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fuzzysquash Blog

Reliving history through games

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So I stopped by the local Barnes and Noble today, and picked up a pictoral history of World War II, which I couldn't put down until the last page. As I was reading about the various battles, I kept having flashbacks to my gaming experiences in "Call of Duty 2" and "CoD: World at War." It may sound silly to suggest this, but I think my understanding of history was enhanced by those video games.

I remembered laying prostrate in the snows of Stalingrad, dodging enemy snipers. Or repeatedly attempting to storm the defenses at the Parliament building in Berlin, only to fall time and time again. Of course, they're video games, so the so-called "hardships" I endured were only virtual in nature. Nevertheless, they gave me a glimpse, an experiential reference from a first-person perspective, of how challenging it must have been to survive in those circumstances.

In turn, reading about World War II battles gave me greater appreciation for the "Call of Duty" games themselves. The fact that images of World War II could evoke memories of my experiences in a video game made me realize how much care and effort must have gone into bringing those battles to life in a convincing way. It goes to show, I think, that video games are not necessarily all ***** and giggles all the time, that they don't have to glorify violence for violence's sake, that games can have some educational value on a visual and emotional level.

Have you ever played a game that taught you something or made you appreciate something more, from an educational perspective?

Great artistic games you've played?

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Hi all,

Long time no post! I just stopped writing new blogs after awhile, and haven't wanted to write anything new for awhile.

Anywho, I'm back working in the game industry. Things have been busy since the Game Developers Conference wrapped up, but it's about to get a whole lot crazier since E3's coming up. Hopefully I'll last through July! lol.

I thought I'd ask what really great artistic games everyone has played. I just recently finished Mirror's Edge, and was really impressed with its artistic sensibility. It's a flawed game, no doubt, and there are times of real frustration (especially if you try to beat it without using guns), but it's definitely worth experiencing. It's games like Mirror's Edge and Dead Space that, in my opinion, represent how far the video game medium has come, and why it can move the viewer/player in ways that books and movies can't.

So what about you? What games have made a big impact on you, in terms of its artistic strength?

I got a job in the game industry!

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**Quick update: I'm no longer working at Edelman...looking into other opp's atm.


Just heard back yesterday--I got a job offer from Edelman, Microsoft's PR agency. I'll be working on the Xbox Games team to help Microsoft launch its major first-party titles, write its press releases, and prepare for tradeshows like E3 :D Here's an article about how Edelman worked with Microsoft to launch Halo 3 (link).

This is a really exciting opportunity for me and one that I've been working towards for awhile now. I really think that games are the next great art form, and I'm looking forward to making my own impact towards expanding its popularity.

I think the first project I'll be helping out with is Fable 2. I won't be able to talk about the projects I'm working, though, (apart from what's publicly known) as I'll be under strict NDA.

It's crazy to think, though, that 2 years ago I was playing Fable, and now I'm helping to launch its sequel :D

For those of you who are already in the game industry or who plan to be in a few years--hopefully we'll get a chance to meet in person!

Gradumacated

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Yep, last week I took the last test (possibly) for the rest of my life. Not sure what was on in it, though...it was all in a foreign language.

Now, on to pursuing a career in the game industry!

How far are you guys in school? When do you graduate? If you've graduated, what kind of work do you do?

I'm officially a part-time game journalist :D

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**Update** I am no longer writing for myarcadeplanet b/c of school and work requirements. Thanks for all the supportive comments, I will still be writing game-related stuff for fun, and I look forward to reading your works too!


Something unexpected happened a couple weeks ago.

A certain *anonymous* :wink: GS poster (whom I'm very appreciative of) approached me about the possibility of freelance writing for a start-up game website.

I've always wondered what it'd be like to write about games and the game industry, but never gave it any serious thought. But this was an opportunity I didn't want to pass up.

The site is called myarcadeplanet.com, and the guys who set it up have done a really great job. I just hope my contributions can measure up to the quality of work they've put in so far. Who knows? Maybe one day when I'm sick of studying politics I'll do something game industry-related. Always good to keep an open door, right?

My first article,The Blu-ray Gamble, is about the Blu-ray/HD DVD format war and how it relates to the console war in terms of how Microsoft and Sony are engaging each other.

