Now, for those of you who don’t know, I am sort of a huge Hayao Miyazaki fan. Studio Ghibli has helped to release some of my most cherished childhood memories via their films. So imagine my surprise a few months ago when I found out that I would finally get a chance to play a GAMEdesigned by the great Miyazaki himself?! Yep! You heard me right!
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
A GAME BY MIYAZAKI?! TAKE MY MONEY NOW PLEASE!!
Now I know this game has been floating about already, so why in the world is this E3 news? Well, the game has already had booming popularity in Japan, and a few months ago they announced that Studio Ghibli and Level 5 were going to be working on bringing Ni No Kunistate-side! So yes – all of this work simply for an English dubbed version you say? Well, I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am and why this forgoes almost everything else I’ve seen from E3 thus far!
The game looks beautiful and it’s done in full cell-shade artwork. They also seem to have put movie-style cutscenes into the game. This decision gave the designers a way to make the game look like a genuine movie quality piece of Miyazaki’s work. It’s a brand new story too, which I’m so excited about. It’ll be the first time that I’ll actually have an opportunity to play an interactive role in a Miyazaki piece of work. I’ve always loved movies like My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away, etc.
All I will say about this movie is: Cat Bus for the win!
Would you like one lump of sugar or two No Face?
One of my FAVORITE Miyazaki films! I could watch this for days!
You name it, they were a part of my life, and to know that the start of 2013 I’ll be able to participate in one directly is a true blessing I can’t wait to experience! Level 5 is famous for their RPG designs, and so it’s to be expected that they’d use similar methods to design Ni No Kuni. If you’ve ever played White Knight Chronicles – you’ll definitely see notes of that game in Ni No Kuni. The main map motions, etc. but what I love the most is that it seems as though Level 5 is trying to make the game play out a bit like a Miyazaki version of Pokemon!
You start playing the game as the main character, Oliver, on his quest to be a master magician and save his mother’s soul from this other world called Ni No Kuni. In the game you’ll encounter spirit creatures, which you can collect [ Does this NOT sound like Pokemon, Folklore, etc. – either way I’m intrigued.] to help you fight off later monsters and bosses.
How beautiful! New characters to start loving!
The game isn’t turned based though, so it’s all action based and oriented. The HUD displays look simple and easy to navigate, and it seems as though controlling your creatures is simple as well. I’m truly looking forward to seeing this game and it’s touch towards accessibility. It may be a huge hit in Japan already, but I can bet that Ni No Kuni will sell out quickly in the States too!
Does this not scream vintage games like Pokemon, Chrono Trigger, etc.?!
My words don’t do the game justice though, so I’m simply going to stop. Just take a look at the game for now, and see what Miyazaki and Level 5 have given us humble citizens to look forward to on January 22nd, 2013! So far all I see that it’s getting released for is PS3 and Nintendo DS [ in Japan only ] Here’s to Studio Ghibli and their shining gem of interactive artwork! Can’t wait!
Hey there world, now I know I’ve been touting E3 Impressions all over the place this week, BUT you guys know [ if you’re regular viewers ] my real mission for this blog isn’t just to talk about or develop games, but rather give back to my community via games. It’s been a while since I’ve found a reason to celebrate games as a charity – today I may have found the golden egg of ALLHumble Bundles! Yep – that’s right! This Humble Bundle supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child’s Play. These charities help fund education and support providing video games to hospitals to provide kids with entertainment and fun.
Indie Games UNITE!
Now why am I so stoked about THISHumble Bundle V? WELL, as a designer, there comes a time where I have found games which I personally feel that no designer should go without playing. The games which should be your guide to artsy, pop-culture, wonder hits. The games that, whether it be mechanics, storyline, or artwork, blew fellow designers and myself away with how amazing these games were for some reason or another. So without further adieu let’s pull back the curtain on what I believe to be the BIGGEST, and BESTHumble Bundle package yet! Oh, and by the way, Tim Schafer is in the trailer!
1. Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP
Now I saw this game when it first came out as a tablet PC and iPhone game – and I was stunned by how cool it looked. It’s retro artistic vibe, with it’s text based dialogue, and it’s almost Zelda like adventure blew me away, and made me want to get a iPhone so bad! I’m stoked that it’s finally coming to a platform where I can have access to it and play it first hand all the way through! The story, art, and gameplay mechanics are something to admire and watch!
Here’s looking at you Tri-Force!
