In truth, i haven't but the faintest understanding of most games.

Had i played Persona 4 a year later, which would, coincidentally, be now, I'd only be able to reminisce about high school.

The long afternoons, sitting in a bench, burning my skin and brains with the  unbearable heat. Having long walks on the beach side, going to restaurants at every opportunity, spending all available time chatting it up with the best people available at the time. The rainy runs to the bus stop, the wet hair, clothes, shoes, socks, feet, hands, the whole nightmare. The late, if at all, studying in the library, while trying every excuse to go read some other book, magazine, or simply hear some music while watching the new kids smoking just outside the front gates.

Perhaps i was unable to understand, or even notice, how much pure happiness the game exhaled while i myself was full off it. The atmosphere, the characters, the city, all the conflicts presented to the player, the whole game was a love letter to high school times. I now understand that that is certainly what draws me most to the game. But darker times revealed themselves, and thankfully the game was also there for me. I had gained a new appreciation for games that make us happy.

And such is the best thing entertainment can provide, happiness.

It certainly was a strange realization. I had played many "happy games" before. How come had i never realized their true intentions? Various Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Final Fantasy IX, perhaps even X and XII.
But wait... there are much more. An enormous percentage of all my previously played games had happy characters, happy worlds. Most recently, Heavy Rain provided a stark contrast to the norm, providing only a scene that could be considered, for all intents, designed to involve me in an happy environment.

How much of me had been defined by these games, or rather, how had my choices been influenced by who i was, or even, who i wanted to be? I don't have enough memories of my life to say with any certainty that i was a happy person. I suppose so, as i am one now, and I'm sure i didn't become like this in a heartbeat. I also don't remember playing those games, i haven't the faintest memory of what i felt when i received my first cow in Harvest Moon, even if certainly imaginable.

Had i became the games i played, or played the games that were me?

If i look at me now, i look towards entertainment when searching for new feelings and sensations, an advantage imaginary worlds seem to have over the real one, which rarely draws any emotion from me. I didn't buy Heavy Rain because it was a happy game, rather the contrary. I was aware it wasn't going to be a nice ride. It wasn't, therefore i was satisfied with the game. I'd like to talk some more about it,  but that's for another time.

Most importantly, i deducted that, as many developers now seem to be aware, David Cage included, being happy isn't really the only worthy promise a game can make us. Interestingly, other ranges may be even more appealing. Unfortunately, i can't know if this is something I've been aware of before, or if only recently. But even so, even without an answer, the question itself is interesting enough that it may provide help to me now.

Whenever i play Persona 4 again, I'll be able to know what makes my insides tickle when i play it.

When i revisit older games I'll be able to understand better what defines the game, besides it's mechanical design, which some people scream and cry that it should be the only aspiring value of games. From that line of though, the phrase "games can only desire to be fun, nothing else" was born, and a lot of damage done to the whole medium. I wonder if anyone else valued their games for being happy games. If they ever go back to them, wondering and desiring why such happiness is rarely found anywhere else.

We are experiencing a turning point in our lives. Enthusiasts of the medium will be born and will die, conflicted with change, and the many dark forces that wish to decide for themselves the destiny of our games. There is a stark misunderstanding of the medium within it's fans, one which i suspect is the greatest gap stopping us from moving forward.

We must teach kids what I've taken eighteen years to find out. We must know what we are playing. Why is it that i must find some obscure interview to understand what the developers meant with each set piece, which values they explore? Why can't the games themselves be the carriers of such information? I wish i knew that games can make us happy, sad, scared, relieved, when i was 10 years old. God, what joys would i have had with new understanding the such experiences.


If at first you don't succed, choose better.

As humans, sentient and curious, we are, by the most part, lead by our will to succeed.

However mistreated the concept may be, it's hardly ever fought against. We are not driven towards a lack of success. Rather, if such were our position, we'd simply be fooling ourselves, since by the time our objectives became truth, we would have reached, even if against our will, success.

