Too much choice

January 9, 2010

It’s a nice problem to have, but it’s still a problem: I own too many games. Some of them I can pass off as by-products of the curious tendency of graphic designers to collect things. Others are games I feel like I should have played. Still more are those in certain series’ in which I have enjoyed current titles. A stock-take of my games collection highlights the problem. The following is a list of games, that, as of today, I own and have not yet played.

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Enough’s enough

January 2, 2010

Recently, I’ve been painfully aware of it. There is a certain stigma to being a ‘gamer’. To some, it labels us as nerds, geeks, losers. Many perceive it as a childish pursuit, as if it were still the end of the 80’s and we were only now unwrapping our NES consoles from underneath the tree in our pyjamas, or should that be going mental over our N64s? The truth is, our favourite pastime is at a difficult age. Videogames haven’t been around long enough for them to be a ubiquitous medium – most would not bracket it in the same class as TV or film as an entertainment channel. But why not? Why is five hours of TV each night deemed a more acceptable exercise than the equivalent time spent with a controller in hand? Ultimately, how do we convince the non-believers that gaming is not only an increasingly commonplace activity, but one that aspires to be a more valuable cultural artifact than television?

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I got a staggering amount of games for Christmas. More games than I will reasonably get through for a number of months, particularly as the first quarter of this new year is absolutely packed with triple-AAA titles that I wont be able to resist picking up. But, am I playing those games? Playing through solo adventures to bring you my personal impressions, to rack up more Trophies; a pursuit that has become curiously addictive, and probably worth its own post?

No, I’m doing none of that. I’m currently obsessed with trying to master the multiplayer of Modern Warfare 2, and finding it a case of one step forward, two steps back.

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A 2009 Retrospective

December 31, 2009

It’s been a busy, exciting year, both for myself personally and for videogames in general. After a few reviews posted in October 2008 kicked off the infinitecontinues blog, it wasn’t until March of this year that I posted again – a review of the hugely impressive Dead Space – but writing and regular posting began in earnest from August, finally giving me a productive reason (and an iron-clad excuse) for playing so many games! Visitors are respectable in number, boosted by the surprising popularity of my Videogame Minimalism designs (which even spawned some imitators!), a venture that I plan to do a lot more with as we enter the new year. I have big plans for infinitecontinues too, and I’m hoping that my 2010 Retrospective will be looking back on a yer of big growth for this blog and a few other ideas I have for the brand, which I’ll keep under wraps for now.

In terms of videogaming, Spring of this year saw the first ever console demise I’ve had to suffer; the now infamous Red Ring Of Death that strikes down so many Xbox 360s. With a possible job opportunity arising at Sony, I traded in the dozens of Xbox 360 games I had gathering dust on my shelves and bought a shiny new PS3. As luck would have it, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe offered me the job of Artist the following day! Spooky, huh? Several months later, with my passion for videogaming growing, and my stack of unplayed games rising, I bought another Xbox 360, so now have all three of the current generation of consoles, much to my girlfriend’s chagrin…

With a clutch of vaunted titles round the corner in the new decade (Heavy Rain, Bayonetta, Bioshock 2, God Of War 3 and Dante’s Inferno amongst them), there are no signs of my love affair with videogaming dying out anytime soon. As our favourite medium begins to mature and learn from the mistakes of its past, we could be entering another golden age of gaming, especially as the technology we use to run the games on improves at such an impressive rate. I’ll be bringing you my personal take on the development of our industry through infinitecontinues, and I’ll hope you’ll choose to stick around and discuss it with me.

Happy New Year to you all!

Normally I’m not a huge fan of Charlie Brooker; I find his overly cynical and acerbic views quite irritating. But this article is spot on. The picture he paints of a typical non-gamer picking up the controller for a quick go is not only laugh-out-loud funny, it’s also so, so true. Although my girlfriend is slowly getting to grips with the operation of videogames (she has to really, doesn’t she) I’ll never forget her first steps in 2-player co-op with Gears Of War – she spent the entire time either looking at her feet, or, overly-compensating, looking at the sky.

Unless you grew up with them, learning their unique language, videogames are different to other forms of entertainment. TV and films only require the use of your eyes, music requires the use of your ears – things that you already possess. Gaming requires something extra – the controller, and a knowledge of gaming conventions that you can only learn by playing them.

Perhaps Microsoft’s Project Natal, where your body becomes the controller, will remove these barriers, and perhaps not. Perhaps mass-market acceptance will only arrive when videogaming has been around as long as film and television.

The newly re-launched website for upcoming FPS Bioshock 2 is exactly the kind of digital experience that a videogame demands – dripping with atmosphere and steeped in the aesthetics of the game. The interactive Flash diorama,  loosely based around a doll’s house, blends seamlessly at certain points with actual gameplay teaser footage, and adds an air of grimy menace with eerie sound effects and unsettling dialogue (click on the doll in the bottom left segment of the house for a chilling example of this).

Everything combines to evoke memories of Rapture, the underwater dystopian city (based on the philosophies of personal favourite Ayn Rand) that comprised the setting for the original game, and returns for the second, albeit 10 years on. As the first title was one of my all-time favourite videogames, the sequel has a lot to live up to; and my expectations are tempered by the fact that the franchise has switched from the hands of developer 2K Boston to those of their colleagues’, 2K Marin. Regardless, if the website is an accurate indicator of the flavour of Bioshock 2, it would appear that all the atmosphere of one of gaming’s most memorable settings has been retained. Roll on February.

Part advertising, part game; Sony’s ‘The Game‘ is a web platform presumably created as a companion piece to Sony’s new TV campaign promoting the launch of the re-designed PlayStation 3, the PS3 Slim, housed under the new umbrella strapline ‘The game is just the start.’ Users sign up to compete for either Team A or Team B and select from a number of micro-games in order to score points to add to the overall tally for your chosen team. The games themselves are short, snappy affairs, but the amazing production values really shine – Flash physics and sound effects are top drawer. The loading times, however, sadly reflect this.

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