I managed to over sleep today, lucky me, it’s generally been a bit to long since I was last in, though my progress hasn’t really warranted going in to receive feedback, it’s been far too minimal. I could go in now, just late, but yet again, I don’t feel I have enough work for the time I’ve had to work. I need to step up my work, currently, I’m prepared to do 6 covers, the back of which i still need to choose a design for half. I want to do a minimum of 10 covers, given the time frame of less then a month, I can do that, I jus need to get myself moving, the month following that can be polishing.
If today I can design several more rear’s of the covers, as well as the concepts for 2 more games (currently mulling over one in my head, a dead space title) then I’ll be heading in the right direction. By next thursday, I will have several good quality products to show for my efforts to get some feedback on. If I can steam roll work this week, that I’ll be back on track and charging forwards.
My illustrations have been hum and had so far, some good, some could be better, some will depend on the digital aspect being administered to be able to stand at all. I’m still undecided weather to include detailed colour or not, I’ll give this some more thought once I’ve experimented with some of my illustrations in photoshop, a simple water colour ascetic may work, though it may not get the dark feeling across of the games I’m creating, I need to keep in mind that these are survival horror games.
I don’t think I’ve talked to Rob about altering my project slightly to new titles in existing survival horror series, I could do with sending him an email soon, I’ll see if I can think of something to send an email about.
This is my dissertation, just copying onto here to readily take it over onto word on another computer to word count and begin finalising it.
When approaching the idea of what to focus this dissertation on, I mulled over a few possibilities before going for what made the most sense to me, a subject that I’m very pationate about and know how to assert my opinion on. Videogames. There are multiple points where I can tackle the subject of video games, the best way to appsoach the subject is to start at the beginning and move forward, I will briefly talk over the history of video-games before moving into what it is that define’s a video game and makes it stand out from other mediums. From this, I will move to look at a selection of instance’s where video-games have been blamed for various act’s of violence in society, then pick apart the arguments whilst trying to be fair to both side’s of the argument’s presented, showing the flaws of both side’s. This will then lead way to how video-games can be used to benefit society, as well as the risks this could contain. This will move to discussing their presence in the entertainment industry and influence on other medium’s before moving to their impact on the world of art or lack of impact.
A short history of video-games:
Gaming has been around in many forms for many years, and in truth, is hardly a ‘new’ concept. Children have played fantasy games, often board games and similar things from ‘snakes and ladders’ ‘battleship’ which are simple well known games, to games such as ‘dungeons and dragons’ the well known ‘geeks’ game. All games such as these have a certain amount of fantasy involved, particularly Dungeon’s and Dragon’s in this sense, where everything that occurred was a calculated dice roll and player made event, their main purpose however is the idea of bringing people together to have fun in one way or another.
With the birth of the electronic age developing, the idea of these games was taken further, there is much speculation as to what the first actual video game was, the general population generally accepts ‘Pong’ as the first actual video game, that isn’t the case, in fact there is a game which pre-dates Pong by decade’s, this game was developed by William Higinbotham in 1958, called ‘Tennis for Two’. This proved a hit at the time, with hundreds of people coming just to play this ‘game’.
This fact essentially means that William Higninbotham can be seen as the father to the very concept of the video-game. This of course paving the way to title’s such as pong which are the same concept, just taken further.
Out of the original home console line up, the market was mainly dominated with larger computer’s, which’d play on their own display monitor’s, it wasn’t until 1972 when the first home console was released that was able to play on a television set, this was the ‘Magnavox Odyssey’. This is where the original video game rush began, in the coming years Atari rose to power in the video-game market, originally coming to the scene in 1977 with the Atari 2600. The Atari was very much a cause of what is quoted as ‘the video-game market crash’, which occurred as stock fell dramatically for a large amount of lesser console’s, most of which where lesser copy cat console’s.
The third generation of console’s hit the market with their first appearance in 1983 in Japan with the ‘Famicon’ or what is know’s in the US and the UK as ‘The NES’ or ‘Nintendo Entertainment System’.
This was the point where video-games began to evolve past their ‘ugly’ route’s and evolve them selves. The power that the console’s had, aloud for many more possibility’s in game design, so that console’s could move past the main set of games, which all where very similar to one another, with some exceptions.
This was the main point in time where video-games where becoming a highlight and getting attention, both positive and negative. This outlook on games being ‘bad’ was very much built upon the audience focus becoming blurred, games seemed to lack a focus on their audience for the most part, they where marketed as things for children in advertising/media, however this was clearly not the case with the system. A perfect example of where this hate can be seen to originate from would be ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ which was released in 1982, just before the arrival of the third generation.
This game was an early pixelated assortment, it was very hard to make out any detail, however there big issue here is that the game was based on an 18 plus movie, and the objective was to kill every innocent person who wanders onto you’re land. For a system only being marketed to kids, there are all manner of alarm bell’s here for obvious reasons, it’s a rather horrific concept, for small children to be playing a game what’s only aim is mindless slaughter. This sort of thing is where I personally believe the belief of video-game violence began, or at least it would be one of it’s major founding points, that’s not to say that ‘this is the cause’ that’d be like claiming a single piece of grass in a grassy field was the tallest piece, what I mean is, it’s this lack of direction for marketing which may have helped to sway some people to side with the idea of video-games being a bad influence on younger minds. Taking that in mind it’s very easy to understand why early parents would feel that way.
Time passed and video-games continued to evolve, the systems that they where played on becoming more complex. This also passed through a time where allot of media’s where becoming influenced by a more ‘ultra violent’ aspect. This is most easily seen in comic books, throughout the 90’s, the artwork in many comics became very disproportionate, looking at the gory elements, over use of using violence to solve situations, characters choosing to charge in just shooting everything in sight rather then acting in a logical way. This was also very prevalent in video game’s, great example’s of this being ”Mortal Kombat’ which was a very gory 2D fighting game, the finishing moves where the main cause for concern which involved decapitations, impalement, ripping hearts out, the list goes on, given that games where still very much aimed at only kids.
This trend died off, video-games continued to become more realistic with each console generation, the general scope of a game growing rapidly, the day went by where a character in a game was nothing more then 16 pixels, there came the days where you could make out a person, you could see detail, then things moved from pixel based, to 3d models and in time those 3d models have been improved to today’s standard, where we’re able to create worlds that are very recognisable when compared to the real world, games such as Elder Scroll’s Syrim, Grand Theft Auto V are just a couple of brilliant examples at creating believable (even if one of them is a fantasy game) and impressive worlds.
