This is the end. I have enjoyed the class not only in learning about video game culture and theory but also in learning about my classmates through their blogs and papers. The class has been challenging at times, especially the work load; however, I have become a better and more informed gamer and will always remember to have fun while gaming.
The third week of class was less intensive due to our research papers and presentations. Each student was given a chance to lead a discussion on a gaming article from The Players' Realm by Williams and Smith. The articles varied in topic. Jessie and Matt led a discussion on console and computer cultures (Platform
Dependent). I delved into children's online gaming (Online
Gaming Contracts for Children (Grimes)). Keith sparked dialogue on the types of players that we are (Eladhari's
Journey), and Cody asked our opinion regarding the indie gaming industry (Indie
Game Design (Wilson)). In addition we each created unique presentations to supplement our research papers (Superb
Here is a list of those other entries that I haven't mentioned.
Many of my blogs were an in-depth look at the course materials and often analyzed academic articles chosen by my peers. Platform Dependent [Posted on both Jessie's (Taylor Discussion Intro) and Matt's (The Great Debate) blogs.] · Eladhari's Journey · Creative Ways to Tell Stories · Viral Gaming
Indie Game Design (Wilson) My blog on the indie game industry sparked a great interaction with Cody.
Student Presentation: The Devolution of Resident Evil My presentation blog generated great comments from my peers and offered an intense look at what draws or repeals a player to a particular game or genre.
This week, I led the discussion on the article Terms of Service and Terms of Play in Children's Online Gaming by Sara M. Grimes. I posed five questions to my classmates and received great responses.
Beth Anne's response If you want to play, you have to agree to my terms.
Jeremy's response Grimes with (Susan)
Jessie's response Children's Online Gaming--Anything but Childish
Keith's response Grimes with Susan
Matt's response Rules of the Game
In addition to my classmates' responses, I provided follow-up responses to each of their posts.
Many of my blogs this week were again written the day before they were due; however, they sparked early conversations on the subject at hand. Some even kept the conversations going after they were due.
I interacted in-depth with my classmates on their own blogs.
Jeremy's EL 250 Eladhari with (Keith)
Jeremy's EL 250 Motion Capturing
Keith's The game of scratch
Jessie's Gaming Reflects Who You Are
Jessie's Violent Video Games Presentation
Cody's Straying from the norm...
Beth Anne's Technology and Game Design
Beth Anne's Historical video games are more than just fun.
From what I have reviewed so far, my classmates all provided excellent albeit different approaches to their presentations. Beth Anne's presentation was an in-depth look at the educational value of historical-based video games and supplemented her text well with videos. Matt created a great interactive fiction game that silent protagonists are a good way of immersing the player into the game. Jessie produced an informative video focusing on better enforcement of the ESRB ratings system. As more presentations become available, I look forward to viewing them. In addition I have enjoyed our EL250 Video Game Culture and Theory class immensely.
I have personally never played Farmville on Facebook, and usually go to great lengths to avoid requests from friends to join such games because of a busy schedule. However, I think that the idea of gaming integrating with social networks is good. First of all these games are free to play and can reach a wider audience, since they are played in a browser. They also have reduced development time, often launching in beta form. Indie developers can also use social networks to their advantage by testing out games to a large and diverse audience. In the case of Farmville, it has successfully addressed the rise in popularity of family-friendly games. Mark Pincus, the game developer's (Zynga) Chief Executive stated, "By combing the best elements of social gaming, with people's instinct to nurture, we've created an incredibly fun, wholesome, and rewarding experience." It also addressed Koster's viewpoint that games teach us survival traits. With threats of nuclear warfare and global warming, we all just might need to know how to farm again. Hmm... maybe I will give it a try after all.
While the Silent Hill series has devolved in its progression from the "survival horror" game genre, the Resident Evil series has abandoned the genre all together in favor of "action horror."
This presentation will only address Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4 in the Resident Evil series and Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 in the Silent Hill series.
