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http://www.molleindustria.org/memory/memory_reloaded.html

Personally, I enjoy matching games that are based on memory. I feel like everyone has played a game similar to this. However, upon reading the directions for this game, my suspicion rose. The fact that the directions were stressing that we are in “unstable times” and that the player must step onto the “battlefield” of our memory shows that there was going to be a twist and not be your average matching game. It ends with saying that, “history may be different from that which you remember.”

The game starts like any other matching game: cards face down. The player must one by one click a card and find it’s match somewhere else on the board. The rules are really simple. As I turned each card over one by one, it would show things like The Ruthless Banker or Natural Climate Change. The strategy behind this is to bring up current societal topics and involve them to send a message. However, upon trying to match each card, I noticed that the cards were changing. For example, I knew for a fact that the Natural Climate Change card was located in the top right hand corner because I had just clicked on that card and exposed it. When I clicked it, it now said, “Man-Made Global Warming.” As a result, it was not a match so I had to pick a different card. This is a metaphor for showing that all of the world’s problems are not so easy to solve and are constantly changing. The game recognizes that I know where that card is at, so it made it more difficult to match. The same thing happened with Afghan Freedom Fighter. When I knew where its partner was, I clicked it, but it had turned into Afghan Terrorist.

The game does a good job showing the change in cards. An underlying message could be that when things seem good, there is not always a match. For example,”natural climate change” may seem like a favorable option, but the fact that it’s paired with Man-Made Global Warming shows that it is not natural. It does the same with many controversial topics such as healthcare, freedom fighting, population, etc.

I think it’s an effective format for a game. People are familiar with this style of game and enjoy being able to match similar cards. However, the game takes you for a twist and forces you to think about what is being said. It’s simple and short, which often times make for the most effective messages.

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http://www.mcvideogame.com/index-eng.html

Judging by the other types of games on this site, I knew that it was going to use both subtle and strong imagery to show that McDonald’s is a truly demonic corporation. Right from the start, my views were confirmed when a sinister looking Ronald McDonald appeared on the opening screen. This imagery set the tone for how the game was going to be set up. Ronald McDonald is also much bigger in size, indicating that nothing else compares to what McDonald’s stands for- it is bigger, better, and stronger than you. The picture is accompanied with a quote that says, “You will discover all the dirty secrets that made us one of the biggest companies in the world.” This quote blatantly shows that McDonald’s is not an honest corporation and that they house many “dirty secrets” that the general public does not know.

After the aforementioned imagery, the game brings you to the menu which has a typical McDonald’s meal of a burger, fries, and soft drink. However, there is a pool of blood beneath the tray. Obviously, the game is not trying to say that blood is on the menu, but that in order to enjoy a meal at the restaurant, there is much blood shed and brutal activity behind it. The game is split up into four sections: agricultural, feedlot, fast food, and headquarters. The player must manage all four sectors in order to efficiently earn money.

Each section of the game contributes to sending a message about the malicious intent of McDonald’s. For example, in the agricultural tab, the player must destroy land and housing in other countries to make room for crops and cattle. The company must show a complete disregard for other nations as long as it results in financial success for McDonald’s. Also, in the feedlot, the player must feed the cows steroids and industrial waste, even though it is a health hazard. Why must you do this? To cut costs and be as financially efficient as possible. Anything goes when you need to make a profit in this game.

When the player inevitably loses, a very ominous looking picture of Ronald McDonald comes up saying, “shame on you, you bankrupted our company. Years and years of corporate culture have been destroyed.” I think this is an interesting message because it shows that when you are unable to do evil things efficiently, you lose. When things become not as malicious as McDonald’s would like, the game ends. This just shows that in order for McDonald’s to thrive and succeed, one must handle the everyday evils correctly. It has been doing it since the 1940s and continues to do it today.

The imagery, mechanics of the game, and rules and processes all contribute to skewing the McDonald’s image. It takes players through an experience in order to become familiar with how running a giant corporation like McDonald’s requires many questionable activities. One must exploit other countries, maintain poor working environment, and completely disregard moral values. In doing so, a successful corporation giant can be built from the ground up. As opposed to McDonald’s getting to feed the mouths of the players with tainted food, the developers of the game get to feed the players with educated information on such a controversial topic.

Time To Type

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http://www.kongregate.com/games/suttree/time-to-type

Time To Type is a very simplistic game that tests the speed at which a player types. It allows three seconds for a player to type the displayed word on the screen. However, to discourage a player from looking at the keyboard to aid in his or her typing, the letters switch around right as the timer begins. This enforces both speed and accuracy, as the player cannot look away from the screen lest they shed a second from the unrelenting timer. Every word typed correctly results in the increase of score in the top right hand corner. The game ends when the player is unable to type the word displayed in the harsh three second window.

The game’s bleach white background and basic text layout screams anything but gaudy. In order to attract greater attention, the developers could have expanded the colors and graphics. The game was made in 2006 so that is no excuse to be lacking in that department. However, the game is blatantly straightforward and catching on to the instructions happens quickly. People gain a sense of pride in their words per minute (WPM) rate, and that is essentially what this game applies. The faster you type, the higher of a score you are capable of achieving. There are some clear strengths and weakness of this game.

