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Ludonarrative Dissonance, A Discussion.

Recently I was made aware of the term ludonarrative dissonance in relation to video games. The term generally refers to the gameplay not reflecting the narrative of the game. This is often brought up as a negative in video games. The reason for this post is for me to explain from my point of view, the relevance and influence that the ludonarrative dissonance issue has, and should have on games.

An example of this can be found in the video game GTA IV, where the protagonist of the game states he does not want to kill anyone, however the player is able to kill random people almost immediately. This goes against the specially crafted game narrative. Another example of this is in the Assassin’s Creed Games, where you are able to kill an infinite number of City Guards in any number of locations, without fear of narrative consequence. My first experience with Assassin’s Creed, actually went against the narrative completely. I spent my first three hours of the game killing what I thought were enemies. In fact these NPC’s were in actuality the main protagonist’s guild members, his closest allies. The game however gave no consequence to my actions.

A game which was designed around the problem of ludonarrative dissonance is the “Dishonored” video games. The game features a character with supernatural abilities designed to give him the ability to kill those who wronged him, however the games narrative reacts negatively to this. If you play the game as it was designed to be played you are given a negative ending, meant to scold you for your actions.  Having played the game, I was often annoyed with this aspect, finding myself unable to have the true fun advertised in the game, such as variety of ways to fight enemies. Instead I found myself sneaking around stuck with using sleep darts and choke holds as the only available option to defeat enemies throughout the game.

Having thought hard about gameplay vs narrative and reflecting on my own experience of ludonarrative dissonance, I have come to the conclusion that, while effective in creating a more immersive experience, ludonarrative dissonance should not come at the cost of gameplay features. My reasoning behind this is that the narrative of a video game is merely an accessory. What makes a game innovative, is first and foremost is in its gameplay. The most memorable games out there are the trend setters. The Mario’s, the GTA’s, these are the games that people remember due to their innovative gameplay.

Now, I am not in that camp of those who are obsessed with the gameplay and no story. I in fact, hate to play games without a good narrative. I often find them boring and unengaging. A good example I can think of are two video games in the same franchise, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Call of Duty Black Ops 2.  The Call of Duty Franchise has received massive hate due to their lack of innovative gameplay, in that logic if you’ve played one Call of Duty (after Modern Warfare) you have effectively played them all. However, personally I love Call of Duty Black Ops) but much to my own surprise hated its sequel. I have finished both games narrative and spent many hours playing their online modes however, in many ways I very much detest the sequel. The gameplay is almost identical, however In Call of Duty Black Ops 1, I was hooked on its story. I loved every twist and turn and found myself questioning the narrative throughout (in a good way). It had a profound effect on me and still influences my taste and expectations of video games. Its sequel however, I detest. While it might be a minority opinion I felt that the story was lacking and rather boring. While writing this blog I wrote a lengthy piece on why I thought this was the case, but I felt that it derailed the point of the blog as a whole. To me, the narrative is the icing on top. Sometimes is superfluous, other times it elevates the cakes quality. However the foundations, in this case the gameplay is far more important. Call of Duty is the most successful video game franchise, based on raw sales numbers. Clearly someone enjoys the same gameplay year in year out.

For me personally, there is nothing more frustrating in a game, then when your gameplay is suddenly restricted.  Often times this is due to the demands of the narrative over the gameplay. Sometimes it can be used in order to add an extra layer of difficulty, as used to be the case about ten to fifteen years ago, but mostly in modern games it is used in order to serve the narrative.

Admittedly it would be strange to play a game where the narrative implies that the protagonist is a Gandhi like character while the gameplay implies that he is in actuality a mass murdering psychopath.  I am not saying that this should be the case at all. There should be a connection between the narrative and the gameplay however, the narrative should be moulded around the game.

The uncharted series received a lot of flak for having a protagonist who is portrayed as a charismatic, all round nice guys, who kills hundreds, if not thousands of people per game. In response to this the developers intentionally reduced the number of enemies in their latest game in the series. I would argue that this is not the way to go, as in my opinion, it reduces the amount of content in the game. At the same time though, they too acknowledge that they should not restrict gameplay in order to satisfy those who demand this aspect to be recognised in their games.

The Assassin’s Creed series use the narrative to its advantage, using the idea of the game within a game type scenario to excuse any bugs or glitches in the game, as being a part of the game’s experience.  While this might be somewhat of a cheat, in my personal experience, I found that it actually helps with keeping the player invested. Even if suddenly a characters face model disappears. Well almost. This narrative aspect did not come to a cost of the games overall experience. While as previously mentioned, the narrative conflicts with the gameplay in other aspects, this particular use of the narrative to enhance the immersive experience is particularly well done.