This is just a snippet at gaming’s history really, there is much more to that could be talked about, though only so many words that i can type out, given that this isn’t the focus of this dissertation.
What set’s gaming apart from other media?
A simple question, which can be answered very simply with one word. Immersion. The video-game is the first real medium of entertainment that has allowed the participant to have control. When reading a book, or watching a movie, the participant in this activity always has to follow things in the same way, there’s no hidden or optional text or scene’s that really change things (there are gaming books that go with that idea, and some interactive movies, but they’re neither here nor there). A book and a movie are always set across a straight path, no deviation. A video-game, is the exact opposite in most if not all cases.
One thing you will find with any game, no 2 play through’s are ever the same. You may follow a plot of a fairly ‘on the rails’ game, however, the experience of the participant always differ’s wildly from play through to play through. The best way to compare this example is to look at let’s play series for a video-game, for this example, I’ll choose Resident Evil (the original) as my example here. The game it’s self is very linear, set in tight corridor’s and moves at a slow pace for the most part, yet, which corridor’s do you travel through first, which enemy do you kill, will you die here, how will you move through this area? Every movement a person make’s is unique and something which they caused themselves. In a movie or book, you know that the story will end, and you do with a game as well, however, it’s possible that you won’t make it to the end of said game, you can die, you can fail, you’re presented with challenge’s bigger then sitting and staring at a screen or reading text. This level of immersion can’t be matched by a movie or book, this is one of the reason’s why video-games are attacked so much, the idea that the person is in the control is teaching the ‘gamer’ to do these things.
How does the media perceive video-games?
Generaly, for decade’s now, the media has had field days, completely scrutinising various video-games for various reason’s. There are many, many case’s I can bring up here and look at, however, Ill only concentrate on a few case’s for now.
If there has been one person who has done more damage to video-games, or at least made himself known to try and take a stand against video-games, it’d be Jack Thompson. Jack Thompson has made many stands against video-games over his years, spear heading the fight against the medium, no matter how justified or in-justified his OPINIONS are.
He has made repeated stand’s against various video-games, his more well known stand being against the developer ‘rock star’ who have produced games such as grand theft auto, bully, man hunt, red dead redemption, LA noir. These games are all set around playing the criminal, LA noir being the exception to that, they’re each set within their own open worlds, often mimicking the real life world, and often parodying with the more modern setting for some of the games. Jack Thompson has personal nick names for these sorts of games (at least the modern setting ones) ‘Cop Killers’ ‘Murder Simulators’ ect. This is due to the freedom of these games, and particularly the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which leaves you in a city able to do whatever you want to do really, steal cars, gun down anyone you see, the campaign can be seen as an optional piece of the game, which you can just run around in and partake in what ever you want to, this lead’s it to be partially understandable why someone looking into the series, can see it the way they do without understanding a thing about the series, much like how looking through a mounted telescope that are sometime’s found across beach’s/shore’s, can show you the coast further along, but it doesn’t show you the detail, or really show you anything what’s there, you just see an layout from far away.
Jack Thompson’s personal belief’s for these sorts of games, as I said are that they are murder simulator’s, but he also believe’s that these games are the cause of ALL youth related violence, that these games are the ONLY thing to inspire their act’s of violence, the quote below lends to that, I’ll explain more about it below:
'Attorney Jack Thompson, a long-time crusader against video-game violence, is bringing the suit. “What we're saying is that Devin Moore was, in effect, trained to do what he did. He was given a murder simulator,” says Thompson.'(jackthompson, 2005. )
This is taken from what could probably be seen’s as one of Jack Thompson’s biggest success stories/campaign’s that he’s had to date. This campaign was against the video-game ‘Man Hunt’. At the time of this campaign, he received a fair bit of backing from other source’s, and it eventually lead to the production of the game being halted in the UK permanently. The video-game was well known at the time for it’s graphic and detailed way’s of killing people, using make shift weapons from every day object’s such as plastic bag’s to suffocate someone. The basis of the game being banned wasn’t only to it’s excessive violence, in this particular instance, it was because of miss handled, and then ignored information.
The killer Devin Moore was believed to be inspired by the video-game to burry a hatchet into the back of his friends head, this being one of the way’s you could kill an enemy in the game and they hung onto this piece of ‘evidence’ throughout the case. The problem with this piece of ‘evidence’ being used to back-up Jack Thompson’s theory, is that it wasn’t true. What I mean by this is, the killer didn’t own the video-game. The video-game was found in the victim’s house, in a police report to the media, or somewhere around that part of the investigation, someone who was either miss informed about the game, or had a personal grudge against the game them self issue’d a statement pinning that the game was a vital piece of evidence found in the killer house, by the time this fact was known, it was too late and the train had already left, the campaign against the game receiving too much backing to really be stopped. This is a perfect example of miss information, or grabbing for piece’s of string int he hope’s one of the piece’s will lead to something without being realistic about the path they’re taking. The game was violent, it could be uncomfy to play and has been quoted for that many times, however, is it a bad thing that it could be uncomfy to play? That phycological element show’s that the gamer has some morality to know what they’re doing is wrong, however, at the same time, things that are so graphic could fall under the notion of ‘murder porn’.
One problem with Jack Thompson’s claim’s/crusade’s is the way in which that he always try’s to claim that these games are made for children. This claim, is completely ignoring the large red ‘18’ sticker that is plastered on the front of the boxes’ for these kinds of games, in fact, it’s often enlarged for the Grand Theft Auto games to try and make that point noticed more. This large sticker meant that the game is for people who are 18 or over, and often require showing ID for anyone who seem’s younger then that age. The games are not aimed at children gamer’s, the only Rockstar game which could be from the list further up, would be ‘Bully’ which simply has you playing as an under-dog, becoming a bully to get revenge on those who picked on you, even this, however, wasn’t made for children, but in-fact (by the UK’s censoring board) people who are 16+, an age where you would be growing past that kind of real life behaviour.
