Since my second portfolio our class has been more focused towards work leading up to and ultimately our term paper. The majority of our entries and interaction have been related to building a strong basis for our thesis and suggested revisions for our term paper drafts.
My entry on Bogost's Persuasive Games talks about some of the highlights of the books, including topics about politics, advertising, and learning. This book provided points of view that I had never really considered, and certainly introduced me to new genres of games that I had not really participated in. Political games are a genre that I have never actively participated in, nor have I really had much of an interest, but the book explained that they can be a powerful tool of persuasion. Also the educational value of games can be compared to any other medium, its all dependant on the way the author chooses to express those values.
Next was my Presubmission Report - Graphics Vs. Gameplay in which I researched potential sources, including quotes, that could be used for my term paper. This research helped provide me with a basis for my thesis, and also was a valuable tool in evaluating the amount and strength of the information available for my thesis. I thought this was an excellent activity and definitely helped prepare me for my term paper.
The following entry, which was my Annotated Bibliography required that I research sources in a more in depth manner. I used many of the sources from my Presubmission Report - Graphics Vs. Gameplay, but I also added several that I had found along the way through extended research. Feedback from Dr. Jerz challenged me to find more scholarly sources, rather than outside sources, to help to support my claim.
The combination of the previous two assignments brought me to my Online Presentation in which I provided a detailed, but brief introduction to some of the ideas that I wanted to include in my term paper. Interaction between mysefl, Dr. Jerz, and Darrell helped me polish my presentation to help make my thesis more clear and also to prompt a deeper understanding while conducting further research for my term paper.
I also had two entries pertaining to the game Fatworld. The first was my initial response to the game. I talked about my disappointment mainly due to confusing controls and displays. The game could have been a positive influence to consumers if it was able to more fluently approach the issues through gameplay. The next entry was my FatWorld Review, by Dr. Jerz in which I was able to share Dr. Jerz viewpoint on the game. It was another example of a game that "could have been" if only the author was able to sort of simplify the game and edit some of the faulty controls and display.
Participation among my peers was certainly a vital part of the course, from beginning to end. This last part of the class seemed to be a bit less interaction between peers and more suggestions for improving work. Each person in the class presented valid thesis statements that would be enjoyable to read arguments. Here are some examples of entries in which I have interacted with my peers and professor, or I have provided feedback or suggestions for my peers:
Brandon Gnesda, Online Presentation
Brandon Gnesda, FatWorld Review, by Dr. Jerz
Brandon Gnesda, Assigned Text - Ex 4: Article Analysis
Ashley Farmer, Online Presentation
Derek Tickle, Online Presentation
Darrell Kuntz, Online Presentation
In the politics section Bogost talks about the failures he encountered in his endeavor to create a political game that would involve gamers in the political community. He talks about his game the Howard Dean Game for Iowa, which receives a negative review. The game failed to create any sort of interesting deviation from other candidates, and so it was no an effective tool in promoting Howard Dean or his ideas.
The advertising section of the book was by far the most interesting in my opinion. The example of the Kool Aid game was a look at how companies used games to, for lack of a better word, exploit children to sell their product. Children needed to collect 125 proofs-of-purchase, which when we consider the amount of sugar needed to make 125 pitchers of Kool-Aid at 65 pounds, it makes me wonder if thats a healthy type of advertising.
The learning section of the book was also a very interesting part of the book. I especially enjoyed Bogost's discussion of Animal Crossing. The game occurs in real time, which coincides with the the users system time. Its the type of game that encourages family to explore the game together, but also teaches certain values. One particular task that the game provides is paying off the mortgage of your house. Learning to earn and save so that you can make payments is a skill that will most definitely be useful to children later in life.
Overall I think that while I had difficulties at times with this book it really presented me with some new perspectives on the gaming industry. It was definitely clear that games can be used for beneficial purposes such as education and, when done correctly, informing citizens on politics. Games also have a negative appeal as well, with advertising that can be considered questionable.