Let me know if you have any thoughts, comments, suggestions for improvement, etc. I could always use some pointers, especially since I'm fairly new at this :)

Rate my purchases (August 12, 2007)

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Picked these up recently:

It's been awhile, but I finally caved in. Originally, I was going to wait to get my PS3 and just buy Sigma, but now I'm thinking I may not get a PS3 until next year since MGS4 has been delayed. So to satisfy my thirst for Izuna droppin' fools, I decided to get this game.

I'd already beaten about half of the game with a friend, but since I didn't own an Xbox last gen, I didn't get to finish this game. Good thing it's backwards compatible on the 360 :D

Playstation fans are going to chew me out over this, but I never got a chance to play Shadow of the Colossus. Found a copy at Best Buy and snatched it up. I've heard that this game is one of the best at showing the potential for artistic expression within the videogame medium, so I'm really looking forward to trying it.

So yeah, lots of oldies to catch up on.

Lasagna. I don't know who invented it, but this **** tastes magical. Bought a box of 'em at QFC the other day, and it was totally worth the money.

Gears and God of War II reviews, plus I take back my previous comments on GTA IV

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Just finished up my reviews for Gears of War and God of War II. Both games were great, but were of course very different. What impressed me about Gears was that it brought a completely new type of gameplay to third-person-shooters; what impressed me about GoW II was that the entire package--story, art style, graphics, and violent gameplay--were all woven together so well and resulted in such a satisfying experience.

My next project is to finish up Oblivion, but that might take awhile.

Also, after seeing the second GTA IV trailer, I must confess that my initial misgivings about the game have been replaced by anticipation. I've gotten over the initial shock of the game being set in Liberty City and the level of graphical fidelity because the second trailer really showed off that GTA "vibe" that only Rockstar North can create.

I'm curious about Niko's character and what type of story will play out, and I'm really really hoping that Rockstar will improve the AI and deliver some innovative gameplay elements. So here's to hoping that Rockstar will live up to the hype. Cheers.

A very busy month

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Just want to let everyone know that this is gonna be a very busy month for me. I have to finish my thesis and keep up with classes, which means I've been in the library until midnight or 1 a.m. everyday for the past 2 weeks, including weekends. My schedule will likely stay like this until the end of the school year.

The going is gonna be tough, but I'm excited too. Even though my thesis is a lot of work, it's fun too because it's a topic I'm very passionate about. My topic has changed a bit. I'm no longer trying to explain the causes of the Iraq War, because I realized there's no way I could establish causality between independent and dependent variables, and I could not eliminate alternative hypotheses.

Also, the argument was very rationalist, and my professor said I did not take into account the role of subjective perceptions. So after writing a 40 page paper, I'm starting from scratch. My new topic is "how should we understand the al-Qaeda-U.S. conflict from a theoretical point of view?" Maybe I will post it after I'm finished.

Anyways, I'm determined to give it all I got, so hopefully it will turn out well.

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up that I may not be around often, so my apologies for not being able to keep up with everyone's blogs for the next month. But if you need to get a hold of me just drop me a pm.

Hope everybody else's school year is going well :)

-fuzz

11 Reasons why the Wii will win

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Here is part 2 of my editorials on the console warz. 

There is also a PS3 version by KeyWii, and an Xbox 360 version.

(Again, these may not be my personal opinions, just a rebuttal to the other lists)

So here it is...

11 reasons why the Wii will win.

1. Games...lots of 'em

2. A New Experience

The central appeal of the Wii is its revolutionary new controller. PS3 and 360 games might look shiny in HD, but do they offer consumers a new way of connecting with games? Sure, the PS3's sixaxis has motion control, but its restrictive six degrees of motion can hardly compare with the Wiimote's freedom of movement. Wii offers a truly different kind of experience--not just the same experience in a higher resolution.

3. Risk-taking

The number one mistake Sony and Microsoft made this generation is that they both played it safe. Both companies stuffed a lot of technological capability into their machines, but who wasn't expecting that? Microsoft talks about hoping to expand the industry to one billion consumers this generation, but how can the industry do that if every company operates within the same old business models?