The strengths of this game are the easy rules and understandable gameplay. It can be played by people of all ages. That being said, I think this game can be a great educational tool in our nation’s school systems. In grade school, I had computer classes that always stressed “using the home row” and used keyboard blockers so that we could not peek at the keys. We had all types of typing tests to improve and become efficient with our WPM. This game would allow a fun spin to such a monotonous task. When kids see “work” as a game where there is a score, learning becomes more fun. Therefore, using Time To Type could be an excellent tool for future lesson plans.

There are two noticeable weaknesses to the game. The first is that there is no leaderboard. People are competitive. Friends like to compare scores. This game has no such feature so every game played feels so unimportant and useless. There is no proof or motivation of obtaining a high score. That is a minor flaw, but one of greater magnitude is the fact that often times the game does not allow enough time to possibly type the word. As the game proceeds further, words get longer and the time frame is not extended. The letters begin to scramble and the timer starts and they do not form a word until there is less than a second left. By the time you can actually see the word and type out 6 letters, the time has expired. The timing mechanics of the game could definitely use work because once you reach a certain point, the game feels unbeatable, which is not a good aspect to have in a game.

Maybe adding a leaderboard and fixing the time frame issues would make Time To Type a legitimate tool to be used in our nation’s grade schools in teaching kids how to type and to make a fun game out of it. If kids can be convinced that learning is fun, games like these can have an incredibly valuable impact.

 

Jetpack Joyride

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The makers of Fruit Ninja struck gold with their second big hit in Jetpack Joyride. It has been ranked #1 in the app store for most downloaded game. In this game, the player takes control of a grizzled, adventurous man that gets his hands on a jetpack and travels through a top-secret scientific laboratory. The point of the game is simple: get as far as you can (measured in meters), while avoiding obstacles and collecting coins. The game features missions to complete, powerups to obtain in order to get a temporary vehicle upgrade, and an in-game store to purchase goodies with the coins you collected.

The game’s developers utilized a number of strategies to successfully make Jetpack Joyride endlessly addicting. Starting simple, the game’s mechanics are nearly identical to that seen in the popular game called Helicopter, where the player continuously makes a series of adjusting clicks to move up and down. In Jetpack Joyride, all you must do is tap the screen more to go up and release it to go down. Due to the popularity of Helicopter, the game dons familiar mechanics that are easy to pick up. Many people are uncomfortable with change and new things, so the familiarity that Jetpack Joyride breeds definitely provides an advantage. Aside from that, it also incorporates missions that will earn you a higher rank and give you more coins. The missions give the game meaning and gives the players something to strive for, as opposed to just aimlessly playing over and over again. When objectives are present, it leaves the player wanting to complete more and more of them.

For those of you who love the idea of leveling up and advancing character ability, Jetpack Joyride offers that, as well. The coins that are collected can be used towards upgrading equipment and vehicles among various other perks. The leveling up system is a very popular technique (as this class also exhibits a leveling up grading system). As was mentioned in the Words with Friends post, an aspect about games that gets people so involved is the leaderboard aspect that allows you to compare scores with friends. The game has an attached feed to an OpenFeint account that allows you to view statistics about your time playing the game and to compare scores with friends.

As we learned in class, some of the most important characteristics of a game are clear rules, having a feedback system, and having a goal. Jetpack Joyride does a fantastic job of incorporating all of these with its familiar Helicopter-like mechanics, its mission system, and goal of getting as far as you can and topping your high score with every respective play. It has a lot of player-to-player interaction with its leaderboard feature, which allows for a competitive environment. It is no wonder that this game is one of the most popular in the app store.

Operation: Pedopriest

http://www.molleindustria.org/en/operation-pedopriest

I thought after playing a game called Faith Fighter that the gaming site could not push the envelope any further, but I stand corrected. The game gets its name from the obvious mergers of the words pedophile and priest, implying that they are one in the same thing. The very first thing that comes on the screen is the Bible passage Matthew 19:14, which says in a paraphrased manner, “let the children come to me.” It’s obvious what the topic of the game is going to be about, but it springs curiosity as to how it will be presented.

I was brutally surprised to see that the game was taking the side of the priests and not in fighting them. The game gives an introduction message in the form of a letter from the Pope. It says that their “common and well-established sexual habits” have come into media spotlight and that is it the Church’s number one priority to shut down these rumors and prevent the priests from being captured so that can continue this aforementioned life. It ends with saying that it is very important for their “lifestyle and autonomy.” After reading this, I searched for a deeper meaning, but failed to find one. I hypothesized that some added gameplay might spark some ideas about the meaning.

The level consisted of a look-a-like three-story crack house one would expect to find in a game like Grand Theft Auto. Its inhabitants were priests, children, parents, police, and silencers, which are people to help distract the media. Gameplay was simple, you just had to control the silencers in order to buy the priests some time to go and rape another child. It was disturbing to see the priests pat the child on the head to then actually follow with pushing them on the ground and raping them. After this happens, the silencers must distract the police so that the priest can get away with the crime. If things get really hectic, you can call in air support to take the priest away in order to hide them in the Vatican.