I want to call back to the nick names that Jack Thompson has for these kinds of games, and actually show the ironic nature of them, the ‘cop killers’ and ‘murder simulators’. In Grand Theft Auto, it is indeed possible to kill cop’s, and there are situation’s where you have to kill cops for one reason or another, but this act is never rewarded in any way. When ever you kill a cop, you wanted level goes up, you get more coming after you, and they come after you harder, first they just want to arrest you, then, they’re willing to shoot, then they have more card and helicopters are you, which increase’s even more, and in the event of the maximum wanted level, they’ll even send tank’s after you, which is unlikely in real life, but the point stands that killing cop’s only lead’s to more bother. This is shown even better with the latest edition to the franchise, Grand Theft Auto V. In this game, the cop’s are allot more realistic acting, in some ways, in others, they’re closer to parodies of cops, they’re ultra sensitive to anything you do, you bump their car, and they’re after you.
The ‘murder simulator’ couldn’t be further from the truth. In Grand Theft Auto, you are in third person, you aim over their shoulder, you hold one button to aim, then another to fire, you can reload by pressing another button, and that’s how you kill, there isn’t really anything more to it. Now, if you take a gamer with just that knowledge, give him a handgun and a magazine, could he fire the weapon off just that knowledge? No, he couldn’t, he could slide the clip in, maybe he might try to chamber a bullet, but he wouldn’t know anything about the safety on the weapon, he wouldn’t be able to pull the trigger, he wouldn’t be able to shoot well, more then likely wouldn’t be ready for the kick from the gun, nearly defiantly dropping it on the first short, if not hurting himself in some way. An excellent example of this can be seen in the clip I’m linking below, which is from the Penn and Teller episode ‘Video-Games’.
This clip from Penn and Teller - video games (full episode) (2012), at 7:56 to 8:23 is a nice little bit of slapstick, that gets across my point perfectly,
That may be a bit of slap stick, but it show’s just how little the real thing has in common with the video-game version of the same thing. Just because you can press a series of button’s, doesn’t mean you’re able to hold, operate and fire a gun, in fact other media’s have managed to do a better job at showing people who to operate a fire arm, you can look at all manner of modern action movies for more in depth explanations on how fire arms work, some example’s of this being in movie’s such as ‘the rock’ ‘die hard 4’ and just the first which come to mind. These movie’s however don’t get any attention for this (normally) or when they do, the attention to them is fairly minimal compared to what given to any instance of video game accusation.
It often comes across that most accusation’s against video-games have little ground to stand on, sometime’s, the point being brought up being that wafer thin, you don’t see where things early connect.
A perfect example of this, can be seen where the organisation PETA has attacked gaming. PETA is very well know as a, freedom for animal’s organisation, a smalll bit of research on them however is easily able to turn up the ideal’s and rather ‘messed up’ practice’s that they have partaken in, I’ll get to this a bit further on.
”The amount of time that Pokemon spend stuffed in pokeballs is akin to how elephants are chained up in train carts, waiting to be let out to ‘perform’ in circuses, but the difference between real life and this fictional world full of organised animal fighting is that Pokémon games paint rosy pictures of things that are actually horrible”
This is a comment made by PETA representative’s against the video game Pokemon, which can be seen as a fairly valid point by someone who doesn’t know anything more then the basic concept of the Pokemon games. The problem with this comment (and the surprisingly well done flash games they made based on their ‘interpretation’ of Pokemon and how it would pan out) is that it completely misses the point about Pokemon, the core concept of both the tv series and even the games is friendship/companionship. You build up relation’s with the Pokemon you train and battle with, to the degree that you can measure their happiness, nick name them, personalise them, people you talk to in the game constantly remind you about Pokemon being ‘people’, having feelings. A Pokemon battle is in essence meant to be a sparring match between 2 willing opponents, the same way that people have boxing match’s, trainers or general people who miss treat Pokemon are seen as the ‘villains’ such as team rocket, who are the series most iconic antagonist out of the various groups that’ve been featured in the Pokemon games.
The aspect of capturing Pokemon can be seen as cruel, taking them from their environment, but, with the stress on building a relationship with you’re Pokemon, it gets forgotten, the specific point of ‘stuffed into Pokeballs’ is very inaccurate and show’s that the comment in un-researched on how they’re explained to work. When a Pokemon enter’s a poke ball, they’re are transferred into a kind of energy (why they disappear in the games/anime) then reform in a smaller form within the ball, when closed, the interior is meant to appeal to Pokemon, though it’s never exactly explained how so, the speculation would be that it’d generate a miniature environment to live in, or other’s think there is a form of stasis/hibernation that the Pokemon is put into, though no official word has ever been given on exactly what it is. This fact however debunk’s the idea of them ‘being crammed’ into Pokeball’s as something that would be un-comfy or else the Pokemon would just break free from the Pokeball’s, or even attempt to run away from their trainers.
PETA have taken other stab’s at gaming over the years, many again having little to no ground to stand on, example’s of these would be how they made a big thing about Mario in Mario 3 because of the Tanooki suit, which they claimed promoted the use of real animal fur in clothing, simply because he looked a little like a raccoon when wearing it, this and many other instance’s like this, in truth, are just nothing more then attention grabbing, by attacking something that is popular.
Time and again, this occurs with a popular game in the head lights, one of the more bizzar case’s, in my honest opinion, being PETA attacking Red Dead Redemption, a game set in the age of the cow boy’s in the wild west. PETA’s target within this game was the aspect of hunting animals, skinning them for furr ect. claiming that it again, promoted the furr trade, hunting animals, cruelty to animals ect. The problem with their argument here, is that they are in a sense trying to change history. The game it’s self is set within decently accurate guide lines for the age, where food was hunted, clothing was made from animal hide’s in this age, but, throughout the game, it never once over glamorise’s the use of animal’s in this way, it’s done as a necessity. Could they have an argument if the skinning was graphic? Yes, is the skinning graphic however? No, it’s a simple quick animation of the character making a few movements around the animal, then the objects are in you’re inventory.
One of the biggest catch up’s here however, is that PETA is campaigning again digital animal violence, when there is so much going on in the real world that needs their attention so much more, yet they waste resource’s on pretty good flash games, or campaigns against something which isn’t a problem. If there where mainstream games that had you act out animal violence, then you could consider their point very valid, though in recent main stream games, I can only think of 1 example where where there is any level of graphic violence to an animal directly caused by a players action that is questionable (other then generic attack dogs and the like) and that is in the game ‘The Walking Dead’ by ‘Tell Tale’. In the first episode of season 2, you find a dog in the wild, and in a sense, it shortly becomes you’re companion, until food becomes involved, where it then turns on you and you’re forced to fight it, by the end of this segment, the dog is injured badly and you are then placed with the choice of killing it to end its suffering, or leave it to die slowly. This segment can be uncomfy to play through, and generally upsetting to some people, though the action’s are justified, they feel wrong at the same time, which is generally a cleaver thing that Tell Tale has been able to do with their walking dead game when crafting a brilliant story.
