Category Archives: Video Game Trends

Why I Love to Download Games

downloadable gamesI look forward to a future where everyone downloads games to their console or PC. I also hope these downloads would finish in the blink of an eye. I’d dump game discs. I wouldn’t need them anymore.

Well, that future date is up in the air and covered with fog. It’s hard to see when it will touch down on the ground. In the meantime, let me tell you six reasons why I love to download games.

1. Convenience

It’s just plain convenient to download games online. You don’t have to go to the brick and mortar stores of yore. You can keep the creases, folds and impressions that make up your comfortable couch groove.

There is a downside, though, because you can’t always sell downloaded games. Still this might be a small price to pay. I mean, you get an amazing game, and you don’t even have to move.

2. Steam

I think you’ll find it worthwhile just to get a PC for these sales. And it’s tough to resist Valve’s world class games, like Portal and Half Life. Be careful! These video game sales might tempt even a stingy person with a digital wallet.

3. Demos

Downloading and playing a demo is like test driving a car: you get a taste of the full experience. I appreciate that demos are there if I need to take one for a test drive.

I sometimes played demos sometimes during the last generation. I love it when you complete them and unlock rewards, and I had great fun do this with Mass Effect 3.

4. XBLA and PSN

It was amazing to see how XBLA improved. It went from simple but fun games like Geometry Wars to block busters like Shadow Complex. Journey won critical praise and my heart. What improvements will we see during this generation?

5. “Original” games

Journey, Fez, and Bastion are refreshing. These games, and others like them, are a welcome change from the mainstream diet of AAA sequels. In fact, they’re so good that you might find they replace your previous diet and leave you satisfied. Try these downloadable games. You’ll thank me later.

6. DLC

Don’t pelt me with tomatoes just yet. Let me explain. DLC is exciting when it extends the life of a game, and it offers you a different way to play the game. DLC also allows developers to take risks with their game. When it’s done right, DLC keeps me interested.

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Why do you love or hate downloadable games?

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We’ve Come to Collect: Games and Collecting Things

Collectibles in Video GamesDo you like to collect stuff in video games? You probably don’t because it’s not very fun. You might remember the game’s story more than the game’s trinkets.

Now, some critics might argue that collecting things interrupts the flow of a game. They are about to beat the final boss, but the allure of a coffee thermos distracts them. Or something like that. The point is they dislike collecting things in game because it ruins their fun.

I somewhat agree with this criticism because there are bad collectibles in games. I don’t want to stop to search for 1000 coffee thermoses during a tense fight. I don’t want to search for newspapers in a dense forest consumed by darkness. And once I do get the newspaper, I would rather play than stop to read it. In other words, it’s hard for me to read a book while I’m on a speedy roller coaster.

But pretend I did want to collect everything in a game. What do I gain from doing it? Most games offer meager rewards – perhaps only an achievement – for my hard work.

However, I can think of three games with excellent audio collectibles. These collectibles do not need to distract you from the main game because you can play while you listen to the recording. And I believe they reward the player. Let me tell you about these games.

BioShock

You can learn much about Rapture as you play the game and fight its psychotic citizens. The recordings, though, add a layer of story to the game. They help you dive deeper into the minds of Rapture’s citizens and the “Little Sister” project.

Halo 3: ODST

“Bang, bang, bang and then all the aliens fall down. It’s just another Halo game with a robot-like protagonist,” you say. Well, the recordings in this game tell a human story full of sadness and hope, and it bring New Mombasa to life. The story in the recordings is separate from the game’s main tale. This separate story is a true reward for collectors. It is a nice change of pace from explosions and alien death.

Amalur

In Kingdoms of Amalur, recording listens to you. Nah, I kid.

The recordings – called lorestones in this game – fill in the story and grant you experience. Collect all the lorestones in a set and you get a permanent bonus. Now there’s a reason to collect!

Conclusion

You might need to stray off the main trail to find collectibles in these games. That might mean you cannot hack off orcs’ limbs or set bad guys on fire. And you might become upset about that. Well, there is a simple rebuttal: don’t search for the collectibles and play the game.

When you do collect things in these three games, you are often treated to a reward. You might learn more about the story or gain bonuses for your character. Not all games can offer you that much. It’s time that they do offer these rewards.

