Beenox vs. Batman: When Comic Books and Video Games Work

Comic books have become a major staple in the social culture of the world, and they have been for quite some time. Whether it’s been the friendly neighborhood Spiderman, Peter Parker, or the brooding, billionaire vigilante Bruce Wayne running around the rooftops of Gotham as Batman; comics have become synonymous with the youthful, adventurous spirit in all of us. They give us a sense of adventure, intrigue, and make us feel amazing as we follow the vibrant pages of story lines from cover to cover. The sad truth of the matter is that the vast superheroes that we’ve witnessed over the years, haven’t really translated well to a video game screen.

The mass populous has become ensnared by this comic novelty and many graphic novels and comic books are becoming mainstreamed blockbusters, epic television shows, but it’s only been in the past couple of years where I’ve seen comic book superheroes really crack the preverbal barrier of video game console success. Today we’re going to take a walk down memory lane and discuss some horrifying examples of superhero games, as well as two current titles that I personally believe optimize what our gaming industry is capable of when it comes to bringing our comic book alter-egos and childhood heroes to the virtual screen. Let’s begin with the bad so we can climatically rise to the aspects of the good games that work and why they work.

Bad Superhero Game # 1: Superman 64

Now I was in love with my Nintendo 64 as a child, and I coddled my cartridges like a baby coddles a pacifier, but Superman 64 was like the black sheep of my love affair. The game was utter garbage and is considered one of the worst superhero games to ever be created. This was disappointing for me, because I love the Man of Steel. I grew up believing that through all the trials and tribulations in my life that somehow I must be like him, if I was able to deal with all of the struggles of my life like lead bullets bouncing off Superman’s pectorals.

This game makes Superman look like a drunken pub brawler, and makes his ‘Man of Steel’ persona fade faster than a plate of nachos at a football game. The worst part about this game, is that I ultimately wish it had never been made – that way, I didn’t have to destroy Superman’s reputation and say that his pixelated flying into walls and poorly timed fighting mechanics didn’t make me cry inside. [ Rocksteady, if you’re watching, I suggest this is the franchise you decide to save next! ]

Bad Superhero Game # 2: Thor: God of Thunder 

Do I even need to explain why a movie game title is going to inevitably be bad? Look at [almost ] any direct movie/game superhero title and you’ll see the average scores on those games are horrendous. The reason I included Thor as my second example though, is because it’s a MODERN game. It just came out recently following the release of Thor in theaters, and even though I’m not a severe Thor lover, I was really hoping for a game that would MAKE me love him.

The sad truth is that this game doesn’t even play well. The mechanics are clunky. The storyline makes me long for my yesteryears when I didn’t even know video games existed, so that I ultimately wouldn’t have to experience this mess, and just overall in the realm of things the game doesn’t sell what it was designed to sell. Perhaps it’s because the developer was Sega, and sadly, most every movie game that Sega has produced – to me – has been lackluster at best. I would love to see someone attempt a reboot of this franchise, but until then, I’m content with my Batman and Spiderman success stories.

Successful Superhero Game #1: The Batman: Arkham Series [ Asylum and City ]

My goodness, if there was one game in the past couple of years that I can honestly say made me truly FEEL like the superhero that they promoted it would have to be the Batman: Arkham series. London developers, Rocksteady Studios, has made me a true believer that video games based on my favorite superhero can be truly possible! I grew up with Batman fever. I knew every line to every Batman: The Animated Series episode, I read the comics, I even played the NES games and anything that was Batman I followed. In the recent release of Batman: Arkham I was blown away though.

Batman: Arkham City –  12 Minutes of Gamplay:

Never before had I witnessed a game that had stuck so true to the core fan-base. The intriguing storyline, the meaningful characters, the challenge maps to make me feel like Batman, the Riddler challenges to allow me to have to think intuitively during gameplay and the vast wiki-like backstories that I could collect as Easter Eggs throughout the game. All of these pieces made the Batman: Arkham series a standout in how superhero video games should be made.

Now were there flaws, certainly, I won’t ever say a game is exactly perfect in every shape and form. There’s always room for improvement upon the last idea, but the fact is, that the Batman: Arkham series is a stand-alone master class in what a good superhero experience should be. The fighting mechanics were fluid, the story lines were solid enough, and the menu work made accessing weaponry fairly easy. People should take notes from Rocksteady, and Rocksteady should take note that their DC lineup that Warner Bros. has backing them is extensive and fans would love to see other superheroes get ripped off those pages as well.

