Blog Archives

Dauntless: A Quick First Impressions


I’ve been hitting Dauntless hard during last few days. I think I put in about 10 hours (2 per day), and I enjoyed most of them. I even purchased an Intro Bundle with a cool Ninja transmog (it makes any armor look like a badass ninja). For a while, I enjoyed the mindlessness of popping into an island, hunting down a monster with three other players (ok, more like wondering around until I found the monster), and then battling it to victory and then upgrade my weapons and armor.

Recently, however, I noticed something that made me enjoy the game far less.

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On Indie Games as a Genre

play-indie-logoI’m having a conversation with my friend and she tells me about how she read an interesting article over at Game Informer (print) about how “indie games” are a genre, but they are an ambiguous genre that no one can really define. This seems to me like, at best, a misguided statement. Certainly, it is hard to identify what an “indie game” is, but the term “indie” isn’t a genre – at least not in the traditional sense of the word, which is to identify markers in a text itself – as much as it is a term that identifies the production and publication processes of a game. In the rest of this post I will discuss what is an actual genre, using various texts as example, explain why there is no such thing as an “indie game feel”, as my friend argued. Later, at a follow-up post, I will attempt to define what it does mean to be “indie”.

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Teaching Values through games – A Presentation Given in PRTESOL’s 38th Annual Convention

Find below the my talk from PRTESOL’s 38th Annual Convention where I talk about how to teach values through games.

You can download the powerpoint version here:

The “four As” concept comes from a conversation I had with a colleague a while back. She went to a presentation where a researcher was talking about “universal values that can be taught through games”. If you are that researcher, or know him, give me the contact info so I can give you credit. I developed this variation of the Jenga activity based on a similar activity used by Prof. Jose Cruz Massas in Centro de Estudios Multidisciplinarios (CEM).

The “values analysis” I presented on Missile Command was heavily influenced by Daniel Floyd’s own closed reading of the game, although his interpretation focuses on how mechanics tell a narrative and now on how the game as a whole teaches values.

The section on MMORPGs is entirely of my own, and is based on several activities I’ve done with my ESL students where I have them run quests and I evaluate them 30% on quest outcome and 70% on language use. The game used in this presentation is Fiesta Online.

I’ll get around to writing about how to get free graduate level education sometime soon. I promise 🙂

The Role of the Player in Videogames

There is a recent conversation in the game design community – especially between the Extra Credits community and Frictional Games community – regarding the role of the player in videogames. This conversation started when roughly a week ago Danniel Flynn and James Portnov put up an Extra Credits video explaining how videogame players are co-authors to the videogame because of the interactive nature of the medium. The video can be seen here:

Grip, the lead designer for Frictional Games – of Amnesia and Penumbra games, responded that the player having the ability to interact with the narrative at his own pace and in different ways – thus making the game “different” for each individual – does not make him a co-creator. You can read his piece here:

This then led to a discussion between James and Grip in which they discussed at some limited length the role of player and player involvement in videogames. The transcript of said conversation can be read here:

As of now, I am unaware of any commentary (beyond the expected “you rule and the other guy is narrow-minded” posts that have come to make the internet what it is) made by anyone based on this conversation, so I would like to inject my uninvited, and likely unwelcome, comments.

Largely, I agree with Grip in that the player is not the storyteller. Although James makes the argument that in sports games and in Farmville the player “creates” the narrative, this is not entirely so. In these games The Narrative has already been set by the designer, and the player experiences A narrative. But more on that later – before I go on a five page tangent on the role of the player, allow me to respond to the actual piece. I will do so by directly quoting sections of the document and then responding.

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