This game haunts my nightmares with how hauntingly beautiful and morbid this game is. You play as a young boy who is traversing this monochromatic black and white dreamscape. The puzzles are morbid and often end in the death of your character, but he comes back to life for you to try and try again. The gameplay mechanics are super simple [ one button for jump, the movement keys, and then another button to grab items ]
While it may seem odd and sort of macabre to take part in this death-defying dream puzzler, Limbo is hands down one of my favorite indie games. Each puzzle is super challenging and it keeps you invested with the emotion you feel for your little digital friend as he makes this journey. Produced by a company called Play Dead Studios [ fitting name ] it’s definitely one of the must see games on this list.
One small step for man… one giant leap for a boy.
3. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
I actually have never had first hand experience with this game, but that’s also because I tend to shy away from the horror genre of games. I’m trying my best to branch out though, and from what I’ve heard of this game – it’s a must see and experience. I’ll keep you all posted on the accessibility and the gameplay once I buy it and run a play through. Here is a trailer though, to give you an idea of the game:
Well, if this wasn’t the icing on the delicious cake that is this Humble Bundle V. Everyone should know by now that I’m sort of in love with a company called Double Fine Productions. I’m kind of infatuated with them and have been a long time fan of their work. Tim Schafer is like an icon in this industry to me, and one of the main reasons he’s had such an impact on my gaming life is because of THIS game!
Psychonauts is a quirky, off-the-wall, fun and whimsical adventure game. You – well, I would explain it, but honestly, the trailer speaks for itself:
Thanks Mr. Schafer. Thank you and your team for building such a memorable game.
5. Bastion [ If you pay over the average donation, which is $ 8.26 ]
A high-octane platforming narrative that really grasps you from the seat of your pants and carries you all the way to the end… umm… well, I guess there’s a better way to explain it. Perhaps the narrator of the game can:
6. Lone Survivor [ If you pay over the average donation. ]
This is one of the newest editions to the indie house of lovely games. You play as well, a lone survivor, in a pixelated platforming world. Evade pixel zombies, collect loot and resources, and do your best to survive this horrible fate – or you know? Die trying.
One man. Many zombies. All Pixels.
7. Braid [ If you pay over the average donation. ]
Well, how to describe this one? Oh yeah! Take a sprinkle of Prince of Persia [ the time altering ] and then add in some crazy puzzle mechanics that take my breathe away, and THEN compile it on one of the most beautifully retro, hand painted styles of art and graphics I’ve seen on an indie game and you’d have Braid. Enough said – for now.
Let’s do the Time Warp again!
8. Super Meat Boy [ If you pay over the average donation. ]
What do you get when you give a meat wad a lover? – separate them by force, and then ask the meat wad to come rescue his meaty bride? Well you get Super Meat Boy, and it’s one of the most odd, interesting, and funny experiences I’ve had in a game before. The game is definitely challenging, but it’s well worth the challenge – because the designers put so much time, effort, and love into this game. There is no way you’ll walk away from this game without a big, meaty smile on your face!
I’ll save you my ham-flavored princess! I just have to grind my way up the food chain!
I would try to give folks a full run down of all of these games [ and I may later ], but I would be so excited that it would take me a page for each one. Think about this for one moment. You not only get the GAMES, but you also acquire their SOUNDTRACKS – and ALL of these amazingly historic games can be gathered up for less than $10 dollars!! Are you kidding me right now?! That’s like someone knocking on your door mid-June and saying “Merry Christmas stranger!” leaving you some of the most lavish gifts they can give and then just driving away!
If you know nothing of these games, know this: Each of these games, in my personal opinion, contain an aspect of game design that I think EVERY designer should experience. Whether you’re a painter, a fashion designer, a game designer, or even a teacher – YOU SHOULD try these games. They’re emotional, challenging, and engaging stories that have captivated millions in the industry for one reason or another! What once were indie games nobody knew of, and few dared to explore, are some of the most cherished gems in gaming now. So, please, do yourself a favor and support a wonderful charity and grab these fantastic games while you still can.
YOU HAVE 5 Days left! 5! Games are supported for PC, Mac, and Linux! Go now and get your HUMBLE BUNDLE V! Make the most of it! Let your indie gamer live!
I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, and I’m sorry, but alas thus is the risk of being a college student and working. It can sap your ability to do what you love to do. Now, today I’ve found something very cool and it’s an up and starting movement. I’m so proud to know that this sort of organization exists. I want to say that, while I’ve covered The Able Gamers Foundation and love them – I personally love it when smaller, more specific disability groups form to aid those in need. In this case there’s a group called Signcraft.