How have video-games influenced society negatively?
Saddly, there will always be case’s where the witch hunt will be successful, many case’s have had games just to blame because it’s convenient, even if there is no real link, but sometimes, things go wrong.
There have been 2 recent case’s where video games can be held accountable, the less sever one occurred late 2014, where a youth who had played the video game GTA thought he’d mirror the actions of robbing a bank, he proceeded to do this with a fake gun, and got away with several thousand pounds in cash, this was later found by his mum whist she was cleaning his room, to which she then turned him in to the police. When questioned, he said ‘I saw it in GTA, and it looked easy, so I thought I’d try it’.
The second case I’ll mention was on July 22nd, 2011. A man by the name of Anders Breivik bombed a government building in Osio, then gunned down 69 people. When this case was brought to court, Breivik confessed that he had been training for the event, by playing the video game ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. He claimed the game to be a simulator for it’s use of ‘red dot sights’ a quote following this saying ‘give them to your grandmother and she would have been a super marksman’.
THis comment is very disturbing, and brought about what allot of people feared to be true about the games, however, these are the words of a mentally disturbed man after he’d committed a horrible act of mass murder. Call of Duty Modern Warfare does not teach you how to build, arm, detonate a bomb, nor does it teach you how to fully use a fire arm, never mind use it efficiently. Videogames will very likely of had a hand in some sense with what occurred, more likely after his reasoning broke down, he used them to justify his logic, to try and fill in blanks in his mind.
There is without a doubt one particular thing that has been a factor of gaming that has caused many problems for many people, that is addiction. Videogames are without a doubt an addicting medium. This has been very prevalent in the past decade with one particular title called ‘World Of Warcraft’. World Of Warcraft is a MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role playing game) which has a vast and open world, full of stories, life, great music to back it all up, expansive lore, it truly is a world unto it’s self. This game in particular has lead the the deaths of various individual’s, one of the best known examples of that being a young chinese girl nicknames ‘Snowly’ who died after a prolonged gaming session in which she didn’t take any real breaks as well as refusing to eat and even drink. Her death caused players to hold an online funeral for several days, to pay their respects to her. This is by no means an isolated case either, things like this have happened for years for various reasons.
'According to the “displacement theory” (21), time spent on gaming can displace time that may be essential for other activities such as school work (22). Choosing to engage in video-gaming instead of school–related or other important behaviors may have both short-term and long-term consequences, particularly as behaviors may become more habitual or compulsive over time’
Time spent in the digital world is time spent outside the real world, this on a younger brain could cause a sense of a loss of reality if the individual is overly exposed. The above quote is a good source to show that, pretty much stating how long term habits can develop from longer exposure, such as how any habit can develop from continued repetition without the ‘player’ realising this.
'The cited research indicates that the individual's context is a significant factor that marks the dividing line between excessive gaming and gaming addiction, and the game context can gain particular importance for players, depending on their life situation and gaming preferences.'
One factor that will always come into play with any habbit/adiction is personal life. When asking what makes an addict, there isn’t a simple answer, though the most likely answer would be ‘when someone can’t stop themselves from taking part in said activity’. A smoker who’s become fully addicted to cigarets must smoke a certain number a day, they don’t have a say so much any more because they begin to suffer withdrawal symptoms, the same can be said of any addiction, with some hardcore console gamers (normally the sort that are aggressively competitive), you will find that when they talk to people, their hands will automatically form the shape of a video game controller and even move their thumbs/fingers without realising it during normal conversation.
This is a subconscious reflex that can be found in all manner of life, a prefect example of this would be from musicians. I can account from personal experience how easy it is to unconsciously move my fingers when listening to a song I know how to play on my guitar, I have also witnessed it with other guitarists and pianists who have done it without realising. It’s caused by muscle memory, something that’s always there even if you don’t consciously remember the actions. Being able to memorise a song is done through muscle memory more then remembering the music, you’re fingers knowing where to go after each position shift, though to be able to become good at an instrument, you need to become addicted to it on some level.
'Computer games may satisfy the natural needs met in social interactions and will lead to social isolation. This isolation and loneliness may cause reduction in individual social interactions with others and will finally reduce the individual's social skills.'
The social aspect of gaming is of course a major issue, however, it isn’t to the degree that it was. When reading this, I personally find the information outdated despite it being quoted in a more modern study, with the way in which games have progressed and communities have been formed, games are a whole new way to socialise for people who have had difficulties socialising in person. Of course, it’d be more beneficial for someone to socialise in person with other people, but the connected gaming world has moved into being a vastly social experience where people benefit massively from socialising. You could counter argue that social gaming is a way to build someones confidence if they are naturally shy or withdrawn. Over in Japan, there is a condition that has at times been attempted to be linked to gaming called ‘hikikomori’.
The basis of ‘Hikikomori’ is that an individual will completely segregate themselves in a room and never leave. This is something that is specifically in Japan and not really in other country’s to any larger length, this is in allot of ways to do with the Japanise society which within it’s self favour’s segregation, this can be seen very easily in the way that Japan was segregated from the rest of the world until several century’s back. One habit that allot of people who suffer from Hikikomori have taken on is gaming. It’s a simple and easy thing for them to be able to do which will give a feel for social interaction, even if they are playing games that don’t involve other people. The space of the room often offers little space to be able to do anything else.
This hobby has been targeted as the cause of why they go into ‘hiding’ in the way they do, however, what sends them into ‘hiding’ is nearly always either from a majorly disappointing event, such as a failed exam or hurtful event, such as a bad break up or bullying. It would be irresponsible to say that gaming doesn’t contribute to this though, with the small amount of space leaving little in the way of entertainment, the games can encourage people to remain where they are because they fill the boredom and distract them from the though of going back outside, providing the socialising experience just enough to leave them fulfilled, this is possibly one of the reasons why ‘dating sims’ are so popular in Japan, these are socialising games in which you date various girls or guys, where as in the Uk or US, they’re very rare to even find on the indie gaming scene.