What happens next might also be familiar. That date finally arrives, and we make our way to the local BestBuy or electronic store that carries video games. After weeks of waiting the anticipation has reached its peak, as we purchase the game and venture back home to spend hours upon hours exploring this new world. As we start up the system we begin to play, greeted by that familiar feeling as we watch the opening cut scene once again take our breath away. As the scene fades we take control of the main character, its time to start our story and make our own history. We encounter our first adversary, only to be met with confusing controls, awkward camera angles, and perhaps AI that seems more like a three year old on the other end.
As someone who is a game enthusiast I have seen this too many times through my own experiences. I've made an uninformed decision on a game based solely on graphics. So this is where the debate ensues, Gameplay vs. Graphics, which is superior? Well lets first look at the beginning, where text-based games were the only form of video games available at the time. If the most important part of a game was its graphics how did such games enjoy success at the time? Game designers drew from their imagination in order to use words as the paintbrush on the canvas. As games progressed, visuals were provided for the user, but these graphics are by no means "pretty." Take for instance Super Mario Bros., voted the most popular game of all time by IGN IGN's Top 100 Games. If you read the reasoning behind the existence of this game on the list you find that nostalgia for a time when games had "an unwavering attention to play control and level design."
There are other games as well that have echoed the effects of a revolution. Take for instance Street Fighter 1, a classic that nearly any gamer recognizes. So why was this game so popular? Why, above endless other titles, did the particular game enjoy such high praise and immense social status? Well certainly graphics were not a part of the experience according to Benjamin Wai-ming Ng. Despite its "primitive program and character design and unsophisticated graphics, Street Fighter 1 won the hearts of the players with an innovative control system" Because the game was of the fighting genre storyline was a small part of the actual game, yet an amazing influence of a cultural revolution.
But do graphics then hold no effect on a video game whatsoever? Not at all. As Axel Strohm points out, the success of the game Tony Hawk Pro Skater may not have been with cell-shaded graphics that were utilized in Jet Set Radio. There really is no comparison for the two games, as Tony Hawk Pro Skater enjoyed larger scale success than other games of its genre. As James Newman mentions in his article "The Myth of the Ergodic Videogame" that as far as games are marketed and sold graphics are vital. So then we have to ask ourselves did people miss out on Jet Set Radio because Tony Hawk Pro Skater was visually represented in a better way? As mentioned in an article on pixelreview.net, "We all know that fundamentally it is the personality that will be the ultimate decider on whether or not you want to see that person again, but it is the initial way that person presents themselves visually that will be what catches your attention." The same applies to games, we see that commercial that just takes our breath away, but in the end the gameplay spoils our sense of what "could have been" in that game.
This particular book covers a wide variety of topics relating to video games from the past, present, and the future. More specifically I chose the section of this book that discussed the "Graphics vs. Gameplay" debate. Chapter 3, which covers this debate as well as the importance of setting in games, basically discussed my thesis directly. The introduction talks about the importance of gameplay, especially when games were limited by hardware. Also, it spoke about the movie industries attempt to move into the industry and its failed efforts. I have only explored this section of the chapter, mostly because the information was very supportive of my thesis. I look forward to further exploration of the source because I feel as though there is much more information that will be useful for my research.
How does it relate?
As I mentioned in the summary of the book this source shows direct support to my thesis that gameplay and storyline are the most important traits of a successful game. The introduction begins with strong support for my claim, and continues on to also stress the importance of the integration of both gameplay and graphics. I believe this source will help me build arguments because not only does it support my thesis but provides thoughts on the importance of utilizing both graphics and gameplay to create a successful game.
"Graphics Matter." 20 Mar. 2007. pixelreview.net. 19 Jan. 2008.
This article talks about the marketing value of graphics in the video game industry. The author agrees that gameplay is important, but stresses the idea that graphics help to make games initially appealing. He continues on to mention that the main problem with graphics is that they are not taking a new direction artistically. The author concludes by expressing the idea that games do not need to be over the top graphically, but rather subtle things are the key to standing out. The stress of this article was that a new art direction is needed in games, and that combined with gameplay is what really makes games successful.
How does it relate?
