By Chi Kong Lui on October 10, 2008 - 8:00am.
Ars Technica closely examines some recent games that raise controversial themes and issues.
On Super Columbine Massacre RPG!:
Essentially, SCMRPG! is a psychological examination of Harris and Klebold. It attempts to put the player into their mindset, exploring how and why they came to do what they did. The subject matter itself questions what a game is meant to be. Though people normally play video games for sheer enjoyment, there is none to be found in SCMRPG! Instead, I found myself actively dreading entering the game world, unwilling to perform the actions necessary to progress.
On Metal Gear Solid 4:
In the world of MGS4, war has become a business, and PMCs are in the center of it. The new war economy means that the world is in a constant state of battle, locked in perpetual proxy wars fought for business purposes. But while this is an interesting concept to contemplate, unfortunately it is not covered with real depth.
As a Kojima game, MGS4 spends much more time tackling strange philosophical debates than it does real world issues like PMCs. And given the fact that the existence of these corporations only came to light recently, it's a topic that is at the forefront of many people's minds. The game is wonderful, but the opportunity for a serious look at the subject was squandered.
By Chi Kong Lui on October 9, 2008 - 10:07pm.
So you think you can be a game critic? GameCritics.com is issuing an open invitation to the gaming community to review games for us. Game review submissions will be rated by the community and staff and the best game reviews will be published on our homepage.
By Tera Kirk on October 8, 2008 - 8:45pm.
Life as a Disabled Gamer is a guest editorial at Game|Life by Andrew Monkelban, a gamer with cerebral palsy who plays one-handed. His piece covers a lot of important issues, but what most interested me was the kinds of games he likes and doesn't like to play, and why:
Up until recently, I've played predominately roleplaying games, with some focus on fighters. However, with the inclusion of online multi-player and other networking features in games and consoles, I've been able to try different titles and genres (i.e. Devil May Cry 4, Grand Theft Auto 4, and Mass Effect).
One example of a genre I can't play is shooters. Mass Effect is in this genre, and I had trouble playing it, due to the controls being too complicated for one-handed gaming. When you need to hold the controller a certain way, it causes problems when needing to reach some buttons.
Gamers are an incredibly diverse group of people, and I don't think most game developers or publishers (or indeed, most gamers, myself included) fully realize just how diverse we are. Can controllers with sensitive analog sticks and lots of little buttons be adapted for someone who needs a larger, simpler setup? Are there certain games and genres that gamers with certain impairments can't play because of the barriers involved? If so, are these barriers truly "just the way things are" or can we fix them? For instance, can we make audio cue-intensive survival horror games and first-person-shooters accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing gamers? (See the Doom 3 closed-captioning/transcription mod).
By blogging about gaming and disability, I hope to examine these and other questions. And, of course, alert readers to some really cool technology and people.
By Mike Doolittle on October 5, 2008 - 10:51pm.
Crysis Warhead is finally upon us, and that can only mean one thing—more tweaking! Before reading this guide, it is imperative that you read my original Crysis optimization guide, as I'm not going to re-explain how to alter configuration files or access console commands. The engine is largely the same, and all of the information from the previous guide is still valid. Fortunately though it is far less necessary to use "tweaks" to get great performance from Crysis Warhead due to heavy optimization of the game engine.
By Brad Gallaway on October 4, 2008 - 11:00pm.
Not enough memory in here.
The amount of storage available on the Wii is truly pathetic, and not at all appropriate for the current environment. Adding insult to injury is the fact that you can only fit a small handful of games (never mind demos or movies) and I'm not able to delete the totally unnecessary news and weather channels to free up space for things that I actually want.
By Chi Kong Lui on October 4, 2008 - 3:02pm.
Along with our new mission and tagline, we're also introducing a new game review format. Starting soon, all of our reviews will contain the following features:
Title of Review
HIGH What the critic felt was the high point of the game.
LOW What the critic felt was the low point of the game.