How could video games benefit people?
One aspect of video games that is often over looked is how they can benefit people, rather then be seen as a nuisance. Games that have been made to benefit the consumer have been around for many years and in many forms, from simple spelling games, to games which test you’re knowledge viggarously. A good example of a more viggarous game would be the ‘brain training’ titles that where released on the Nintendo DS. These games are in essence, a series of puzzles of varying kinds, which once completed, you would then be scored on and you’re brain age measured and such, these are simple trivia things that are good excersise’s in puzzle solving that keep the brain active and can often help in life, especially for a developing mind, with how to better grasp a puzzle that lie’s in front of them, be it numerical or a day to day situation that needs a resolution.
Games such as Wii fitness, kinect fitness are good examples of games which are specifically designed around monitoring fitness levels, as well as some elements of general excersise in the core aspects of the game, encouraging gamers to get up and active in front of the console.
Games have found their way into the classroom many years back, but have now begun finding new ways into the class room, some school’s adopting games such as portal and mine craft into certain lessons. Portal is a puzzle game which rely’s on manipulating 2 teleportation points, motion, timing and general puzzle solving, it generally is a great way to work the brain in a way that kids can easily enjoy.
Minecraft is a better example of this in my opinion though, Minecraft is a game which is whatever you make of it, it can be a farming simulator, an adventure game, a building game, ect. ect. it’s easily the most diverse game out there. Ione aspect of the game is redstone. This is a resource which can be used as circuitry in a very literal sense, though on the surface it would be seen just as a wire to carry a current to activate something, through the various redstone components that are in the game, you can literally create working mechanical device’s, the prime example of this being a working clock. Though the game has mainly been used to assist geography and art lessons thus far, seeing it’s inclusion in an electronics course isn’t all that far fetched of a prospect given how much depth there is to it. To truly understand the complex nature of this, you would need to see it, so I’d advise to follow the below link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYoLtPExuM8
Of course, many forms of carea’s have been created from video games, both in development and after their release, one of the more prominent of these being the ‘critique’ and ‘online personalities’. There have of course been critique’s for all manner of mediums, though game critique’s have dove into the spot light in the last decade, growing that much stronger thanks to the internet. People have risen on website’s such as youtube as reviewer’s of video games, one of the best examples of this would be ‘AngryJoe’ who is a very faithful reviewer that has openly shunned bribes for reviews, always giving informative and fair reviews of games.
Of course, this has also made him into an online personality, the ‘online personalities’ are something that has risen quickly, creating online celebrities, when being linked to games, video games have given them a way of earning money playing games or reviewing games of making news stories about games that they love. There are people such as ‘TotalBuiscuit’ ‘putypie’ ‘alphaomegasin’ ‘cinemassacure’ who have created names for them selves simply doing what they love, earning enough money to live off.
How Big Are Videogames?
As things currently stand, the video games industry is currently big enough to rival hollywood, plain and simple, in fact below i have a graph that show’s the general income from video games in 2010.
To have come this far in several decade’s is astounding, but with the progression of technology, it is completely understandable why the industry has grown the way it has. Single video game titles can cost millions tho make atm, though with this it of course means that unrealistic goals are set and money is lost. In 2012/2013, there has been no better example of this then Capcom.
Capcom is the games developer of well known series such as Resident Evil, Street Fighte, Mega Man and many, many other great games, they have been around for a long time, however in the last 2 years, their failure to produce what their fans want has lead to them over spending on games they’ve been developing, and then not making the money back.
Their current amount in the bank stands at $152 million dollars. This is allot of money in many people’s eye’s, however:
'To put things into perspective, Nintendo made roughly more than this in their 3 months alone.'
To think that approximately 4 decade’s ago, we where watching a light/ball bounce across the screen, to see that we’ve progressed to the point where there are literal other worlds which alone can rival the biggest block bluster movie’s, using mine craft as another example here, where the worlds stretch out at lengths to rival the real world, and astronomical earnings, such as the milestone being set with $101M. This single game is one of the greatest creative success stories to generally exist.
Could video games be considered art?
When looking at a video game from the outside, many people would say that video games could never be considered an art, but when you look at the simple process of making a video game, you would completely change your opinion. Videogames have created a whole new interactive medium that there’s never been anything like before.
Unlike a book, a movie or a sculpture, a game needs to be approached in a different way, a good video game needs multiple factor’s to succeed. The fact is, the video game is made as a product for entertainment, rather then something that would be produced to be seen as an art piece generally, there will always be exception’s to the rule which i will move onto momentarily.
One thing that you need to ask you’re self when trying to answer this question is, what is art? The Oxford dictionary defines the term as:
’the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power’
This would of course also cover literary art, as well as movie art, photography, then the list goes on. With this particular definition, it can perfectly fit into place to what video games are. Videogames never really fit into a particular formula in which they need to function, many have attempted to set up particular rule sets for video games, however no rule set has stuck that could make them become singularly stagnent manufactured products.
'Salen and Zimmerman, in their new and very useful textbook Rules of Play, provide an annotated bibliography and a discussion of a handful of attempts at defining video game. A notable attempt can be found in The Medium of the Video Game, where Mark Wolf presents a set of conditions he thinks necessary for something to be a video game: rules, conflict, valued outcome, and player ability.’
This rule set is broken almost immediately by games I personally play. ‘Minecraft’ doesn’t necessarily fit into this rule set for instance. By playing on certain modes, conflict doesn’t need to be a part of the game, yet its just as enjoyable to play non the less, the rules of the game are always being re-written, though rules will always exist, its very much down to the player to define them, through modding which is openly supported by the developers any rule within the game can be altered or added. Another game that is very much like this that comes to mind would be ‘Garry Mod’. Garry’s Mod was by it’s name sake originally a modified add-on for a game, but was later released as a fully fledged game, the purpose? Do what ever you please, you control the rules, you control the worlds, you can do as you like how you like when you like, you can create custom things to add in to expand what’s available, there are no real rules in the game as well as no conflict.
These two are still however fully fledged games. Even if a rule set is defined for these games however, it wouldn’t really make them any less then writing. Writing is very much seen as a form of art, creating stories that grab and motivate their audience, speak of lessons, create complete worlds that the user puts together within their heads. Of course some books are considered higher then others for various reasons, allot of books are in essence manufactured forms of entertainment, this then leads to movies grew to earn the title of being artistic, combining the narrative element of literary art with physical moving artwork. Movies have very much been adopted into the art culture, this then lead to animation gaining that pedestal through features such as ‘Fantasia’ or Japanise animation gaining it through features such as ‘Ghost In The Shell’.
