A solid break from stress and “Legion”

I think the moment I realized that I had gotten really into the game was when I stepped out of the Towers West Lounge and thought about walking backward to turn back time out of curiosity. That HUNT! puzzle killed me.

I admit that I didn’t spend as much time playing the game as my partner Katherine, but I did sit down and had the great pleasure of trying to wring out puzzle pieces and completion from worlds 4 and 5. The double lever shadow puzzle also killed me.



I wasn’t particularly gripped with the story. I know the game came out a while ago, but I was dissuaded by the very tell-centric nature of delivering the narrative. I didn’t feel like I was playing through the story as much as just playing a puzzle game and reading about some aspects of the story every new world. As a creative writer and otherwise fiction analyst, I find that, especially with interactive media, it is so very interesting to be able to tell a game’s story through the actual game. Sometimes for games I don’t play, I look at cinematics to learn some parts of the story, and especially for fighting games it’s amazing to me how much story they can fit into fighting sequences. Considering that example is a fairly limited form of the video game medium for show-centric story, it seems almost cheap for a game like this to skimp completely out of showing and just rely on the several books at the beginning of each new world.

Nonetheless, I was thoroughly intrigued by the game, and I was so fascinated by the repetition of puzzles and the way they simply used newer mechanics to make the repeated puzzles less…repetitive. Adding new mechanics was a really fun way of taking puzzles that previously were fairly trivial and making us have to rethink them and really wrack our brains for good solutions. Still looking at you, HUNT!.

More on the mechanics – not a lot of games switch up mechanics midway through the game. Sure, you might be able to acquire new abilities or weapons that supplement the skills you’ve already developed, but I think a major part of the difficulty of Braid was encountering these new mechanics early on and needing to simply engage with them and figure them out as you were solving the puzzles. While the base skills remain the same (sure, the jumping and time rewinding), you fairly rapidly have to be able to integrate these new skills and at least attempt the puzzles with possibly underdeveloped feelings for how the mechanics will work.

One of the biggest preventions of that making me give up on this game experience was the fact that I could go through the game without actually needing to solve all of these crazy puzzles immediately was a major drawing point for me to this game. I’m not a huge platformer guy, and I like puzzle games, but mostly just on mobile devices. Despite all of this, I found Braid incredibly easy to get into and stay into due to my ability to move on from one puzzle to the next if I found myself stuck on one for more than twenty minutes.

Overall, I thought the game was incredibly intuitive and thoroughly enjoyable, through the difficulty. I probably wouldn’t finish the game by myself, but I thought that figuring out the puzzles that I did was particularly rewarding and I enjoyed the experience a lot. Even though I failed several puzzles. And I didn’t realize how to finish the purple lion puzzle. It was late and I had had some champagne, okay?

The world of Hyrule

Let me start this off by asking: What is the greatest video game ever made?  Broad question, open to many opinions I realize.  By now you’re probably wondering what I think the answer to this question is, (no I’m not going to pick Assassin’s Creed).  The greatest game ever made is: “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time”, created for the greatest gaming console man has ever known: the N64.  Now that you know my answer, I will begin to explain why I would want to live in Hyrule (where the game takes place).

This game totally engulfed my life when I was around 7 years old.  I was fascinated by the overpowering good vs. evil themes that the game employed, as well as the simple (and mostly happy) life that the ordinary people lived in their villages.  There are many creatures that live throughout Hyrule including the Gorons an the Zoras.  They are both awesome.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind being either one of these creatures.  The Gorons have massive amounts of strength and seem virtually indestructible, while the Zoras can breath under water.














Sure there’s an evil king (Ganondorf) who rules over the land, but if I lived there I wouldn’t be worried at all.  I could devote my time to aiding Link in his quest to banish the evil that resides over Hyrule, or sit back and watch him do it anyways.  Good always wins over evil, (at least that’s what I thought when I was 7).


Playing the Popularity Game

You know the rules. Everyone does.

At least, everyone who’s anyone knows how to play the popularity game. That’s how it works, right? If you want to “be” somebody, you’ve got to be somebody else. Wear the right clothes, say the right things, be seen at the right places with the right people. Of course, you can get through high school without following the rules, but it’s a heck of a lot easier if you play along. I learned this lesson for myself a long time ago.

Thinking back to my freshman art class in high school, I remember the constant pressure pervading the room, urging each of us to play the game that kept us from being alone, unwanted, friendless. There was already a hierarchy in place, and we all knew it. Jock or jokester, loud or quiet, we all had our place in the society of 22, and no one wanted to be the kid who upset the status quo.