They’re a non-profit website that focuses on providing deaf gamers a venue to enjoy, understand, and learn about Starcraft 2 strategies, gameplay, etc. I hope they actually go further than this – it would be really inspiring to see them branch out past just a single game. I would love to see deaf-accessible game reviews, game walkthroughs, etc. not only for PC games but also console gamers. It would be a very cool concept and I see it being a large benefit for a fantastic community that I feel definitely needs exposure.
Currently they only do Starcraft commentaries, but please go check them out and if you like them and like what they’re doing tell them what you’d like to see. I’m sure they’d be open to opinions and more exposure! You can find them here, but here’s their current introduction video to get you guys started. This also inspired me to go find games that are exploring the art of deaf gaming in the game culture.
I’ll be posting a game post about it, but keep a look out for a game called “Way” by Coco and Co.I’ll be downloading the available Alpha version currently, but it looks like a really amazing game that forces players to work together to try and solve puzzles via communicating via only by gesture communication. Check it out if you’re interested:
It’s severely indie – but that’s why I love it. I’m a sucker for indie games that challenge the norms, conformities of the industry, etc. and ‘Way’ seems fantastic – I’ll let you guys know exactly how it plays out soon!
Till then here’s to you all! Take care and happy gaming to you all!
Now most of you who have been following recently have heard me talk about the Able Gamers Foundation– how I love them and how I’m honored that I’ll be getting a chance to work with them in the very near future, well today is no different and, in fact, I’m humbled in the presence of this next Inspirational Gamer of the Week.
The Able Gamer’s Foundationmet this kid named Giddeon at one of their Accessibility Arcades that they hold down in Atlantic City, and this story seriously made me cry.
This kid is amazing. So glad he’s getting to enjoy gaming!
Giddeon was born with a rare birth defect that caused the bones in his arms to have stunted growth. This resulted in only a few fingers forming on one arm. This caused Giddeon to be especially shy towards the idea of playing video games. He felt that holding controllers was a difficult experience, and so Mark Barlett sat him down with the Adroit Switchblade controller. Giddeon loved it and after a while Barlett wanted to show Giddeon other gaming alternatives for his condition. He demonstrated the Microsoft Kinect. I found this to be the most inspirational portion of the article:
Check out his Fruit Ninja skills!
A mother’s love is beautiful to watch.
Giddeon tried out the Kinect, but the scanner couldn’t recognize his arm. Barlett found a piece of foam craft board and had Giddeon hold it. This helped the Kinect track Giddeon’s movements and allowed him to play games like Fruit Ninja. Giddeon’s mother grew so emotional as she saw her child gaining access to a plethora of gaming enjoyment. It brought her to tears – and with that I just have to say these are the moments I hope that can be brought to gaming on a daily basis.
A smile is priceless and the greatest reward for developers!
I would love nothing more than to design games that allow for accessibility and enjoyment from all players. I’m so inspired by Giddeon, because he assumed that the gaming industry was out of his reach and that he couldn’t participate the the fun medium like other able-bodied gamers. Instead, after being shown that he – in fact – could participate his life was filled with joy and entertainment. These are the reactions that I want to live for and look forward too.
The moments when I can take a game and present it to the masses and get a response back from someone who is just appreciative for how a game design enriches their lives. I’ve seen many gamers devoted to certain games, but when you can make a game more accessible to a community that doesn’t believe that there is an accessibility inherit in your medium – and you see the appreciation that comes from their reactions. The reactions and appreciation alone are the reason why I want to get involved with game design and helping to provide this world with accessible games everyone can enjoy.
Here’s to you Giddeon! Enjoy your newly found world of gaming and I hope you continue to find great games that you can enjoy! Thanks to the Able Gamers Foundation for showing off this kid’s story and I’m just glad that I could share it with others who may not have seen this kid’s awesome discovery of the gaming universe!
Well, we’ve come to the wonderful, inspiring day of my week and I’m honored to be posting on this story. I just want to say thank you to my friend Matt for sending me this story. Thanks man!
Today, we’re going to be talking about a gamer that I truly admire and respect for how he’s lived his life and how he’s allowed himself to still be able to enjoy the gaming world and his personal life with a joy for life rather than begrudging his personal struggles. His name is Matthew “LookNoHands” Fink – a prolific Starcraft player and amazingly inspirational gamer.