Just to finish, I would like to point out there are popular and well received games that lack a story, such as the original Star Wars Battlefont games, Minecraft and Terraria. These games focused on the gameplay over any sort of narrative. While a narrative may have been a great addition to these games, it was not necessary.

In conclusion, while admittedly having a game where the narrative does not conflict with the gameplay is preferable, the narrative should not hold all the cards and restrict the gameplay.

 

References;

  • Naughty Dog’s response to Uncharted criticism

http://wccftech.com/naughy-dog-ludonarrative-dissonance-uncharted-4-flashbacks-part-original-pitch/

2) The origins of the term ludonarrative.

http://clicknothing.typepad.com/click_nothing/2007/10/ludonarrative-d.html

3)

Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft Montréal, Ubisoft, 2007

4)

Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Treyarch, Activision, 2010

5)

Dishonored, Arcane Studios, Betheseda, 2012

Other links

For an article on the positives of video Game story telling see the articles on the following websites:

The Girl with the Yellow Beanie

Pixel Peyote

 

E-literature – A look at the Creepypasta

Following on from my previous post about Pepe the Frog, I had developed a fascination with user-generate content on the internet. I wished to discover more content created by web users and ,in conjunction with a recent lecture in college about e-literature, I decided to focus on user-created stories written online. E-literature is literature that stems directly from the digital medium. The biggest genre that came to mind was that of the “Creepy-pasta”.

A “Creepypasta” is an internet slang term used to describe a short, gothic, horror-esque story written by generally amateur writers on the internet. Many stories echo similar themes found in gothic writers such as Edgar Allen Poe. “Creepypasta” gets its name from another internet slang term: “copypasta” . These were copy and paste stories that individuals use  to post around the web, often as their own. The Creepypasta is closely tied in origin to memes, with some stories coming from popular meme caricatures. In addition, Creepypastas are often spread in a similar mannar.

One of the first Creepypastas I read was “The Smiling Man” , which was written four years ago. The story is told from the first person view of the storyteller, about a chance encounter they had one evening five years ago. While walking about the city late one evening the writer meets a strange man, who had a unnerving-cartoonish grin. The story was originally written by the Reddit user blue_tidal and was posted to that website. The story received a lot of attention from the internet, beginning with people doing “Spooky” readings of the piece and posting their reading online, eventually going as far as to inspire a group of people to make a short film entitled “2-Am” based on “The Smiling Man”. This Creepypasta managed to capture the imagination of an innumerable amount of people. The creepy, unnerving tone, alongside the possible ring of truth in the story(as purported by the creator) and the relatable scene enticed readers in the myth of “The Smiling Man”.

The Smiling Man from LetsNotMeet

When talking about Creepypasta’s, it is would be impossible to ignore the most famous Creepypasta of them all, “The Slender Man”. The fictitious being known only as The Slender Man is depicted as a thin, faceless and murderous individual dressed in a black suit and tie. His notoriety led to the creation of several video games, as well as a film and more. The are numerous stories and myths about the Slender Man, and each user gives their own spin on the character.

slender

Tragically this Creepypasta (and Creepypasta’s as a whole) made its explosion in fame due to a traumatic event. A young girl American had been viciously stabbed by her two friends in 2014. The girl survived the attack, but the two girls who attacked their friend claimed that their attack it was in the name of the “Slender Man”. The vagueness of Creepypasta verisimilitude can be seen as driving force behind this attack. Since then, the popularities of Creepypasta as a whole declined. It’s a clear example of the power of story telling, as well as the importance of ensuring that children see age appropriate content.

However, Creepypastas allow for diverse and rich storytelling which is unlike any other form of short story, due to their copy-right free nature. It is possible for anyone to write one or to take an already existing one and adapt it. It can be seen as a digital word of mouth camp fire story, which slight changes in each telling.

References:

1 www.reddit.com/r/LetsNotMeet/comments/rvzaq/the_smiling_man/

2 www.reddit.com/r/TheSmilingMan/comments/13szkh/i_wrote_the_original_story_the_smiling_man_just/

3 https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/27/slender-man-stabbing-wisconsin-girls-tried-as-adults-appeals-court

4 http://www.creepypasta.com/frequently-asked-questions/

5 https://www.google.ie/trends/explore?q=creepypasta

Pepe The Frog: Racist Or Comedian

On September 12 2016, one day after the 15 year anniversary of 9/11, the Clinton presidential campaign decided to strike back at those in the world who are intolerant. The moment of mourning had past. On hillaryclinton.com, an article was released. This brought the world’s attention to a horrendous symbol of hate that, unbeknownst to many, had been plaguing the internet for years. This symbol, which represents hate, supremacists, bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism, is known as Pepe. Pepe the Frog.