Sometimes, looking back, I wish I would have been the one who did.

On a day like any other, I had my chance. I was sitting next to one of the “popular” guys, the kind of kid who was usually a master at playing the game. His friends were teasing him, making snide comments about how silly and childish and nerdy he was for playing computer games on the weekends. His game of choice? World of Warcraft, of course.

Listening to their jibes, I felt an uncomfortable twist in my stomach. They were only kidding, of course, but beneath their words lay a real threat– don’t talk too much about your games. Don’t be too nerdy, too different. It’s not cool, not popular, and we won’t hurt our game by associating with yours. Your games aren’t good for your popularity game.

How could I possibly tell them that I played WoW, too? At home, with my brothers, being a gamer girl was great. New levels were a coveted achievement, and buying the latest expansion invited envy, not shame. Yet here, in a room full of my peers, I felt compelled to hide my gamer identity like a disturbing secret, a tragic flaw that must be buried in the closet, kept out of sight. I was expected to be the shy, artistic girl, not the gamer. I kept my mouth shut, and for the rest of the class (and year) I played the game that I was expected to play.

Now, four years later, I still look back on moments like that and wish I hadn’t been such a coward. My problem wasn’t that I enjoyed gaming; it was that I played my game with the wrong people. If you must play the popularity game (as most of us, save a courageous few, are destined to do), then play it with people who pressure you to be better, not similar. Play with those who think bringing your DS to college is awesome, not sad. Play with those who admire your ability to quote lines directly from Lord of the Rings, rather than with those who question your sanity. Play with those who expect you to be responsible, friendly, quirky, and loyal so that by playing the popularity game, you’re urged to become all of those things.

The world tells us to be individuals, leaders, breakers of the status quo. If that’s what you want to do, have at it. I won’t hold you back. As for me, I’m just fine playing the popularity game, because now, in my freshman year of college, I’ve finally found the right kind of people to play it with.

After all, as we gamers have always said, what’s wrong with playing a game that makes you happy?


–The Humblebug

You can be a Titan but not an orc: My friend’s attitudes about gaming.

After a long week of school, my friends and I would find ourselves at one of our houses and we would turn on the ps3 (or xbox or wii) and play some madden. We would take turns playing each other, one vs. one, the spectator’s yelling what they would have done differently, their approval, their disappointment.  When asked Saturday night what we did Friday after school, we would say “we just chilled—played madden.” This was regular. This was cool.

But if one Friday, like usual, my friends and I were at one of our houses and instead of turning on the ps3 (or xbox or wii) I said “lets play World of Warcraft today instead.” I would have received blank stares from half of my friends pretending not to know what WOW was, and “what are we, losers?” from the other half.

There is a unexplained social stigma in my group of friends (and many 19 year olds that I know) of MMORPG’s (massively multiplayer online role playing games.) The spectrum of video games and their “social standing” within my group of friends, with sports and console first person shooters on one end, and MMORPG games on the other, looks like this:

There is an association of MMORPG games and what is considered uncool, or nerdy. I’ve heard comments describing WOW ranging from “only losers play” to “why don’t they want to play in the real world” and “Its the game with magic, right? Are they seven?”

And I always have to wonder what is so different about sport games and FPS games? How many GTA players have ever killed someone and stolen a car? How many Madden players will play in the NFL? How many Halo players will become a cyborg and fight aliens?

There is a trend in the spectrum: as games incorporate more fantasy elements with larger multiplayer options, they slowly creep from the cool end of the spectrum to the nerdy end of the spectrum.

However, not is all lost for us fantasy enthusiasts. More fantasy based movies, novels and games are attracting larger audiences: the Lord of The Rings movie trilogy grossed $2.9 billion world wide, George R.R. Martin’s The Song of Ice and Fire book series was given an “A-” by Entertainment Weekly (very mainstream), has an HBO show based off of it named after the first book, A Game of Thrones, and is sold in the prestigious Rand Bookstore, and World of Warcraft has over 11 million users. Fantasy as a genre is slowly becoming more mainstream and therefore accepted. As this happens, the stigma of MMORPG games will fade and all their players can “just chill” as well.



