February 22nd, 2014
Please fine NYMG’s official Twitch Stream at twitch.tv/nymg
This evening (Saturday Feb 22) from 4-6pm [edit, actually from 12:30-2:30] Alex will be Twitch streaming Hearthstone. Please join in and check it out!
This past week has been filled with a lot of gaming. No, not Lego Movie (because I beat that, maddeningly quickly). My new game is Hearthstone.
Hearthstone is a card game, much like Magic: The Gathering. However, it’s also completely digital. I’ve played Magic games online before, but there is a high barrier to entry that even though I’ve played games in person was too difficult to make online play enjoyable. Mix that with players who constantly spew racist and sexist remarks and website that warn users that this is not a game for noobs, Magic is all but dead for me, at least in its online version. However, Hearthstone takes the things I love about Magic and puts them into a simple, easy to learn but difficult to master, platform.
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February 21st, 2014
Episode 72: Lady Legs and Tentacle Monsters: What Will You Do for a Game? (“Save As” to download or head over to iTunes to subscribe)
The episode where we talk about the things that we are willing to put up with (or not) in order to play games. A fun and thought provoking episode.
February 20th, 2014
In the opening cinematic of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the titular character Claire “Lightning” Farron stands atop a clock tower, the glow of a fantastical city below her. She dramatically removes the sunglasses off her face, announcing her return not only to the fictional world that has progressed 500 years since her last appearance but to Square Enix’s Final Fantasy lineup as well. Although some question the necessity of turning their thirteenth major installment into a trilogy, I have a fondness for the Final Fantasy XIII world. With each additional installation, Square Enix has at least tried to incorporate player feedback, experimenting with different or modified elements from that of the previous edition. However while Final Fantasy XIII-2‘s changes were relatively tame, Lightning Returns‘ are large and drastic: an overhauled combat system, new open world settings, and the introduction of a time restriction element has resulted in a game that hardly resembles its predecessors.
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February 19th, 2014
In my recent Power Hour review on Broken Age, I wrote about the part of the narrative that interested me the most: the particularly obvious contrast between the main female character, Vella, and the other female characters. My initial play brought up several questions about the treatment of gender in a few early, but key scenes, especially the initial Maiden’s Feast scene in which all of the girls up for sacrifice are stereotypically labeled: “delish,” “fun size,” “up for grabs,” “drink me,” and “hot stuff.” In Episode 71, we questioned whether the treatment of these female stereotypes, typical in video games, was helpful or harmful. With the exception of Vella, these females up for sacrifice not only wore the labels, they acted the part. Is a critique on gender roles effective if the writer just sort of drops it in the narrative without much, well, critique? At the time I wrote the original post, I had only played Broken Age for a little over an hour, but this weekend, I finished the first act. I was hoping to gain more insight to the intentions or, I guess, possible repercussions of the game’s perpetuation and/or critique of the standard gender roles typically used in video games. But, as I continued through the narrative in Act I, I found more and more of what I would qualify as comments on the video game industry, each without accompanying critique and/or action that might help me determine the effectiveness or harmfulness of the narrative moves. Read more »
February 18th, 2014
Trigger Warning: This post quotes some racist, sexist, homophobic and inappropriate language and behavior, and discusses general trolling in online games.
“WHAT THE HELL you got raped”
“Looking for a female healer and dps for a holy lesbian orgy”
“if you liked sailor moon you also like anal penetration… and anal fisting”
“mah nigga mah nigga… mah muh fuckin nigga”
The above are just a few quotes from just one hour of chat in the game Rift. (The clips are from a Monday night, no less, when general chat is typically much quieter than it is on the weekends.) Most of the above quotes were ignored by players, but a few got responses that led to extended conversations. Responses, if there were any, ranged from egging each other on, to telling each other to shut the hell up. One player even responded with: “hey watch ur language young man how would u feel if ur mom was listening to how u were talking in this chat room?” But for the most part, it’s an “accepted” practice to see – and mostly ignore – these people, often referred to as attention-whores and trolls. Read more »
February 17th, 2014
Nothing makes me realize the power of nostalgia like thinking about the Coleco handheld sports games of my childhood (1976). In my mind there can never be a better game than the little football game that consumed so much of my time. While the graphic consisted of little blips of light that moved slowly and erratically up and down, back and forth on my screen it was a million times better than any other game that I will ever encounter.
Those games taught me not only the rules of football, but what it was to play an interactive, electronic game. Walkthroughs consisted of asking my cousins for help and Let’s Plays were watched totally over someone else’s shoulder. My Coleco handheld was my first. And it gave me a feeling that I can never have again no matter how hard I try to replicate it.
And that was the same feeling that I have always had about Final Fantasy VII. Many folks will say that FFVII is the best FF game in the series if not the best JRPG every. Great storyline, solid turn based combat system, and a diverse group of quirky characters. FFVII gave me my first RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury). It was a dark and beautiful weekend that involved huge bags of snack foods and a case of Mountain Dew. But that is a story for another day. In the years since the release of FFVII I have played countless JRPGs on various consoles and the PC looking for that experience once again. And don’t get me wrong I have have found some great ones Eternal Sonata, Persona 4 Golden, FFVIII, and Ni No Kuni just to name a few. And some of them have even held my attention for 100+ hours, but none have replaced FFVII.
