Last year at around this date I wrote a blog post making some predictions about the gaming industry for 2014. I don’t know why the post is no longer on my site (I must have deleted it accidentally), but luckily it was reproduced by the good folk over at Red Wii Bundle. For this post, I want to revisit those predictions and see which of them came true. Then I will make some predictions for 2015.
I walk my kid to school every morning, and every morning we “philosophize” about stuff. It’s really just me asking questions about what he thinks about things (why is a leaf pile more fun than a dirt pile? for example) and sometimes me talking about how the world and nature works and him listening (the effects of the space vacuum on the resistance of things and gravity was the latest one), but “philosophizing” will do.
Yesterday as we walked to school I recited for him my favorite poem-within-a-poem, Wordsworth’s “Spots of Time”. The text of the poem is as follows:
There are in our existence spots of time,
That with distinct pre-eminence retain
A renovating virtue, whence–depressed
By false opinion and contentious thought,
Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,
In trivial occupations, and the round
Of ordinary intercourse–our minds
Are nourished and invisibly repaired;
A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,
That penetrates, enables us to mount,
When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.
To me, the poem has always been about the power of memory and imagination, and how when one is depressed one can call upon their memories to feel uplifted. I asked my kid what he thought it was about. “Trampolines”, he said. Confused, I asked him to elaborate.
“Spots are round right?” he asked.
“Sure”, I replied.
“Well trampolines are round too”, he asserted.
“Ok and what else?” I asked.
“And in a trampoline when you jump you jump really really really high and when you fall down it it YOU JUMP ANYWAYS HURAGHRGUFRAGHUR” (that last bit was him laughing at the idea of falling on a trampoline).
So he explained the spot, he explained the “when high more high and lifts us up when fallen” parts, but then I asked him “what about the part of the poem that says that spots of time make you feel nourished and refreshed when you feel sad?” He simply replied “well trampolines are fun”.
The only problem with his interpretation is that the trampoline was invented some 80-ish years after the first publication of The Prelude (where one can find Spots of Time), but my kid is 7 he doesn’t know that. His interpretation was fun and inventive, and while it may not have the grandiose metaphysical implications of more accepted interpretations, I think it was brilliant and incredibly relevant to him.
And what does this has to do with education? Maybe it’s time for adults to let kids interpret poetry more often and not stifle them when they suggest something. Adults should encourage kids to think and push them with critical thinking prompts (why?), not just tell them, as I was often told during my early education, “your interpretation is wrong” or “I don’t think that’s it”. Foster and build up curiosity, don’t rip it out and tear it down.
It’s that time of the year again, where I write some stuff about the most interesting games of the year. These are not the best games or the most technically advanced, just the ones that surprised me in some way. Honestly, I’m not sure I want to recommend anything. Not because there weren’t any good games, there were, but because 2014 in gaming seemed to me a disappointing year. My perception (it is untested, just my perception) is that publications focused on everything other than games (development interviews, anime, cosplay, internet drama) more than in previous years, that major game releases were less than memorable, a lot of the games released were good, but not many were spectacular, Black Friday was more like “really long slightly discolored deep blue Tuesday lasting into the weekend”.
That being said, there were some interesting games. They were not as interesting as last year’s gems, but there were some interesting games.
The criteria for selection:
*Released between December 1 2013 and December 1 2014 in North America
*Console, PC, or portable (not mobile) games were considered [mobile games were not considered due to the sheer availability – there are no resources to sample every iOS and Android game released]
This may seem like a statement of contention to many, and I myself am partly being a bit unfair. There have been some good stories in video games in the seventh and eighth generation consoles so far. However, by and large, most of what most of us perceive to be “great stories” are more like “good narrative with good play”. They are not stories per-se.
I know, video games are an interactive medium, stories in games are evil, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
But here’s the thing – I honestly can’t remember a lot of memorable game stories from the most recent gaming generations, while there are dozens that I could recall at the drop of a hat from the older generations. And I know, nostalgia and all that. I acknowledge that’s partly it. But whenever I speak with someone about the stories presented in modern video games, the response is always a shrug and a “hrm”, whereas 10 or 20 years ago (God I’m old) it was a conversation that was had with enthusiasm.
If I may use some examples.