Posts tagged ‘fps’

On watching women play Titanfall

Horror movies inherently suggested something about film: that the spectacle of perspective and effects could create engrossing visual worlds that propelled narrative in ways theater could not. That horror films are not widely considered canon among film critics is a given, that they do a good job of advertising what makes film unique though is apparent. The same could be said about Titanfall.

Titanfall has no clear lasting message. Like Jason’s seemingly random series of encounters in Friday the 13th we keep watching not because of plot, but rather because of spectacle and sensation. This isn’t Psychonauts, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t complex. Titanfall escalates between play states, a state of possibility in which a free running commando guns down enemies and snaps the necks of enemy A.I. And a state of constraint in which the player is encased in their Titan and has to follow a different path through the level. The result is two generations of gameplay in one game: the constrained Titan and the free roaming solider. The Titan’s possibilities are much more limited and in this, it is a play style much more similar to the last generation: titans can not combine and use space as effectively as soldiers can. They have essentially the same freedom of movement that players in many cinematic Fps games had on the xbox. In this they can be described quite simply, their possibility is so minimal that we can summarize them as tanks.

Art forms are the result of experimentation, early on exposure to the means of production, some stuff I haven’t thought of yet, and finally criticism. Beowulf might be one of English literature’s cornerstones, but it’s mythos is only a small step towards the complexity of novel as art. In other words, while interpretations may vary texts do have the ability to inspire a depth in their reading and by that a genre called “literature”. The last generation of games seemed like a step down the ladder from the SNES and NES classics that attracted the audience to fuel them. The playstation offered good graphics, but limited gameplay. Tomb Raider struggled to provide free running close to anything in Titanfall or even Prince of Persia. What we had was 3 generations of consoles in which games devolved into a state of graphical prowess over gameplay. The results are fairly devastating. Fps games left a trail of unoriginal gore in their wake that sent players fleeing to the margins. The games additionally have trouble inspiring critical thinking or even an experience more deep than say a remarkably linear roller coaster ride and I have been on some deep roller coasters whose curves and drops could inspire reflection, it’s just none of them were on the play station.

Take for instance Super Mario Brothers 2 World 3-3. The level inspires rapid exploration even if it is fairly linear. Back tracking? Yes, but it’s made difficult by the fact that the way you enter is much harder to traverse on your way out. The level offers so many complicated mechanics of anxiety and repression it becomes a challenging and intimidating beast in itself. Now go play any generic FPS on the ps3. Did they even think about level design? Titanfall in other words represents a good example of how video games can create worlds more addictive than film and mechanics untenable in board games and do it using player agency. It isn’t a two note song, rather it riffs in directions that allow for varied experience, much of which is left to chance or “asymmetry” aka unfair stuff. However that ability to house numerous mechanics, and to use them as hues on a daesin conjured from thumb prints and sweat means the game becomes complicated in a way worthy of criticism. It is suitably deep enough to inspire and clarify aspects of play missing in many triple A games. It’s just it happens to have about as much meaning as a group of innocent teenagers on the end of a supernatural killer’s knife.

March 19, 2014 at 5:50 am Leave a comment

This Month in Academic Research Jul 2013 (it’s about video game research)

I follow video game research via
Here are a few interesting papers I came across this month.

FPS games, what are they good for? Apparently they cure amblyopia aka lazy eye and the researchers in question have created a positive preschool friendly FPS game in order to help deal with it. So yes in a preschool somewhere… Children are being taught FPS mechanics before they can probably even read. Future exports champions beware, Lazy Eye Shooter is getting kids hooked on the genre before most kids even own a game system. Not sure if this pay to access article has screenshots though.

In the seemingly never ending war of video games bad, video games good, this article finds that violent video don’t have a negative effect on social skills at odds with previous research.