WTF Description of the funniest and/or most unexpected moment of the game.
With the Internet getting faster and noisier, and the hectic pace of life today, we recognize that not everyone has the time or patience to read through a 1000 word game review. Adding a title to the review serves as quick introduction to draw the reader in and rather than do a dry bulleted summary of the review, we cribbed an idea from The Onion AV Club and gave it our own twist with the HIGH/LOW/WTF points.
Body of Review
Not much is going to change here. We will continue to avoid writing reviews that try to quantify the monetary/time value of a game, which we feel is an impossible and meaningless task since each gamer brings a unique set of expectations and values that cannot be matched by any one critic. Instead, we feel our opinions and thoughts are most useful and interesting when trying to determine if a game is good by conveying and qualifying our personal experiences during gameplay and what it means to us in relation to own lives and world-view.
Disclosures: This game was obtained via [publisher/retail store/rental] and reviewed on the [game console]. Approximately x hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed x times) and x hours of play to multiplayer modes.
After GerstmannGate and in light of other questionable business practices in the video game industry brought to the forefront by Video Game Media Watch, the Sore Thumbs blog and others, we felt strongly that more transparency was needed and having additional disclosures is a step in the right direction towards restoring reader confidence. In short, we want to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem.
Parents: Questionable content in the game that parents may want to be aware of before letting their kids play it.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Content addressing the auditory aspects of games and how they may impact play experiences for the hearing impaired.
We are eliminating our Consumer Guides and integrating the information that we felt still had value to the standard review format. Since most readers do not recognize the difference between game criticism vs. the "is this worth your time and money" consumer content, separating the review and consumer advice only caused confusion and hurt the overall visibility of the writing.
These are the only points in the review where we step out of own perspective because we understand that parents and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing have very specific needs and concerns that we can properly address.
We've put a lot of time and thought into developing this new review format. Look for its debut in all our upcoming reviews and let us know what you think.
By Dale Weir on October 3, 2008 - 7:09am.
It takes national tragedies for the government of Finland to A) notice a game where you kill a bunch of kindergarten students and B) take action against it. That means that for a long while no one knew of this game or found it offensive enough to take action. I don't know what is worst.
By Chi Kong Lui on October 2, 2008 - 3:34am.
When it comes to the Internet, change is the only constant. It happens in an instant and permeates our lives so quickly that we don't even realize how much it impacts how we communicate and interact with people. With the advent of Web 2.0 exploding in 2008, we at GameCritics.com felt it was a good time to take a look at ourselves in relation to the reality of content today to see how would could evolve and contribute to the new socially-driven Internet.
With that in mind, I'd personally like to introduce our new mission statement and tagline.
Our Mission: To elevate the quality, culture and perception of video games as contemporary arts and entertainment through game criticism and community development.
We will accomplish our mission by presenting a diverse range of perspectives from authors and gamers of different backgrounds in order to provide readers with insightful, useful, and entertaining content on video games and their growing presence in society.
Our old mission statement didn't properly convey our values and our passion for video games, and the concept that criticism can be beneficial to a community. Not only does the new mission make our goals more clear, but it also recognizes that this isn't something that a small group of individuals can accomplish in isolation. As the saying goes, it takes a village and this new mission serves as an invitation to those in the gaming community who share our passion to join us.
Our Tagline: Games. Culture. Criticism.
After expanding the scope of our mission, it became clear that "Smart Reviews" from our old tagline felt too limited in its ability to describe our editorial drive. "Serious Gamers" had started sounding too elitist, exclusionary and dull. By exploring the "Culture" of video games, we hope that our content will continue to be intelligent and insightful, but will also acknowledge a more personal and emotional side of the video game experience and how it touches our lives.
So now that we've made this announcement, it's time to go to work. Be on the look out for more changes, new features and hopefully more content on GameCritics.com in the coming weeks and months. We look forward to hearing your feedback and we hope you'll join us on the journey.
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