Successful Superhero Game # 2: Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions

Now I was skeptical about this game when it first came out, because I knew nothing about the developer Beenox, and thought that a brand new company couldn’t possibly design my hero Peter Parker in the shining light that some of the current movies had cast him in. The game also featured four dimensions instead of sticking with just Peter, and that concerned me, but you know what? I was wrong. The game actually works quite well, despite a few qualms I had with certain levels. Beenox gave me a quippy, witty, smart ass Peter Parker. They gave me cell-shaded graphics, which, for that particular game were a perfect and welcome transition.

The gameplay mechanics could have been smoother in places. I often times felt like some of the 2099 Dimension levels became cumbersome and difficult to handle in terms of the swing mechanics. The storyline, while a tad odd, made sense to me and  it wasn’t too confusing. The game itself, due to the cell-shading decision probably isn’t too grand of a choice for players like color-blind gamers, due to the harsh contrast tones on some of the models. The game though is a great stance on what a good superhero game should be. These games could definitely incorporate some other functions like subtitles for actual sounds within the game, rather than just dialog for deaf gamers, but both the Batman: Arkham series and Shattered Dimensions sell me on superhero games.

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Game of the Week: The Warbler’s Nest

This week is an interesting one, because it veers a little different from what you’re probably used to in the video game world. I know that I generally love to talk about games and graphics and art advancements, but imagine if you will if all of that was stripped away. You now have no visuals, no sounds, no alternative stimuli that you’ve become so fond of in modern gaming. Do you think you could still enjoy a game if it didn’t contain these qualities? Well I aim to show that it is possible with this week’s Game of the Week:

The Warbler’s Nest by Josh McIntosh



The Warbler’s Nest is an interactive-text adventure [ and for those of you who know what it is you’ll be fondly reminded of Zork.] and through the glory of the power of words, the game intends on taking you through this adventure and mystery as you type along with it. At first, it may seem like a boring game, why would someone want to sit and type directions into a computer right? Oh, but how you’d be wrong there. The joy that comes from Warbler’s Nest is that it’s a fairy tale adventure lined with mystery and charm. The whole transition of using your imagination to depict the events being given to you on the screen changes the value of every piece of information and players should become deeply invested in trying to discover the mystery of this place.

The very first line is even intriguing:

Among the Reeds

> The familiar reed bank behind your cottage surrounds you, filling the damp space between your home and the river to the south.

It may not seem like much, but as a player there is some sense of mysticism about what is now around us. We become intrigued by the fact that there is a river close to our home, so perhaps we check there, or perhaps we turn back towards our home and check the house. The decisions that come up here are all up to YOU as YOU investigate this area around you. The suspense comes later in the game, and so I won’t give any of the storyline away if you care to play it. The fact is, this game does something that I don’t think a lot of current games allow you to do: imagine.

As children we grow up constantly playing, imagining, and creating our own worlds, our pretend lives, and even, often times, imaginary friends. Our realms of make-believe and mysticism are vast and well used, because as we imagine and grow we learn from our creativity. Games in the mainstream market hinder this creative spark in our brains. They take the enjoyment of visualizing an environment for ourselves out of the picture and clutter the scene with their own visual interpretations, forcing us to participate in a storyline the way they have depicted it.

McIntosh gives the world something that it needs right now: childhood whimsy, mystery, and imagination. He forces us to revert to our youth and examine a situation based on intuition and problem solving by using our own interpretations, rather than holding our hand through a linear progressive storyline. I feel that so many games can take away from this model that I felt I had to share it with the masses.

If you think about it logically this game does nothing more than the pen-and-paper matches of DnD, except that now McIntosh has basically programmed the Dungeon Master to respond to your inputs. This type of “I can solve this on my own!” intrigue and mystery is important to games, and I definitely see it being lost to a world full of handholding tutorials and linear games that guide you every step of the way. Allow us, as gamers, to explore, to create, to imagine and grow with the game. Gaming should be an immersive experience, not like a movie I just sit through and lack any interaction with.