I chose this article because it provided a different perspective on the debate between graphics and gameplay. My goal through my thesis is to present the fact that gameplay truly defines a game, but also include ideas that integrate the two traits within games. I felt this article addressed the issue in a way that would provide me with both supporting ideas and opposing thoughts that would be useful in building an argument and presenting new ideas.
This was a forum though Play Magazine. The discussion in this forum was just as it states, the preference between graphics and gameplay. Users each posted their reaction to the question, each providing different insights on the discussion. The general consensus between the users was that gameplay is far superior to graphics; however, I chose the source for the sparse response that graphics are more important than gameplay.
How does it relate?
As I mentioned in the previous assignment it was generally difficult to find opposing opinions that gameplay outweights graphics. As I know that scholarly sources are the ideal avenue when researching for a topic; however, I feel that video games are certainly unique. The consumers are the force which determine the ultimate success of a game, and as such these opinions hold a heavy weight. Many people provide the same arguments, and this particular forum provided a valid counter to the idea that gameplay trumps graphics, something that I felt was an asset providing an argument to in my term paper.
This article used examples of games that most gamers find to be better than its next-gen counterparts, despite superior graphics. Gzz starts with a strong statement that he can prove that gameplay is superior to graphics through use of older games. He mentions the game Goldeneye, a game held near and dear to most gamers hearts. He explains that this game has enjoyed more success as compared to newer games of a similar format such as Goldeneye: Rogue Agent and A Perfect Dark Zero. He also mentions in passing the success of Sonic the Hedgehog over its newer title for Xbox 360.
How does it relate?
The bottom line is that this article uses examples to compare games with greater success though the graphics are of poorer quality. Another source I intend to use for research is a ranking of the top 100 video games of all time, in which many of the titles mentioned are not next-gen titles. I found this article to be refreshing for my research because it provided examples rather than details to express the importance of gameplay.
Research Vol. 6 Issue 1. (Dec. 2006) 19 Jan. 2008. http://www.gamestudies.org/0102/newman/
I used the section labeled "Beyond Visualism" from this article. Newman talks specifically about the game Tomb Raider. His goal is to help the reader understand that the importance of the game comes through interaction rather than appearance. Newman seems to associate graphics as a marketing aspect of video games, and believes that interaction or gameplay is the chief determinate of how "fun" a game is. He also talks about a generation that grew up with poor visual entertainment as far as games are concerned.
How does it relate?
This article directly supported my thesis statement as I was reading through the selected section. This argument will most likely be used as the main idea behind my thesis. Newman stresses the importance of interaction between a player and character, and also expands upon the idea, using observers engagement to the game. I believe I will use the example of onlookers who become involved in the game without even playing, and simply through the storyline and character relation.
Consumption Localization of Japanese Games in an Asian Context." The International Journal of
Computer Game Research Vol. 6, Issue 1. (Dec 2006) 19 Jan. 2008 http://gamestudies.org/0601/articles/ng
This article talks about the success of Street Fighter and its influence on the game industry in Hong Kong during the 1980s and 1990s. Ng mentions the overwhelming success the game enjoyed in Hong Kong, despite its "primitive program and character design and unsophisticated graphics, SF1 won the hearts of the players with an innovative control system." This game has created its own culture in Hong Kong, an influence that cannot be ignored, and vital to the history of video games.
How does it relate?
Ng references Newman's article about the idea of interaction above graphics. The article demonstrates the impact this game has had on society, despite its lack of high tech graphics. I felt that this was an enormous source of support for my thesis, the fact that the impact of a game created nearly 20 years ago is still being felt. The graphics were in no way responsible for the popularity or the influence that this game has provided. Like the Newman article I feel this will fit in with my term paper as a main point of support.
This article talks about the expenses directly associated with the new wave of video game graphics. The idea suggested through this article is to reduce expenses for graphical enhancement, and focus money and efforts on more enriched gameplay.Ramsay mentions that most games that employ state-of-the-art graphics have not enjoyed the success of their predecessors, an exception being Gears of War. "Instead of relying on one-hit wonders made possible by massive teams and astronomically extreme financing, these organizations gain more freedom to innovate in the areas of gameplay, features, and social connectivity—all of which should be viewed as opportunities for competitive advantage." This quote basically sums up the direction that author feels the industry needs to head towards in order to regain the success of game titles past.