Who is Pepe? Well unlikely as it is that you are unfamiliar with this now infamous icon, given the current surge of media attention the Frog has been getting, I feel that it would be unprofessional to leave out Pepe’s origin story in this post.

In 2005, 25-year-old student and aspiring artist Matt Furie, created a web comic which he released via his MySpace Profile page. This series featured various anthropomorphic characters, none more famous however then Pepe the Frog. These comic were based on low-brow humour, with a satirical centre on life. When Furie created the character, he could never had anticipated what the internet had in store for his little green friend.

Image result for pepe memes feels badman

Feels Good ManUsers of websites such as 4chan, took an image of Pepe and a caption saying : Feels Good Man. Over the years variations of this image has occurred, most noticeably a sad Pepe with the caption Feels Badman.

Pepe became one of the largest Meme sensations, such as Wojack or the current Harambe memes. A meme is mostly a still image with a humourous caption. The caption is usually out of context with the original intent of the image and the caption be applied to numerous scenarios. Sites like dank memes often times Image result for pepe memesdictate the current trend of memes. Currently crusader memes are very popular. A popular trend of Meme’s are “racist memes”. In reality the majority of these memes are satirical and are not intended to offend. Well not to be hurtful anyways.Image result for crusader memesImage result for crusader memes

It is due to the fact that Pepe’s likeness has been reused in a multitude of different scenarios has led to some individuals believing that the poor frog is a criminal. A symbol of Nazism.

Pepe’s original meaning has been perverted, much like the Swastika before it. Or has it? The anti-defamation league of America certainly has. This is an organisation in America which aims to protect Jews from antisemitic comments. Pepe has been added to a list of hate symbols on their website. While the post admits that it is the context that Pepe is used in is what is racist rather than Pepe himself, the organisation decided to cast a large blanket over the situation and in a vast sweeping decision, any use of the Pepe the Frog meme is a form of hate. The post features images of an altered Pepe made to look like hitler, as well as racial stereotypes. However it is difficult to take the image of Hitler seriously and it is difficult to see how an individual could find this image Racist.

The YouTube channel ETC News goes into more detail about this.

ETC News also mentions a Twitter account which many articles claim is that of a leader of the Alt-Right movement. Jared Taylor Swift 🐸 (@JaredTSwift). In his bio, Swift describes himself as “Prominent white supremacist. Bad memes. Holocaust survivor”. Finally Swift also mentions that, and I quote “*PARODY ACCOUNT*”.

We need to make meme Pepe into a Nazi icon so that SJWs stop using him. This is our greatest task.

ducknaziOnce again this is a satirical post. The idea of a cartoon frog being a symbol of religious hate harkens back to the humourous cartoon of Donald Duck saying “Seig Heil”.

Is Donald Duck a racist? Should we ban Donald? No, this was a parodic cartoon. And in much the same way, most Pepe memes are as such.

Pepe the Frog is just a crudely drawn Microsoft Paint cartoon Image result for donald trump racist memecharacter. And that’s probably giving him too much credit. Pepe is not what people find offensive. Its memes. As I said earlier a meme has a caption. Most of the time it is the caption
which is racist

Other times a meme features an altered image of the original design.Image result for racist gandhi meme
Image result for pepe racist

With enough time and effort any symbol can be shaped into something different.
untitled

An image itself is not racist. It is like saying a gun is evil. It is just a thing. And it is what people do with it determined the character of the person rather than the object. Admittedly there are somethings such as a swastika which is a symbol of pure hate, a meme is not. A meme is a parody. It is not a serious statement. It is not a declaration of war. While it is unfair on those who are offended by such memes, the solution is not to say that Pepe is racist. There are many memes which  are inoffensive and  humorous . Out of all the memes out there, it seems strange that it is Pepe many are rallying behind.

Image result for pepe funny memeA lot of the humour behind the racist Pepe memes is based around the humour image of seeing the usually innocent Pepe in a Racist surrounding. He is not inherently racist, unlike say those crusader memes, which are mentioned above. Nor is he based on an antagonizing figure such as the Troll meme. He is a sad Frog who the world has turned against.Image result for pepe funny meme

 

 

Image result for pepe vs hillary

At the end of the day Pepe is a cartoon Frog. To suggest that he is a symbol of hate seems rather inane. Also given the importance of the position Ms Clinton is running for, it would appear to be a rather unimportant issue, given larger real world problems going on.