After I received too much media attention, the game was over. That was it. There was no message or extra theme- just nothing. Now that I had played the game, I still sat there confused and looking for a deeper message or underlying theme. I struggled to formulate one and have thus come to the conclusion that the game is made to simply bring awareness to the situation. I disagree with how the developers went about it. All the game does is bring attention to the situation, which many people already know about. Due to the commonality of the topic, awareness is not the best option here. There should have been an extra theme or a different gaming style. Perhaps taking the opposite side and letting players accept the position of police officer. That at least sends a message that it needs to stop. I do not think that a patronizing tone is enough to pass as a strong message in this scenario. Overall, I thought the game was ineffective, offensive, and boring. There was also no disclaimer for the game often times seen in other socially offensive topics.

-Kyle

 

Faith Fighter

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http://www.molleindustria.org/faith-fighter

Right off the bat, the title caught my eye. Due to faith and religion being a stigmatized topic to bring up in public, the title of Faith Fighter seemed wildly offensive and unacceptable. However, the ambiguity of the word “fighter” could mean something less extreme, such as someone being a missionary and spreading the word in the fight to spread a religious belief. This idea was quelled immediately when I began to read the game description. It used a patronizing tone in saying that religious hatred has never been more fun and that you would have the opportunity to “kick the shit out of your enemies.” My view of the game was further confirmed when the first menu screen came up and told me to pick my fighter among the options of God, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Budai, and Ganesha. Each player had clenched fists and stood in a Mortal Kombat-like pose, suggesting that these players were inevitably going to exchange violent blows and deliver some knock outs.

Due to the socially hazardous theme of this game, I expected there to be a disclaimer- and there was. It provided the message of the game, which is, “to push gamers to reflect on how the religions and sacred representations are often instrumentally used to fuel or justify conflicts between nations and people.” It then gives an option for the normal version of the game or censored. The inclusion of this message is entirely necessary, otherwise it could create a disastrous uproar.

Upon gameplay, I noticed the background becoming more of a wasteland as time progressed. I think this implies that as religious fights proceed, the world becomes more destroyed. I saw that to be a subtle, yet powerful message. The overall tone of the game is ironic because it takes the heads of religion and makes them battle. Aren’t beings like God supposed to be loving and peaceful? This just gives a dramatic interpretation of the religious battles that go on. As opposed to just having a character represent Catholicism and another character represent Buddhism, they used the actual figures associated with those religions.

Whereas the makeup of the game seems offensive, its message is clear. Religious fighting is ridiculous and pointless and all it does is create harm to the world. The game does an effective job in bringing this message to the forefront and making the player feel immature and stupid if they in fact house some type of religious prejudice. The patronizing tone and gameplay convey that message strongly.

-Kyle

The Free Culture Game

http://www.molleindustria.org/freeculturegame-eng

The title alone lets the person know what the game is about. There are very simplistic and clean colors and graphics. The instructions of the game are easy and the learning curve is just as light. It is a game of collecting and avoiding. The game is a playable theory trying to convey the message that keeping knowledge amongst the general public leads to more ideas and a more effective spread of knowledge. This is evident by the fact that knowledge as “cooperatively created and shared” is accentuated and bold. Therefore, the point of the game is to avoid letting the market dominate knowledge, creativity, and ideas.

After the introduction stressing the need for cooperation and “the common,” gameplay advanced the theory. If the lightbulb bubbles representing knowledge were properly distributed to the public, more bubbles were made available, signifying that when you spread information properly, more ideas, creativity, and knowledge are generated. The Vectorialist is the enemy and its goal is to copyright ideas and create scarcity. This is representative of a monopolistic governance where the people do not have much control and the market becomes commodified to the point of complete dominance. The Vectorialist also has an unfair advantage in taking the knowledge because it sends out little red rays that act as magnets in collecting the bubbles. This shows how the industry is advantaged in copyrighting ideas because many times the general public may not know how to go about copyrighting an idea.

As you continue to play, the Vectorialist gets a little more intense and takes more and more knowledge at a faster rate. People who cannot access the knowledge will stop producing new ideas and turn into passive consumers. This is done by the people turning a shade of gray. This symbolizes how people become mindless zombies to the media, corporations, and copyright market. They become pawns to knowledge and no longer contribute to advancement. They just take what the Vectorialist gives them.

There did not seem to be an “end” to the game, per se. It just became more difficult to spread knowledge because the bubbles were coming out at a snail’s pace once the Vectorialist got a strangehold on the market. I think it is effective to do this because it shows that there never really is a finish to this and that there can always be a dying effort to protect ideas, even though it may become difficult. The statement of the game is clear- it is to protect free knowledge and liberate all the consumers from the domain in the market. The graphics, gameplay, and instructions all played a pivotal role in conveying this message. It is clearly trying to make strides at social change and not letting the industry dominate.