Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 2 Live

Catchy title, no?

Item creation is not a feature.

The second episode of Spam Spam Spam Humbug, the Ultima Codex podcast, is now live, and is also available here for download. In this episode, I offer some comments on Warren Spector’s SXSW lecture on “the dangers of thinking of games as fun”, and raise some objections thereto.

Not that it’s a lengthy episode, mind you; I don’t think this one hits even twenty minutes in total length. Seventeen, maybe.

I also make a couple of shout-outs toward the end of the episode. I’m planning on making these a regular feature of the podcast; if you’d like to recommend anyone for a shout-out, send me a message. Also welcome are suggested podcast topics, commentary or criticism about podcast episodes, and/or offers to take part in the podcast as either an occasional or regular contributor.

As well, I’ve just overhauled the rewards for the Ultima Codex’s Patreon page. Now, at the $10 pledge level (or above), you’ll get access to Spam Spam Spam Humbug the day before it goes live here on the site.

Anyhow, you can find the episode — complete with show notes — here.

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Boolean Dragon Boolean Dragon 2 years, 6 months ago.

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  • #23721
    WtF Dragon
    WtF Dragon
    Participant

    Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 2 Live

    The second episode of Spam Spam Spam Humbug, “Don’t Knock the Fun”, is now online.

    Read more…

  • #23725

    Frank

    Thanks for the shout-out

    I understand Warren’s point, videogames are a rich medium, there should be games that make social or political statements.

    There are quite a few games like that, art pieces that do not focus on the gameplay but on the message but should they be called games? Take ‘Dear Esther’ for example, I absolutely loved the mod and later bought the game to support the devs.

    I just called it a game.. but I know people who disagree, even before the gorgeous graphical overhaul ‘Dear Esther’ featured the same quality narrative, this is where most of my enjoyment came from, I would have enjoyed it as an audio-book, does that mean that it shouldn’t be a video-game?

    That wasn’t the only thing I enjoyed about the game, exploring the world was enjoyable and that sense exploration is the reason I preferred Sacred over Diablo 2. Finding new towns or camps was much more fulfilling than going through a procedural maze but nobody would debate about whether or not Sacred is or isn’t a video-game.

    I think the definition of fun is somewhat subjective and so is the experience, I am much more likely to have fun if something is engaging. I’ll use Max Payne 3 as an example, I’m a big max payne fan, I love the Mike Hammeresque, Mickey Spillane style of writing and Sam Lake absolutely nailed the genre, the first two games were also quite fun. I absolutely hated Max payne 3, more so because it was a max payne game, I absolutely hate anything Dan Houser has ever written, It’s crude, it’s uninspired, I just hate it.

    As far as the gameplay went, I thought it was one of the more technically sound Rockstar games, if it wasn’t for the writing or the fact that it wasn’t a max payne game to me, I would probably have enjoyed it more even if it had it shares of problem with pacing and cut-scenes.

    But now, let’s look at Alan Wake, which feels more like a Max Payne game than MP3 ever could. Alan Wake has an extremely engaging story, I think it’s an amazing game but yet I thought the gameplay got repetitive and stale near the end, I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Max payne 3 was more fun but I could be swayed in that direction but yet, I would never actually play Max Payne 3 again but I’d gladly revisit Alan Wake.

    • #23757
      WtF Dragon
      WtF Dragon
      Participant

      There’s a point there, too; the story of the game has to be engaging as well. For the most part.

      I mean, I find a game like Jetpack Joyride to be ludicrously engrossing, and what story it has to speak of can be summarized as: “guy steals a jetpack and attempts to escape from the facility through an endless series of deathtraps”. But it has easy-to-grasp mechanics, and ramps up the level and variety of challenges it throws at you at a very measured rate. It’s really fun.

      But yeah, sure, if a game’s story isn’t particularly gripping, it can be hard to stick with it: I find I’m having this issue in Divinity: Original Sin right now. I like the game and its mechanics, for the most part, but it’s almost too open-ended; I don’t feel any impetus to do anything meaningful in the game, and so I can’t say I’m maintaining much interest in it.

      But that’s a kind of fun too, isn’t it? That same action/reaction dynamic, but played out as a response to story and narrative as opposed to in-game events? I guess I didn’t really put much consideration on that, but the same basic principle would seem to apply.

    • #24083
      Boolean Dragon
      Boolean Dragon
      Participant

      Hey Frank. I haven’t played Dear Esther though I’ve read a lot about it. For me a video game is just a game where a computer facilitates an I/O feedback loop. My definition of “game” is a set of rules describing actions that may and may not be performed by one or more players to achieve a quantifiable goal. In golf the goal is to get the lowest possible score. In baseball it’s to have more runs than the other team by the end of the ninth inning (simplified, obviously). In chess you must take the opponent’s king. If there is a computer with an I/O feedback loop and rules governing which actions may and may not be performed but has no quantifiable goal then I’d say it’s not a game.

      I think the problem is that for whatever reason some people take great offense when “computer/video art” like this is said to not be a game. I don’t understand why. A book, film, painting, photograph or song are all art forms that can be entertaining, educational, beautiful and have a significant emotional impact on the viewer, and yet none of them are games. I think, as usual, the answer is for people on the Internet to relax and actually think for a moment. It seems these days everything has to devolve into a flame war.

      After some thought, I think the issue may actually be that people are used to describing anything that looks like a game as a game because historically games have always had a goal or win condition, but recently with all the independent games that’s not always the case. In that context, to say a “game” isn’t a game because is has no quantifiable goal or win condition seems like a demeaning statement, when in fact you’re simply recognizing that the “game” is missing a fundamental component.

      eightvirtues.com/games | youtube.com/user/VasCorpBetMani | twitter.com/eightvirtues

  • #23836

    Micro Magic

    I have to disagree with Spector. There’s no lack of discussion about the meaning and undertones of videogames. Quite a few shows exist that deal with videogames on a deeper level. Extra-credits and Game Theory come to mind.

    I take more of a pure pwnage view on gaming, games are about the gameplay. I really don’t care about the storylines. Most videogame writers do a really shitty job and for the same reason I don’t watch modern movies I don’t take game storylines seriously. Of course, outliers exist. Games like Deus Ex Human Revolution and The Last Story have combined fun with amazing storylines and presentation. Overall though, games might not be a good medium for conveying storyline. I was watching an Extra-Credits a short while ago that went into a discussion about forgetting what you’ve just played. Most gamers can’t specifically remember what they’ve played in a sitting. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m guilty of this too. I become so focused in the mechanics of the game I forget to pay attention or note what’s being said in cut scenes and dialogues. Particularly in action games and platformers.

    Of course, games like Myst, Dear Esther, Alan Wake, and Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit games don’t have to contain “fun” to be entertaining in their own way.

    • #23878

      Frank

      I think a lot of Game Designers would rather be making movies instead of games, at least that’s my impression. There’s a small number of talented writers in this industry. I don’t usually play games because I want to sit through a story, I usually skip most of the cut-scenes when I play.

      Sometimes the story even gets in the way of my enjoyment, I’ve mentioned Max Payne 3 before but another game where the story almost ruined my enjoyment of the game was Far Cry 3, while some of the characters and voice acting were extremely well made, the main story was so full of plot holes and illogical choices that it almost ruined my experience. The writer of course put the blame on the players not understanding the story..

      That’s a common theme with Ubisoft games, I find their stories to be extremely bland and uninteresting.

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