References:

Anti defamation League:

http://www.adl.org/combating-hate/hate-on-display/c/pepe-the-frog.html?referrer=https://www.google.ie/#.V_J_8PkrLIU

Who is Pepe

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/pepe-the-frog

http://knowyourmeme.com/blog/interviews/qa-with-matt-furie

Hillary Clinton Vs Pepe

https://www.hillaryclinton.com/feed/donald-trump-pepe-the-frog-and-white-supremacists-an-explainer/

ETC News

https://www.youtube.com/user/MachinimaETC

V.R. in Gaming

What was praised and commended repeatedly at the start of the year, V.R. has become a minor player in the larger gaming industry. Originally, V.R. was depicted as the next stage in gaming, a revolution in the way gaming is thought of and played. Surprisingly enough, V.R. has not become the industry innovator that many had initially hyped it as. It appears that V.R. will end up suffering the same fate as that of motion controls and the eye toy. As of August 2016, the gaming streaming service steam calculated that roughly 0.18% of their users own a V.R. head set. A significant factor in this development is the price of any worthwhile V.R. set. An oculus Rift costs about $599(or €537), an HTC vive costs about €899.00 and PlayStation V.R. costs €399.99. Admittedly, PlayStation V.R. has yet to be released, however going off numbers based off the steam survey it is apparent that not as many people are willing to fork over so much money on an accessory that could turn out to be a part time gimmick, with a lack of content. Perhaps it is because consumers have been stuck by a similar product in the past, the Nintendo Wii. This console became one of the bestselling consoles of all time. You would be hard pressed to find an individual who did not own this machine. However its follow up console, the Nintendo Wii U failed in sales comparison both with its predecessor and with its contemporary consoles; the PS4 and Xbox One. The main selling point of the Wii was its “innovative” motion controller gimmick. It appealed to the casual gamers, hence why it sales skyrocketed. However, the Wii lacked the same amount of content that was readily available on other consoles of the same generation, and it was due to this lack of content, people didn’t return to buy the Wii U. Perhaps it’s because of this past event that people have become more wary of the gaming accessories they buy. Currently the main time of games available on V.R.s are scenario games. These games often lack the replay ability of other games, being one note in design. It’s perhaps the lack of innovative, new and worthwhile content that is currently holding back the V.R. . Currently it appears that players prefer to play their games in third person.

References:

http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey

http://www.vive.com/eu/product/

https://www.gamestop.ie/PlayStation%204/Games/46341

https://www.statista.com/statistics/268966/total-number-of-game-consoles-sold-worldwide-by-console-type/

https://shop.oculus.com/en-us/cart/

http://vrgamesfor.com/list/

Analysing the Data Visualisation of The Aeneid by Virgil

voyant-main-paste-box

For my final assignment for DH1002, I wish to analyse the ancient Epic, The Aeneid, by Virgil.

In 30 B.C. the final civil war of the Roman Republic ended, and with it the Republic herself. Octavian became Emperor Augusts, and ended a century of civil war. Aside from securing the future of the Roman Empire for years to come, the end of the civil war created a revitalisation in roman culture and literature. The period became late known as the Augustin age. Many poets of the time owed direct patronage to Octavian, such as Ovid and Horace. However the most prolific and most influential work of this time was ‘The Aeneid’ by Virgil. This epic poem was commissioned directly by the Emperor himself. Virgil set out firstly, to glorify the ancient and noble heritage of Rome. Secondly and more importantly, the main objective of the piece was to unite the peoples of the Roman Empire. This was necessary in order to achieve stability in the Roman provinces and to prevent another Civil War. According in part to the poem, one need not be from Roman to be a Roman. One needs only to live their life under Roman ideals. While writing his mythological historical epic, Virgil took a lot pf information from the more ancient Greek texts of Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey. The protagonist of the Aeneid is Aeneas, a Trojan prince mentioned in the Iliad, who proceeds to go on a similar voyage to Odysseus in search of a new home for his peoples. He eventually arrives in modern day Italy and is, allegedly, the direct ancestor of Romulus, the founder of Rome. In this sense Virgil sees Rome as the successors to the ancient city of Ilium of Trojan Empire. Most importantly, Aeneas is seen as a Roman, despite not being born in Italy.  While the piece does take information from the aforementioned Homeric texts, the character of Aeneas is different to that of Odysseus, due to the fact that the Romans disliked Odysseus and his wittiness.

The Aeneid is a way to discover what the key aspects of Roman culture, and cultural attitude were at this time.

By using the digital tool, Voyant-tools, I was able to quickly see which key words were repeated throughout the text. Due to the fact that I used an English translation, the translator naturally used different words in order to maintain the poetic form of the piece. In this regard, some words may not appear as often as in the original version, but certain words will remain more prominent like the original.

Putting aside the word, “shall”, the most prominent words in the piece are “arms” and “war”. It is through these words we see that violence is an integral part of Roman Values.

dh1002 visualisation

We can see here how these words are related to each other and complement each other.

