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A subjective response to the style of new games journalism

ngj

On Wednesday 26 March 2014,  Jake and I went to a panel discussion about the new games journalism – the idea that games writing should be about the player’s experience, not the game’s mechanics. Here are some things it made me think about.

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Football Manager: What it Taught Me About Life

TSG Hoffenheim's head coach Rangnick reacts during their German Bundesliga first division soccer match against Bayern Munich in Sinsheim

For all the pretensions I could contrive about gaming, I come back to a plain fact: games are regularly a form of fantasy-living  for me.

I write about games, think about games, and play a variety to both enjoy myself and fortify that writing and thinking. But when I think of the hours I’ve spent actually just playing games, most of them have been spent on sports simulation. Not even that, but something narrower: football simulation. And not even that: formerly Pro Evolution Soccer, latterly the FIFA series; and perhaps with the greatest level of immersion, the Championship Manager (or Football Manager) series.
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I Have Played: Brothers

Brothers 2014-01-12 16-28-33-55

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game that I had been vaguely aware of throughout 2013, but simply hadn’t given any thought to. I think there was something about the promotional art work that put me off, I don’t know. I managed to ignore it right up until the end of the year, where it appeared on almost everone’s ‘best of 2013′ lists, saw it in a sale and flopped it right onto my hard drive. I was a fool for ignoring it for so long. Here’s why… Warning: there will be spoilers.
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Becoming What You Fear the Most: The Vicious Cycle Within League of Legends

you fear the most

To me League of Legends represents a paradox of conflicting emotions that lie at extreme ends of the gaming experience.

On the one hand, it is an incredibly good video game. Some of my finest mouse-clicking memories have been created in it. It’s addictive, satisfying even when you’re losing and there’s always more to learn. Despite the fact that every game involves fiddling with an everlasting procession of guys that bundle down one of three lanes to their demise, it manages extraordinary depth. Continue reading …

I Have Played: BioShock Infinite

Bioshock Columbia

Jake played BioShock Infinite and has now sat down to write most of the things that he could think to say about it. This isn’t a review. There will be spoilers in this article.
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Linear is Not a Dirty Word

Sickeningly Linear?

I was watching one of those popular YouTube commentators the other day, playing through a game that he was reviewing and he said something that struck me. He described a game as “sickeningly linear” and wrote it off there and then as a “Bad Game” because of this.

But I say no! Too long have linear games been vilified and derided. So let’s look at why some people like to poo all over them, while others like to give them cuddles (keep these two activities separate).

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Violence is the Pinnacle of Freedom in Games, not Narrative Choice

The large majority of games are violent. Not in the Manhunt, suffocate-you-with-a-plastic-bag-while-stabbing-you-in-the-neck sort of violent, but rather the core of many games involves some level of destruction. Even the most innocuous and unthreatening games like Super Breakout or Space Invaders see the player shooting something or destroying something. And this is A Good Thing.

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