How does it relate?
This article takes a look at the success of games that are utilizing next-gen graphics in order to sell games. The fact that many games have failed even with these jaw-dropping graphics shows the consumer somehow values gameplay and storyline. Once again, this transitions nicely into my thesis, and provides a very nice basis that games enjoy greater success with engaging gameplay and a vivid storyline.
As the title of the article suggests Strohm presents an argument that is based on the idea that perhaps graphics hold more importance than given credit for. He poses the question of whether or not we would halt our gameplay if each and every level looked the same. He continues on to point out titles such as Jet Set Radio, a title that sold few copies but had had interesting gameplay. Strohm continued on to wonder if Tony Hawk Pro Skater may have found the same misfortune if its graphics were cell-shaded like Jet Set Radio.The article closes in saying that games need to find a balance, and that roughly 10 percent of games in today's market are able to do so.
How does it relate?
The article was one of the rare occasions that I found a grounded example that went against my thesis. I enjoyed reading the article because it provided a different viewpoint of graphics as an element of games. I believe this source would work as an excellent way to build an argument in my paper, and look to prove my thesis by refuting this viewpoint.
Plain and simple this is a list of the top 100 games of all time from 2005 to the day video games began.
How does it relate?
I know at first it seems as if the reader may think "What does this have to do with anything?" Well the answer is simple, look at the titles that ranked between number 10 to number 1. Not a single next-gen title ranked among the top ten video games of all time. More interestingly was the explanation for Super Mario Bros. being included on the top 100 list. "Or maybe it's cherished above all others because it so effortlessly represents everything that makes us love Nintendo-developed games in general: an unwavering attention to play control and level design." This description alone supports my thesis, and will be a large part of the support for my term paper.
View." June 2006. Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc. 19 Jan. 2008.
This was a research project done to report to MI6 Game Marketing about the trends of consumers who purchase video games. Gamers were interviewed and asked the primary reasons for purchasing a game. The top reason actually went to graphics, barely edging out gameplay as a factor in purchasing games. Price came in second, but for my purpose price is not an aspect of the game that contributes to its success. At the end of the article there are several quotes from consumers about what TV Commercials could include so they could make a more informed decision. Nearly all of them mentioned they would like to see more gameplay and less cutt scenes, such as this idea, "More gameplay and less cut scenes," "More actual gameplay."
How does it relate?
This was a vital source that used research as a means to identify the qualities that influence people's choice to purchase video games. At first I wanted to use this as an opposing article, but through further investigation I felt that this article was more supportive than objective. You may ask how so? The poll showed graphics were the biggest reason people purchased games. The reason being is that people complained in the TV Commercial sections that they would like to see more gameplay. Most consumers are forced to purchase based on looks unless they are of the crowd that takes time to read reviews before buying a game. I will use this as support that graphics are once again a marketing strategy more than they are formula for a successful game.
Thesis: Gameplay and storyline are the two most consistent factors when defining a successful video game.
First I’d like to explain my thesis briefly so that it doesn’t seem as if I am simply dismissing every other aspect of a video game. The point of my thesis is to show that games with a rich and immersive storyline and comfortable controls are more important that a game is visually appealing with limited storyline and faulty control.
“In the early days of video gaming, graphics were seriously restricted by the weakness of the display hardware. The gameplay, as implemented by the programmers, was the source of most of the game’s appeal.”
“The public refused to accept games with bad gameplay, no matter how spectacular the graphics were.”
“What I am saying is that the pleasures of videogame play are not principally visual, but rather are kinaesthetic. In this way, the appearance of Lara or Vibri is not crucial to the primary-player during play.”
“Despite its primitive program and character designs and unsophisticated graphics, SF1 won the hearts of the players with an innovative control system (such as the use of separate keys for punching and kicking and the joystick for choosing direction, jumping or hiding) that later became the model for other two-dimensional combat games including the KOF and Samurai Spirit series.”
“Adding insult to injury, only a handful of video games that employ state-of-the-art graphics, such as Gears of War, have been successful.”