Other key word include words that are more centred on religious wording, such as fate, gods and Heaven. This is another key aspect of the Roman way of life, honouring the gods. It can be interpreted from the piece of the overall significance of religion in the state of Rome. Especially when backed up with these visual aids.

The third most common word in the piece is Trojan. Give the context of the piece it is not farfetched to supplement this word with Rome. While there are separate mentions of Rome in the piece, given Virgil interpretation that Rome is Troy’s successor, when the word Trojan appears in contexts such as loyalty to Troy and Trojan brothers, it is clearly meant to reflect Rome, as well as when but in context with the previous mentioned prominent words to do with violence and religious worship, it is evident that Virgil is referring to honouring the gods, by fighting for Rome.

The rest of the prominent words all follow a similar trend of violence or that of religion.

In the lectures for the course, often we covered several data visualisation tools and techniques. A lot of them appear to be superfluous, such as a poster of the text of the novel “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. The poster itself only revolution was that the lines of the texts left a large space which had an image of a man and a woman fending off zombies. The point of these new tool is to find a new way to read, to add a new layer to the texts that we see. Voyant-tools, in some ways, offers a summary of the piece of literature. You can quickly pick up the key words and themes of the piece.  Unfortunately however, these more beneficial tools only work in conjunction with having read the full text, in order for the reader to fully appreciate the texts for what they are. They more as a mean to analyse a text, not as a substitute way of reading and appreciating a text.

The Business Exploitation of DLC

As a gamer who grew up in the age of the PlayStation 2, the concept of DLC (Downloadable content) exited me. The concept game that my experience with a game could be expanded upon and improved, without needing to purchase an entire new game, was what a lot of people wished for. However it appears that as the years go by, that DLC is actually a curse to gamers everywhere rather than the blessing.

Unfortunately for me, the PlayStation 2 did not have an in built network adapter, and so DLC was not available on the console. It was only after I bought the 8th generation of console, the PS3, was I able to purchase DLC for the games I owned. The bonus material was fun, however never seemed like a necessity for the games, or for a game to be good. I felt like the best kind of DLC was for a game that was already complete without it.

This is bonus material that can be purchased to add extra content to your game. A good example of how DLC content can vary is the DLC for the Video Game “Red dead Redemption”. “Red Dead Redemption has had two types of DLC. The first was called “Undead Nightmare”, an addition of an entire new story, with new enemy types, weapons, character skins and game modes for multiplayer. The game offered a new experience for the player in terms of story and gameplay. This type of DLC is often regarded as the best type of DLC, as it continues the game with the implementation of new features and gameplay experience. However, another DLC pack for Red Dead Redemption is the Liars and Cheats DLC. This DLC adds multiplayer improvements, adding poker and liars dice to multiplayer as well as new gang hideouts and hunting grounds. What is wrong with this DLC is that it feels like something that was left out of the main game. Players were already able to play poker and liars dice in single player. What would have been so difficult to add these mini-games to multiplayer originally? The addition of new gang hideouts sounds promising, however, if playing online, only one person needs to have bought the DLC for the hideout to start. This does not seem fair to me to the person who bought this extra content that everyone is now allowed to access it. What was the point in buying this extra content if some people can access it for free?

The game “Destiny’s” DLC, most notably “The Taken King, was designed to be unfair to those who had not purchased the new DLC. The taken King ended costing twice the amount of the two previous DLC, at $40 upon release. The Taken king was not included in the Season Pass or the Expansion Pass. It also made some original material in the game locked for those who failed to buy the new game. When first published the DLC was included as part of a new copy of the game, forcing some gamers to have to buy the game twice

Some DLC is just there to unlock material that is already available on the disk like “Street Fighter X Tekken”. When something is available on the disk there is no reason why it should have to be paid for again. The whole point of DLC, is that the content is newly downloaded from the internet. DLC is not supposed to unlock items which are already owned and already paid for on the disk.
The latest and most prolific game to do face condemnation for their DLC exploitation, is EA latest video game title, EA’s Star Wars Battlefront. Like most people my age, I am used to a game being complete when buying it. However EA has offered a season pass costing €50, for game that costs €60. Basically in order to get the whole Battlefront experience, you have to buy the game twice. There is also a strong likelihood, the material offered in the season pass is not worth the price of another game.

How can we value DLC though? What makes one game worth more than another? One view is that the more expensive something is, the more quality and quantity it should, however quality is interpreted by differently people differently. This scenario is similar to what occurred in the music industry when iTunes was introduced. All music was made to coast 99 cent. However how is that fair when some music costs more to make than others? Well its not very fair to the industry, however it was the only way for people to stop pirating music. Even though they have scince raise the price to €1.29, I feel that the idea is still there and that it can be reapplied to the video game industry. In this respect, one way to stop business from exploiting people is to have DLC priced maximum at a low price, maybe around €5. Main games are already accepted to only be 1t most €60-€70 euro, why not cap the cost of DLC? This way if business wish to make more money from DLC, they will have to produce more content in order to justify a separate DLC pack, or they will have to break up their DLC into smaller bits, this way consumers can more effectively purchase the type of DLC they want, without having to pay €50 in order to discover that they do not enjoy the DLC. Hopefully this will help highlight how exploitive some DLC packs are, as often the quality does not match up with the price.