Videogames then comes along, taking tropes from multiple of established literary genre’s and bringing them together under one roof, before then expanding them all into something new. Videogames have a form of immersion that nothing else can match, allowing the person involved to become part of a whole new world, to be enshrouded within it’s stories, to feel the pain of the characters they play, anyone, both young and old when playing the game final fantasy felt something at the unexpected death of Arieth mid way through the game, an often forgotten moment from earlier in the series in Final Fantasy Vi has one of the most moving moments in the ps era of games, where a character after trying all she can eventually gives in and attempts suicide.
’Bio-Shock’ twists the players mind and speaks volumes of the genre of corridor shoots in general with its order ‘would you kindly’ twisting the game upside down in a way that no-one would expect. ‘Shadow Of Colossus’ tasks you with destroying giant but ultimately beautiful creatures under the pre-tense of saving the life of someone, only in the end to be punished for what you did. Tell tales ‘The Walking Dead’ has you protecting a child in a zombie apocalypse, you are faced with decisions that have no right answer, all the while the choice’s you make are changing this little girl slightly, when given the opportunity to kill someone in the second chapter, someone who tried to kill you, if you kill him, 4 worlds will pop up after the girl comes out from hiding ‘Clementine will remember that’. Those 4 words are enough to make the player want to go back and re-enact what they just did, when playing the game, its one of the most compelling experience’s I’ve had within a game, the actual desire to protect the raise this child right, this isn’t something that only I felt, this is something felt everywhere by people who played this game, narrative wise this game won awards everywhere that year, the way the narrative draws to it’s close is tear jerking, the relationship you develop is honestly that well put together.
Silent Hill 2 is a game full of atmosphere, with the crazy inner workings of the mind being the town, creature’s being the literal manifestations of aspects of the character as they try to discover why they’ve been lead here.
All of these games have different aspects of narrative which can easily match any literary narrative, they are able to deliver more compelling stories then most books or movies, because they’ve video games they even invest the ‘player’ more in what’s occurring, making them feel apart of it, rather then viewing it from the outside. This is one of the biggest area’s where I have trouble with seeing how other’s don’t see this, just choice moments can be what makes a game stand out and show just how much that gaming has evolved generally from the simple ‘save the princess’ routine.
That is only one aspect of a video game, the music is a whole other world. Music is an accepted art form, it has been this way for a very long time, yet, video games have some of the most compelling music created for them. The slow, sad movements of ‘To Zanarkand’ that play’s in Final Fantasy X near the beginning as you are in a ruined location, of what was once a great city makes you feel the weight of what’s no longer there, this is then repeated towards the end of the game, though a remixed version, carrying much more weight then before.
’Aerith’s Theme’ from Final Fantasy Vii can make you feel both the sadness of the characters passing and the beauty of her existence.
The Silent Hill soundtracks create a dark and for-boding atmosphere, at least with the original series, creating terror, tension, loneliness throughout their various tracks, trying to pin down a specific stand out track is nearly impossible, because they bounce from each other to create the town in which the games are set.
There is one theme that nearly all video games know as soon as it’s heard, even for those who haven’t played the games, that is the Legend Of Zelda Theme. When this play’s, you get the sense off adventure, of wonder, of an epic journey that’s about to unfold, that’s instantly recognisable.
Videogame music has even begun to seek recognition amongst non gamers, on radio shock’s such as classic fm, where various classical video game music has been played on multiple occasions, first starting several years back with the song ‘To Zanarkand’.
The visual is a section which varies so massively, like anything that could be considered art, there is no way that things ‘need’ to be crafted. The world in every single video game is a uniquely crafted world, created by people, marticulously creating every single texture, pathway, character, the thought that a video-game cannot be considered art just seem’s bizarre for that very purpose.
Games such as the FInal Fantasy series have always prodded themselves on their looks, from their original sprites to the full leaps they rook with 3D models in Final Fantasy Vii, which is still considered by many to be their favourite Final Fantasy game, which at the time stunned audience’s with how it looked. The latest instalments in the series have continued to show amazing visuals which leave great impression’s upon their audience.
This being said, the visual of video games has had more impact that would be initially thought, in particular there have been 2 larger aspects to come from video games that have created artistic mediums of their own. The first which is still rather small, though always growing would be pixel art. Pixel art is the process of creating an image using a set grid of blocks, the scale can vary greatly, though can be easily manufactured digitally, producing physical manifestations of pixel art has spread with popularity rapidly. The more popular aspect of this amoungst gamers is the re-creation of classic pixel sprite based characters from video games.
These are a couple of examples of pixel art:
The first of these image’s is an example of simple hand crafted pixel art made using lego piece’s, this has grown to the degree that at various game shows that have at least some focus on retro gaming in one for or another, we’re seeing stalls popping up that are selling glued together lego models (or other material models) of sprite pixel art of video game characters. This sort of thing without a doubt relies partially on nostalgia, though it’s be no means limited to exsisting things, with just about any game, tv series, movie or even book or real life location, there will excist pixel art recreations, through browsing around online for a short amount of time I’ve managed to find pixel art of upcoming movie’s, new games ect.
The second linked image was something created within the video game ‘Minecraft’ with the rise of this video game, we’ve also seen pixel sprite based games begin to flood the game’s market, the best example of this being ‘Steam’ which is value’s computer gaming service (supports pc, mac and Linux). Minecraft has helped to shove pixel based games back into the limelight, re-creating a style of game creation in it’s self, this distortion in the market shifting the balance that the AAA developers (such as Capcom, EA, Ubisoft, ect.) hold over the industry.
A second thing to spring from the gaming culture is Machinima. Machinima is a term which refers to the term ‘Machine Cinema’ meaning a series, short, movie created within a video game engine or using video game assets by users. Machinima has risen over the years and then fallen in recent years, one of the biggest success stories to come from machinima would be the studio ‘Rooserteeth’ which created the well known series ‘Red Vs Blue’. Their success began as several friends coming together to record game footage, putting silly jokes and dialogue over the top with a loose story, this then developed into something much, much bigger, going as far as openly advertising the new release’s within the video game series in which their series was based ‘Halo’ and then with the main studio’s final Halo game being produced, they where given complete access to the games resource’s to use as they please. Bungie (halo’s developer) caught on to machinima nearly a decade back and with the release of Halo 3 they show’ed their full support of the medium with the inclusion of ‘Theatre Mode’ which aloud people to go into gameplay and edit, record and upload it from any angle within the game that was played, as well as a map editor tool. A triple AAA developer on a console giving out what they did to RoosterTeeth, hadn’t been heard of before and still hasn’t really.