“Take Jet Set Radio on the Dreamcast. If I'm informed correctly, I remember that it didn't shift many copies. Now maybe that was due to the Dreamcast's shaky situation, but maybe it was also due to the funky graphics, which may have scared off those who like realistic graphics better. If the Tony Hawk series had the graphics of Jet Set Radio, would it still have sold as well? I doubt it.”
“Consumers have come to only know and expect high-end graphics from next-generation video games.”
“I’m going to blatantly begin by stating that gameplay is the most important element of a video game. It’s okay if you disagree with it, but I can prove it is like this in most cases.”
“However, there was a time when the best-selling games had only gameplay and no graphics.”
“Well Graphics are definitely more important because we all have bought a game simply because it looked like something you'd want to play you have to play a game to like its gameplay.”
“It is very much like women (or indeed men) when looked at from the perspective of someone you might like to date. We all know that fundamentally it is the personality that will be the ultimate decider on whether or not you want to see that person again, but it is the initial way that person presents themselves visually that will be what catches your attention. It is the same for video games.”
In researching this particular argument I was able to find numerous articles on the topic. What was difficult was finding very many scholarly sources to refute my thesis. The majority of sources seemed to dictate two things; one that gameplay was most important to video games, and two that video games must have a balance of graphics and gameplay in order to enjoy success. There were several cases I found which people felt graphics were more important (very few) mostly because games continue to utilize new technology.
Graphics in today’s gaming culture have caused many side effects on the gaming market. Prices of games have increased, and people are more critical of the elements which a game contains. The following statement exemplifies the idea that graphics do not ensure success among games, “Adding insult to injury, only a handful of video games that employ state-of-the-art graphics, such as Gears of War, have been successful” (Ramsay).
This article talked about the “blockbuster” type culture in video games in which advertisement for the newest and best has failed to deliver to its consumers.
Gzz, Erick. “Graphics vs. Gameplay - The Eternal
Ng, Wai-ming Benjamin. “Street
Fighter and the Kinf of Fighters in
Consumption and Localization of Japanese Games in an Asian Context.” The
Journal of Computer Game Research Vol. 6, Issue 1. (Dec. 2006) 19 Jan. 2008
Newman, James. “The Myth of the Ergodic Videogame.” The International Journal of
Research Vol. 6, Issue 1. (Dec. 2006)
Ramsay, Morgan. “Value Innovation
for Video Games.”
Adams, Ernest, and Andrew
Rollings. Game Design.
Strohm, Axel. “Is Gameplay Really All That Matters?” CNET Networks Entertainment.
“Graphics vs. Gameplay.”
"Fatworld looks good on the plate, but it's hard to swallow?" I had to laugh, because as cheesy as this was it perfectly describes the game. In the end what could be a positive learning experience is overshadowed by weak graphical display, poor user interaction, confusing instructions, and buggy mini-games.
I do wonder though would the game be more appealing with easy user interacton? If the game were to omit some of its aspects in an attempt to simplify gameplay would that improve gameplay?
Author's Thesis: "To argue that multiplayer gaming, with certain qualifications, is comparable to real-life social interaction and to enable the problems identified to be framed as social dilemmas which have been studied explicitly for decades and less formally for millennia."
- Smith addresses collective action, which is a concept that the a certain resource benefits an entire social group. The problem arises when we consider that there may be those who choose to enjoy the benefits of a resource without any contribution.
- As an example Smith mentions an analysis by an economist named H. Scott Gordon in 1954. Gordon studied the behavior of fisherman who did not adhere to the quota for fishing in their area. The main point he made was that these fisherman sought to increase their stock without limit in the bounds of a limited world.
- The author identifies three social dilemmas affecting multiplayer gaming: cheating, grief play, and irresponsible participation
- Smith talks about cheating in the online game Diablo. It was found that roughly 35% of the player base admitted to cheating, but 89% of those who admitted to cheating wished they were unable to. An example of conflicting moral dilemma in which the collective good is ignored for personal gain.
- Grief play was addressed in both an MMORGP and FPS setting. In the FPS example Smith talked about team killing. He mentions that the collective resource may not necessarily be destroyed; however, the game would lose its attraction, much like a soccer game where all players try to keep the ball in their own goal.