This guy is fantastic - watch him play Starcraft and your jaw will drop.
I only found one decent video interview with Matthew [ and it’s a long one ] but it’s phenomenal to see how positive he is towards life. He’s a brilliant mind and I applaud him for all his success. ESL TV did the interview with him, and I actually applaud them too for providing the interview with such respect and dignity to Matthew. Matthew’s positive outlook on life is something that should be truly cherished by everyone and I think it humbles all gamers and makes any of us appreciate the way we individually play games and interact with others.
Matthew was born without a spleen and this caused his body to be massively susceptible to infections. He acquired an infection and it required the doctors to have to amputate his limbs at 1 1/2 years old. I’ve been in hospitals frequently throughout my life, and I’ve experienced what it feels like to be a hospital child – but I love Matthew’s attitude regarding his situation. He’s never known life without the situation he’s been given, and so he’s focused his life to benefit what he can do – rather than focusing on what he can’t. The fact that he’s a gamer on top of it all – is fantastic and the man is brilliant! BA in International Relations, PERFECT scores in Science and Math on SAT- and he’s planning on going to GRAD school for Political Science and MEDICAL school!
Way to go man!
Why does his story mean so much to me?
Well, just watch him play – and then you’ll see why this story touches me so much. I’m a huge advocate for game accessibility and providing more and more options for gaming for all players. I love that he doesn’t use any special equipment or hardware – he uses a keyboard and a mouse. I think there’s a lovely quote that he says in the interview that I think people need to take away from most gaming:
“I think it’s cool, Starcraft in particular, is a really neat opportunity for someone like me and for other people with physical disabilities because it’s – once you get to a certain level – about how your mind works, rather than how fast your fingers work.”
I love that he sees his gaming outlet as a way to compete with others without any assisted adaptations – I can’t tell you how much that touches my heart and makes me admire this man even more. He’s a phenomenal player with a phenomenal view on life whose message – I hope will influence other gamers to realize how blessed they are and how humbled they should be for their plastic controllers and ability to use them.
” I’m a very competitive person, and I’ve competed in all sorts of things – debate – I swam for a while, I’ve done stuff like that and that was nice and I really enjoyed it, but it was never quite enough. I could never compete against others without those sorts of adaptations. It was always ‘He did really well, but’ – and so this is a real different opportunity. This is the first time where I’ve really ever gotten the chance to [ measure yourself against everybody ] Exactly.”
So – here’s to you Mr. Fink! I’m inspired by you man – you make me appreciate my life and humble me to look at my own physical limitations with a renewed sense of confidence. You are my Inspirational Gamer of the Week sir and I hope that your journey around the world to support the play of StarCraft 2 and accessibility for disabled gamers – helps to provide encouragement to others and open the eyes of future developers to see how truly remarkable some of their valued players can be!
You can even like him on Facebook and follow his progress as he draws his world tour to a close on his Facebook page:
Today on this weeks’s Inspirational Gamer of the Week, I decided to focus my attention on a very important topic that is near and dear to my heart. I recently watched a video from a gamer named Justin LeGrande, or otherwise known as 8-Bit Animal, and his video touched my heart with his message and so I figured that I would share it with my audience.
Cyber-bullying, or Online Discrimination is a huge problem within our online gaming communities. I can personally say that’s why I practically despised the movement to online gameplay when most games started importing multiplayer aspects to their games just so they could say that they were online compatible. I’ve had countless times where I’ve personally felt the sting of online harassment, and it’s one of the few reasons why I refuse to ever wear a headset again. A headset, while it may be useful in some games, is practically a gateway to getting bullied and harassed.
What makes it worse, is that I typically don’t talk back – which only allows me to listen to the slurs of vulgar language, discriminatory conduct, and depravity that are passing through the airwaves during matches. I’ll give you an example:
Recently I was playing the Uncharted 3 Multiplayer on my PS3, and while I didn’t have a mic on, one of my anonymous party members did. Now the voice was obviously that of teenage kid, probably no more than 12 – 13 and so his comments shouldn’t get to me right? He’s just a kid, and I don’t know this person – so why should his words affect me? Well – unfortunately, they can and do for many gamers around the world. I personally have been picked on enough, that I can shove words like ‘retard’, ‘gimp’, etc. in one ear and out the other.