There are some flaws to The Warbler’s Nest, and I can tell you from a design aspect, some moments of the game will annoy you. The boundaries of the game are clearly defined, but you’ll find yourself often doing quite a lot of backtracking to find out what paths you can take, gather items, etc. This shouldn’t annoy players who don’t mind adventure games and actually have a passion for the backtracking collective type. The issue I found is that you can get lost, and often times when you want to go somewhere, you can’t because the game’s programming states that you have to finish a task first before moving on. The game, overall though, is quite a grand statement to the world that games don’t require visuals to be fun. I spent hours trying to solve the puzzles, investigate the mysteries of my river cottage, and I loved how invested I became.

The joy I get from this game is that it’s accessible to everyone. It’s not a timed game, so you can take as long as you need to type your responses. The interface is easy to understand and it even has a helpful .pdf file available for access if you haven’t played interactive-text games before. The game is truly accommodating to the user, and for that, I’m thankful. There were some things, like an inventory layout, or a map pop-up, that I may have liked to see integrated, but the game stands alone on it’s own just fine without anything to hold your hand with. I definitely think any designer looking to see how games can be made simplistically, and with the same mysterious intrigue as some modern games – they should definitely check out this game at least once.

If you’re interested and would like to give your imagination a massage for a change, check out The Warbler’s Nest here. See if you can solve the mystery and let me know how you did. The game is rather short, but it’s an enjoyable slice of vintage-style gaming that I think everyone needs to witness. We all need to clean ourselves off in the pool of imagination once in a while don’t you think?

Enjoy folks!

Inspirational: Indie Game: The Movie

Hey there folks, so tonight, I can’t sleep. I’m driven mad by the desire to do artwork, create, imagine, sort out my ideas and my passions. I’m enthralled by the allure of what may very well, one day, be on video screens and consoles everywhere – but first I have to gather my pants together logically and realize something drastic. The video game industry that I see on television and news, and perpetuated in magazines is probably not going to be the same reality I’m going to have to face. It’s probably not going to be a walk in the park, and I’m probably going to get my face stomped on more than a couple of times by idea bashers and nay-sayers.

I’ve grasped this concept. Do I still want to move forward and be a game designer?

You bet your sweet Princess Peach backside I do!

Now this week I’m discussing a movie, that quite honestly, I’m ecstatic that something like this is finally being made! Those of you in the gaming world have probably heard of movies like King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters or Chasing Ghosts: Beyond The Arcade. Both of these movies are excellent documentaries of the old school video game arcade market, but now, the gaming industry has switched it’s attention to the indie circuit. The newest documentary to loom it’s lustrous digital locks in the face of the world, is a movie called Indie Game: The Movie.

The movie chronicles the game development process and interviews some of the most prolific indie game developers currently on the market. The creators, James Swirksy and Lisanne Pajot, take you on a journey through the lives of the designers and give you and inside look at the struggles trials and tribulations that game designers must overcome to succeed as independent entities in this industry. I personally can not wait till this movie comes out, and I want to see it in theaters.

If it doesn’t make it to theaters, I think I will be deeply saddened, but that just gives me even more incentive to buy a collector’s edition of the DVD whenever it’s released. If I get an opportunity to see the movie I will undoubtedly be writing a review for it, but I personally think that any designer worth his [ or her ] giga-bytes should definitely take a look at this movie. If you’re serious about getting into game design, it’s a really good glimpse inside of a very challenging field. It doesn’t scare me really, but rather, the movie gives me hope and inspiration to continue working hard towards my goals.

I know I want to be a designer for the video games industry, and the only way that I’m going to make it there is by having confidence in myself and practicing my abilities over and over until I end up with products like the fine gentlemen represented in the movie: Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes [ Super Meat Boy ]; Phil Fish [ Fez ]; and Jonathan Blow [ Braid ]. If you like any of these games, if you like games in general,  if you have a desire to see how games are actually made, or you’re just hankering for some cool nerdy movie art – I suggest you check this out!

I personally feel like, as designers [ or aspiring ones ] we become motivated and driven when we see other people’s successes. We begin to believe and have that ” I Can Too!” attitude like the books of our childhood emulated. Our minds begin to unfold the many vast ideas of our youth. Our childhood dreams and wishes come flowing out onto the paper, and if we use this sudden rush of inspired wisdom to the fullest, then success is surely in our midst. I feel like we grow as people from learning from other designers. We witness what they’ve done, how they’ve drawn, what mechanics they’ve implemented, what rules they’ve imposed, and we take the best and most entertaining to us and we warp them to fit games that we want to make. So – as you’re watching this, I ask of you, take away from this movie:

Drive, Inspiration, Motivation, and Determination.

