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Game Reviews Gaming Consoles PS4 Games RPG Games Video Games

Episode 66 – Getting Brainy about Game Violence

Michael Abbott, also known as the Featuring tracks by Brainy Gamer, has a unique voice in games journalism. For this episode, he adds a perspective about game violence straight from the pages of the Brainy Gamer blog. Our conversation tackles several facets of the issue to provide a broader understanding. This will help us communicate with non-gamers who misconceive of what games are and could be.

Understanding the issue on the other side is key to creating a meaningful dialog over something that can instill fear stemming from a misunderstanding of the medium. We outline the importance of understanding the perspective of the other end of the issue. That perhaps marketing of games could be setting our argument back a bit. That we need to rise above the current conception being built around us.

Michael suggests that we could build a campaign of sharing our stories. We all have our own stories in our lives about video games. This can be an effective tool of evangelism for games and the role they can play in our lives, violent or not. Even going as far as “diagnosing” someone and matching them with their perfect game just to give them a taste of the joy that perfect game can bring.

This frames the conversation and levels the playing field. It makes inflammatory comments made by politicians, lobbyists, and talking heads sound even more ridiculous. It seems far fetched, but possible.

We end the show talking about how much we enjoy Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead, and how it can be a prime example of everything we discussed earlier in the episode.

Featuring tracks by WMD.

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Gaming Consoles PS4 Games Retro Gaming RPG Games Video Games

Episode 71 – An April Fool’s Whatcha Playin’

Well, this is our final episode. Thank you guys so much for everything! It’s been a great run!

Rich explores the couch-bound multiplayer joys of the console American RPG scene with Bauldar’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norath. Experiences that Rich compares to a local multiplayer Torchlight. Steve saves his GDC thoughts for next week but brings a new iOS puzzle game into the mix, Rotolla. An intense game that can be compared to Super Hexagon meets Tetris in 3D. Finally, Matt tells the story of a little monster that could with Incredipede and his thoughts after finishing Bioshock Infinite.

Featuring tracks from Radlib

As a side note, we would like to thank everyone who’s donated to the show. You’ve made the continuation of this show possible. Thank you.

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Game Reviews Games Gaming Consoles PS4 Games Video Games

Episode 72 – 16-Bit World

Our buddy Roo, host of 16-bit Gems and Way Games Work, joins us to explore a 16-bit universe. The 16-bit aesthetic has persisted well past it’s console era. The style has shown up in countless console games, the music is still ringing through tv speakers, and remakes of Super Nintendo era games are still big sellers. Why is this? What makes this style so acclimated to game development and does it still have a place in current game development?

This conversation morphs into a comparison between 16-bit RPG’s, early PS1 era RPG’s, and western developed RPG’s. Was there a heyday of RPG gaming or did each era bring their own unique flavor to the genre? How has Final Fantasy faired over the years and do the 16-bit versions overshadow the later and technically more impressive versions?

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Game Industry Games Gaming Consoles PS4 Games Retro Gaming RPG Games Video Games

Episode 64 – Violence in Context

There is a conversation in America about violence in videogames. While the cool-headed and rational among us don’t believe this medium signals the end times, the debate—or blame—rages on. And the points of either side rarely change. Yet the treatment of violence in games can be a constructive thing. It can emulate the sense of chaos and horror and confusion the average person would experience in a real life firefight, as Kane & Lynch 2 does.

The particulars or gravity of the situation may shift, but violence is also an inevitable part of any survival scenario. How far would you go to stay alive in, say, Fallout 3’s post-apocalyptic wasteland? Would you let your moral compass guide you? Or murder a stranger just because you want his cool hat?

Perhaps, as is so often the case, you’re the archetypal hero. One minute you’re riddling enemies with bullets— one cannon fodder target after the next in endless ways—then the story turns in on itself, forcing you, the player, to question who exactly you really are and what the consequences of your actions might be. Games  like Spec Ops: The Line, Shadow of the Colossus, Far Cry 2 and The Walking Dead make it impossible to separate violence from narrative, either forcing you along an unsure path or to shaping your experience, however unwillingly, into a personal psychological profile.

Let’s talk about violence. All of it.

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Gaming Consoles Kids Games PS4 Games Video Games

Episode 62 – Hiding in Shadows

Stealth design is more prevalent than it used to be—even more typical action titles seem to have at least a level devoted to hiding in the shadows. Where then does that leave a core stealth experience? How can it stand out from the crowd?

Klei’s Mark of the Ninja tweaks that paradigm by throwing it into only two dimensions. Speaking with creative lead Nels Anderson, AJBS discusses how the design of this indie hit works in 2D through visualizations of sound, precision movement et al, as well as Nels’ own influences and the philosophy of sneaking in general.

Switching gears, there is also some conversation over the difference between a game that’s “fun” versus one that’s “engaging”—naturally the conversation steers towards Dark Souls, and, interestingly, Megaman X. Enjoy!

Featuring tracks by Danimal Cannon from the album Roots

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Games Gaming Consoles Kids Games PS4 Games RPG Games Video Games

Episode 56 – Transgaming

There are people in this world who aren’t comfortable the way they were born. Their attitudes and habits suggest that perhaps a woman can feel like a man, or visa versa. Transgendered people all over the world have lived through a lot. Torment, confusion, a staggeringly high suicide rate, and a society that would prefer to forget they exist.

Gaming has offered a world that can accept anybody, even those who feel unacceptable. As our guest, Morgan McCormick of TransLabyrinth, states that game worlds are crazy and it can seem that a person changing gender is certainly not the strangest thing that can happen. Games can then provide a safe and fun place for not only play to happen but perhaps, a introspection on who that person is and jump into the shoes of someone a different gender than they are. It can be a tool of self discovery as well as a way to blow off some steam.

But game communities are not the most empathetic group in the world, nor do game publishers and developers seem to pay any mind to the existence of transgendered people. Their presence in the game world is minimal and it’s time to change that.

Featuring music by Monodeer from the album Noise.bmp EP

On a side note – A big thank you to everyone in the subreddits r/transgender and r/transgamers for helping me navigate this complex and sensitive issue.