This kid was reaming on me, because I kept trying to save his butt, but in the process kept dying. Now I’m pretty good at the Uncharted Multiplayer. I won’t lie, I’ve got quite a few hours of that game under my belt, but when a teenager calls you all sorts of discriminatory names without knowing who you are at all – it really devalues your gaming experience and makes you not want to play anymore. This is exactly what Justin gets at in his video, and that’s why I love him for it.
How can we allow this to continue?
We have to be able to stand up for gamers, especially gamers who don’t have the courage or the ability to stand up for themselves. I love his advice on trying to make sure that you have a dedicated group of players and friends who know you well enough that discrimination won’t be an issue. I love all of my fellow gamers no matter what race, creed, orientation, etc. I’m a fan for all, but what I’m not a fan of is disrespect and grief for just being a fellow gamer. It’s uncalled for and rude behavior that drives me away from online gameplay constantly.
Now sure, there’s ways to prompt that gamers be banned and accounts pulled – but that’s not what I’m asking for either. All I’m asking for is a sense of understanding, and some maturity on the part of my fellow gamer. We have to start being aware that the millions of players around us on these online servers come from ALL walks of life. They may be homosexual, bi-sexual, black, white, disabled, etc. and guess what?
IT SHOULDN’T MATTER!
It shouldn’t matter if a 19 year old GIRL gamer who’s paralyzed in a wheelchair can headshot you in Halo Reach 3 times before you even change your clip out – but apparently it’s heinous in the eyes of bigot gamers who feel that the anonymity of online gameplay gives them the right to say horribly outlandish things. I find these actions appalling and that’s why I’m so admiring of 8-Bit Animal for his inspiring message.
You are an amazing gamer man, and I appreciate all of the sentiments and ideas that you’ve bestowed upon our gaming community. You have my fellow gamer support and I applaud you for such a stand up message. I hope more and more people begin to think and act like you when it comes to online gameplay, because seriously, the online market needs to change. Discrimination will always be a factor, but hopefully, we can at least get word out enough that we lessen the impact of the words in question and hopefully get fellow gamers thinking about their actions.
To all my fellow gamers,
Please heed this man’s wisdom. Acknowledge that just because a gaming console or PC gives you the anonymity to be an avatar or portray someone else it doesn’t give you free reign to abuse your fellow gamer. Griefing is a form of cyber-bullying and it’s been happening now for far too long. There are far too many children and adults plagued by these anonymous discriminatory actions not to do anything. To joke around in a group of close friends may seem acceptable, but to do so spitefully and rudely on an open forum like a gaming site or server can cause detrimental damage to the receiver. Please think about your actions and, when all is said and done, it’s almost best to say nothing than to say anything at all.
If you’re an advocate in the fight against cyber-bullying, if you feel like all gamers should have a peaceful environment to play within, then I urge you to check out more information on cyber-bullying here:
The more we get acquainted with the actions that we take that are abusive, the quicker we can become aware of the steps needed to stop these interactions. I pray for a day when cyber-bullying isn’t an issue, but until that day, the best step is to be made aware that it is one. On the site there’s also a game available to play too called Alex WonderKid Cyber Detective.
I haven’t downloaded it yet [ and I assume it’s PC only ] but it’s supposed to help students learn about the dangers and issues involved with cyber-bullying and discrimination.
Thank you Justin and I hope that your message helps touch countless other gamers!
Hey there folks, sorry for the late post today. I usually like to get my posts done in the morning, but scheduling issues occurred today. Even so, I’m dedicated enough to this blog to make sure these types of stories go out. Especially ones that speak so near and dear to my heart like today’s story. Now this story was actually reported on a little over a year ago on Kotaku, but it’s still very relevant to the topics I try to present on gaming and so that’s why I’m covering it today.
Every once in a while you see a wonderful gesture done by a company that makes the enjoyment of one gamer worth all the hard work put forth. In the case of UK gamer, Gareth Garret, Visceral Games went above and beyond the call after one letter was written to them. Gareth has a form of cerebral palsy that severely limits his motor skill movements. He has a passion for playing video games, but uses only his chin to navigate the mouse controls. This is an astonishing testament to Gareth’s resiliency to overcome the adversity of his condition, but it was a letter that he sent to Visceral Games that truly got my attention.
In the letter it simply stated:
“I just got Dead Space 2, and I’m so disappointed.”
