Next week is the first anniversary for Higher Level Gamer, and next week we’ll have a post about what we learned in the past year while blogging here. But, since almost a year has gone by, I figure it’s time to explain the name, Higher Level Gamer.
Posted in Criticism, Gaines Hubbell
Tagged Cameron Kunzelman, Game studies, games studies, higher level, K. E. Wilkerson, Kunzelman, Name, nominalism, rhetoric, third generation, video games studies, wilkerson
Welcome to a Higher Level Gamer Critical Retrospective! Retrospectives can take many forms: some focus on a single franchise while others are more expansive. For these retrospectives, I’ll be taking the latter approach.
These retrospectives aren’t meant to be best-of lists. Rather, I’ll examine some of the tropes of particular game genres, their historical contexts, provide some examples, as well as explore why I think these genres are fun.
This third retrospective will focus on games in the cyberpunk genre. Though the influences of cyberpunk date back several decades to the film noir genre and even further back to the gothic style of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, cyberpunk as a genre exploded into the popular imaginary in the 1980s with William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. These two works set the tone for what would become the main tropes of the genre: a dystopian future, a complex – often tortured – relationship between humanity and technology, and a rabid fascination for the underdog.
So let’s begin with this week’s critical retrospective!
Posted in Critical Retrospectives, Erik Bigras
Tagged Blade Runner, Cyberpunk, Cyberpunk 2020, Cyberpunk 2077, Deus Ex, Deux Ex: Human Revolution, Heist, Neal Stephenson, Neuromancer, Ridley Scott, Shadowrun, Shadowrun Returns, Shadowrun Unlimited, Snow Crash, Uplink, Uplink: Hacker Elite, Watch Dogs, Watch_Dogs, William Gibson
This post revolves around a series of paradoxes. Within the realm of information technology, access often is understood as something that should be promoted. However, within the realms of information technologies, increased access often has led to increased centralization. For example, the shooter, a minor video game genre prior to the early 1990s, is now being incorporated into an increasing number of other game genres. How was this rise to dominance1 accomplished, to the point where shooters are held up as the definitive example of video games in popular news media, considering that other designs were firmly established by the time shooters made their appearance?
Posted in Criticism, Erik Bigras
Tagged Abandonware, Access, Ethics, FPS, Free Software Foundation, Game design, Game Mechanics, Home of the Underdogs, HOTU, id Software, John Carmack, Militarization, Morality, Open Access, Shooter, Video Game History, Wolfenstein
This E3 is the first time that I’ve paid close attention to the whole spectacle. I’ve only been playing games on a console for a few years now and didn’t really understand how watching game trailers could be exciting. I still don’t really comprehend all of it, but I have come to understand that trailers and early gameplay footage don’t necessarily mean that anything put forth will come to fruition. Cynicism seems to be the name of the game at E3.
I say this to start because I’m declaring something stupid that I nonetheless believe to be true: 2014 is the year of the grappling hook. Grappling hooks were featured in three games shown off at E3 – Battlefield: Hardline, Rainbow Six: Siege, and Far Cry 4. When we put these together with games like Assassin’s Creed, Titanfall, and Infamous: Second Son, which offer (super)natural or biomechanical grappling hooks on the player-character, it seems somewhat obvious that there is a distinct move towards increasing the vertical openness of games. This is not necessarily a new thrust but simply what I think is an increase in the frequency of AAA games attempting to use verticality as a means to create ‘depth’ or be ‘innovative’ or whatever buzzword works.
Posted in Criticism, Nick Hanford
Tagged Angelina Jolie's eye patch, Assassin's Creed, Battlefied, Battlefield: Hardline, Day of Defeat, E3 2014, Far Cry 4, game criticism, Grappling Hooks, Rainbow Six: Siege, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Splatoon, Ubisoft, Verticality, Watch Dogs
As I’ve spent more time with them, the cities that I have lived in or frequented have often slowly shrunk as I got to understand them better. As I knew where I was based on a landmark or could quickly figure out which direction was north based on a few buildings, these cities became smaller and easier to traverse. Yet they also became deeper. Buildings, streets, corners, businesses became embedded with meaning from my memories.
This obviously isn’t uncommon, but when a city shrinks for different reasons, those memories and that sense of depth don’t evolve quite as easily. I bring this up because I have been playing Watch Dogs for slightly over a week and have finally figured out why I think there are so many problems with the game. Yes, it was a rushed title that seems to have acquiesced to a marketing departments’ slow bloodletting. Yes, it was a Christmas tree that toppled over when too many ornaments were attached to it along with a heavy, poorly-written star at its head.