Enjoy and I hope everyone gets a chance to go out and see the full movie!

Development News: Quantic Dream’s “Kara” Short Film

Today in Development News, I want to discuss one of my favorite development teams out there, Quantic Dream. Now, sure, I may get a lot of flack from time to time from my gamer buddies about my lustful enthralled enjoyment over Quantic Dream’s original title: Heavy Rain, but let’s face it – even if some hardcore gamers decide that Heavy Rain is a little too much narrative for their liking there is no denying one simple fact. The game is visually stunning and it really set the bar, in my personal opinion, for what the capabilities of the PS3 were at the time.

It’s been two years since Heavy Rain’s release in 2010 and since then we haven’t seen much out of the quiet studio with Quantic Dream, but today released an interview with David Cage, the founder and lead developer over at Quantic Dream. He released statements about possibly having the studio be exclusive to working with Sony and he also unveiled a wonderful little short film that supposedly was produced by a new graphics engine that the studio had been working on. Now I know that doesn’t sound like amazing news, but in actuality it is and here’s why. The trailer I’m about to drop in here is a trailer for a short film called “Kara”

The trailer was done entirely in real-time on a PS3 using a new technology graphics engine that Quantic Dream has been working on for the past two hermitic years of solitude they’ve taken. Now apparently in the interview Cage mentioned that the trailer you’re about to see is taken from “Version 1” of this new engine and that the short film was completed on this engine “almost one year ago.” – so keep that in mind when you take a gander at this HD short film: Kara. I’ll discuss my opinions of the capabilities below afterwards.

So what does this mean for the future of gaming?

Well, clearly, we’ve seen in the past couple of years that gaming graphics engines are becoming far more advanced that the old 8-bit processors and even 64 bit consoles.  What makes the past couple of years even more amazing to me, as a designer, is that we’ve begun the design of engines that allow us to tell stories. No longer are we limited by pixel counts or motor limitations of character models, but our model development process has exceeded expectations leaps and bounds past what I assumed could be possible at this point.

If we take a look at the long list of games which I’m finding to have visually stunning performances: LA Noire, GTA 4, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Heavy Rain, Mass Effect, etc.

The list goes on, and while certainly some of those games stand out visually more than others [ personally I found some pixelation and movement issues in all of these games at one point or another, but minor flaws are trivial in the scheme of storytelling.] I think that is actually the point I’m getting at, storytelling.

Storytelling has become an art form in the gaming media. We’ve gone from an industry that focused so hard to provide games that could be enjoyed strictly based off of the technology we had, to now focusing our efforts to tell emotional and meaningful story lines just like movies and television. When I watch this film I’m captivated, because I honestly didn’t believe that game technology was on a visual peak such as this.

If you had said to me years ago that one day we would get to the graphic capacity to where a model’s eyes would gloss over and cry, her mouth would move with every syllable, her emotions would be able to be captivating and engaging within a video game screen I very well may have scoffed at the idea. Most video game art has a sort of pseudo-realism.

Even the most prolific of designers and artists in the industry [ Square Enix, Bioware, etc. ] Often times I find that their models come out somehow reminding me that I am watching a video game, whether it’s through the coloring of the characters, the stylistic choices, etc. Something always reminds me that I’m witnessing a video game, thus, no matter how hard they try video games lose a sense of realism for me.

Now is that a good thing?

Absolutely. I think if games were so realistic and enthralling players very well may have an issue determining what reality from fiction is, but what I love about this technology and why I wanted to talk about it is simply because this is our next step in gaming evolution. Our whole industry revolves around design and graphics engines with the prolific capabilities that Quantic Dream has displayed. If we can create worlds, people, interactive environments with this amount of detail, then imagine what we can accomplish just within a small window of time in this industry?

No longer will stories have to be left to novelists and movie goers. The experiences and emotions which we gain from these mediums will be able to be attained through an interactive vision. I just want to ask my fellow viewers this: After watching the video how did you feel? Were you captivated by the tale and would you like to see a game made from this short film? How did just seeing these graphic capabilities affect you? – and would you like to see games developed with this sort of caliber? If we have the capabilities then why aren’t we pushing the boundaries of our next-gen systems before we start thinking about building new ones?