Sources:
Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games, Take 2 2010
http://www.rockstargames.com/reddeadredemption/
Jeremy Jahns, “Why I Refuse To Buy Star Wars Battlefront!”:

Cinema Blend:
http://www.cinemablend.com/games/Why-Disc-DLC-Bad-Crime-Gamers-Make-It-Out-48109.html
Machinima – Inside Gaming:

Prices for Star Wars Battlefront, EA 2015:
http://starwars.ea.com/en_GB/starwars/battlefront/buy
Angry Joe, “Star Wars Battlefront Angry Review”:

iTunes Pricing Article:
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/making-sense-of-apples-itunes-new-prices/?_r=0

Warfare 1917 – Flash Game Review

With Adobe no longer supporting flash, I thought now would be a good time to review one of my favourite flash games, Warfare 1917.
Warfare 1917 is a flash game that came out on September 19, 2008. The game was developed by ConArtists and published by Armor Games. Warfare 1917 is also available on many sites such as Kronegate and AddictingGames.com. The game itself is categorised as a World war One strategy game. The game offers two campaigns, each nine missions long, with the German campaign being locked to only ArmorGames.com users. As of December 2015, the game has been played over 39 million times on ArmorGames.com with a 95% approval rating

Historic Setting:
As the name suggests, the game is based during the First World War on the western front. The game deals exclusively with trench warfare, and different types of weapons in use at the time.

Simple and Accessible Gameplay:
In terms of gameplay, the game succeeds with its simplicity. The objective of each mission is to get at least one of your units to the other side of the map, where the enemy units spawn in. Upon reaching the other side of the map, you win. Another way to win a battle is to deplete the enemy moral, by killing enemy units.
The game does take some strategy in terms of choosing the right units, depending on whether you wish to defend or attack, and how to deal with enemy tanks. The HUD in the game is very simply laid out as is its menu screens. The game also allows for a lot of replayability with the use of the custom battle mode, which allows players to set the game rules and redesign the map.
The gameplay is simple yet addictive, and as the campaign progresses does become more strategic and compelling.

Great Visuals and sounds:
The artwork of this game, helps to capture the feel of the Fields of Flanders during the war, such as the barren trees and the smoke off in the distance. The units are pretty detailed, each with their own design. The death animations are also particularity well animated, as is the explosions and bullets effects.
The intro music to the game is fitting of the times and sets you in the mood. No music plays during the battles except for a victory. The units themselves are often heard giving orders to each other such as “let’s go men” or “forward”. They also shout when enemy artillery is incoming, such as mortars or gas, and is the only way of Knowing of an artillery attack before it hits. The sound effects for weapons sound very realistic, with different types of weapons having different sounds.

Annoying game restrictions:
The game is designed to only allow three units of men into a trench at any one time. This does not account for the amount of men in each unit, as some units only have one man, while others have six. Also it is impossible to have your units retreat, and if they are walking towards a trench that is full, they will more than likely be killed if alone. The campaign also lacks any type of narrative, with the main focus being on gameplay.

Conclusion:
The game is simple and addictive. It has superb artwork and sound. Its simplicity in design allows anyone to access the game. While the disadvantages mentioned are annoying, they do nothing do take away the enjoyment of the game and add a layer of complexity to it. For a game with no restrictions is only fun for a couple of minutes before you get bored. The game is free-to-play, yet is actually of better quality than some console games. It is an excellent feet of achievement, and is a game that any fan of flash games should play.

 

References:
Adam Clark Estes, Adobe Is Finally Killing the Flash Name, gizmode.com: http://gizmodo.com/adobe-is-finally-killing-the-flash-name-1745473766
Warfare 1917, Armor Games: http://armorgames.com/play/2267/warfare-1917

Twitter Essay Critical Response #2

 

Once again as part of our Digital Humanities course, my class and I were required to write a “Twessay” about as specific topic as detailed by our lecturer, Donna Alexander, in a tweet:


When discussing the future of storytelling, people often refer to the introduction of the digital medium as the evolution of narrative. However, just because something is in digital form, does not make it an innovation. For example, there is very little conversion from books to the digital form. An analogy of this would be watching a movie on a VCR tape, before converting to a cd. Just because the medium on which the story is viewed has changed, does not mean innovation or evolution has occurred. The way we know that something has changed is when our experience with said thing has been altered. In this sense the future of storytelling is not in that of eBooks, but in that of interactive storytelling, most notably that of video games.

