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January 10, 2006

Playing for fun: appreciation of an art

A post to update my feelings towards technology, and video games in particular: not all of them... just a few.

Some may recall a post from this past summer about Mario Kart. I was having so much fun losing... so at least I'm a good loser, right? Well, I'm getting better at a couple games.

No, not Mario Kart (we don't own a Game Cube, it was borrowed). However, my brothers own a Playstation 2 and many games--mostly sports games with the occasional Spongebob tossed in for variety. Mike loaned me the game We Love Katamari, since I truly loved the game Katamari Damacy when I got to play it a couple times last spring.

For those that aren't familiar with the game, it's a Japanese game where you're a little creature from space that's rolling up things on Earth with the "katamari" (gravity ball that stuff sticks to if it's big enough to pick it up) in order to have the katamari put into the Cosmos by the King of Space to make a star or planet. There are little presents to find within the courses, and other creatures called cousins to collect. Each mission is different, whether it's trying to get as large as possible in a given time or to get as large as possible as fast as you can (to set records).

Anyway, my brother Caleb and I are having a blast beating the game. It's not easy, but it's not terribly hard or taxing either. We already "beat" the game, but now we're working hard to get to the special features mentioned in online guides (this is the first time I ever even thought about using a guide!) I am really enjoying it. And, in the ability to enjoy the game, I've found a new appreciate for the work that goes into the games.

Just thinking about all the animation--for all the various angles that the "camera" gives, showing each item moving about, glowing, dancing, eating, screaming--and the music, because each game has a soundtrack, baffles me. The "growing" the katamari does. The little running creature on the bottom of the screen. The unpredictability of the objects rolled into the katamari--but still displayed as a realtime example of what you're doing in the game. The consistency of the "maps" of where you go and where you've been. All of it precise, all of it seemingly perfect and beautifully orchestrated. I know there are scores of people working on these things, but honestly... it's crazy to think about all the things that just this one game can do that things like Pong couldn't. (I used to have an Atari, so I do know Pong and a couple classics!)

(WARNING: This is not to say that I think all games are just dandy or a good idea or even worth all the time that people put into making them.That would be a blind decision since I definitely don't have that kind of breadth of experience when it comes to the hundreds of games that are out there... I'm still in the process of developing my opinion about the violent games. But I can say one thing fairly certainly: the ones that have female characters that look worse than Barbie, whether it's the skimpy clothing or the ill-proportioned bodies, well, let's just say that I do not approve of those nor do I think that it is acceptable to demean women in such a way. [Let's not get me started on that... this is supposed to be a positive post! I could really get on a roll.])

I really think the katamari games are cute. Nice and colorful, not too difficult but hard enough that you can't always get it the first time, and it's a fun idea. The cultural aspect of the game is even exciting: Japanese paraphernalia little the whole area and, when you get to the really big "rolling," you're collecting things like Stonehenge, the Eiffel Tower, and the Taj Mahal. It's fun, really.

In comparison to some of the stuff those of you in the video game course are writing, this is futile and probably making nothing but moot points. I thought, however, that it was a good idea to purport the slightly more positive feelings that I have towards gaming as they grow from being okay getting my butt kicked to actual appreciation for the composition.

Posted by KarissaKilgore at January 10, 2006 9:45 PM


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