Themes in video games are something we tend to talk less about, although almost all games explore some theme in one way or another. As a way of encouraging more direct investigation, I focus on a particular game – Outer Wilds – and explore the theme of loneliness as presented through its various elements.
Revisiting an older essay on balancing in single-player games, I examine Elden Ring. I talk about some of the key lessons the game tries to teach you about what to expect…and how the game still winds up running into some problems in properly balancing its encounters.
Ubisoft has decided to pull the plug on Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, the flagship title for its recent foray into NFTs in video games. And so I revisit my earlier post about these NFTs as a supplement to the argument I made back then: that these things are awful for video games.
World design is a complex topic in video games. The objective is ultimately make a world that accomplishes a large number of tasks simultaneously. In this essay I explore one of those tasks: the feeling of “realness,” as captured by the player’s ability to intuitively understand that they can explore the world.
The ability to watch people play games on the internet has given us the opportunity to forge all sorts of communities. But in engaging with these communities there lie several problems, and one of them is the urge to be “helpful.” In this essay I explore how the desire to help others can be counterproductive, and some ways in which we can address these problems so that both players and viewers can have a more enjoyable experience.
Have you ever played a game that had a gigantic enemy? Do you remember how satisfying it felt to take down? What exactly is the source of that satisfaction? In this essay, I examine some of the reasons why fighting enormous foes can be a particularly fun experience, and how it can potentially go wrong.
Games demand a lot of our time and energy. And with the other demands in our life – and the sheer number of games out there – it is normal for a lot of players to get help in figuring out how to play and complete games. In this essay I explore the use of guides and the concept of “authenticity” when approaching video games, and how the use of guides fits more largely into how we engage with video games as a medium.
With the latest Destiny 2 expansion, this seemed like a good time to step back and look at some issues relating to storytelling in online games. When a game is designed around players continually repeating content endlessly, how does that impact the narrative that players are told?
Do video games need to be fun? This might seem like an odd question, perhaps one that has an obvious answer. But the question hides a problem of defining just what it means to “have fun.” And so in this essay I explore that problem and how it relates to talking about video games.
When you play a game, you’re always controlling a character. You know that, but how often does any player really think about that fact? In what ways could a story remind a player of that fact? In this essay I explore how video game narratives can incorporate a player’s interactions in a form of meta-storytelling that can go beyond the constraints of mere plot.