He went on to talk about how the lack of customizable controls on the PC made it almost impossible to play most titles, and especially Dead Space 2, but how he would very much enjoy playing the game if he could. This caught the attention of other gamers and of Visceral Games and in response Visceral Games sent this note to Gareth:
“Dear Dead Space 2 PC Players,
The Dead Space 2 team is aware of the issue that disabled gamers are having with Dead Space 2 PC. In fact, a number of folks on our team are so passionate about this fix done that they are currently working hard to allow players to remap key-bindings in the mouse which should help disabled gamers enjoy the game.”
So why does this even matter, why is all of this relevant to what I’m talking about today? First, I would like for you to check out this video of Gareth. Here he is playing Fallout: New Vegas on his PC – just so you can get a better understanding of amazing this guy is in my eyes, and I hope in yours too:
Well, I’ve been discussing the necessity of accessible controls like crazy in some of my past posts. I’ve explained why accessible controls can ultimately increase revenue streams and why allowing them will ultimately lead to an overwhelmingly better gaming environment for all gamers – not just disabled gamers. There is currently petition going around [ and I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my earlier Button Remapping post ] but it was started by another inspiring gamer who I’ll discuss at a later date named Chuck Bittner.
The petition was set up to start getting mainstream companies to recognize the necessity for accessible controls, accessible options, and the like. I know it may seem far fetched to ask a large company to make a concession of giving accessible controls to all console and PC games, but hear me out on this.
An options menu is clearly just that – AN OPTION. It doesn’t impede an able-bodied gamer from using a control configuration that he/she approves of, it merely gives MORE options to those who don’t fit the standard ‘options’ that are usually set. I can’t imagine having to play like these gentlemen, and I am so blessed that I am capable of doing so much – but these guys inspire me.
They prove to me that even though a person has limitations that were either birth given or man-made it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a past-time or a specific skill or hobby you enjoy. I’m a huge advocate for this movement and I encourage anyone who’s in agreement with me to go and join the petition:
Currently there are 83,848 signatures – but there are plenty more disabled gamers out there in this world. So, if you are a disabled gamer, if you know a family member or friend who is a disabled gamer and you want them to be able to have the same enjoyment and opportunities as the rest of the gaming universe then I encourage you to follow up and at least keep following this petition – because it’s something special and much needed in our industry. We need to start seeing gaming as a whole community – not just ‘hardcore’ and ‘casuals’ or ‘females’ and ‘males’ or ‘abled’ and ‘disabled’ – but rather just ‘gamers.’
Gamers one and gamers all. Let’s focus on accommodation and not discrimination.
So here is to you Gareth, for speaking out to a company and getting your voice heard. Here is to you for changing the course of the way a company thinks about it’s products and it’s accessibility, and here is to you for just being an amazing, fantastic person who – through all odds, finds a way to find joy through your gaming. You are truly an inspiration and I applaud you. The day I get an industry job, you can bet my first words out of my mouth are going to be:
Imagine if you will that you are a gamer and you love playing games, or you would love to play games, but the accessibility of the controls made it inaccessible or impossible to succeed at playing said games. This is a situation that occurs for thousands, if not millions of gamers world wide with disabilities. This week though we have a case of a gaming company hearing the voice of one individual and changing the course of their games accessibility just from the sound of one question posed to them.
In January 2012 a small indie company called Almost Human Games began promotion of a game called Legends of Grimrock. It was set to be an old-school dungeon crawler RPG. The dungeons have tile based movement and so most actions are rather simplistic in nature. The real story here comes from a gamer, HarpoonIPA, who contacted Almost Human about their accessibility and why the option of on-screen directional movement arrows was actually a necessity in his case.
This is amazing - so I had to share.
HarpoonIPA is a paraplegic gamer who is required to use a mouth stick for any of his typing and so when HarpoonIPA explained the reason why accessible onscreen button controls were a necessity for his enjoyment and gameplay. The developers were touched by his story and, thus, set about implementing the onscreen HUD to the game. Developer, Petri Hakkinen, stated in an interview with Kotaku that:
” It was no big deal to implement it. I mean even it were to affect only the life of one single person, it is still totally worth it.”
The game will be released on April 11th, 2012 on Windows, Mac, and iOS – but this event truly speaks to me. I mean, as a designer, I’m constantly searching for new ideas and new methods that people are working on and trying to see how to best implement aspects into my own projects. In this story I think it speaks in droves the kind of impact small gestures like this can have.
Why don’t we have more onscreen HUD controls?
Why don’t we see more main-stream developers taking the reigns and reformatting their works to be more accessible?
I have to ask, is it a finance thing?