Machinima has stretched out far and wide within it’s time, books have been produced which analyse the medium as a whole, there have been many tv productions that have made use of machinima and of course their domination on the internet. It’s a medium that is easily accessible requiring fairly little to actually produce content in to a high quality, allowing for things that couldn’t be done in real life. This is of course a great tool for someone who is seeking to find their way into film creation, though lacks some of the freedom that they require to produce what they want to.
Some of the best examples of machinima leaking into tv, would be on a wide variety of history programs, though would use various games to simulate battles between various historical armies, one of the prime examples of a game which did this would be ‘Total War Rome’. Another little leap in would be the ‘Make Love Not Warcraft’ episode of South Park, this was done partially using the 3D model generator for the game World of Warcraft, this is one of the fan favourite episode’s which has made it’s way into a very large amount of South Park fans top 10 episode’s lists.
A series of examples of very well produced machinima’s would be ‘Divided Souls’ ‘Why We Kill’ or ‘Jonathan Quail’, each of these machinima’s did fantastic jobs in their various limitations which they had, creating story driven experience’s that have been highly praised by fans since their creation, though they have begun to fade out of memory now with what machinima has become. In recent years the mediums influence has deminished due to the main hub being dismantled and machinima shunning their content producers, now focusing more on quantity over any form of quality to the length that there are only one or two mahcinima’s uploaded per week (this dropping from around 30 per week).
Videogames without a doubt have a large presence within society, to deny that fact would be like denying that you’re nose is on you’re face to someone standing in front of you. As I have already shown, video game has grown massively over the past 3 decades, becoming a major part of every day life, the below chart has an approximate total sales of the hightest selling console’s to date.
With the PS2 alone selling around 115,000,000 units since it’s launch, spread amounts the worlds population, then take into account re-sales from trade in’s and though it’s impossible to state a number on the amount of people who’ve owned the console, its clear to see the amount of homes that will hold this console alone. Gaming has generally moved from being a basement dwelling hobbie to being a sensation that’s spread across the world and become part of every day life, in fact the ESRB (entertainment system rating board) has measured that in 2010, ‘67% of US households played video-games.’
Video-game stores have spread far and wide, even to the degree of being able to open successful specialised video game stores such as ‘Retro Game’ stores to cater to those who are seeking older titles as opposed to newer ones. The leading stores in this would be ‘Game Stop’ and ‘Game’, though they have been falling on harder times lately due to their overly aggressive expansion of the games market, the best example of this being the near shut down of the retailer ‘Game’ in the UK in 2013. This was most overly due to the way that they bought out smaller retailers and eventually the larger retailer ‘Game Station’ and merged each of these, as well as their shop spaces, into their brand. This resulted in ‘Game’ stores being literally everywhere, at times having 2 facing each other no the same street (a local example of this to me was the Armdale in manchester, where there were 2 Game stores, one on the first floor, one on the second, facing each other. This lead to a massive shutdown of retailers to save money from not so cost effective area’s or where there were too many retailers within close proximity of one another.
It would be a lie to claim that video games have no presence within society. The question here though is, is that presence a good thing or a bad thing?
For this, I need to look at a study that was completed just before christmas of 2013, this study is the reason why I haven’t openly analysed any others in allot of detail, because it is more relevant then those studies can be, done on a larger scale and over a longer period of time then any other study.
This study was completed by ‘The University Of Glasgow’ with children born between 2000 and 2002, the pool of which was 13,000 children. With 13,000 candidates to base this on, no-one can claim that the study is unfair or selective, it was an open study to see the effects of television and video games with the mental development of children and leading disorders that could appear.
The studies finding are as such:
Throughout the study, there was found no corresponding case’s of video games being a visible cause of any mental or social issue’s. What does this mean then? In a nut shell, this proove’s that video-games do not cause violent behaviour from normal exposure. Of course, a child being exposed to things of an extreme nature would be another argument, but this study is undeniable proof that the great fear that video-games cause violence is for the most part a myth and nothing more, meaning games are not detrimental to society, despite the desperate efforts of groups such as PETA who have tried to discredit games such as Mario and Pokemon.
One major rallying point that I also need to make here is the age at which these people where tested, as well as the period they where tested over, these are all children who are now between 14 and 11 years old, meaning that this test was conducted over main mental developing point within their lives, yet, this yielded no negative effects, other studie’s such as Minerva Psichiatr’s look at video game addiction, looks at older candidates (late teens) and their mental development, which is far to late into their life, giving lob sided result’s on people who have already developed various traits from any manner of area within their life, or, other studies have been over short periods of time, this study which I have quoted is twice as extensive as the studies listed above and through out the world, taking all of this into mind, it makes the data which it has concluded that much more set in stone.
With gaming being such a large presence within modern society, with so many millions around the world being gamers, where games such as ‘Call Of Duty’ can sell over 10,000,000 copies, if this game did inspire act’s of violence, there would be at least 1,000,000 phycopath’s running around trying to shoot anyone within sight, just from that one game, but there isn’t.
In every news story that crops up, pinning a violent act on a ‘gamer’ there is always one major note that is always overlooked in these reports. The mental stability of this person. The prospect of sane and insane is very much based on perspective, Anders Brievik, who I mentioned earlier in this dissertation, had 2 mental evaluation conducted on him, the first found him insane, to which he pleaded that the person described sounded nothing like him, another was conducted, finding him sane, a person who murded around 70 people, about 50 of them being teenagers at a youth camp, feeling no remorse and claiming what he did was justified. That isn’t the act of a sane man, I don’t need to credit source’s for that analysing his mentality.