Coming out of the Closet

Over the past decade or so, society has become drastically more accepting.  Our community has taken huge strides towards eliminating the stigmas associated with being game.  In the Dark Ages, so to speak, it was not uncommon, and perhaps even expected, for openly game people to be beaten up and mercilessly teased just for their life style choices.  Now, however, there are gamers almost everywhere you look.  We are no longer afraid to wear clothing displaying our game pride or to discuss our culture in public.  Even the government is beginning to support us.  Long gone are the days where we gamers were forced to hide in our basements, to lie about our nature.  We have Game Pride now.  I myself am openly game.  I am or have been a member of many gamer community groups, such as LOTRO, WoW, COD, FIFA, etc.  I have gone to various gamer events.  I’m not hiding from myself, nor am I hiding from my peers.

Some people are GAME. Get over it.

However, there is one threshold I have yet to cross on my path to being completely out as a gamer.  I have yet to come fully out to my parents.  They have their suspicions.  The late nights locked up in my room, the suspicious muffled sounds, the scrambling to conceal whatever it was that I was doing moments before they walked in the door.  The truth is, my home is my favorite place to be a gamer.  Why go to all the trouble of going out when I can just bring that world into my bedroom?  This leads to some awkward confrontations with my parents, unfortunately.

“What were you just doing in there?  What was that voice I heard?”

“It was nothing, Dad.  I was just…watching YouTube.”

“Are you sure?  Because that sounded an awful lot like that Cole Phelps character.  You know how I feel about how much time you’re spending with that boy.”

“Daaaaddddd, come on.  I don’t spend that much time with him, it’s not like that.  I’m not…obsessed.  He’s just a good friend, someone I can go to when I’m feeling down or just plain bored.  He’s fun.”

A disappointed, all-too-knowing look, and he leaves me be.  To be honest, I doubt they would care that much if I told them.  They probably already know.  They’re just from a different era.  I do things outside the gamer world, I really do.  In fact, none of my friends are a part of the game life style.  But when I get some alone time, when the world slows down for an afternoon or so, there’s nowhere I’d rather be.  I love my friends, and I love the life I have on the “outside.”  There’s just something about the game community that draws me back time after time.  To be around that many like-minded people is liberating, and I wouldn’t trade the time I’ve spent there for anything.

So here goes.  Mom, Dad:  I game.  I live it, breathe it, love it.  I game, and I’m proud.  So the next time you see me shutting the shades in the family room on a sunny Saturday midmorning, don’t sigh and walk away.  Accept the fact that this is who I am.

I am a gamer.

-Deathly Hallowed

My Gaming Relationship Status

My home gaming experience:

My parents got stuck with the most difficult of all children. Despite their mild mannered respectful personalities, my were those parents who were always being called by the school for some reason or the next. While I am not sure what their guiding philosophy for me would have been had my brothers been more docile, I was quickly marked as the “easy child” and my parents had a unique way of raising me. They never put any pressure on me to do my homework or to go to sleep early, as long as I did what I had to do I had my freedom. Except when it came to gaming. I started playing WOW when I was in 7th grade and it was probably the worst thing that ever happened to me. I would play and play for hours on end. Socially I still never missed a beat, and I always did enough work to get a B+/A- but never pushed my self. Homework was done as fast as possible so I could get to the computer. When my parents tried to get me to stop I would argue with them time and again “I am doing fine, I have friends and good grades, nothing is out of control” but it was. I was just absorbed and making excuses for myself. My parents tried making me quit, but I would get so angry and upset, and I never got like that, that that they would be weak and I would soon get it back. I finally quit in 11th grade when I woke up and realized that I wanted to get into a good college. I played other games but nothing saps away all of your time like WOW does.  I went back and dabbled in it for a few months after I got into college but quickly felt badly about it and dumped it for good. I am happy to not be addicted going into college.

The problem with the previous paragraph is that it makes it seem as if WOW was all bad, believe me it wasn’t. I had a million good moments and nights I spent smiling behind my keyboard. They are regrettable now, but in the time it was all great fun. One of the funniest bonding experiences I have or maybe ever will have is that one time I went over to a friends house and saw WOW on his computer and asked him whether or not he plays. He told me he used to and quit and I lied and said the same thing. A few months later, after a party I had a bunch of buddies over, and because I had known them for almost a year (this was the end of freshmen year) I decided to let them in on the fact that I had been playing WOW all along. After showing off my character, my gear etc… My friend said “move over”. I gave him the chair and he logged onto a character, also of top level but with all of the gear that takes WEEEEEKS to get. The highest level everything. He started playing PVP and he was the rogue I always wanted to be. My other friend there also logged onto his lesser account. We had all been playing wow secretly for over a year. We then made a guild, arena teams the works and played multiple games together for the rest of high school including League of Legends, Halo and Heroes of Newerth. We no longer hid our gaming and everyone in the school knew about it. It was much better like that.