Is it a lack of desire to change control schemes, or do developers feel locked to the plastic control schemes presented by mainstream consoles?
Is it because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?
I applaud HarpoonIPA for speaking out and requesting his needs and desires to help the developers change their accessibility, and I applaud the developers for having the courage and wherewithal to follow through with it. Most gaming companies would have stopped this idea at the front door, because there’s so much consumerism and mass appeal that goes into production of most of these games. Indie games catch a break though, because they don’t often have to deal with all of the red-tape of a hierarchy system.
Badger Badger Badger Badger...MUSHROOM MONSTER!
My question that this poses is why? Why does it have to be indie houses that show the most attention to detail when it comes to creating accessibility? Why can’t the console market take steps to creating meaningful experiences like this? I’ve traveled many forums, talked to countless other gamers, and even having SOMEoptions like this available to them would make their enjoyment of their gaming lives overall better. One thing I hate though above all are the folks out there who are able-bodied and who troll forums like Youtube and other major network sites and claim that the needs of disabled players shouldn’t be recognized because it will give them an ‘unfair advantage.’
Trust me I’ve seen hate bashing on some button remapping campaigns. Some able-bodied gamers believe that giving access to additions like button remapping or assistive controls will ultimately give disabled gamers an advantage in their gameplay. How much sense does this really make? None. I pose this argument to anyone who still thinks this is true: If you’re getting beat by a disabled gamer, and you’re able bodied, you seriously need to think about choosing a new game to play. They are playing at a disadvantage already, so how does giving them the ability to play on an equal playing field make it an unfair advantage for them?
Hmm - He's behind bars... now how to make a stew out of him?
Fellow gamers shouldn’t complain, instead, embrace and show love and support for your fellow gamers. Almost Human has and I’m so excited to see design studios doing this. I hope there’s more of it in the future. I believe a ton of MMO’s could benefit from onscreen HUD displays like this: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, DC Universe Online – you name it, they could use it. I’ve also thought about the concept of voice recognition software too. I know that Bioware was working on voice software for the Kinect and Mass Effect 3, but I would love to see that same concept implemented into other games before I can truly say that it’s a step forward in gaming.
So here is to you Almost Human Games! You reached out to a gamer in need and changed your game for the benefit of, not only him, but countless new gamers who will play your title. You have not only my respect, but my admiration, and I wish you all the best of luck upon the games release April 11th, 2012! Time for me to go slay a dragon in some dungeon somewhere…
Well folks, once again I find myself stumbling upon a game that can actually assist the lives of many. Now I know that I’ve discussed the idea that gaming can actually help form a better world, and you know my deep appreciation for folks like Jane McGonigal. Well, the Institute for the Future has done it again. Today April 3rd they launched a game campaign called:
Catalysts for Change: A Game To Discover Paths out of Poverty.
Now I have my mixed feelings about social interaction games where it becomes a series of blog posts and social interactions between people. The sociological and psychological aspects of this though are so engrossing to me that I had to take a look. Essentially what you do is register to play the game, and then you can start playing cards which are viewable here.
With so many people in poverty today - we should share our voices to solve it.
Here’s how it works:
You are given either Positive Imagination cards, or Critical Imagination cards. Positive cards describe positive ideas and paths out of poverty. Critical Imagination cards are cards that could lead to greater vulnerability. You can play as many or as few cards as you like but the point is to use these card points to begin engaging people. Once the ideas are spread perhaps they will want to join in on spreading similar ideas and thus the motion of the game progresses into this social brainstorming activity that will last for 48 hours.
Once you play a card there are other cards that others can play off of these idea cards. Momentum, Antagonism, Adaptation, and Investigation.
You earn points based on the amount of engagement you gain during discussions.
Momentum cards are whenever you pose a question that asks:
“How can we build off this idea? What would happen next?”
Antagonism cards are whenever you disagree with an idea and wish to address what’s wrong with it:
” This idea lacks… I think we should…”
Adaptation cards are when you agree with an idea, but choose to accommodate it to your particular region or grouping:
“I love your idea, but I feel that in my country we will probably have to…”
Investigation cards are any time you have questions about an idea and wish to find out more information to gain clarity towards the discussion.
“I appreciate your idea, but could you please explain…”
Now, what exactly are my feelings on all of this social gaming towards the benefit of solving poverty? I love the idea – because gaming is a social media aspect anyways. It promotes socialization and teamwork. We work better at problem solving when we’re grouped together, and honestly, solving poverty sounds like a better solution for our nation than solving a zombie horde in CoD: Black Ops.