The classic Resident Evil story begins in Raccoon City, a location overrun by zombies. Members of the S.T.A.R.S. Alpha team enter to help find members of their disappeared Bravo team and to continue the investigation. Their exploration of a seemingly abandoned mansion turns into a fight for survival against the Umbrella Corporation's experiments.
Six years after the original zombie infestation in Raccoon City, the U.S. government officially shut down the Umbrella Corporation and recruits Leon S. Kennedy, a former Raccoon City cop, to rescue the President's kidnapped daughter, Ashley Graham, from a remote village in Spain. In Resident Evil 4 Leon does battle against the Los Illuminados cult and their parasite-infected villagers.
Silent Hill 2, the hallmark game of the series, documents James Sunderland's journey through Silent Hill to find out the truth about his wife Mary's death. The town and its inhabitants are manifestations of James' mind, and in the end James faces the truth.
Silent Hill 3 takes place 17 years after Harry Mason's nightmare in the original Silent Hill game, and his adopted daughter Heather meets Claudia Wolf in the mall. After fighting her way back home, Heather finds her father dead and heads to Silent Hill to kill Claudia. Heather faces Claudia in a church and ingests a capsule of red liquid. She then vomits the bloody fetus of a god worshiped by the town's cult. Claudia thwarts Heather's attempt to kill the god and ingests the fetus herself, giving birth. Heather kills the resurrected god and survives.
Resident Evil 4 abandons the previous games' focus on zombies in favor of parasitic attackers. An action fight against a global spread of deadly viruses replaces the immediate and personal struggle for survival. The Silent Hill series might not encompass many of the same characters and stories or offer a continuous timeline, but each game is a psychological fight for one's survival against dark secrets.
The survival horror perspective is third-person, intensifying the sensations of vulnerability, isolation, and shock (McRoy). Resident Evil 4 was the first in the series to have an over-the-shoulder view of the fully three-dimensional world instead of the typical third-person perspective.
Survivor horror throws players into scenarios that induce fear; limited ammunition and health exacerbates these situations. Items in Resident Evil 4 are more plentiful, and the game introduces "the merchant," allowing the player to carry more items at once, thus ditching the survival aspect. Limited supplies encouraged the player to run from enemies and conserve supplies. This aspect weakened in the Resident Evil series but not in the Silent Hill series.
In Resident Evil, surviving the zombie infestation requires endurance and cunning from the characters; however, physical ability dominates in Resident Evil 4.
Silent Hill games have always focused on the characters' ordinariness. Heather Mason from Silent Hill 3 offers an androgynous appearance and narrative centrality (as does James), successfully combining the imperiled and masculine femininity of the survival horror genre (Kirkland).
Zombies are frightening. They will eat you if given the chance, but they move slowly enough to either avoid or destroy with relative ease dependent on their numbers and cramped spaces. In Resident Evil 4, smart and agile opponents are the norm.
In contrast, the enemies in Silent Hill 2 are manifestations of the James Sunderland's real fears, for surviving your own nightmares is real survival horror.
The Resident Evil series no longer incorporates creepy music to such a high degree. In contrast, the Silent Hill games continue to offer sinister soundtracks for an expressionistic audio experience (Kirkland).
Low-key lighting not only plays up shadows, but it
perpetuates a progressively disturbing tone of gloom (McRoy). While the Silent
Hill series remains a dimly lit town, Resident Evil 4 lights up the
scenery with the wide open spaces and rural town environments. (Picture: RE-left/SH-right)
Japanese survival horror relies heavily on ghost, rituals, and the unseen. Western survival horror is more visceral and action-oriented. As the Western design becomes the dominant paradigm, action and gore will continue to supersede psychological dread (Alexander).
Gamers want the sense of being truly alone in the dark with just their thoughts and fear. Hopefully, the Resident Evil series will reach that point again and return to the roots that defined the genre.
RESIDENT EVIL 4 PARODY
A comical video on Resident Evil 4 for your enjoyment
Alexander, Leigh. "Does Survival Horror Really Still Exist?" Kotaku. n.p. n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2010.
Capcom Production Studio 4. "Resident Evil 4." PlayStation 2. Capcom. 25 Oct. 2005. Video Game.