I would love to see a world where stories are told through interactivity. Where we can captivate children and parents of all ages with stories that reach them on a more interpersonal level. Games allow that to occur in our human lives. They allow us to interconnect with each other via online play, interconnect via story lines and emotions, and interconnect via the stories that we develop from listening to other people’s stories. We all learn in this world, and games are just going to be another way we can reach the masses through this. Given advanced graphics capabilities, I personally, say that the sky is the limit – and I can’t wait to make games for this upcoming generation, if the gaming society I’m going into will produce beauty like this.

Thank you Quantic Dream! Keep up the good work and I’m eager for your next project to reach shelves, whenever you decide to do so!

Gaming With A Cause: Spent

Today’s Game of the Week relates to recent topics that I’ve discussed on Gastrogamer. If readers will remember my admiration of Jane McGonigal, then you’ll see why I think this game would fit fondly into her game design forte. McGonigal is all about the development of humanity through gaming, and Spent gives a player to experience a part of the human society that I think sometimes we can overlook. Spent was developed by the Urban Ministries of Durham and a company called McKinney. Urban Ministries of Durham help in serving homeless shelters and providing for food for impoverished families in Durham, NC. The goal of Spent is to give players a chance to see if they can deal with the same hardships that many people go through daily.

Can you live for a month on 1000 dollars?

The game is pretty simplistic as far as mechanics go. The game only requires a mouse click to choose options, but what makes this game unique is that each choice you make is important to your survival and completion of the game. You log on and immediately you are thrown into an interface that challenges you with a premise:

“Urban Ministries of Durham serves over 6,000 people a year. But you’d never need help would you?”


The immediate human response that we get when challenged is to prove to others, as well as ourselves, that we can do the scenario that’s been posed to us. Spent forces the player to be in the position of an alternate scenario as if it was their own life. Each decision you make is met with trivia that expresses the hardships of low-income families. This game touched me emotionally, because it gives life a different perspective and makes you value every humbling reward of your life. You value your families successes, your financial security, your insurance, etc. You learn to appreciate your own life as you play through this game. This is why I recommend at least viewing it.

People often need aid from others, thus the Facebook attachments to the game, provide an even more realistic view to this simplistic game. Everyone, on occasion, requires the need to lean on other people for assistance. This game teaches us that we can’t always rely on ourselves to make it through our struggles, but sometimes we need to look to our friends and family for aid. It really opens up our eyes to the value of friendship and love and how hardships can bring individuals together.

I think the best portion of this game was the music though, because it gives a foreboding suspense to every decision you make throughout the game. This game is enlightening and gives an eye-opening experience that I feel like movies and television can’t even begin to grasp. Movies and television only allow us to visually experience a scenario, but given a game that puts us in the position of poverty, Spent gives us an even deeper understanding of the seriousness of our financial crisis and poverty.

I recommend this game, because games like this give us a deeper view of the world going on around us. It may seem like a depressing, dark, and foreboding game, but overall, the emotional impact of the gameplay is worth taking the challenge for. You can learn more about the Urban Ministries of Durham here:

Hopefully more games like this will come to fruition in the future, so that we can clearly see challenges that happen every day in our human society. We may sit at home and feel so secure, but in an instant, anyone can become unemployed, homeless, or living paycheck to paycheck. I feel so passionate about this movement, especially since the designers come from an area close to where I grew up. I would love to see more games discuss real human difficulties.

Please don’t give me more zombie apocalypses, or space warfare. These games are unrealistic and give me, and many players, fantasy realms to escape our dire realities from. If we spent more time as designers focusing on human hardships, relationships, and struggles ; then perhaps we can find cures, aid, and suggestions for some of our societies biggest problems. How many hit-points does my orc’s armor have in World of Warcraft? – I pray is not someone’s end-all-be-all lifetime concern for this world. If so, I really hope they consider the many struggles others are going about life with before they see their lack of proficient raiding armor as “a struggle.”

