hobby, with a fairly brief and recent history.

  • bowlisimo 2:06 am on August 19, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    A cup of tokens at Funspot in NH will catch your student up to about 30 years of arcade/pinball games in one day.

    If you’re into the classics, the upstairs in that place is pretty amazing. Some dude watched me suck at Missile Command. I forgot what having an audience was like.

  • impynickers 12:27 am on August 19, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    Anyway … Here we go.

    Game Literacy, outside of subjective critique, as I see it, can be broken into at least 3 sub-categories.

    The cultural influence of a game. The hidden element of knowledge that gamers share, and understand.
    (See any Scott Pilgrim reference)

    The technical knowledge a game bestows. (Game’s follow a basic design pattern depending on the genre, If you aquire knowledge from one key early games in the genre, you are most likely able to transfer the knowledge to other more modernized examples of the genre.)

    Aswell as creative influence, on gamers and on future games.

    Most “relevant” games tend to hit these marks.

    Super Mario (The king of gameland), being more recognizable by todays youth than Mickey Mouse,
    has an iconic standing. As you are no doubt aware. With him, 8-bit culture is immortalized and has become an integral part of ‘gamer cred’. Not to mention that his games have reinvented the platform genre twice,
    and introduced a system of movement, jumping, and points collection that have been mimicked in countless
    games since. If someone was serious about understanding games, where else to turn?

    The concept of game literacy, does come with a large dose of personal preference.
    I could tell you that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is irrelevent for you because you have never heard of Doom, but that is just simply not the case. Call of Duty may owe a large part of its scenario design to Medal of Honor, but to play Medal of Honor beforehand wouldn’t really give you anything tangible. It is actually less intuitive, less refined, and less interesting. Some games are just islands to be appreciated individually.
    Moreover, the creative influence of most games are ripped from film. So it is hard to establish a solid line to and from a game. Even when you try to pin down a single influence over modern control schemes, there was a leap to 3D camera control that we all had to learn painstakingly. This has become a price to entry, and no one game can just hand you that skill. It was earned for all of us.

    The ‘Gamer Cred’ I talked about earlier, is probably the only established hierarchy of games. Its also a social phenomenon. The purist mentality states that ‘you don’t know shit if you have not played X Y Z’.
    Taking things at face value just doesn’t cut it. I would state that modern fans of Bioware RPG’s, that have not played the previous Infinity Engine games, are missing out. I feel that the previous games satisfied me more fully. I haven’t been able to convince anyone though. People aren’t as patient as they once were, and gaming tastes are different now. Perhaps modern Bioware RPG’s are the best for modern gamers.
    You see the philosophy popping up here.

    Before I draw this out into a 15 page essay, I better just throw down a list of relevant games.

    Diablo, for reviving the RPG genre. Then making us all into loot whores.
    Half -Life, as both a innovator in the FPS genre, and a platform for modding communities
    <3<3Warren Spector <3<3 not a game, but I would plow him.

  • impynickers 10:57 pm on August 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    @Feenwager that is where magic happens dude. Nothing is funnier than a serious conversation with poop thrown in.

  • feenwager 5:23 pm on August 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    @redswirl well…that certainly explains a lot.


  • zegolf 10:28 am on August 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: Game Literacy   

    Things that I would make my student play?
    1) I have to agree with Super Mario World. It’s a great representation of Mario who is, for all intents and purposes, the figurehead for games past, present and future

    2) I would also have to list a Civ game, but I have a feeling that I’d list Civ V, when it finally comes out. Great series of games, and playable by just about anyone.

    3) I would pick Earthbound. I think it’s a great RPG for anyone, no matter what their age, to pick up and play. It introduces a lot of typical RPG elements without over-RPGing them and requiring an advanced knowledge of RPG’s to play. It’s also a lot of fun, and kids would love the colors and shapes and flashing lights.

    I might (although I hesitate to think this) even suggest WoW. If for nothing else, WoW would be an example of how a video game can be mainstream. WoW really does hold an influence over every type of media. Hell, even Mr. T plays a Night Elf Mohawk!

    I’d make the bad kids play E.T. for the 2600. I owned that game. Might, still, actually. OH! And I also played both Faxanadu and Crystalis.

    And finally? Great show, guys. It’s nice to have it back on my RSS feed.

  • Pete Davison 12:43 am on August 18, 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , Game Literacy, ,   

    SquadCast 2.1 Hot Shit audio http www squadronofshame… 

    SquadCast 2.1: Hot Shit

    Direct link

    Welcome to Season Two of the SquadCast! In this episode, Chris, Mark, Pete and Jeff explore web adventure The Curfew, discuss the concept of “gaming literacy” and brand a selection of things “Hot Shit or Horseshit”.

    Music in this episode:
    The Squad’s new intro music courtesy of Mr Jeff @feenwager Parsons.
    First interlude: The Painkiller from Painkiller Black.
    Second interlude: Baba Yetu from Civilization IV.
    Ending: Bust a Groove from Bust a Groove.

    Hot tags for discussion following this episode will be “Game Literacy” and “The Curfew”. If you’ve got thoughts to share on some of the things we’ve talked about, please use the tags!

    Play The Curfew here if you haven’t already.

    Above all, enjoy! Have a happy Wednesday, everyone.

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