By contrast, Nintendo turned the traditional paradigm on its head. As Miyamoto explains, "None of our risks has ever been greater than the Wii. For 20 years, we've been playing with and even creating controllers that require you to hold it with two hands." Source

From the implementation of analog controls in the N64 to the addition of the stylus to the DS, risk-taking strategies have paved the way for Nintendo's successes. Sony and Microsoft's inability to think outside the box and take real risks is the key to why Nintendo will defeat them this generation.

4. Price

Playstation 3 costs $599, and the 360 is split into a confusing configuration of Core ($299), Premium ($399), and Elite ($479). The Wii's price of $249 is perfect for the mass market. It's at a level accessible to all income levels, and has the potential to reach a wide range of casual gamers who use fun rather than technical spec's as their criteria for buying a game system.

5. The hare...and the faster hare.

360 was the first out of the gate, so Xbox fans think that initial momentum will give Microsoft the boost it needs to stay ahead. Playstation fans see the race as a "tortoise versus the hare" scenario to justify slow initial sales. 360 might have launched first, argue Sony fans, but once the PS3's portfolio gets better, sales will pick up and allow it to pass the 360.

If the PS3 hit the ground strolling and the 360 hit the ground jogging, Wii hit the ground sprinting. Since its launch at the end of 2006, Wii has sold over 6 million units. Meanwhile the Xbox 360, which released a full year earlier, hovers around the 10 million unit mark. The PS3, which launched at roughly the same time as the Wii, has only sold half as many units as the Wii.

6. Lasting Momentum

Skeptics say the Wii's initial momentum is just a temporary boost, and will fade out before long. But wasn't that what they were saying about the DS? When the PSP was unveiled, many people (including GS's old site director Greg Kasavin) bet that the PSP's superior technology would leave DS in the dust. Today, the PSP has sold 20 million units, and the DS has doubled that number, selling 40 million.

7. Third-Party Support

Another argument skeptics use to diminish the Wii's success is that Wii won't have good support like the Gamecube. But publishers who doubted the Wii's success are now paying for that mistake. Bloomberg News states that "Electronic Arts, like some of its competitors, underestimated demand for the Wii." Now EA and other third-party publishers are scrambling to compensate for their error. According to analyst Anthony Gikas, "Those companies are backtracking. They're going to need to get their best-branded product on that platform." Source

If Wii's sales remain high, publisher will naturally flock to support it. And the Wii's innovative concept is attracting legendary developers like Hideo Kojima and Suda 51 to experiment on the system. All this shows that the Wii is destined to have a strong third-party portfolio.

8. Powerhouse Franchises

Nintendo holds arguably the most formidable set of first-party franchises. Series like the Legend of Zelda, Mario, Super Smash Brothers, and Metroid are some of the most revered and best-selling franchises in the industry. These franchises will continue to demonstrate excellence, and combined with good third-party support, Wii's portfolio will provide a powerful incentive for consumers to purchase the system.

9. Shigeru Miyamoto

This man alone deserves his own bullet point. The legendary videogame designer who created many of Nintendo's famous franchises, Miyamoto continues to come up with clever new design ideas and ways to push our conventional thinking about what games can be. When you purchase a Wii, you're not just buying a game system--you're investing in the mind of Shigeru Miyamoto and whatever future creations come from it.

10. Virtual Console

In terms of backwards compatibility, neither the 360 nor the PS3 can match the Wii. 360 is only compatible with a few hundred Xbox titles, and even the ability of the PS3 to play PS2 and PS1 games can't match what Nintendo offers. In addition to compatibility with Gamecube titles, Wii offers gamers the chance to relive their favorite NES, SNES, and N64 titles, as well as the opportunity to play Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, and NeoGeo games.

11. A System for Everyone

The final edge that the Wii has is its ability to appeal to a much wider audience than its competitors. Like the DS's stylus, the Wii controller allows a broader range of people who don't normally play videogames to experience them. And Wii's portfolio offers something for everyone. It doesn't matter if you're male or female, young or old, or what genre of gaming you prefer--everyone can find something to enjoy on the Wii.

In sum, innovation, accessibility, and mass appeal will allow Nintendo to expand past the traditional home console market and reclaim its crown at the top of the industry.

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