In my “Twessay” I brought my thoughts on the future of story to the forefront of my essay:


For centuries we as a race have heard stories been told. Now with new technology we can interact with these stories, often turning them into games. This new interactive element makes storytelling more engaging and compelling to individuals, who feel that they are more important to the story than ever. Video Games like “The Walking Dead”, “Mass Effect and the more recent “Until Dawn, are all examples where the games ability to allow people to interact with the story has propelled the games to massive popularity.  I truly feel this is how storytelling has evolved the most in recent times, and will continue to evolve and become more and more interactive with their audience

I feel like my sentiment for the future of storytelling is echoed in Patrick O’Toole’s “Twessay” when he writes:


Similar to myself, Patrick recognise the importance that interaction with the narrative has on the future of storytelling. However, while he does recognise the obvious benefits that the new digital age has for these stories, Patrick says that it is not the tools themselves which are causing the evolution of the art, but the way they are used. Patrick also includes a link to the website “Interactive Narratives” which is a website which collects interactive pieces written by journalists across the globe in order to highlight their work.

In another interpretation of the title, Senan Clancy in his “Twessay” discusses the way storytelling as a whole has benefited from the introduction of the internet and the impact of the digital age.
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Senan outlines how storytelling is becoming more accessible to people and spreading more rapidly to individuals across the wold. The digital age also ensure the survival of the stories due to the intangible concept behind these stories remaining online forever for the future to see. This is an evolution in another way, one that ensures the continuity of storytelling for generations to come.

So while the internet plays a crucial role in the evolution of storytelling, including the protection of it, I feel, it is the interactive side of storytelling which allows for evolution to take place.

References:

  1. Donna Alexander’s Twessay: https://twitter.com/americasstudies/status/665120041894060032?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
  2. My Tweet:                   https://twitter.com/LukeJohnCrowley/status/667398082217250816?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
  3. Patrick O’Toole’s Twessay: https://twitter.com/paddykoolster/status/667330344106987520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
  4. Senan Clancy’s Twessay:  https://twitter.com/senanclancy/status/667375563905114112?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Anonymity

In the past, for a person to use their real name while on the internet was viewed as dangerous and extremely unsafe. Nowadays, it is common place, and it is rare that website would encourage the use of ‘nicknames’, ‘pseudonym’ or usernames over that of a Facebook account, twitter account or some other non-anonymous account. This gradual evolution towards the point where your real life and your internet presence merge together, seems like a gradual evolution, but posting your private details online is not an advisable action to take.

However, as the lines become blurred between reality and the internet, it is difficult to see a future where being Anonymous on the internet will continue to be a common method of identity. With the emergence of famous internet celebrity’s, younger people are deciding to use their own names just in case they too achieve stardom.  But this is more than just individuals using their real names, companies are actively encouraging people to put their entire lives out on the internet for the whole world to see. Personally I wouldn’t have a Facebook account if it wasn’t for job opportunities.  This shift in attitude is detrimental to the security of all.

This topic came to the forefront back in 2013, when Google attempted to force YouTube users to use their real names on YouTube. The backlash was so vicious and negative, that it wasn’t long before Google reverted its policy and allowed for Anonymous postings again. The reason for this is the fact that many people posted unfriendly, and otherwise offensive, comments on YouTube, and they were placed in a very exposed position.

It seems that to some people at least, Anonymity is the safest route on the internet. Personal security protection is extremely important.

Recently an English student named Grace Marr had her Facebook photos used on a sex website. Similarly it is estimated that around 2000 Irish students who have had their picture’s stolen and used on porn sites as well.

Humorously the television show, Dave the Physic displayed how easy it is to find someone’s personal information on Facebook. He used this information to trick people into believing he was a physic, by being able to speak about private details about their lives.

The fact is, people are becoming more and more carefree about the way they use the internet. Privacy has given way. Using Facebook to keep in contact with friends and family is very appealing, however once something is posted online, it can never be deleted. There is no reason why a person should disclose their home address on the internet or private facts about their lives.

Anonymity is the safer way to use the internet. It protects you and your family. It allows people to express themselves easier and post their opinions online. As no one knows anything about you, racism and discrimination is avoided. While cyberbullying can still occur, it would be less specific and personal to a person.

Remaining anonymous allows for a safer and a more secure use of the internet.

