Horror games have long had a problem with the “horror” component. The reliance on a very particular form of horror – the jumpscare – has been the primary mechanic for spooking players. In this essay I examine some aspects for how a different form of horror – a form of tension or dread – can be evoked within a player instead.
Worldbuilding is a complex task, and an easy trap to fall into is to overexplain things. In this essay I explore how it is possible to overload a player with information, how it can occur, and the effect this overloading can have on players.
We all have games that are old favorites. The games we grew up with. But how do we look back on those games? How are we supposed to engage in criticism of those games, given both the age of the game and what the game itself means to us? This essay explores some concepts of criticism as they relate specifically to older games, and how problems of nostalgia can impact our ability to discuss these games.
This past week Ubisoft announced that it was going to leap into the NFT craze with its new “Quartz” program. In this essay I explore what this announcement means, why Ubisoft is doing this, and how the program fits into some broader tactics of manipulation in marketing targeted to separate players from their money.
Combat in video games generally has some kind of flow to it. That flow is different from game to game, but as we play through we start to get a sense for whether a game is quickly or slowly paced. But useful in thinking about a game’s flow is how defensive systems encourage or discourage certain player behaviors.
In video games, evil is generally represented by a specific villain. We focus what is wrong with the world on a “final boss” that simply needs to be defeated by the hero. But this focus on villains means we miss the impact of systems on our lives. What would it mean, then, for evil to be represented through systems in video games, rather than through a mere villain?
In talking about games, especially difficult games, we can run into the concept of “legitimate play.” This is the idea that only specific types of interactions with games are valid, and any experience that does not fit within those interactions can be disregarded or ridiculed. But in this essay I want to examine in more detail why this concept is wrong, and how we should be more careful in distinguishing what we mean by “the right way” to play games.
We generally experience stories through the lens of heroes. Great people who do great things. But that experience influences our understanding of social relationships, emphasizing the importance of the individual. In this essay I explore that influence and how it fits into the history of philosophy.
Money is pretty much universal in video games. You need money to buy various things, like swords and armor and potions. But the existence of money – and how it is acquired – reinforces social concepts about what it means to have money, and those concepts stand in need of closer examination.
The task of balancing a game is something that can feel easy in the abstract. Just make sure that there’s nothing that’s “too strong” or “too weak.” But in this essay I will explore how the abstractness of balancing hides an incredible number of smaller factors that make the process of balancing quite difficult, which means we should expect failure more often than success.