There are simply so many articles criticizing and complaining about video games, and a few praising that this over view of the “effects of video games on young people” will help summarize both the negatives (college course work takes a dive) and positives (the usual spatial skills argument). If you’re not familiar with research into the effects of video games on players, this little short, and free paper will help get you up to speed on the concepts.
Battlefield 3, it made war look like really cool CNN footage, in this thesis the author takes apart the way BF3 presents scenes in order to justify or vilify violence. If any of those BF3 moments disturbed you with their pro-Iraq overtones, this paper will at least give you some insight into how the game managed to get you so pumped up for an unpopular war.
Autistic kids they score higher than us, but they have no friends. They also are way more likely to be into video games. Now researchers are trying to give them robot friends to play with, which means they will officially be significantly cooler than you ever will be.

I can’t even access this article from my iPad, but I had no idea there was a theory of comedy much less that a serious ludology had been developed to analysis of it in games. Would love to read this and I think it’s free to access, but can’t take a look in Chrome.
This is a weird one, apparently gamers in the military are less likely to have nightmares than non-gamers. The paper then replicated this experiment on college students to only find that male high end gamers seem to be immune to nightmares. However female gamers are more likely to have nightmares after playing games. Then again just imagine playing a game and identifying with the damsel in distress. Unfortunately you have to pay for the full journal, but the abstract does get you thinking…
Games used to help deaf children in Trinidad communicate and also to chronicle their culture. Results were increased scores in numerous subjects and better social inclusion of deaf students! Way to go games!

In this excerpt from a book The Development and Meaning of Psychological Distance the author summarizes a surprisingly good wealth of information about games and how they develop our sense of space and by extension distance. I found the author’s summaries really rousing and quite fun, I also like the idea of a bunch of researchers sitting around an arcade in the 1980s asking Star Wars fans to take a spatial reasoning test after playing a vector based 3D game. Especially because it was this Star Wars game:

Brain machine interfaces are becoming more common and in this paper a few game designers at a University in the Netherlands ponder what games could be made using these interfaces. Cool idea and one that hopefully will be down out of Academia soon.
The march of A.I. Continues in this paper for arxiv researchers outlay a plan to take a.i. From robots and use it towards games. A.i. Continues to be a field that games don’t excel at…. Except Creatures and the new game by the guy who made Creatures.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, video game players showed up having faster intuitive solutions to moral dilemmas and strangely preferring non-violent solutions. “the contrary, those who played single player games displayed a clear intuition to save people, regardless of the violent means necessary. Regarding multi-player gaming, those who were exposed to such games showed a shared intuition to accept a dilemma involving mid-distanced violence, in the face of saving many lives. Gamers in general, regardless of what games they play most, were found to be more accepting of a non-violent, utilitarian dilemma when compared with the control.”

The Science of Gaming is new open source Brazilian journal of games research. Worth a look especially because the papers are free. The abstracts are in English,but the papers might be in Portuguese.
Computer vision syndrome is when excessive computer use causes headaches, blurred vision, and other eye related problems. This paper covers a few easy remedies for computer vision.
In this rather accessible review of literate on serious games, the author describes several serious games used in military training and the place and problems serious games present to the classroom. Worth a read just for the overview.
Research from India suggests video games harm children’s eye sight decreasing their ability to learn in the classroom. In other words all those kids playing lazy eye shooter might also being getting refractive errors in their sight, a condition curable by wearing glasses, but optometry is not as widely available or affordable in India as it is in the first world.
Many educational games are little more than flash cards and drills in disguise, in this paper several prominent serious games researchers take on the psychological terms flow and motivation and proceed to outline games for the classroom you might want to actually play!

Roger Ebert wrote a blog post about it, this dude wrote an entire book. Are video games art? From legal definitions to more esoteric aspects of aesthetics, Marc Ryan… Has a surprisingly short sample on google books. But regardless, if you need a long arguement for the artistic merit of video games, this book has you covered in more than just title.