Capcom Production Studio 4. "Resident Evil." PlayStation. Capcom. 30 Mar. 1996. Video Game.
Kirkland, Ewan. "Restless Dreams in Silent Hill: Approaches to Videogame Analysis." Journal of Media Practice 6:3 (2005): 167-178. EBSCOhost Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 Jan. 2010.
Konami and Team Silent. "Silent Hill 2." PlayStation 2. Konami. 24 Sept. 2001. Video Game.
Konami and Team Silent. "Silent Hill 3." PlayStation 2. Konami. 6 Aug. 2003. Video Game.
McRoy, Jay. "'The Horror is Alive': Immersion, Spectatorship, and the Cinematics of Fear in the Survival Horror Genre." Reconstruction. n.p. 6:1 (2006): n. pag. Web. 14 Jan. 2010.
"Resident Evil 4 Cutscene 2-2." YouTube. 1 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 Jan. 2010.
"Resident Evil 4 Parody." YouTube. 22 Apr. 2009. Web. 20 Jan. 2010.
"Silent Hill 3 Cutscenes 08, Hellish Elevator Decent." YouTube. 11 Sept. 2006. Web. 19 Jan. 2010.
"Ten Years of Resident Evil: The Official Soundtrack." Sunthing Else. 27 Mar. 2007. Audio. 19 Jan. 2010.
Yamaoka, Akira. "Silent Hill, Vol. 3." Sony/Columbia. 28 July 2003. Audio. 19 Jan. 2010.
Dr. Jerz's overview of modding, machinima, and motion caption provided great examples of how ordinary people are creating extraordinary things with games. My personal favorite is machinima. I have seen many examples of machinima before, but I did not know the correct terminology for it. Machinima series are very popular on YouTube, and I think that I may use one or two for my creative presentation. Motion capture was brought into the limelight with Gollum from LOTR. Gollum was very impressive to me according to the Uncanny Valley theory because it looked human-like. On the other hand, the characters in The Polar Express were never impressive to me, and as a result I hate watching that movie, despite its feel-good story. It might also have to do with the fact that I can tell every character that Tom Hanks voices; therefore, I lose the magic of them being different. I chuckled when Dr. Jerz wrote about clowns because I absolutely despise clowns. Although I blame it on Stephen King's It. As technology continues to advance and more tools become available to the general public, I hope to see more great avenues for fan storytelling.
Sara M. Grime's article offers an in-depth look at existing Terms of Service (TOS) contracts for several children online gaming sites and compares them to existing laws and policies relating to children. Grimes found that families with children remain among the fastest growing demographics of internet users. These children are online cultural producers and often the direct target of marketing research through brand-specific gaming sites, most of which require players to read and agree to a TOS contract. The majority of TOS contracts contained advanced legalese. Some advised children to read the TOS, which varied in length from 3-12 pages, with a parent, and even fewer offered a children-friendly version. Furthermore, Grimes questions whether it is reasonable to expect children to have the knowledge required to understand the implications of TOS contracts and whether current laws even allow children to enter into such agreements.
1. Grimes states that only a few adults actually pay attention to contents of TOS contracts. Do you always read and fully understand TOS contracts for adult online gaming sites, and what is your reasoning for either way?
2. Do you think that a child would understand the following example from MyUville?
3. What is your position in the ownership of players' virtual property debate? (E.g. do you think that players should have partial or co-ownership over player-generated creations, or is the industry entitled to sole ownership based on the fact that they own the game code?) Does your view change or stay the same regarding children?
4. Do you think that if challenged TOS contracts hold up in court?
5. What are some of the ethical implications of conducting marketing research without first establishing informed consent, particularly when the participants are children?
The following news article by Chris Soghoian looks at some popular sites' (Google, Facebook, and MySpace) TOS age requirements. Most require users to be of a certain age, but the sites do not enforce or even verify their users' ages. Furthermore, some of the sites offer children-friendly promotions. The article is not academic research; however, it does demonstrate the confusion and conflict surrounding the issue.