 

 

 

 

References

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/16/youtube-trolls-google-real-name-commenter-policy

http://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/more-than-2000-irish-schoolchildren-have-had-images-stolen-by-porn-sites-700997.html

http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/weird-news/students-facebook-photos-stolen-advertise-4634205

http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2012/10/19/sharing-too-much-itll-cost-you/

Evolution of language and the use of Emoticons

“Hwæt! We Gar-Dena   in gear-dagum.” [1]

I wonder how many people can read, or even recognise this quote. It is from, indeed, one of the most famous poems ever written. In Fact it is from one of the oldest, if not the oldest poem, written in English. But how does that make sense? We speak English, do we not? I for one have spoken it all my life. Yet I too cannot understand this line from the poem Beowulf. Yet it is English. But how is it possible that the language that we speak today, is not the same as it was a thousand years ago! English is, like everything, always evolving and changing. Over the course of history many cultures influenced the language of English, from its Germanic and Latin Roots to the Norman invasion, which lead to the incorporation of many new French words. The British Empire was also once the largest empire in the world. Only 22 countries in the world have not been invaded by England. The language has encountered thousands of other cultures and languages. In contemporary history, English has been changed by colloquialisms by youths across the world. “English” as we know it, is not as we know it.

The introduction of new words such as selfie and twerk, all suggest that language is a living breathing thing. Other examples include affectionate terms such as homie, brav or bae.  New words are constantly being invented. Often there are nay-sayers who refuse to accept these new words as being words. It is felt that you cannot make up a word. There are rules to languages, which cannot be altered. This is of course, a load of nonsense. The only reason that grammar and structure was applied to languages is so that people can fully understand each other. It was not a royal decree or against the law. It was done to improve communication.

So if the English language is subject to change, then are not all languages? And if all languages are able to change, is it possible that they could all change in the same way?

The “invention” of the emoticon, has allowed for, more accessible ways for people to express their tones in text. For example, when saying that someone is being sarcastic on television, the subtitles often follow the sarcastic sentence with a (!). However, after using this symbol in text messaging, I quickly learned that people did not understand me. However, a symbol that people do understand is someone smiling: :),  or one of a person crying: :’( . As humans we are able to read other people’s faces, as they often reflect our own. By using an emoticon, I am able express my true feeling of the incident, without explicitly saying it, or hoping people could sense it. I can make my point clear and concise so that anyone could understand it. Other newer emoticons are often inanimate objects. This still has the same effect as the Smiley Face. Often it is the certain emotion felt with an object, or a memory. These symbols help accentuate the language as a whole. Of course there are some odd ones, which perhaps not everyone understands, but perhaps it has a significance to certain people. The emoticons allow the text to become more alive. It gives the written word a personality. This personification of language is a huge advancement in communication, the future of language and text. The emoticon has the ability to transcend languages and culture, because everyone knows what a smile means.

People who suffer from dyslexia and autism, and other disabilities, often face difficulties in expressing themselves in text. This is where emoticons are shown to be extremely advantageous. People with learning disabilities can find it easier to express themselves in a picture rather than a word. And perhaps this is not a bad thing, just another, perhaps better, way of communicating. UTV Ireland recently published an article about Rob Laffan who recently invented a text message system to help communicate with his daughter who suffers from non-verbal autism. Using pictures, Rob’s daughter Sadie is able to associate pictures with her own expression. This is just one practical use of using images to express emotion. [2]

However it is not the first time word has been written in images. Hundreds of years ago the Egyptians used hieroglyphics to write. Just like modern emoticons they used images in order to express sentences. That’s great! This means that emoticons can work as a language! But why does it no longer exist? What is it that happened that caused these beautiful pictures to become warped lines? It rather simple really, not a lot of people can easily carve a flying eagle the size of a pea into a stone. The Latin alphabet won over due to its simplicity in use, containing twenty six symbols called letters all in similar style, twisted versions of a straight line.

However with computers now becoming the main form of writing, perhaps there is no longer a need for such dull lettering, perhaps it is time to go back to the ancient times and turn writing into a visual art as well as a written one. Perhaps, this is the future of writing, after all anyone can write down two dots and a bracket. This new method of communication, is the future, and is something that should be embraced not obstructed.

The main question with the future of the emoticon is in its use. It can be cross cultural, not taking any meaning from any one pre-existing language. It is a remarkable new invention.

However, people are now trying to make this remarkable invention its own language, with explicit meanings behind certain emoticons .Indeed it may end up, one day being a fully-fledged language. We can see examples of Emoji poetry and Stories told in emoticons.

However possibly, this will change emoticons from its original intent. Emoji’s will become another more colourful code. It will have lost its uniqueness. We will have lost a new ground-breaking method of communication.

 

 

References:

[1]http://www.csun.edu/~ceh24682/beowulf.html

[2] UTV Ireland: http://utv.ie/News/2015/06/10/Text-system-helps-child-with-autism-to-communicate-38809

 

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