July 30, 2013 at 7:51 am Leave a comment


No one had invited him. When the Reverend first figured out that it might be a good idea to sponsor a local deathmatch team he had posters printed up, “Holy Warriors” he wrote and then one Spartan bathed in the light with the Church behind. Join our fight every Sunday with a service from Junior Reverend Jessie Hillcock, the poster said on the bottom. The posters made it around, the Church became something of a hit, a regular 5 – 6 disciplies showed up every week, and then one day out of the spawn points came Pepper… He always came early and ran around looking at things, as if somehow the ground would tell him where to leave med boxes, the team had never impolitely kicked him off the team, but somehow he never left. The message had been somehow relayed, that Pepper was here to stay.

They had been in training with Pepper for two week when they noticed a bunch of new gamer tags coming onto the map. Jessie got ready to welcome them and Pepper began to spread out med boxes and mumble something into the microphone. They heard laughter of their headsets and the heavy, bass, thrawl of some metal dirge she half remembered, but seemed to be playing slower and more menancing. Their heavily modded suits came around the corner, whooping and howlering, “you see, there it is.” Twenty custom armoured demons began to laugh in the courtyard. SkeletorPenis would woop them all. She still had that video on her phone. Sometimes she went through it, copied his peeks around corners, there was a consistency to his play that she liked. The way he so instantly came to appraisals and was surprisingly watchful, she saw him pick off two of their warriors who had taken out LORDSOUL, it was as if judgement was given legs and then proceeded to jetpack into a delima of decessions. SkeletorPenis learned her favorite spots in seconds, he had ArmourJesus pegged in minutes flat, he could calculate the exact moment BigBaby would lose his line of sight, she watched him weave through halls grab a grenade launcher and then jet pack to the ceiling before a bewildered BigBaby tried to aim his gun, thud, one more grenade frag for the kill. By the third respawn, the Church had been pegged with grafitti tags, one featured a horned demon with an enlarged penis pentrating a girl, another featured Jesus on his knees sucking a man’s cock in a bathroom, others simply pegged giant worms and dimensional gates all bearing doom. She simply stopped playing for a second to observe the grafitti and through it she heard the slowed down spectral haunt of the singer’s voice, like anger dropping down to the speed of shit. Pepper kept playing, he shotgunned intruders and was heard cursing, as they pinned him in a corner with axes, his ammo depeleted his medic just kept slowly recharging, the boys laughed as they sliced his spartan only to watch it slowly grow back.

She found herself googling their information later. She managed to track one down to a local high school down the street from her. The others came from as far as Norway, Australia, and England. They came together on a metal forum called THE WIZARD. The Wizard was always spelled in caps and featured a Wizard reaching skyward as a dragon dropped a guitar into his hands. Jess, on the other end, didn’t quite buy the whole Pepper working for the Satanist thing, but she kept spamming him with profile pics from THE WIZARD until they settled on one, a small, slightly effemiate boy from Pasadeana who bore little relation to what she thought of Pepper, but it was a start. She found facebook profiles for them, SkeletorPenis was in a band that apparently came through town on occassion, she made a note of their upcoming performances. SkeletorPenis aka Eric Lerner was a tallish college age man with raven hair down to this ankles and an assortment of metal rings and bands around his fingers. He appeared to have created The Wizard to keep tabs with various bands he was working with or around at anytime. She found his band’s website and the videos. There was something captivating about him, the conviction of his tattooes, the way he played, he was in fact something of the virtuso in the band, his guitar built layers of noise upon the frame of the singer’s shouts. She kept panning through the videos until something caught her in a frame, a little bit of purple behind the counter at a gig in Tulsa. She slowed it down, she crawled at second intervals, thumbing the video’s slide bar up in her phone’s screen until she could center in on a single second. The same wizard Miguel had shown her earlier was eerily present in the film, just to the back, and slightly behind the bar. She starred the video and then in the comments wrote #THE_WIZARD 3:47 BEHIND COUNTER BARELY VISIBLE. She went back to Jess and mentioned the wizard, but he was oblivious, “Someone is just inserting him in there,” he mentioned and that’s when Miguel popped up in chat. “Did you tag that?,” he said, “Yup that was me,” she said, “Holy fuck dude! Do you know what this means? We might have a location. I’m getting someone in Tulsa to go by this place.” “The address is on the band’s website,” she said Jess popped up, “I found MISSPISSYDEATHSTENCH,” he said. “Her gamer tags lists her first name and a group of bands she’s in. She’s on facebook. She lives nearby.” With this she sat up with a start, “Where does she live?,” Jessica asked, “near our school, I think she goes to school with LORDSOUL,” Jess continued, “I got company. Armourer out.” She sat back in her bed, two of them lived near them, she had IP addresses for them, she could track them.