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February 13th, 2014
Trigger Warning: the game about to be described (The Day the Laughter Stopped) and the content of this article discusses and addresses rape and sexual assault
An interactive fiction game – although in truth it more closely resembles an interactive narrative/fiction experience than what I’d personally define as a game – crossed my virtual path recently. Without any context it might seem odd that I speak of it as if it is an entity of sorts, but that’s because it seems inadequate to refer to something that left me with such a lasting impression as just a simple text-base game. The Day the Laughter Stopped, designed by developer Hypnotic Owl, was created to make the audience have this exact sort of reaction as it explores the senselessness of victim blaming and challenges ignorant and offensive assumptions of who a person “must be” to be a victim of rape. Although the game is grave, I highly encourage anyone who feels as if they wouldn’t be potentially triggered to play the game before you skip past the jump.
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February 12th, 2014
Looking for a game that can make you a better person? That’s one of the goals behind the upcoming game Nevermind, a biofeedback enhanced adventure horror game. The game works to teach players to manage stress and anxiety by monitoring the player’s heart rate. If the biofeedback indicates the player is scared or stressed, the game gets more intense, requiring the player to calm down to more easily progress through the game. As a huge fan of horror games, I’m intrigued. Although at first glance, the idea of the game getting harder as the player gets more frightened seemed backwards to me. I’ve played many horror games, and often find myself hard to scare. Generally, I’m happy if I can get a nice creepy feeling from a game’s atmosphere, but with the exception of Outlast, I can’t remember the last time a game scared me. (And, for context, I was playing Outlast in a big, empty building in the middle of the night, so I’m not sure if the game would have been quite as frightening had I been playing it on my couch.) My fear with a game that requires me to get scared before the game gets harder is that the game will be too easy, and I will be bored. I would be curious, though, to see if the game picks up on stress or tension levels that I’m not aware of or that aren’t necessarily indicative of my being “scared,” as I am more than sure my heart rate goes up simply when a game starts to get frustrating.
But, frustrated or scared, I can see the possible benefits of a game that forces you to manage your stress in order to progress. Reynolds and her team hope the game will help players learn to manage their stress and anxiety and that these learned skills will transfer over into real life, with players possibly realizing relief from symptoms of anxiety or post traumatic stress syndrome. The game received mostly positive comments in this review, although many commenters also expressed concern that the game might be too easy for those hard to scare. But, some commenters expressed that their anxiety is not a game. Understandable, and even though the developers describe the game as one that will possibly give players “tools to help themselves,” I imagine the developers intend for the player to be under a doctor’s care in cases of extreme anxiety disorders or, as the developers mention, post traumatic stress disorder. In this video, Marientina Gotsis, Director of USC’s Creative Media and Behavioral Health Center, describes how Nevermind could be used to create positive change through therapeutic applications:
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February 11th, 2014
Might & Magic X: Legacy is the much-anticipated tenth installment of the Might & Magic series. Fans of the game have had to wait more than a decade since the last title, so it had a bit of buzz surrounding its release on January 23rd. Because most fans of the series played the Might & Magic series throughout the 1990s, developer Ubisoft chose to wax nostalgic with this release, retaining a retro feel with Might & Magic X: Legacy, from its tile-based movement, limited budget graphics, and slow, turn-based play style that remains such a cornerstone with dungeon-crawling RPGs. With that said, Might & Magic X: Legacy is Ubisoft’s attempt to refresh the dungeon-crawling genre for contemporary gamers. And let me just say this up front: if you don’t like super difficult gameplay; strategic, slow, turn-based combat; and retro graphics, well, you aren’t going to like Might & Magic X: Legacy.
When you first launch the game, you’re given the opportunity to play in Adventurer mode or Warrior mode, depending on your preferred difficulty. I chose Adventurer because a) I’m a wimp and I hate to die, and b) I’d never played a Might & Magic game before, so I thought I’d test it out. It turns out that was a good thing because the game nonetheless still kicked my ass… but more on that later. Read more »
February 10th, 2014
I spent the entire weekend playing games. That is, the entire weekend after Samantha (forcibly) made me drink Fireball Whiskey on Friday night and I spent the next two days on the couch with a headache. This isn’t an official power hour review or anything, but I just cannot think about games right now without these two taking center stage. So, if you enjoy games, which I imagine you do if you found your way to our blog, there are my recommendations for how you should spend your evenings in the upcoming weeks.
1. Lego Movie (the video game)
I’m sure many of you have seen reviews for Lego Movie (the movie). The reviews are ridiculously positive across the board, which shocked me a bit because it’s a Lego movie. How good could it be? I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I have played the game. And it’s awesome.
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