Blog Archives

The Philosophical Basis of Exploration Cues in Game Design

Republished from The GameSaver, whose purpose it is to use objective philosophical analysis to save the video game industry from imploding.


…it’s your game. You decide how you want to play, I mean, we’re not the ones who are going to tell you how to play...” – Mathieu Ferland, senior producer at Ubisoft Montreal, describing the design philosophy of Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.

Obviously you can’t instruct people on how to enjoy art.” – Lisa Foiles, video game commentator (and former “All That” star) stating what she believes to be a truism relevant to a gamer’s choosing how (and whether) to explore a game world.

Together, these two quotations represent a malignant viewpoint stretching from video game designer to video game player. The second quote comes from one of Kotaku’s (few) intellectual features now roughly a year old. It is the perfect encapsulation of the average person’s view of art. Because this view is so widespread, what I am about to say is tragically controversial: there is an objectively correct way to read books, watch movies, view paintings, and play games. Read the rest of this entry


Role-Playing Games as Embodying the Joy of Living

Pictured: the joy of living

Republished from The GameSavermy blog dealing with philosophical issues in the field of video games.


Before beginning, I would like to acknowledge that the seeds of the ideas that ultimately led to this article were first planted in my mind when I read “Why I Like Stamp Collecting,” a 1971 essay in The Minkus Stamp Journal by Ayn Rand. I consider what follows merely my application to role-playing games of her original ideas on the philosophy of stamp collecting.

To start, consider just what a role-playing game is. I define an RPG as a game in which (1) character customization occurs, (2) there exist quests or missions that are freely chosen, and (3) non-linear character advancement of some kind is present. These features can vary immensely in scale.  Read the rest of this entry

For Immediate Release

If you tend to follow the pretentious British music scene, you would be aware that, for the second time in as many albums, Radiohead have released their newest album digital only, with absolutely no pre-release hype. The first thing we heard about it was two days ago, and now it’s on my hot little computer, coming from the speakers.

Whether or not you care about music, a question is there, waiting: why don’t more games do this? Not even this, release 2 days after announcement, but why do they insist on massive hype waves, years and years of anticipation building up to flawed, nowhere near monumental games?
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Some brief thoughts on Final Fantasies

Yes, I know, I said no news here, but I am a liar! A big fat, possibly Greek liar (yes, I went there. It’s early enough in the morning to go there). But you know what? Final Fantasy deserves an exception because I love making fun of Final Fantasy. It’s just so ludicrous that it deserves brutal mocking, and BRUTAL MOCKING I CAN PROVIDE. Or, kind of provide. And it’s hard to spoil anything when the whole thing is in Japanese, a language I definitely do not speak.

So, the news of the day was the release of trailers for every one of Square Enix’s identical action RPG products. If you want the trailers, I’ve linked them under the cut. I don’t really care to give Square Enix promotion, but I figure making fun of their games balances out any promotional concern. Your level of snark for the day is determined by the header picture which means we’re about at Snark Code Orange. Because I dug up the Final Fantasy movie in all your collective minds.

The big* announcement**, of course***, was Final Fantasy XIII-2. It is, affectionately, a game that shouldn’t exist. It’s probably spawned out of the fact that they made so much extra, useless content for Final Fantasy XIII, and in good Japanese tradition they couldn’t just throw it out. This game has the least trailer support (literally, half the trailer is the ending of XIII, which I pretty much called four hours in, down to the setting), and honestly doesn’t inspire confidence. Then again, it would require a fair amount of work to make me interested in anything with Final Fantasy XIII attached.

Square Enix then spent 12 minutes trying really hard to make me interested in things with Final Fantasy XIII attached. Read the rest of this entry

Game of the Year?

*Sometime after dusk. We are playing Baldur’s Gate 2, a classic of video games, eating a piece of Christmas Cake*

Shadowy Figures (coming out of the shadows in the doorway): We need a game of the year choice.

Me: Oh, game of the year? What game? What year?

SF: This year. Your choice. Of game.

Me: Oh, I left it in my coat. It’s out in my car. Let me go get that.

SF (blocking the door): No! No! You’ve held off long enough. You will not make fools of us. You will tell us, and tell us now!

Me: Okay, okay, fine. Game of the year. This year. You want a choice from me.

SF: You’re stalling for time.

No, you just think I’m stalling. This year is difficult. If anything, it is defined more by its disappointments than by its successes. I mean, sure, when you think about it, there’s been a lot of quality games released this year. Even more I haven’t played.

SF: So what is your choice?
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Blog: Movies and Novels

Allow me to be philosophical for a moment (and yes, kids, you’re riding with me today! Patricia’s off doing important, Patricia-y things. It’s kind of like having your crazy ex-hippie uncle pick you up for the weekend, the one whose first question is, “Have any of you kids ever tried hashish? It’s magical!”).

I was thinking this morning about films, because a friend of mine was having a discussion with me through facebook, the medium of kings, about movies. Specifically, action movies and comedy movies. How no one cares about direction in those movies, and how the directors are often seen as “juvenile”.

And this, for some weird reason, got me to think about video game pacing.
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