April 7, 2011 at 10:33 am Leave a comment

Dogs on the Cathedral

After the meeting she went out of the cafeteria and messaged Caroline, but she was nowhere to be found. She walked alone down the hallway and saw some queer dude talking to some girls in faded skirts and metal t-shirts. She looked at him for a second and moved on. Out the doorways and into the sadly urbane plane of glass, steel, and stone. She walked pasted trees potted in cement, down into the tarmac where the sky always looked so blue, and then onto the measured monotony of the sidewalk, a heat haze following her every step. The phone made little bleeps, Jess was tweeting about some models Miguel had worked up for the next church… and then she thought, “the next church?”. She popped open Rob and hit his tag BigBaby opening up a voice messenger. “What’s this next Church crap about?” Rob “Playing something, hold on a sec.” In the midst of the day, she heard the ruggling of joystocks on carpet, “are you there? Yeah about that, Miguel is building a new church. Jess thinks we should switch up, have a rotation, stuff like that.” “Oh ok,” she said, “I guess that sounds cool. Is Miguel online?” “Just google him, he’s got videos and everything on vimeo.”

She googled his name with the words “new church” and came up with a video of a swirling, cathedral like structure, like one of their local Churches only on steroids. Bio-organic railings ran down the stair ways, angels held up the roof, it was as if CAD had unleashed a theme park of religions in place of physics. It was the type of place you took school girls to disembowel them in the basement, she thought quietly to herself, she secretly kinda like it. It reminded her of a Church in a Science Fiction movie she’d seen. The protoganist had gone beyond the void and come back half shadow, his shadow’s lips took on a like of their own, and his metal clad hands rubbed down serpentine bannisters in the space ship’s cathedral. He was a supremely evil man. She didn’t like that movie very much. Miguel’s video panned around as if the camera was one of those robo-dogs from the Jetsons obeying the smooth tracks of a future cyburbia. Another cyber-organic doorway loomed in front of her when Caroline’s pic came up flashing, “Sorry bout that, was at a movie. With Frednand. z showing us a new game. looks cool.”

Caroline and games weren’t an entirely  unfamilar consort. Caroline of course didn’t play the FPS with them, but she was into a gymnastics game where you waved a wand around and watched cute version of yourself do tricks. They played this together sometimes and laughed. It was cool, but Jess thought it was stupid, “all you have to do is wiggle the controller and you win,” he said. Caroline had come back about stressing the virtues of the game, you really learned to do gymnastics, but Jess was adamant that it was one of the worst games he’d ever seen. It took a couple weeks, but eventually she managed to get the wiggles and the timing of the moves down so that she could wop anyway at the game who tried. Jess sat down and waggled his controler, Caroline  went into contortions, perfects ringing up and down her spine, and then Jess had to admit the point, that maybe there was some skill to it. Caroline was pleased and watched them play their FPS that day. She enquired about the nurse and they watched Pepper struggle through another day at the church like a hunk of meat forced into a soldier’s pose, but somehow slouching down into the medic’s role. They both grinned at the thought of Caroline taking on the medics role.