Every case that has ever cropped up, the killer has been bullied, depressed, a complete social outcast, had anger issue’s or all manner of other mental issue’s. The fact that the person has been a gamer is a coincidence, most of them watch tv, but tv is completely accepted in society, most of them read books, but books are accepted by society, most listen to music, but music is now accepted by society. Gaming is newer then all of these mediums, it’s less understood, it’s an easy target, something that politicians have used for years, the current tax reform in the US is penalising game developers, though is currently open for negotiations, meaning that once developers line the pockets of the correct polititions they will no longer be penalised, despite games being cited within this reform as ‘violent video games’ blanketing the entire medium, despite it now being proven that this isn’t true and is a gross over simplification of the market.
Gaming has shown time and again how it can benefit people, from simply filling time, to teaching people in more interesting ways, giving you the tools to create great things and let you’re imagination run it’s course. It’s a medium with more involvement and more investment then others.
Gaming will in time become recognised as a fully fledged art form, by no means will all games be considered art, though there are certain games that have quality’s that make them stand out as more then just piece’s of entertainment, a game cannot be classed in the same lane as cars, where they’re refused to be identified as art because of their function. Video games will enter the art world in the same way which cinema did, a century ago, you would of been laughed at the notion that a movie could be considered a piece of art, we all know how that turned out. Some games already rival great works of literature in one form or another, a game such as Tell Tales ‘The Walking Dead’ is one of the most well crafted stories I’ve followed just as a single example, there have been few times where i’ve cared so much for characters.
When looking at all of the information that I have, the only conclusion that I can come to is that video-games by enlarge have any major detrimental effects on society, in fact, they have the opposite, they are works of art in themselves, they inspire creativity, leading people to create other games (spiritual successor games are perfect examples here, with games such as System Shock and Bio Shock), works of fiction, movies, art work. Video-games have created a whole new subculture that thrives on open creativity and community envolvement, creating something that anyone can get into and enjoy be it hard core gamers who love to delve deeply into a game, or casual gamers, who occasionally pick up a game and play it (most often on phones or web browsers). Video-games are here to stay, though they may be easy targets for people who don’t understand them, they have proven they are much more then blood fests, murder simulators or any other derogatory terms that are characteristically attacked video-games. Though there will always be an air of controversy, given the right environment and right understanding, games have proven to be a valuable asset within the world. Act’s of violence inspired by video games may occasionally occur, but the accusations are generally a work of fiction in a world gripped by violence, our history drips in the blood of it’s past, our art reflects this notion, a prime example being ‘Judith beheading Holofernes’. Yet, when was the last time you heard of any classical painting inspiring an act of violence?
Alone In The Dark: Lost Love
story follows the lead character trying to stop someone from ending the world, so that she can attain death. The women is immortal and has an officiation with death, with it being the one thing she can’t achieve, she goes to the lengths of trying to unleash the darkness upon the world just so she can embrace the closet thing to death that she can, nothingness.
Vilian is a victim in many ways, being cursed by someone at a young age, centuries ago. Her forced living has turned her into the obsessive nature of death.
Women Kissing Skull, possibly siloeted.
Alone In The Dark: The Growing Dark
Lead is brought to a mansion to investigate a murder case, the mansions inhabitants letting him/her in whilst there, a party had been going on, the current partiers currently unaware, you find a crisis happening that doesn’t fully show it’s self until you find a body, where creature sprout from the darkness, taking away or killing various people. The focus mechanic is to hide, you’re ways to defend you’re self very unnaffective, you’re gun very low on ammo, which when gone is gone. You must try to rescue as many there as possible, as the creature’s play games with you, as well as something which commands them.
Cover design, man standing in a doorway, all siloeted.
I thought I’d do a little update on my progress on things generally.
My main project has moved slowly, so I’ve been kicking it in gear somewhat on my newer premise, I have a range of cover idea’s and sketch’s, though most are only rough, so I need to get these redone with detail and scanned to I can start fiddling with them digitally. It may be a good idea to go in tomorrow to get some feedback, but I don’t feel I have enough to really get feedback on, at least until I have more finalised image’s to be fed back on, next week I plan to go in with the templates for 4/8 covers and some digital work. Some of these will only look how I want them too once I have the colour sorted out for them, so I’ll need to sort that out asap.
My dissertation is nearly finished, I need to get some better quotable material and re-write a few sections, though I think i’ll have it done in time. It makes me wish they’ed accepted what I had regarding my dyslexia so I could receive the extra help, though the cost they gave me to retake the full test (due to my college being cheap and not doing the full thing) is far too much for me to afford.
I’ll see what I can do about taking a few pictures to throw onto here soon.
Silent Hill: Tome Of The Damned
This game has the lead character being drawn into the town because of a series of murders he committed (including his family), though he came to terms with what he did and attempted to do all he could to repent. WHilst in the town, he finds a page of a tome with a series of names on it, he accidentally drops it into a fire which physically cause’s the town to appear damage, throughout these pages, include the names of all known characters who’ve been in silent hill. He gives his life in the end, to destroy the towns power, he fails to do this however, finding himself trapped in another place, trapped, with machines attached to him, a voice mocking him, poles sticking into his body, drawing out more energy with the words ‘you didn’t destroy anything, you gave us the final remnants of the people that we needed’ this then shows the town’s influence expanding.
Silent Hill: A New World
This picks up where Tome Of The Damned left off, with the town spreading. It reach’s a city, taking everyone it can, you’re character manage’s to escape the initial change of the, only to find the city twisted, decaying, being chased by creature’s from nightmares. You mud survive and try to find the source of what’s occurring. By the end you manage to get to silent hill through a series of world shifts (such as the mirror world shift but over distance) and mange to break what’s drawing the power from the souls of those trapped by the town. They return to page’s of the tome, which the lead pledge’s to guard for the rest of his/her life within the damned dimension.
Resident Evil: A Child In Racoon City
THis game has you playing as a child in the outbreak, your parents left to gather supplies to stay at home, though don’t return. You leave the house to go and find them.
The game focus’s on hiding and running from things, trying to outthink the enemy whilst being limited due to the childs smaller/weaker size.
Resident Evil Survivor 3
You wake up unconscious in a truck in a city, a gun by your side, with no memory. You open the door though it’s slammed against you by zombies on either side of the truck pushing against it, you put you’re foot down and try to escape, plowing through them before charging it into a building, tipping it onto it’s side.
The majority of the game will be set in the series of surrounding buildings, the ammo extremely scarce (the ammo on you being the majority in the game). Tension raise’s as various memories slowly feed back to you through the game, you becoming disgusted at some of them. You find several others who recognise you and end up revealing who you really are, what you did to end up in the truck.