Eoin O'Connor

Learning And Sharing New Ideas

Category: Gaming

The Future of Gaming

Intel virtual reality advertisement (Ben Delaney)

Intel virtual reality advertisement (Ben Delaney)

The game industry is a fickle thing, we can see this from the early days of the industry when everything was not so clear cut and the boom was followed by the bust very quickly. So, nailing a defined future for gaming is difficult to comprehend, let alone bank on. One thing for sure is the success of the industry is undoubted which is very promising indeed. I recently came across this article  in The Guardian about video game “trends” (not the word I would use to describe it but I digress) and I mulled over a few of the ideas expressed here.

I would see the new ideas being pushed out by the industry as very socially progressive. Traditionally gaming was more a personal thing whereby you as the player played the game, solitary without input from others. The advances being made in online gaming are allowing for more social games coming to the forefront of the industry, where in the past the online game mode was a  secondary feature of most games.


© Disney

This however may pose a vast rethink of how games are made, generally the player is the centre of attention for the game but with these new ideas being pushed out, what is the point of the game? I wonder is the experience alone the unique selling point for these new social games? This is where virtual reality comes into play, there has to be a physical space for these games to be played and VR is a great platform to launch the next generation of gamers, the one issue I have with VR though is it’s limitations. We can only interact with this virtual reality by a headset alone, so where does that leave the rest of our senses? Gaming for me was always a fully immersive experience, whereby you imagined the feeling based on the sights and sounds that were being presented to you on screen. If VR is manipulating our vision then what else can we do to enhance that and extend it to our other senses? And also, if we can achieve this, where will it take us? will we end up in a TRON like scenario where the line between our reality and the virtual one is so blurred we do not know which one is real?

Interesting times ahead nonetheless.


Storytelling, Evolved.

E-literature is a relatively new term in the narrative. The defining factor of e-literature is that it is an inherently digital in nature, something which is conceived in a digital manner. In general terms, one may think that an e-book generally relates to e-literature, this is not the case however, some e-books are conceived and published in an electronic/digital manner, in this case this would be considered e-literature.

This form of literature is not entirely exclusive to book from. Many videogames can be categorized as a form of e-literature, especially games which allow for the player to make decisions in game which reflect in game events. Fine examples of this would be Telltale Games The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. Games such as the Mass Effect series  are also examples. Telltale have also recently released Batman, a Telltale series in which the player plays out a new Batman story, every week there is a new chapter added.

This is essentially a new take on the comic series of old, whereby a new chapter from a story arc is released in a trickle to the reader each week. It is amazing yet logical to see this form of e-literature evolve so quickly and work so very well. I have played The Wolf Among Us in the past and I was impressed how the player is given choices, can watch their decisions play out in front of them all while maintaining that feeling of reading a book. It is multi-sensory in nature, which makes each the ‘reader/player’ download the next chapter again and again.

This is literature coming alive. One critique I do have though is that we do not have to use our imaginations. The effectiveness of this form of storytelling is far too much for authors to ignore however (and quite profitable), we might just be looking at the next step in the evolution of storytelling.



Videogames as an Artistic Expression – Part Deux

Recently, I had conducted two surveys relating to my research question which is ‘do videogames hold artistic merit’ and from the feedback I have received so far, it seems that the group of peers who were surveyed did indicate that we do hold video games as an art form somewhat. The interesting paradigm here from the survey I have found that we generally are told from a young age what is art and what is not, what I have also found is that secondary education also alters our perception of what art is. The elephant in the room here is the simple yet ultimately loaded question of  ‘what is art?’ This is probably the most ambiguous question yet, many seem to believe that there is no question of what art is. For the majority, art is Michelangelo’s David or Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and that’s just about it.

rsg_gtav_screenshot_151Screenshot from Grand Theft Auto 5  ©Rockstar Games

From the survey I have conducted, we also found that there seems to be a need for this subject to be further explored.  So far the research done into this field has been very little to nil, and there seems to be little interest in the art world to look at digital media. I get the overriding sense that there is an ‘unwillingness’ to pursue any interest from established art academies and institutions world wide, but the popularity of videogames, their accessibility and availability is too hard to ignore. It is far easier for the average citizen to play a videogame than travel to The Louvre in Paris.