Bump to today, she’s home. The homework is in the do bin, the dinner is in the microwave, she’s scrolling through the games’ various players, watching SkeletorBalls finish off some dudes with awesome accuracy. In one play through he manages to nail a guy with the grenade launcher while jet packing up to the steeple. She keeps flipping through the players, BigBaby Jesus is running around the scaffolds nailing nurses with sniper shots and then she comes upon Pepper. Pepper is, as usual, running holding up his gun in a soldier’s pose, but for the most part seemingly lost as to where he should be. “You just cover the big guys,” she though to herself, and that’s when she noticed something peculiar. Pepper ran out into the road and then down it’s a way just as a Satanist’s airborne carrier warped in. She saw the name MISSPISSYDEATHSTENCH show up over the carrier and watched SkeletorPenis40 onload from it, glance back at Pepper, and then thinking better of it make his way to the Church. MISSPISSYDEATHSTENCH hovered for what was an abnormally calm few seconds in a war zone as pepper stood indolently under her. After a second, she realized some type of p.m. conversation was going on. After a few more seconds Ms. Piss hovered off to the church and Pepper stood there for a moment, and then began aimlessly wandering again. She always thought of him as running in circles. She popped up Jess on the instant messenger and told him we might have a problem.

April 6, 2011 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

Crysis 2 demo


The aesthetic of crysis manages to nail cyberpunk to its speculative roots, the new york roof top we inhabit for the game is almost exacting in its realism, solar cells adorn a raised roof, a water tower splurges and nature is everywhere, elevated to the heights and just a little more advanced than what you see today. The glass in the greenhouses breaks under your foot, the offices inside lead to fitness machines, the level is not terribly complex, but memorable. On my server the roof wins out over the harbour everytime. The harbour lacks optimism, the roof is a picture perfect depiction of what we want our future to be like, the harbour is rather empty space disintegrating, and also lacks the many by ways the roof has. But what does the roof mean? With its step machines, solar cells, and scenic gardens, it suggests we can replicate the woods in concrete, our bodies contain the sea, our buildings the outdoors.
Crysis is built around the idea inequality, the game offers armour and cloak as mutually opposed accessories, but then throws in “nanovision” and an aerial stomp. Cloak is perhaps the most persistent ability, allowing you to turn invisible for a few seconds and get the drop yr opponent, but this doesn’t last long. At level one i managed to snap the necks of a few ppl while cloaked, but by the time i reached level 5 differences in gun power and nanovision made stealth less appealing, my shotgun wielding scout became less preferable to an asssault rifle wielding custom solider with hushed footsteps and upgradable aim. The demo offers 3 slots to change the attributes of your solider in, and then lets you unlock 3 different power ups for each slot. Hence you can enhance yr cloaking ability or silence steps etc but yiu have to choose one. The branching of abilities makes the game zoom out into the space of possibilities, but i found my steady lead i had from level 1 to 4 evaporate as other players discovered new play styles and the snipers began to shoot. The game’s diversity doean’t favor all and the paranoia people develop towards stealth culminates in a healthy population of players in nanovision. One player in nano though can alert an entire team to yr presence.
The amount of detial in the game is what impresses, crysis 2 takes play style and turns it into.metal, and those little trinkets go along way, equp the heavy gun and increase yr accuracy and you’ll do better than with quick reloads, the various play stylea feel like genuine paths and lack the confines of team fortress 2’s restricted characters, but the game still turns me off somehow. Perhaps its the cawl of that old woman at the losing screen saying you may as well have sent forth graders or the way the game equates military equipment to commodities like running shoes, the game makes war seem neat and tidy like an ipad from amazon, and its nanosuit looks like futuristic football gear. The game in other words is steeped in the design philosophies of today it is rhizomatic, simplified, and elegant, but it manages to make the war machine seem as desirable as running shoes and that’s where the game annoys, i prefer my simulated violence with a layer of abstraction with out the possibility of the real. Crysis in other words comments on the now in its architecture, but is preparing us to desire the military in new ways, lets hope that c.e.l.l. and blackwater do not meet and that violence becomes so commodified and streamlined that a conflict becomes as easy as crysis’ pick up games. The war machine should not be accessible from amazon.

March 11, 2011 at 2:44 pm Leave a comment


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