Now does that mean that all games should be ultra-realistic and I want to see all fantasy games destroyed? No, not at all, but I think a lot of games can take a page out of Spent’s playbook by giving players problems to solve and decisions to make. Bioware, Blizzard, and many MMO companies have been good at trying to implement these aspects into their games, but the truth is, they’re only aiding in solving fantasy problems.Where is the game where our fantasy hero is a person, not some fantasy Spartan, or some inhuman fantasy character who can tinker his, or her, way out of everything?

I want to feel like my choices in a game make a difference, teach me something that I wouldn’t have learned without playing it, give me a deeper understanding of the world around me. These are the types of games I look forward to going forward in the history of our world, and I believe that Spent is only a small trinket of gaming goodness that can be used to create even more meaningful and commanding experiences for us to learn from as human beings.

Enjoy folks! – and here’s your question: Can you Prove It?

Tech Talk: Gastronomical Opinion: The Used Game Controversy

Well, here we are, in a world populated by games of all shapes and sizes from apps to PC mods – all of them are relevant and fun, but there’s an eerie foreboding option rearing it’s ugly head lately. This option comes in the form of two aspects: Online passes and the inability to play used games. Now, why in the world does this matter to us gamers? Well, I see this as a Gastronomical Opinion moment, and thus, I begin:

I’m all for gaming companies having to make money, honestly, I understand the inner workings of finance when it comes to the game industry. You have developers, publishers, licensers, console companies, manufacturers, and retail sellers all looking to be in on a piece of the gaming action. 60 dollars doesn’t seem like a ton, when we look at how the finances are divvied up. Here’s my problem though, I’m not opposed to game prices [ Alright, maybe a little, if Steam can make it happen you can too. ] but I’m opposed to the loss of a vital gaming staple: The used game market. released a personal debate via their podcast on the issue, that was posed via a rumor that the rumored upcoming  “XBox 720” would eliminate the ability to play used games upon it’s console, also released an article on the subject:

This, to me, makes absolutely no sense at all, same as how I felt when PS3 decided that the PS3 “Slims” and upgraded versions would take out backwards compatibility. Why, oh why, would you proceed to alienate your core players, your supporters, by altering your hardware to be inefficient to what your consumers desire? It makes no sense, and I hope to the sweet Lord that Nintendo has mercy on us with the upcoming Wii U and takes note that gamers like two things: Convenience and Compatibility. They don’t want to have to keep 5 consoles in their home, nor can they afford it in this economy [ unless they’re collectors and have money to burn.]

Logically, it doesn’t seem that Microsoft would do this. The retail companies carrying their games would ultimately drop their ties with the massive platform of Microsoft. This would be a horrendous notion and it would kill their profit completely because, if retailers refused to carry games due to this, then they’d have an even deeper loss of revenue. The games market is a huge profit business, and unfortunately in our industry, the market is expensive to create. This is a sad killing blow to most consumers, due to the fact that this economy has sucked a lot of expendable revenue that typical gamers use throughout the year to purchase new games out of their unfortunate pockets.

I have tons of used games that I have purchased over the years, and granted, I’m primarily a Playstation user, but I still don’t think this will float – nor do I want it. I’m vehemently opposed to this. I’m a huge indie supporter and I’m sorry if it seems like I’m ranting, but it’s just confusingly offensive to think that a massive corporation would screw their fans over with a massive used-game overhaul. Microsoft, please be nice to your fellow gamer. We’ve been nice to you with all of the success of Halo and Gears of War – why in the world would you do this?! Here’s a list of functions I suggest that ALL consoles take into consideration as this used game debate concludes:

1. Backwards Compatibility:

Seriously? Playstation destroyed this lovely convenience to many gamers, when they developed the new PS3 Slims. This is ridiculous and, sure I have my original PS2 and PS, but why should I have to toss my old games because it’s a revenue savvy for you? I’m an avid gamer, and hopefully designer, and so I understand the need for funds – but do you consider that players own old games from past consoles? Backwards Compatibility is a must have, and it helps so much for players like myself, who have a plethora of games on different consoles. I, and I’m sure others, don’t want to have to pay ___ amount of dollars for a game I already own to be digitally downloaded.

2. Streaming Games:

I was thinking about this today, that with all of the success with Netflix, why in the world hasn’t the gaming industry caught on with streaming media? Sure. We have some free-to-play downloadable games out there: Lord of the Rings: War In The North, DC Universe Online – but there are days where I go onto the console services and witness that I have to pay ___ dollars to play a great vintage game. Now I’m not asking for game developers, publishers, and console families to stream new and modern games, but I’m sure that the vintage games: Mega Man, Mario, Capcom’s Street Fighter, etc. These vintage staples that I love could probably be easily streamed via a service. The ball is in your court though console families, take it into consideration please.

