All About terrascythe
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I've been told that I take games too seriously--a statement that I wont deny. I guess Breen Malmberg takes games pretty seriously too, because the gamer wrote Valve asking for a refund on the purchase of Bioshock Infinite. Apparently, Breen couldn't play past the baptism sequence in the opening stage of the game due to religious conflicts. It appears that Valve has refunded the money. It never ceases to amaze me what a person can accomplish through a polite email, Please and Thank You go a long way too. Personally, I choose to avoid Infinite for the time being due to issues I have with the game's recombinant take on history (a topic that I shall not discuss here).
Breen's actions remind me of a few times that I was so offended by the content of a game that I either quit playing, or begrudgingly continued playing while cursing under my breath. Although I've never asked for my money back because of these matters, I have returned games for a full refund on three separate occasions. The first game I ever returned was Metal Gear Solid for the Gamecube. The managment told me it was against company policy to allow refunds for opened new games, but I convinced them--very politely--that the salesman had mislead me by saying the game was all-new when it was really just a port of the original, which I had already played. I got all my money back.
The second game I returned was Just Cause 1 for the PC. The instruction manual clearly stated that you could crouch, however, the ability to crouch was completely absent in the controls. The merchant told me it is was against company policy to accept returns on new items, but once again I was able to express my point and they refunded all my money.
A few years ago I purchased Red Alert 3 for the PS3. The sound in the game was completely broken and I must have spent 4-hours alternating settings and the sound still never worked. As it turned out, this was a well documented problem for many players. Same story, I made my point politely and they refunded my money despite company policy. It never ceases to amaze me what a polite Please and Thank You can accomplish.
On rare occasion the content of a game has offended me. The treatment of the Boston Tea Party in AC3 comes to mind. I have deep seeded conflicts with the way that event was portrayed because the Boston Tea Party is one of the most well known non-violent protests in the world. The crowd calmly assembled, dumped the tea, and then quietly dispersed--AC3 turned it into a bloodbath. That didn't stop me from finishing the game, but it will stop me from purchasing future installments of the series.
The only time I've outright quit a game was in Dragon Age: Origins. In the early stages of the game there's a bloodletting ritual and human sacrifice. These are satanic practices and I didn't want any involvement. It has nothing to do with religion--there was no choice in the matter other than quiting and I'm just not that character. Fortunately, the game was a rental.
I don't like that Valve refunded Breen's money, it sets a bad precedent. I do like that at least one gamer is playing with a conscience, even if for self-promotion. It reminds me that one Irrational team member threatened to quit the game because of similar conflicts. Although Irrational reported that changes were made to the game and this person did not leave the project, I still wonder why any company would ever admit that their game was so offensive that an employee threatened to quit. Perhaps for free press.
I don't know if it's wrong or right, but my conscience inhibited me to return those games. I will never play Dragon Age again, but who knows. I may never touch AC or Infinite even though I'm curious. The main point to take away from this is: One man can make a difference Michael Knight.
With all the controversy over violence and sexism in the industry, This Happened and We All Let it Happen.
I'm practically speechlesss, if you don't want to watch the vid, you can read the article here.
When the Fun Stops--the Shame Starts
In 2009, the journal of Henry David Thoreau was released as a single bound copy. Clocking in at over two-million words, or seven-thousand pages, Thoreau's journal provides deep insight to the daily observations of a classic American writer. His journal may have never existed if not for some influential advice from friend and fellow writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson asked the aspiring young writer in the Fall of 1837, "Do you keep a journal?" Thoreau's first journal entry is dated October 22, 1837. Emerson's own journal clocks in at over three-million words and is considered by some to be his master work. For both men, journaling was an important practice of their daily lives and inspirational for developing their greatest literary works.
The practice of journaling is not just for writers, many professionals maintain a journal for the purpose of documenting ideas, inferences, and feelings related to the projects theyre working on. While functioning as a record of sequential information the journal also acts as a forum for complex ideas, a charrette of self-integrated consultation. There are many benefits to maintaining a journal including tracking personal progress over time. Journal entries are more than just ideas and feelings, they are reference points that can be used to gauge how much real progress has been made.
