Sparky’s Den, in the Memorial Union at Arizona State University, is a bowling alley and arcade where I spent many of my summer late afternoons as a young teenager. I can’t find any photos of their arcade online, so I don’t know if they still have the old Dungeons and Dragons or Alien vs. Predator beat-em-ups, the Gauntlet Legends machine, the copy of Silent Scope.
The Marvel vs. Capcom machine.
I don’t have the same love of fighting games and arcades that a lot of video game folks seem to. I was never good at split-second reflexes, and my arcade time was limited to short spans after a summer program for gifted kids that was held at the university. Fighting games were weird curiosities: colorful characters equipped with secret moves in fanciful stages. The fighting games I remember are odd ones: Battle Beast, from a PC Gamer demo disk, or the inexplicable Golden Axe: The Duel. And I definitely remember Marvel vs. Capcom.
Continue reading Character Select: Marvel vs. Capcom 3
The title of “hardcore gamer” is not an identity; it is a temporary state of being. Many people start playing video games, and some of them keep playing more and more of them until they develop skills and tastes that place them into the “hardcore” category. Hardcore gamers stay hardcore for years or decades, and then their reflexes fade or their interests shift and they find themselves enjoying different things.
There’s this mistaken feeling among players who self-identify as “hardcore” that they’ve been left behind, that there’s this shift in the culture of development that has abandoned them. This is mostly nonsense. It’s true that for about a decade, most every game was made for a hardcore player… but that decade was the worst one in the history of video game design.
Continue reading The Myth of Hardcore
We all knew one. That kid who always told lies about video games. Maybe they knew a cheat code to make Lara Croft naked, or said that something special happened in Sonic if you collected 1000 rings, or that there really was a Carcer City in GTAIII that you had to be awesome to get to. Maybe you were that kid.
Do video game lies arise out of a desire to trick people, or because the liar wants to look cool? We may never know, but we can record all of these lies for posterity. Years from now, historians will be able to observe this unique bit of video game culture.
Because of positive response in a thread I started on the TIGSource forums, I’ve created a wiki at Wikia to record the odd phenomenon of video game lies. The history of video games is poorly-recorded, and this is especially true of the cultural history. The video game liar seems to be a universal experience of people who grew up around video games, and I’d like it if we could better document our experiences with it.
Visit the Video Game Lies database, and browse through the entries or add one of your own. The site’s a bit rough right now, but I’ll try and clean it up when I get the chance.
“The 99th” over at Play This Thing! posted a list of the top ten most important games in history. It includes such things as family, fiat money, and Passage. I’ve got issue with a lot of things about this list.
First, as with most top ten lists, there is an issue of definition. What is a game? The much-lauded Chris Crawford has claimed that a game must be made for money, must have a goal, and must allow you to attack your opponent, among other things. By this definition, The Sims, Tetris, and the original release of Cave Story are not games. Many other definitions of games include “fun,” “play,” or “artificial,” although mathematical game theorists would vehemently argue otherwise. Let’s see if we can come up with a definition in the spirit of The 99th’s list.
For the purposes of this post, a “game” is a goal-oriented activity with artificially-established rules that are shared among multiple participants, called “players.” Players need not play simultaneously or adversarially. By “historically important,” I choose to mean “most significantly contributed to and/or were most necessary for the existence of the sort of games I discuss on this site.” As an initial disclaimer: I am not a historian. Now, for my version of The 99th’s list.
Continue reading The Most Important Games