- Here Smith talks about a game that depends on the participation of all those who choose to be involved. Age of Kings is used as an example here, in which an irresponsible participant chooses to join a game when he is aware of his limited time. His participation balances the game, and leaving early disturbs the experience of everyone involved. If everyone chose this path the collective resource of good is obviously diminished.
- Smith quotes gamers who have posted on forums to support his main idea. An example of one quote he used from the Age of Kings forums was, "it's scum like them that make the Zone [where AoK players go for online play] a miserable place to be. Hacks can be used to give yourself inordinate ratings..."
- Also he quotes Thomas Hardin from a scientific article entitled "The Tragedy of the Commons" to emphasize the concern with personal gain without regard to the community surroundings.
- The article opens the paper with the line "Conflict, it is often assumed, is the essence of games. Modern multiplayer games, however, also rely heavily on the cooperation between players." He immediately works against himself to begin supporting his point.
- He continues to mention that the observation that gamers much cooperate in order to co-exist in games has not always been acknowledged, and has rather focused on its player conflicts.
- Accepts collective action theory as an effective application to the study of game theory, even though it has not been successful to date. Basically because these central ideas affect a large range of community matters it explains in-game social tension.
- Most of the opposing information was provided at the beginning of the article with no mention of source. Smith uses a general overview rather than specifics to begin building his argument.
- This article was extremely different from a traditional review. None of the games mentioned were "reviewed" or even attempted to be advertised to the reader. This article was more of a way to connect real-life interaction and in game interaction.
- This article was also very different from a New Games Journalism article. This particular article sought to connect a similar situation found in games and real-life. The author does not explicitly share his personal experiences with the reader, but rather uses existing works and examples from the gaming community to support his argument.
The entry Juul, "Half-Real" included my take on the section of the book that talked about games being adaptations of real-life. Because Juul covered so many different ideas about videogames, I felt it was important to pick something that stuck out to me and discuss it in detail in hopes that others would reflect on those ideas.
My thoughts in Newman Vs. Juul covered their opposing thoughts on the player-character relationship. I was happy to see that other classmates felt the same way that I did while reading these authors. Both Ashley and Derek believe, as I do, that these personal relationships can create a much more enjoyable experience, even as an observer.
The main concept in my "The Myth of the Ergodic Videogame" discussed some of the ideas in Newman's article. I touched on the importance of non-ergodic elements of a game and how they can actually improve the ergodic aspect of games. Screens that report progress or score allow us to somehow gauge our performance, and I think that is an element that keeps us attached to games.
Because there were so few entries, and also because of the feedback of both Dr. Jerz and my classmates, I made it a point to more actively interact with others entries. As I explained to Dr. Jerz I am experiencing some family issues at the time that does sometimes prevent me from posting or responding in the most timely fashion. I do, however, feel as though I definitely improved since the last portfolio as far as interaction with my classmates.
Rather than explain in detail each example of interaction in others blogs I will simply list the links so the reader can use his/her own judgment on my active participation.
Ashley Farmer: "Rules Rule the Game"
Ashley Farmer: "Disagreements"
Ashley Farmer: "Workbook Thesis"
Derek Tickle, "Time and Projection in Video Games"
Derek Tickle, "Newman and Juul - J-Web Essay #3"
Brandon Gnesda, "Effort or Fun"
Brandon Gnesda, "Participation Portfolio"
Both of my entries were a part of my first portfolio, however the discussion within each has continued and the feedback has been a huge help for me, especially in the creation of this second participation project.
My entries and comments since my last portfolio have been more thoughtful of others entries and comments as well. I tried to integrate others ideas and thoughts into my own, because I've found that it helps to understand things I may have previously missed.
The following entries are examples of xenoblogging since my last participation portfolio.
Newman Vs. Juul
Ashley Farmer: "Workbook Thesis"
In both of my entries I mention some of the ideas I connected with from Derek's blog entries. In Ashley's workbook I provided a more detailed comment in which I shared my opinions on our shared views and offered here a reflection of why she felt that way.