It seems that every time we get a new Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy or Persona release, we have the same old “we’re having a JRPG renaissance!” discussion.
Well, dear reader, with my coverage of Death End Re;Quest on the horizon at the time of writing and plenty more RPGs in our shared futures, I’m here to remind you that RPGs have been alive and well ever since what people think of as their “golden age” — the SNES and PS1 eras. This will not be a shock to some of you reading this, of course, but I’m sure there are quite a few people out there who have passed up some wonderful experiences for one reason or another.
So with that in mind, I thought I’d do a list of seven arbitrarily chosen things that you might have missed out on if you’ve been operating under the grossly mistaken assumption that the role-playing game genre has somehow been “dead” despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Here we go!
Continue reading Seven Arbitrarily Chosen Things You’re Missing Out On If You’ve Been Operating Under the Mistaken Belief that JRPGs are “Dead”
Time for a Community tag post! This one looked like a particularly fun one, and after the lovely Irina from I Drink and Watch Anime specifically requested me to do one about games, who was I to refuse?
The original tag came from The Awkward Book Blogger and was based around, as you might expect, books — but it has since expanded to encompass anime and now, thanks to my contribution, games as well.
So let’s jump right in. After the jump. Jumpy jumpy jump.
Continue reading The One-Liner Challenge
Over at The Well-Red Mage, which you should really be reading if you enjoy thoughtful and well-considered writing about games without sociopolitical showboating, the Mage posed an interesting question.
It’s one we’ve been over many times since the medium’s inception, and yet at the time of writing, it’s once again a hot topic thanks to recent gun-related atrocities and the surrounding discussions.
So let’s talk about it a bit. I am, of course, no expert on psychology, so I’m not going to speak for anyone else; instead, I’m primarily going to focus on my own experiences here, and contemplate how they perhaps came to be. Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, and be sure to drop by the Mage’s site to see some other takes on the matter.
Continue reading On the Age-Old Question of Video Game Violence
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!
Today’s suggestion comes to us from “riobravo79”, who doesn’t appear to have a website or Twitter or anything — not that I could find, anyway — but left a comment on the initial awards post. Thanks; hope you see this!
Balancing narrative themes and mechanical interest is always a concern for those making a game with any more complexity than a “walking simulator”, visual novel or similarly story-centric experience. And it’s with this in mind that one of the most common terms bandied about by people who like to pretend they know what they’re talking about is “ludonarrative dissonance”, intended to describe the disconnect between the narrative themes of the story and what you actually spend your time doing in the game.
Some games handle this better than others. Some games don’t even attempt to handle it, combining abstract mechanics with a more realistic narrative. But some games do a wonderful job with fusing their narrative and thematic elements with how the game as a whole works.
And the winner is…
Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Best Integration of Mechanics with Thematic Elements
At the time of writing, the 2017 nominees for The Game Awards — referred to by some as “gaming’s Oscars” — have just been announced.
While it’s nice to see some high-profile Japanese games — most notably Persona 5, Breath of the Wild, Final Fantasy XV and Super Mario Odyssey — get some recognition, once again the overall lineup for the awards is a fairly predictable affair that primarily boils down to “which games were most popular and/or made most money this year”.
And while there’s some merit to celebrating those games that have performed well from a commercial perspective over the course of the year, it presents a rather narrow view of the industry that leaves a number of titles underrepresented and underappreciated.
Continue reading Games Awards Should Embrace a Broader Spectrum of Games
Writing for The Atlantic, academic and media commentator Ian Bogost put forth the rather bold claim that “video games are better without stories” and asked “film, television and literature all tell them better, so why are games still obsessed with narrative?”
This is an interesting question to ponder in light of any discussion of video games, but it’s a particularly pertinent discussion to have when we’re considering something as ambitious and audacious as Nier: Automata — a game which not only tells a compelling story, it tells it in an incredibly fascinating way.
Bogost’s article meanders around the point somewhat, but ultimately seems to come to the conclusion that purely environmental storytelling — be it through the use of audiologs, a la BioShock, or less explicitly through the environment itself, as in “walking simulators” such as Gone Home — is not a particularly effective approach to presenting an interactive narrative, though it can provide an interesting playground for a player to explore.
And he’s not really wrong in this regard… apart from the fact that it’s only in relatively rare cases that a game exclusively relies on this approach.
Continue reading Nier Automata: A Game Better With — And Because Of — Its Narrative
Nier creator Taro Yoko is particularly fascinated with death: not only the concept itself, but also how different people respond to it.
Yoko’s interest in the subject, as we’ve previously discussed, stems from a traumatic experience in his youth when he witnessed the accidental, easily avoidable death of a friend and discovered, to his surprise, that there was something oddly humorous in the moment as well as it being horrifying. Someone’s existence had come to a premature end, yes, but there was something fundamentally ridiculous about how it had happened; how sudden it was; and how everyone was powerless in the moment to prevent it from happening.
The inherent ridiculousness of death — particularly accidental death — is something that gamers have been familiar with for many years. And so what better medium through which to explore the concept itself — and what better characters to do so with than those that can’t die through conventional means?
Continue reading Nier Automata: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation