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I noticed that a few people had brought up games by Molleindustria in the blog. So, I decided to take a look at the website. All games on this site capitalize on the “turnover” of the gaming industry in recent years. Trying to reach the wide audience that plays videogames, Molleindustria creates games that express pressing social needs and express relevant ideology circulating in the world today. The game I chose to play was called Phone Story. Knowing the background of the company was critical when playing this game, as it is definitely not your average online gaming experience.

In Phone Story, the player follows the journey of a cell phone across the world and joins the supply chain in which the phones are created. Within the game are four scenes. In the first, the player is taken through the Congo and participates in coltan extraction. Second comes China, where the player is exposed to the effects of outsourced labor. Third, western consumerism is revealed as the player sees the rush to acquire gadgets. In the final scene, the player is taken to Pakistan and sees electronic waste dumps and the harm it does to human health and the environment.

As a game strictly for iPhone and Android platforms, the mechanics are all based on touch. In level one, the player directs a Congo officer up and down the coltan field by sliding their finger. The officer must move quickly to prevent workers from resting. In level two, the player becomes a part of the hospital team trying to catch falling workers on a stretcher as they dive out of the building to escape abuse and overtime. In the third level, people run across the street as the player, an electronic store worker, tosses new products to them. Finally, level four begins. In this level the player must drag old electronic products into burners where the product is destroyed and fumes are emitted into the air.

This game makes a strong statement about the dark side of smart phone production. It’s basic game design and simple graphics are intended to give the message the most spotlight. Small sound effects are instilled throughout the game as well. These include, wimpers from the coltan workers, screams from the Chinese suicides, and bells as people catch gadgets. Following the simple nature of the game, the sounds are just adding to the negative emotions the player experiences in dealing with the game’s message.

Without being overwhelmed by confusing rules within the game play, I think Phone Story players can clearly see the detrimental effects of smart phone production. I find it ironic that the game itself is only playable through a smart phone platform. This was obviously intended by the company to further the message it is trying to send.

One interesting thing that I discovered by doing some research on the game is that it was recently removed from the Apple App Store. Perhaps because Apple has recently been criticized for taking part in some of these terrifying practices?

Overall, I think that this is a very interesting take on a game. As seen through my other post this week, I am really interested in how companies reveal larger truths about society using games as their mode of communication. No longer are games only for entertainment. In the new digital world, companies are benefitting from the power of video games to instill important social and political messages. This is something we have discussed in class a few times. My only argument against these games is that it takes some research to find them. These games need to gain more publicity in order to truly make an impact.

Here’s a slideshow of all four scenes in the game…

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This game is by no means fun. However, it drew my attention when looking at the list of new games on addictinggames.com. In my marketing class last semester we studied the Meth Project and its marketing efforts in great detail. So, my attraction to this game may be due to my familiarity with the company and its efforts to spread awareness of meth use across the US.

Mugshot match-up takes a new stance on the classic memory game. Rather than starting with all cards face down, meth match-up presents two columns. In the first, a card is turned up with a person’s face on it. To the right is another column featuring a group of 11 cards. Each card in the group holds a face of a meth user. The goal is to match the card on the left with the same face after the person uses meth (one of the cards on the right). There is no limit on the number of guesses allowed and once you match each card, you are asked to guess how long the transformation took. The game ends once each person has been matched with his or her meth picture.

The images are extremely graphic and are clearly trying to prove a point. In this quick game, the more severe the graphics become, the better the message gets across. With such intense images, the Meth Project can get straight to the fear tactics used to scare people out of meth-use. Without intense visuals, the message may lessen in severity and fail to prove its point to the audience. The game play is simple; all the player has to do is click on the picture that matches the non-drug user shown before them. Because of its simplicity, the player gets a thorough understanding of the game’s point.

I think this is an interesting game to discuss in the blog. We have yet to include a game that was made for education. The game itself is simply a medium through which a much larger message can be relayed to an audience. Entertainment is not a part of the game whatsoever. In mugshot match-up, the goal is to show people what happens when they become addicted to methamphetamines. It is not meant to be addicting or fun on any level. I think the Meth Project does a great job promoting anti-drug messages and this game seems to be just another way for them to reach a wider audience and get their point across.

Do you guys think this works? Can video games like this make a difference and prevent drug use in the future?