Super mutants and educational gaming!

Video games, we love them as a source for entertainment but what happens when we use or apply them for educational purposes?

Traditionally, video games were viewed by our parents as something to “keep the kids quiet”. Those same values are held today by many parents, however, there has been a shift toward a different perspective on gaming in recent years. Games are now being viewed as educational tools, not just by colleges and universities, but by militaries and governments alike.

The earliest example of educational games could be games such as “Oregon Trail” (which you can play online for free now), whereby you played as a American frontiersman trying to reach the pacific in your wagon. This game taught children in the 80’s and early 90’s about the challenges facing people making this trip during this time, all while getting dysentery and dying.

In the 90’s, Microsoft developed “Flight Simulator”, a game that has been updated many times and is a game used by pilots as a training aid to help with many facets of operating aircraft. From ground operations to in-flight simulation.

The early successes and popularity of these games are further referenced in many new games released for the new generation of consoles, with games like Batman: Arkham Knight, the Fallout Series, Metal Gear Solid and children’s games such as Little Big Planet, all having educational and problem solving tasks incorporated into the story of the game.

In the Military, games like ArmA are used to simulate different facets of the battlefield and offer a safe environment for which soldiers can learn their craft without endangering their lives. Likewise for many air forces and navies, we have aircraft and ship simulators whereby pilots can hone their skills without the expense of operating aircraft and ships for training purposes only (the cost of a helicopter in the air for one hour = $5,000).

Games have become so embedded into the fabric of society that we don’t even see video games as “video games” anymore, but as events in their own right, just like a Hollywood blockbuster. Fallout for is released tomorrow and it’s comparable to the hype that has been building up for the upcoming Star Wars movie, yet the Fallout game will no doubt require players to solve problems and build items in the game, which has the potential to break the fourth wall (should the world die in nuclear fire and we have to scurry into vaults and use the skills we’ve learned in the nuclear wasteland to ward off feral ghouls and super mutants).

Video games and story telling

I have played games my whole life, so it comes as no surprise then that  I have noticed over the last 10 years that the story lines for video games have come very far since

My first game was super Mario for the NES, a basic 8 bit game that by today’s standards seem very weak, the story however was excellent (you and your plumber brothers have to save a princess from a monster in his castle) however, the technology limited where the story could go.

In around 1997, I got my first Playstation, suddenly, I was bombarded by such games such as Metal Gear Solid. The main thing that prompted me to write about this game in particular is the story. Metal Gear Solid’s story was so immersive, you had to play through the story and each decision you made, counted. The story itself is worthy of a hollywood blockbuster and the gameplay (stealth gameplay) brought that all together. The success of Metal Gear Solid heralded a new era of game to come forth, many of the heavily story-based games we see today (the Batman Arkham series) are majorly influenced by the work done in the Metal Gear series of games, which still are popular today as they were 20 years ago.

The ability for these games immerse the user into a the on-screen world is something quite unique, as is the story writing behind them. The Batman: Arkham series, for instance, has used the vast wealth of stories written over the best part of a century to create the world conveyed in the games. The stories in their own right are very attention grabbing as it is, but introducing the interactive element revolutionizes how we read a story, it not only tells a story, it lets you become an active participant in the story also.

Indie gaming has also opened up a new door for us to access great interactive stories also and a lot of them are either free to play, or have a very small fee attached, which is a game changer as younger players a can now get their hands on games with great playability, amazing stories and immersive gaming atmospheres for almost nothing.

The knock on effect this type of gaming has also is that younger people are now using these games as learning devices. Games such as Minecraft for instance, ecourages players to build worlds and create what they want to see. Games are also being transformed into educational tools also (see MinecraftEdu).

In the next few years, I think we’re going to see some major steps forward in how stories are told. We luckily have the technology on our side to create written stories and transform them into something completely “out there”. The amazing part about all of this also is that it’s no longer the traditional “intellectual writer” that is telling the story, but rather the nerd and his computer crafting these wonderful pieces of interactive literature and making them accessible for the world to enjoy

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