3. Touch-based gaming

Now this is something that I’m fond of, because at Gastrogamer, I’m concerned with accessibility of games. Nintendo seems to have gotten a jump on you Playstation and Microsoft – as usual. They’ve dropped the gauntlet of the Wii U. A touchscreen peripheral which will, hopefully, expand the accessibility of their games beyond what it used to. I would love to see this technology implemented into the future of games. Microsoft you’re already discussing the capabilities of a Kinect 2, why not see what sort of other accessibility applications you can grab from it?

I’ve clearly witnessed that Mass Effect 3’s audio command program is a possible game changer. Awesome. You did it, now go further. You’ve given deaf gamers an ability to play the game, but remember that you’ll probably want to include subtitles into games if this is going to happen. I’m by no means a troll looking to call out my fellow companies and rant about what I hate. I love a lot of the decisions that are being made, but what needs to be focused on is accessibility. Accessibility and technology both physically and financially. If you conquer all of these portions:

You’ll have a happy gamer! These are my two cents – use them as you will.

Inspirational Gamers of the Week: Jordan Verner & Roy Williams

Good morning folks! My apologizes for taking a little downtime from updating the site. I’ve caught a bit of a bug, and thus, it’s been slowing my writing time down. With that being said though, let me introduce you to a wonderfully heartwarming story I’ve found.

Now this event occurred almost two years ago, but to me, the meaning behind it is still relevant. Today’s Inspirational Gamer of the Week is actually a culmination of two people: Jordan Verner; a blind gamer from Ontario, Canada; and Roy Williams; a fellow gamer who lent a hand to Jordan’s gaming needs.

This story touched me so much that I felt I just had to post about it, even if the event is old, the story is still filled with emotional connection. Jordan expressed his desires to complete the Nintendo game ” Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time“, arguably one of the best in the vast saga of Zelda lore. Jordan posted out to the world, via Skype, his overwhelming desire to receive help beating this game, and low and behold, an individual miles away from him took it upon himself to help Jordan beat the game. How was this accomplished?

Well Roy went about writing a transcript for Jordan with the aid of some friends and it basically entailed every timed move of the game, every treasure chest, every turn of a joystick, every sound cue, everything was detailed down to the n-th degree.

This is a story that I’m ecstatic about, because it shows that there are gamers out there who do appreciate the desires of gamers with disabilities. They recognize a players limitations, and instead of chastising them for being different, wish to aid them in succeeding. Roy and Jordan are a true example of the friendship and camaraderie that the gaming universe can have. The online universe isn’t filled with strictly twelve year old potty-mouth tools who only want to own you within a game just so they can brag to their friends like some troll on Youtube.

Every once in a while you’ll find wonderful cases like this – where one gamer reaches out to another so that an impaired player can receive the same amount of satisfaction and accomplishment as any abled player could. I think, especially now, that we need to look at these aspects as designers, not necessarily to promote games just for the blind, but to start thinking in a generous manner. We need so start examining the design of our games as a whole and ask ourselves: Who does this game cater to? – is our audience broad enough? How can we make it broader?

We should look to design games that give players the opportunity of compassion and love for their fellow gamer. Games that become accessible on multiple fronts, and games that can be shared and played by all people. Gaming is vastly becoming a premiere mix-multimedia that allows individuals to express their goals, beliefs, and ideas out to the world.

If Roy and Jordan can use Ocarina of Time to show and express the power of compassion and friendship, can’t we then use this knowledge going forward to help build games that provides that sense of teamwork and interconnection with our fellow man – regardless of the struggles and difficulties each of us have to overcome? We are all human, and for those of us who enjoy games, it’s a way for us to escape to a sense of accomplishment that we wouldn’t get anywhere else – so why shouldn’t it be able to empower us to share this feeling with everyone?

Thanks Roy and Jordan. Your story inspired me to keep aware of the different types of gamers I’m designing for, and you’ve given me faith in a loving, caring, and beautiful gaming society. Thanks again – and I hope others take your wonderful triumph to heart.

– Chad K.