Compared to the more beautiful and elaborate next-generation experiences currently available, most of the games I loved as a kid (Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, etc.) seem like mere trifles by comparison. In absolute terms, BioShock is certainly a much better game than Wolfenstein 3D (one of the earliest first-person shooters). Does it follow then that modern gamers get more enjoyment from their videogames than gamers of previous generations did from theirs?
If it accomplishes nothing else, Viva Pinata: Party Animals shows that someone, somewhere in the hierarchy at Microsoft understands the importance of attempting to expand their user base.
The long-awaited Halo 3 reviews are in, and—just like Bioshock—there were tons of hands-on impressions, detailed previews, and fever-pitch hype. So it didn't surprise me that it received ubiquitously raving reviews, with 9s and 10s littering the field.
The June issue of Cognitive Systems Research contains a curious article entitled "Employing emotions to drive plot generation in a computer-based storyteller." Using a computer program built on the premise that “a story can be represented as a cluster or group of emotional links and tensions between characters…[and] story-actions work as operators that modify such clusters,” the author took several computer-generated stories along with one that he wrote himself and had them independently rated. The results are intriguing.
What if a videogame could automatically sense when a player is starting to get frustrated? What if, before the player decides to throw down his or her controller in disgust, a game could detect emerging feelings of impatience and provide just enough support to induce the player to continue? Last month’s issue of the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies details the results of a collaborative study between Microsoft Research and MIT in which researchers created a computer program that could successfully predict player frustration (with nearly 80% accuracy) based on purely non-verbal physical data.
Last month's issue of the respected journal Developmental Psychology
details a study on the possible links between aggression and wishful identification with violent game characters. The study, which involved 112 adolescent boys, concludes that "identifying with violent video game characters makes players more aggressive." While this conclusion is not surprising, and will most likely just confirm most peoples' fears about videogames, I found a couple much more fascinating results buried in the article's discussion section.
According to at least one source, the Nintendo Wii has already surpassed the XBox 360 in worldwide sales, despite the 360's early launch. Not only is the Wii a really fast-selling console, it's the fastest selling console ever.
I've seen hundreds of movies in my lifetime, but it seems quite dubious whether Ebert has played even a single videogame in his. Until he takes the time to experience what the interactive medium has to offer and can construct a more coherent and substantive argument, his criticisms will lack the validity to be taken seriously by his contemporaries, gamers or not.
Film critic Roger Ebert says that video games are not art. A movie, he says, involves "total authorial control": filmmakers tell their stories, and we in the audience follow their leads. But in a video game, the audience are the storytellers to a large extent. So how can there be a cohesive vision of anything?