Re: Kotaku | Fox News Wants You To Be Mad About Assassin’s Creed III’s Evil George Washington DLC

Fox News Wants You To Be Mad About Assassin’s Creed III’s Evil George Washington DLC.

OK, another reblog (and another on ACIII), I know, but this is good stuff.

This time it brings in stuff from my Language and Advertising class. The Fox News article is definitely using the kind of slippery language that advertisers use to subtly sway you. I just did a presentation on how Starbucks is great at doing this.

I think it’s crazy anyone is complaining that Ubisoft, an international company in the 21st century (as opposed to say, 1066 or 1415), is creating alternate history. (Sidenote: It’s funny we inherited from the British this rivalry with the French, even though the French helped win our independence from Britain!) The point that people that sympathetic to Washington can take away is that he didn’t go bad like that!

Keep up the history remixing Ubisoft.


Re: Video games take aim at dyslexia | Psychology | Science News

Video games take aim at dyslexia | Psychology | Science News.

Mayhem teaches literacy! Scientists just said that!

And the effect lasted two months. That’s a lot longer than the post-Super Smash Bros. dex buff!

But wait, they only used Rayman. I wonder what an FPS would do? And they only did the study in Italian which doesn’t have horrific spelling like English. Oh man I wanna do that study! “Rumble Pit and Reading: Learning Effects of  Halo for Dyslexic Children.”

Re: Kotaku | This Assassin’s Creed Heroine Is a Great Black Game Character.

This Assassin’s Creed Heroine Is a Great Black Game Character. Here’s How It Happened..

I dream of more games that will help show other cultures and ethnicities in a positive light. The way Murray integrates cultural theory into writing for a game is more of what the game industry needs. Her talk of striping away the words so that the game mechanics tell the story really intrigues me. I may have thought of this kind of thing already, but I’ll have to ponder that one.

Narrative Incredibility

On every team, there needs to be that guy that will say “No,” that will stop ridiculous things from making it into the game. There needs to be somebody who’s role it is to be a check on the sanity, verisimilitude, and narrative cohesion of an idea. Someone that can remind people that a well-crafted narrative stands on its own without ridiculousness. A case in point is The Force Unleashed. There should have been someone to say, “An apprentice pulling down a star destroyer? I think that’s a little much. Let’s find a more creative way for him to bring down a star destroyer nonetheless,” or “Two different people get thrown through transparisteel windows and survive the vacuum of  space? Maybe that’s too far.” It wouldn’t have taken away from the fun and all the other believable powers the Apprentice has, and may have even lead to an interesting task or new game mechanic. When you do things that crazy, you need a really good explanation and it’s gotta be consistent with the rest of the world/universe. It can’t be over-the-top just for the sake of being over-the-top. It doesn’t mean at all you can’t surprise the player, it just means the player shouldn’t stop and go, “Wait, how did that just happen?” When I see something like that I feel like, “It’s OK guys [game developers], I’m enjoying the game. You didn’t need to do that.” An explanation could have been given for a Jedi surviving the vacuum of space—pressurizing himself (like a reverse Force Push), going into a meditative state to conserve air, and reaching out to their pilot through the Force—but it never was and was never even considered an unbelievable feat. We have to start at a nominal level of incredibility and make a good story there, and then intensify the story by going to where we can logically climb to. This doesn’t mean stories won’t ever reach amazing heights—people climb Mt. Everest all the time. But they don’t jump to the summit or just take a helicopter, they climb all the way there and earn the height of summitting.

Jane McGonigal

I had the privilege of seeing Jane McGonigal speak at Ohio State last year. She’s pushing some really cool ideas about how to use games, where games could go. I like that she emphasizes the powerful potential of games and focuses the positive impact they can have. Games really can change the world.

The Rules of a Game

Among the crucial elements of flow are “a challenging activity that requires skill” and “clear goals and feedback.” So for a game this means that the player knows what they need to do (or could do) and their possibilities as that time are matched to their skill level. Then when the task is complete, they get a reward that clearly communicates their awesomeness and validates their input as a player.

Both of these elements involve rules in some way. As they say, design is about constraints.

I recently encountered a task that involved rules and these flow-conducive elements. In my historical linguistics class I had the following homework assignment.

Please answer any three of the questions, in writing, in no more than a few sentences for each answer. In selecting which questions to answer,you

must follow these constraints:

a. At least one of the questions you answer must be numbered in double digits

b. The total value of the questions you answer, arrived at by adding up the number assigned to each question, must be at least 21.

This assignment struck me as not only very clear and thorough instructions (leave it to a historical linguist) but also as having parameters that added a more flow-oriented dimension to it, making it a bit of a game. Needless to say, it made the assignment fun, but it also added a pleasantly unexpected dimension of excitement. The number-adding component gave a secondary goal to the whole thing, another thing for my brain to work on in the in-between and in the back of my mind while doing the assignment. Something about it just multiplied its interestingness.

I think education should employ this way more often. And games can take note that the addition of a simple mechanic is sometimes enough to make a game more thrilling and engaging.