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Hack a Game to Bits

hacking in video games“Connect power coupling A with coupling B, then repeat three other times, and do this before the timer runs out. Avoid electric shock. Do not eat coupling or drop it into a bathtub.”

I don’t know about you, but I think this sounds boring. It sounds like a technical writer’s manual – keep in mind that I think they are swell people – for some product. It certainly does not excite me enough to read more.

Yet, some games ask you to fiddle with couplings, cogs, etc. when you hack, say, a security camera or computer. In these hacking mini games, you quickly memorize patterns or solve a puzzle. Then you earn a shiny reward.

I understand that people want to hack to gain rewards in games. There’s a huge payout when you finish the hack that makes you feel proud of your skills. You could gain control of a turret, as your reward, and mow down enemies. You could also grab more coins after you avoid a vending machine’s security system. These bonuses sound great.

However, it is a pain to hack things in games; the process itself is not fun. Developers could make both the process and the rewards fun to impress players. If they cannot do that, they should cut boring game segments like an editor faced with a bad sentence.

Granted, hacking things is a small part of most video games. Mass Effect and BioShock are excellent even though they have these hacking mini games. So why should anyone bother to make these mini games more fun?

Developers can stand out if they take the time to make hacking fun. Play then becomes a joy instead of a chore when every moment of the game is fun. Next-gen, I’m looking at you.

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A Little Thing That Makes Games a Joy to Play? Demo Bonuses

Video Games Demo Bonuses Make Me HappyDo you think video games should stay fun? Of course you do!

Sometimes, though, people are so negative about games that it’ll rain on your good mood. Usually, these people sport sourpuss faces that look like they’d swallowed a jar of lemon juice. You know the usual suspects and their comments:

  •   “’X’ is an evil serpent of a games publisher.”
  •   “I don’t like that game’s ending. Change it to suit my preferences.”
  •   “My console is better than your console.”

Shove all that stuff aside for now. These squabbles can smother your sun shine of a good time with the dark cloud of gloominess.

Instead, let’s talk about why it’s so much fun to play games today. I love the little things, like demo bonuses, that make games even more of a joy to play.

The bonuses are rewards you unlock for beating a free demo, and you get to play with them when you buy the full game. It’s a cool idea.

Maybe your bonus is a mighty blade to vanquish a fire spewing dragon. Or a 1000 pound gun that fills enemies full of holes like Swiss cheese. Press the trigger, the gun goes boom and watch waves of enemies beg for mercy. Whatever the bonus is, it’s usually a lot of fun to use in the full game.

The Kingdoms of Amalur demo nets you some cool bonuses for use in that game. You can get armor and a weapon just for playing the 30 or so minute demo.

You even get a bonus from the same demo to use in Mass Effect 3. How does that work? Go play the Amalur demo. Then buy Mass Effect 3. Your copy of Mass Effect 3 will now have Amalur inspired armour and a chakram launcher. You know, to launch chakrams at evil space aliens who want to destroy the universe.

You better believe that these offers enticed to me play the demo.

I wish more developers tried this idea with their games. We need some more positive vibes, love, fun and more ways to share the joy of playing games. Let’s toss aside the boxing gloves and have some fun. After all, we play games to have fun. At least that’s true for me.

So, I like the idea of rewarding people for playing your demo. And the bonuses are free! What more could you want?

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Video Games in Canada: They’re Not Just for Beavers Anymore

Video Games in Canada I want to share some of my thoughts on video games in Canada. I’ll try to keep this free of excessive flag waving.

1. It’s nice to see that people want to make video games here.

When I think about video game companies, I think of Japan or the U.S.

2. I take pride in seeing games made here and in my home province of Ontario.

  • I like that my country plays an important role in making fun games.
  • I hope to see more Canadians start companies to make great games.

3. Video games have grown up.

  • Did you know that some Canadian gamers are 31 years old?
  • You can put aside the bibs, cribs and baby food.

 

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Xbox Live Swearing Can Ruin Everyone’s Good Time

Xbox Live trash talker

Figure 1.1: The angry Xbox Live gamer

We’ve all heard Xbox Live swearing and trash talk.

You were probably a victim too.

Maybe you had hoped to unwind while playing games one day. You had your warm slippers on and, perhaps, a warm snifter of something to go with your cigar. Continue reading

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