Interaction and Autism: How Games Help

As an educator, I have an interest in researching how video games can help us to better understand learning through interaction, play, and experience. Despite their often negative reputation for being a “waste of time,” video games still provide us with a unique medium of entertainment because they require direct interaction from the player. This aspect introduces a new dimension in how forms of entertainment and media affect us, especially in fields like medicine and psychology.

Continue reading

On Wolves: The Fragility of Ecosystems

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

Do you remember the game Okami? It’s a beautiful title that puts you in control of  Amaterasu, the Shinto goddess of the sun, who comes to earth in the guise of a white wolf. Throughout the game your job is to heal the world around you, giving life to plants and animals. It is, in essence, nature fixing itself. Okami was not necessarily created with the purpose of displaying the importance of biodiversity in ecosystems, but the wolf-like character affects her environment much like real wolves do in their natural world–so much so that they can actually change the geography of the earth underneath their feet. How is this possible? How can a single animal change a physical landscape? Ultimately, they change it through the fragility and natural balance of ecosystems. Continue reading

Infamous: First Light in the Right Direction

There was a point in time where I thought I was immune to the gender of a protagonist in a game or movie. The majority of games I played, unless an RPG that allowed you to build a character, presented a male as the quintessential hero. I didn’t mind. I was young and accepted it.

But a spark ignited when I first saw that Samus, from the Metriod series, was a female. Precipitously, this character meant so much more. For the first time, the vulnerabilities I often felt about being a girl were shed. 


Continue reading

2Player: Time to Get Hyped for Destiny

Without further ado, here is inaugural episode of Ryan Winslett and I’s new podcast hosted by Cinema Blend…. but it’s WRITTEN. Because why not check to see if people actually read anymore, am I right? This week’s focus is on Destiny:

There’s no denying that Destiny is shaping up to be one of the biggest launches of the year, set to arrive on PlayStation and Xbox home consoles on Sept. 9. The PlayStation beta begins this Thursday, with the Xbox crowd joining in on the fun just one week later. In other words, the whole world is about to find out whether or not the folks at Bungie, developers of the Halo series, are able to deliver on their promise to mix first- Continue reading

Clockwork Empires: Victorian Steampunk at its Finest

As I sat down to preview Gaslamp’s  Clockwork Empires, I was met by three developers feverishly discussing the Victorian era in all of its opulent historical background. CEO Daniel Jacobsen, Art Director David Baumgart, and Technical Director Nicholas Vining knew their stuff. As an English major I was enthused—sitting in a room of game developers who reminisced on reading Dickens and Tennyson—but I was more intrigued when they told me that all of this was inspiration for their game. Everything from canonical literature, steampunk, ludicrous invention, and even the occult were all used in the game not merely out of the idea of absurdity, but out of an actual historical mindset held in perhaps one of the most long-winded but fascinating literary periods. Continue reading

Conversations We Should Have: Bioware’s Manveer Heir on Diversity in Video Games

When I first started studying and writing about media and games, discussing diversity within the medium never crossed my mind. I was naïve in my idealism—complacent in ignoring the nuanced bread crumbs that would eventually lead to conversations we should all be having. But this changed when I began to attend industry conferences, a change elicited largely thanks to people like Bioware’s Manveer Heir (a designer currently working on the Mass Effect franchise).

Continue reading

Ken Levine’s “Narrative Legos”: A World of Infinite Replay GDC 2014

In a panel at this year’s Game Developers Conference, BioShock’s Ken Levine discussed his aspiring ideas on how to break the mold of linear narratives in game design. His goal? To create a system that allows for infinite replays. In other words, he wants to create a circle that remains unbroken…. without falling into the linear redundancy that he graciously admits games like BioShock often rely on.

Continue reading