A sadder ending story is that of my cousin. My cousin was a gamer, and I introduced him to WOW because I thought it would be good for both us if we played together. It destroyed him. He got better than me in under 5 months and his grades slipped drastically. He was lying to his parents that he was working when he actually playing wow almost every day and into the wee hours of the night. When he got to college and raw brain power could not make him pass, he failed out and then went on a study abroad program and failed that to. He worked in McDonalds for 5 months and is trying to study abroad again. We will see how that works out. I watch his account to make sure he doesn’t play now, because he lies even to me, but it seems he has replaced it with other games. I am not sure if he will ever break his addictive habit and it is hard having to be the one to watch out for him rather than watch him play.

All in all, my parents were right in trying to stop me, my friends awesome for being like me in such a strange way, and my cousin… ruined. It has been a part of my social life with my friends, and part of my alone time at home. It has stressed the relationship between me and my parents, and made a different one of me and my cousin.  It has definitely impacted my life.

– Kinetix

Why Isn’t This Fun?

Matt Almeida

While playing LOTRO I often found myself wondering, “Why am I not having fun?”.  Usually when I play games, I play them to have fun. After all isn’t that the point of games? Games should entertain and provide enjoyment but LOTRO does neither of these things for me. I apologize to all the LOTRO lovers out there but I simply do not like the game. Perhaps it is because I was playing the game for class rather than for enjoyment or maybe it is because I am just not a fan of MMORPGs. It might also be because LOTRO just isn’t that great of a game in my opinion. A combination of all these things has made me thoroughly not enjoy my experiences with LOTRO.

                First of all, I did not choose to play LOTRO. I did it simply because it was a necessary part of class. From the start I think I had a negative outlook on playing the game simply because it was not something I wanted to be doing. When people are reading a book someone often will ask how it is and for what purpose you are reading it. Someone might ask if you are reading for pleasure or for school or work. Often times we are forced to read a text book or a book of some sort that we may not enjoy. We read these because we need to for various reasons, not necessarily because we want to although sometimes these readings can be enjoyable. Often times however they may not be. Similarly, I played LOTRO for school, not for pleasure. I viewed it as having to play to level up my character for class, not for my own enjoyment. I felt like I was being forced to do something. I played the game and did all that was necessary and nothing more.

                 I didn’t really enjoy the game much at all and this might simply be because LOTRO isn’t that great of a game, at least in my opinion it isn’t. I feel that it is just a game with concepts and ideas stolen from a book. It is nothing unique and is not that fun to play. I feel it can become tedious and boring, as it provides very little enjoyment for me. I know there are many devout fans out so perhaps this is just because I am not an MMORPG fan. I have never been much of a fan of this type of  game and I have never found much enjoyment in them. I played WoW for a short period of time and never really  liked it that much either. After playing the free trial I never bothered to play any further.  These two games compose my MMORPG experience but both were very similar. I played both briefly and don’t intend to play either in the future.

                Games like LOTRO just don’t provide the same enjoyment and entertainment that other types of games do. LOTRO and others similar to it require lots of time and patience to play. They have an elaborate story that takes a long time to develop. One must play for a very long time to develop their character and master the game. These games are not for me. I want immediate satisfaction as this provides the most entertainment for me. I much prefer first person shooters and games which I can be good at because of skill, not because of the time I put in. Although many of these games take time to become good at, they are skill based. One can develop skills quickly or their skills may carry over from similar games. Even if someone is skilled at LOTRO, it takes a while to develop a character in the game. Games that are more immediate provide much more satisfaction. These are the kind of games I play for pleasure rather than LOTRO which I have been playing for work.

LOTRO, WoW, or RL?

By: Lynne M.

Online gaming has only minutely affected other aspects of my life.  I try to play LOTRO at least once every day or two for an hour or so each time. It’s been really difficult, though, lately, because I am at a point where I need a fellowship of 3-4 and I can’t ever find people willing to quest with me. This makes me log in less often because there is almost never anyone who can help me, so I can’t progress. It’s really frustrating playing a low population game and being expected to have a group of 3-4 players get together in order to complete a quest.

Within the last 2 weeks or so, I have picked up playing WoW again. Sometimes I choose to quest on WoW instead of doing homework when I should, and then I have to stay up a little bit later than I planned to finish my homework. I never spend hours upon hours playing, though, as the stereotype does. I just play when I have a little extra time and usually choose to game instead of watch tv or Facebook stalk.