My point is, that while I may not agree with the email/blog social interaction gameplay mechanic, I’m just not used to the mechanics of this type of game and I’m getting used to the concept. We need to find ways to allow people to make changes in this world, and not just in virtual ones. You know it astonishes me that people spend so much money on World of Warcraft gear [ REAL MONEY! Check Ebay! ] and yet we are dealing with a poverty-stricken world outside of the virtual one they inhabit.
Perhaps that’s why MMO’s were built? – to hide us away from the sad realization of our world existence. We want virtual worlds, where poverty isn’t even a word and where raiding for gold is as easy as a mouse click. Imagine though if we could devise a way to help poverty that was as easy as a mouse click? Would you join in on a game designed to aid poverty? World-wide poverty? If your ideas had the power to spread action into the lives of others would you do it? How? Would you build a game, or start a blog, or start a youth group of active innovators? The idea of Catalysts for Change is to get people playing a real-life MMO. No, not LARPing, but real people interacting with real people.
Games, if posed in this manner, can change the world. We can make a difference if we expose ideas and generate content that can benefit the world around us. You can check out and join the Catalysts for Change game and it starts as 4 pm GMT time and will run until 4 pm GMT on April 5th. Join the change and let’s see if we can’t make a difference for a better tomorrow!
Well folks, the wonderful MolyJam 2012 has come and gone, and now only the games remain. This quirky, out-of-the-box, off-the-wall range of ideas from the odd mind of a green pixel named Peter Molydeux, has brought some amazing concepts and, shall we say, very unique array of indie games from all over the world. There are so many that it certainly hard to cover ALL of them in detail within this one post, but I’m going to try and cover some of my favorites throughout this post. I hope you enjoy these odd titles as much as I did.
I haven’t had a chance to play all of these an most of these are Windows run games [ I learned from experience folks ] but if you’ve got the time and energy to take a look at some of these indie gems I totally suggest it. I’m only going to present a few of them, primarily ones that have content you can view here, but there’s so many that honestly you’re just going to have to gauge for yourself. Here goes, welcome to the world of Peter Molydeux and what his oddities have created.
Molydeux Tweet: “What if you lived in a world where all guns are required to be plugged into wall sockets? Now THAT would be a tactical shooter wouldn’t it?”
All of these games are very simple, and most have surprisingly accessible mechanics involved. The most interesting aspect that I find comes from game jams like this, and why I feel we need to do this more often, is because it breaks us from the mundane. It tears us away from our FPS universe of game design which we, unfortunately, live in today. The games that I’ve posed here [ and the hundreds that were submitted worldwide ] are games that evoke something in us. An emotion comes over us and we’re invested in the game. Watch. You’ll see.
You may think that playing a game with a bear who needs constant affection, or playing a scarecrow who can’t move but desires love from another living creature is a boring concept for a game. Everyone has rights to their own opinions, but what intrigues me about these games [ all of the ones submitted to MolyJam ] is that they took simple concepts and made them into meaningful and intriguing games. So, whether you’re a ‘hardcore’ gamer and wouldn’t dream of touching an indie nugget for the life of you – or you’re a light-hearted video game savant who loves games for the art of it all – I severely suggest checking out the entire listing of MolyJam games.
Many of these games can be played from your computer, but some have added accessibility by allowing for use of a controller of your choice [ PS3, XBox – anything with a USB cord ] Now these are just a small sampling of the games that were submitted over the 48 hour period of MolyJam and so if you’re curious you can go and check out ALL of the submissions and download the games for FREE here:
Note: Now folks, let us remember, these games were made in 48 hours. If you’re expecting high-end quality production value I’d try and lower your expectations. Some of the games are incomplete, lack certain physics standards, etc. Don’t let that take away from the enjoyment or the experience. These games are more about the fun and the emotion they evoke than anything else.
In closing folks, this past few days of playing these 48 hour nuggets of awesome has inspired me to truly start working on my own concepts as well and taking them from paper to actual production level. I’ll be using GameSalad, and or GameMaker, and so I’ll keep you folks posted as to when I begin that lush journey into the sea of indie building. I hope you all enjoy these games and get something out of their messages:
Games can be simple, evoke emotion, and have more meaning to a player than mere achievements and trophies. The days of old are gone. It’s time to open up a new slate and share ideas, meaningful ones, with the world.