Here’s a link to try the game…

http://www.addictinggames.com/spotlight/methproject.jsp

 

 

While I definitely wouldn’t consider myself an avid game player, I have done my fair share of gaming. Growing up with a younger brother forced me to play pretty much every Nintendo game created along with a few Xbox and Play Station games as well. There is one game that I have noticed has been around for quite some time. That game is Diner Dash. Initially developed by GameLab and now owned by PlayFirst, Diner Dash is one of the best-selling downloadable games of all time. I have played almost every version, as it is available on multiple platforms including PC, Mac, consoles and mobile. For some reason, the game never gets old.

The basic plot of the game is centered on a young waitress named Flo. She purchases a diner, which she has to fix up and wait at. Through the many versions of the game, Flo continues to open more and more restaurants, each one becoming progressively nicer as the game increases in difficulty.

Playing Diner Dash involves seating customers and guiding Flo around her restaurant to serve its patrons. If she makes enough money at the end of each round, the player progresses to the next level. To place customers in their seats, players must drag and drop them (controls vary due to whichever medium they are playing the game on). Then the player moves Flo around, first to the table to take the order, then to the chef to place it and finally back to the table to bring the food. After waiting for the customers to finish eating, Flo must return to the table, clear it, and collect the check. With each action, the player receives points and bonuses are awarded for speed or repetition. In order to prevent point losses, the player must watch the hearts floating over customer heads. If something is taking too long or is considered poor service, the hearts fade. When no more hearts remain, customers leave the restaurant. Here, the player looses the most points. Once the time runs out, points are added and if the player earned enough the move on to the next level. With each level, table sizes grow and players are introduced to customers with varying personalities. Some customers don’t mind the extra wait while others are constantly in a rush. Mastering the personalities is definitely beneficial when playing the game.

In my opinion, the games basic format is what keeps me coming back each time. Graphics are simple and straightforward, which always seems slightly refreshing with the overly complicated games out there right now. I think that this is definitely one of those games that people return to because of familiarity.

From a marketing perspective, I believe that the company has done an excellent job staying relevant. Game updates, new versions and expanding platforms all contribute to why Diner Dash is still talked about 9 years after its creation. Today, the game is on Facebook where players can now interact with friends throughout game play.

In my opinion, this is a great game and has really set a standard for time management games as a whole. What do you guys think? Has anyone else played Diner Dash?

Below is a video clip showing one of the Diner Dash versions…

In an earlier post, someone mentioned the tendency for game developers to create spin offs, or hybrids of traditional games that everyone loves. This is exactly what the creator of the widely popular Words With Friends game accomplished. The game took off instantly as one of the mobile world’s most popular games. Taking the basic strategy and rules of scrabble, a staple in American board games, and combining it with the new interactive, highly communicative nature of games in the 21st century was key.

The basic rules of the game are simple. You are presented with a board and 7 tiles, each with one letter on them. After beginning by combining your tiles to form a word in the center of the board, the players are free to build on each others words and create a board completely up to them. All words must connect in some way to another tile and no tiles can be placed on the board that do not connect to spell a word. Unlike most games of the past, there is an interactive component to Words with Friends. By connecting to social sites like Facebook and Twitter, people can find their friends and challenge them to a game. Each game contains a “chat” box for opponents to communicate back and fourth as the game progresses. Once the first person runs out of tiles, the game has finished. Whoever has the most points at the end is the winner.

In my mind, Words with Friends has become such a phenomenon in mobile gaming due to the interactivity mentioned above. In other posts we have discussed games where you play alone, against a computer or verse other people in person. However, this game takes on the digital universe by allowing people to play friends directly over the web and on their cell phones. Being in instant communication with your opponent as the game goes by adds excitement and intensity to the game itself.

I also think the game’s success comes from its connection to social sites. As Facebook and Twitter become more and more embedded in our lives, it is extremely logical for businesses to use these sites to reach their customers. Everyone must adapt to the social-media age and the situation is no different for game creators. Words with Friends has capitalized on this idea by allowing their game to be “tweeted” or posted to facebook. The publicity this presents only makes the game grow quicker.

The multi-player formula has proven itself as the perfect ingredient to the game’s over all popularity. The ease and simplicity of the interface make it a step up from its “Scrabble” competitor. Rather than searching through multiple screens to start a game, all it takes is a simple button and a new game begins in seconds.

As more and more games continue to establish themselves, it seems that interactivity is of the utmost importance. Words with Friends does a great job of creating a network in which to play a similar version of one of America’s most loved games. I have been playing for a long time now, and it really never gets old!

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