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Lola's favourite finds July week 3

My favourite finds for last week all show signs of an industry turning inwards upon itself, examining its own core and casting back a reflection of a heart that has started to beat to a different tune. Could it be that the rattle of machine guns, larger than life characters and adrenaline pumping action is no longer what satisfies the seeking gamer? Have we had our fill of AAA titles? Have our gaming pallets changed?

I am noticing a subtle change within the psyche of the Gamer. This thrills me beyond expression; my toes are curling with delight and anticipation. Have a look with me at these exceptional articles, and drop me your thoughts in the comments section below.

Up first is an article that intrigued me so much, I went and bought the game, played it in one sitting, and as the final credits rolled, I started looking for the next episode.

I Was Looking For a Game That Starred Empathy. I Found it Behind All the Zombies. By Kate Cox on Kotaku.


“The Walking Dead is, in some ways, one of the hardest games I have ever played. It's not that a high level of game-playing skill or timing are required. The difficulty comes from being required to make a choice when there are no right or wrong options. You just met stranger A and stranger B at the same time, ten minutes ago. Now, they're both in danger and you're in a position to save a life—but only one life. How do you choose? For a game to put us in a position where we can feel its characters souls, we must understand when and how they would feel merciful to others. A game that looks seriously at empathy, hope, faith, life, and death—and that actually makes the player examine the concepts, rather than paying lip service to them in cut-scenes alone—is the kind of game I hope to keep playing more of.”

The second piece went all out by boldly declaring that YES, gamers are desperate for a new genre. We want to play games that allow us to experience aspects of the human psyche which have mostly been absent in AAA titles.

Gone Home: Gentle Gaming Takes Aim at Shooters. Quiet exploration offers an alternative to gaming’s brutal death-parades. By Colin Campbell on IGN.    


“One of the gifts bestowed upon a grateful 2012 has been the rise of gentle-gaming, intellectually exploratory adventures like Dear Esther and Journey, tales with actual ideas. They float into our lives, thanks to busy little teams driven by a sunny desire to tell great stories. To contrast this slow, thoughtful wandering story with the “AAA” games we saw at E3 - intense, colorful renditions of gross brutality - is to stretch out one’s arms and feel, at each fingertip, the gap between two extremes of gaming, between the electric thrill of destruction and the touch-feely meanderings of more tender chronicles.”

The naked honesty and desperation of the author in this next article is a shocking eye opener. Here is a fanboy of the first person shooter, action genre, saying out right, that he has had enough of mindless action setting the pace for games.

In Tomb Raider, Hell Is Always Other People. By Evan Narcisse on Kotaku.


“My favorite parts of various Tomb Raider titles have always been the wide expansive vistas the games have taken me to, chock full of deathtraps or treasures and done up in the styles of long-dead civilizations. Swimming down to Atlantean ruins or shimmying on the ledge of an ancient Aztec ruin always felt more electrifying than another jump-roll-shoot gunfight with a bunch of generic thugs. The series' biggest successes have been in transporting players to the faraway and the mythic, and letting them comb through those environments. Whenever the murmurs of human voices floated toward me in the game, I knew that some fight would happen and that it'd take me from what I really loved about controlling Lara Croft. The big villains of the series have always been the worst kinds of scenery-chewers, too, mouthing off about power or destiny or riches and why they deserve it. Whatever. I want my solitude back.

My fascination with Indie games is no secret; I believe it is the womb that births the new experience gamers are desperately looking for. This next article features an interview a local journalist had with Indie developer, Benjamin Hill from White Paper Games studios.

“Indiedevving”Like a Baws: Benjamin Hill on Gaming and ETHER. By Yolanda Green on do Gaming.  


YG: What contribution (in your opinion) do video games make to society apart from entertaining?

Hill: “In my opinion video games have huge cultural significance to society on a variety of different levels. Yes they are used as entertainment but as with all games (not just video games) there are a huge amount of positive functions that can come out of problem solving, which is of course the heart of all games. Games can be used to address and explore academic issues allowing us to look at cognitive science and psychology from new and exciting angles as well as adventure into new ways of communication.   

The final article reads like a bucket of cold water thrown into the face of a shocked, suddenly trying to grow up, testorene pumped up, male dominated industry.  The interesting thing is, men are starting to join the conversation and question the work of their own hands.

Opinion: In the sexism discussion, let's look at game culture. By Leigh Alexander on Gamasutra.

We have a mainstream culture that doesn't represent what a mature, progressive audience wants to buy. It's not always a problem when this happens -- interesting, independent creation will always thrive on the fringe of any medium. But here we have a mainstream culture many healthy adults cringe at being associated with. It's not just good dumb fun: There's something sick about it.”

Closing thoughts

These articles all indicate that the gaming industry and culture has reached a place with enough critical mass to venture into the unexplored terrain of the mature psyche. We want more emotion, better choices, immersive stories, less eye candy and more accurate character portrayal. We have grown up. We want the type of games that  reflect the mind of the typical adolescent male, but also the games that reflect the thoughtful, sensitive and finer parts of our being. Dare I say, the feminine side ;)

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