Journaling has seen a revival in popularity over the past decade. Although largely due to internet blogging, traditional forms of journaling are also reemerging. And some not so traditional. Its no surprise that journaling has crept into the videogame market relatively unnoticed. Developers are using journaling as a way to deliver additional background information within the context of the games characters. The Limited edition of Assassins Creed III includes George Washington's journal. The notebook reveals the truths and secrets about the Templars and Assassins during the American Revolution. Dr. Halsey's personal journal from Halo Reach is available with purchase of the Limited or Legendary copies of the game. The journal provides a unique glimpse into her personal relationships and includes several revelations from the Halo universe. This is just one method developers are using to provide a personal touch and to expand the gaming experience beyond the digital realm.
Digital journals have made appearances in several games over the past few years. I suspect they will have a strong presence in future games as the desire to convey background information continues and the need to track large amounts of data persists. Access to this data has pretty much always been available under different menu sub-headings like Stats, or Mission Objectives. But more recent games have taken the notion an extra step to include this information within the chronological, geospatial, and social perspective of the character.
The use of digital journals have become a mainstay in large adventure games, and are essential in managing vast quantities of game data. The Journal menu in games like SW: Knights of the Old Republic, or the Mass Effect series, are invaluable sources of information that insure the player can proceed from any save point with a clear vantage of progression and objectives. No matter where you are in the game, or how long it's been since your last play, the journal maintains a reference point and always answers the question: What are you doing now?
Games have established progressively more uses for digital journals, which provide a summary of where players have been, active missions, and recent accomplishments. The appropriately name War Journal in Gears of War fills this function. The War Journal mostly serves to track achievement progress, but it's also where Marcus Fenix stores all the collectables and photographs taken during his mission. The Journal sub menu in Red Dead Redemption is an invaluable tool that summarizes everything John Marston has done in the game including his recent conversations. The Journal is important because it displays in-game challenges and what needs to be done to complete them. The digital journal in the Witcher 2 functions the same way. Data and information regarding quests, monsters, weapons, characters, and locations are documented in the journal in additional to a summary of previous accomplishments.
In-game journals are extremely valuable to players in the medium and they function in a very similar way to traditional journals. Any stranger can read my hand-written journal and get a pretty good idea about my recent accomplishments, current position, and future objectives. Similarly, a complete stranger can load my saved game and obtain relatively the same information about my game progress from the in-game journal. In a sense, the player is writing a journal for their prospective character, and each journal will vary slightly from player to player depending on what course of action was taken
Occasionally, we actually get to see videogame characters use a journal. During the opening sequence of AC3 we listen to Haytham Kenway narrate his thoughts as he writes in his journal while traveling across the Atlantic Ocean. In Uncharted, Nathan Drake is guided by a series of clues found in the journal of Sir Frances Drake. The journal not only helps Nathan successfully navigate the puzzles he encounters, it's also pivotal in development of the plot. Drake's journal, in essence, manifests a personality of its own and maintains a crucial presence within the game.
Not to often the journal writings of real people are examined in order to develop a videogame experience. Development of Henry David Thoreau: Walden Woods [the videogame] began in 2012 and is currently still in production. Thoreau's book Walden and excerpts from his journal were used to replicate the geography of Walden Pond within an appropriate temporal context. The gameplay will attempt introduce a new genre in which reflection and insight play an important role in the player experience. If you're wondering how the experience of a man who thrusts himself into a habitat experiment can be replicated in a digital environment, you're not alone. What is clear: Thoreau's journal is the backbone of this game and it's being used in ways he never imagined possible.
Journaling has become a prevailing theme in videogames today. If Emerson had never encouraged Thoreau to start writing a journal--Who knows what videogames would never have been created. The importance of the practice is timeless and priceless. Does taking a quit walk through the woods sound like a fun game to you?
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