However, an exploration of the concept may lead to undesired and violent discoveries. Mainly, the overwhelming societal force that seeks to define our understanding of success before we learn to use the toilet. In fact, I'd gladly define the moment we realize what success means for us, the defining moment of our road to emotional satisfaction. But now I'm digressing, I'll take another look at the draft.

Yes, how video games deal with success.

Well, that's easy to answer, isn't it? It's been discussed to death how video games provide a corrupted understanding of success to our young and fragile selfs, mostly because of the Retry option. Rather, what i would like to explore, is how video games can toy with success.

From quest lists, to map pointers, to environmental clues, to narrative incentives, all games, even if simply at a mechanical level, expect us to be successful. I remember reading some day that a game normally behaves as a machine, one that is missing a cog, therefore unable to operate. Once you fill in that void, the machine works again, providing us with whatever experience it wants to provide.

This is true for many games. These games tell us how to be successful. These are, for clarity's sake, the contrary of a game that offers choice. At least choice as it is desired by so many people in the industry. These games often rely on a basic mechanic, such as shooting, or platforming. If any narrative is present, it'll be fixed. I'm sure you're aware of how big the number of people crying and screaming for something new is. These are people who want, for clarity's sake, choice.

Choice, how do we represent choice in video game's mechanical and narrative structures?

There are two things that are necessary for a game to provide meaningful exploration of choice. Do not define success, nor incorporate mechanics that can be understood as more successful for the game's machine, essentially letting the player himself fill in that space, and either providing an awareness that the game recognizes our definition of success, or at least letting us know there is a choice.

The first one is so that choice is not presented as a mechanical challenge. One example of this is the Bioshock's Little Sister economy. One choice provides immediate satisfaction, but the other will ultimately be the best choice in the long run. This is simply a math problem. Once we test the edges of the design, we can easily justify any event to pursue what the game wants from us. Like killing the little sisters.

I'm aware that there are players that will defy the game for a little freedom. But we must recognize that those are but a small and fragile number of enthusiasts.

The second one simply so the player feels the satisfaction that a game with no choice can provide. Knowing we've been successful is good, but knowing that success was defined by us is even better. And this one is very simple, a basic statistics page that can let us know that we didn't kill anyone, or that we left no one alive, or that we saved a lot of people, or that we've made a lot of people happy, or sad, or rule over a kingdom, all these are easily transmitted to the player.

How about examples?

Games that approach this design are seldom effective, but there are some.

The various NES (and thankfully digital download) Megaman games are a perfect example of games that define success for you.

One game that should be recommended now, is, as everyone expects it to be, Deus Ex. It is the best example of a game giving us a varied number of mechanical approaches to the game, and still have a narrative that can bend and shape itself over such approaches.

But another one of note, is the most recent Heavy Rain, for it's approach of failure and permanent events. One thing to note is how it is very hard to be completely successful at it. In any play through, it's very likely that you'll fail to do everything you want to. In some situations, this is true even after you know previously what is going to happen.

I 'll say that games have this huge potential to teach something about this to people.

Look at the top of the post. Notice how I've made a comment on how we are mostly bombarded with messages that try to define success for us? I don't know about you, but i don't like it. It's a path towards insane sanity, implied though police practiced by everyone, etc., etc.

Game's inherent capability of translating what a player wants into mechanical and narrative experiences, can explore this theme with much more depth than other medium, I'd suppose.

And this is all for my first meaningful post. Thank you.


An introduction.

I imagine the regular though would be "another blog? Screw that.". No one's to blame. Such is the state of the world. I won't discuss that, i hope you'll already have dealt with and resolved any implications such a problem presented you.

Rather, I'll introduce myself. Excuse my addiction with privacy, but I'll make sure to restrict it to traceable information.

I have no superior education. I did gain access to university. If not for issues that I'll explain next, I'd now be studying Philosophy. Yep. That brought a lot of problems that i refused to acknowledge until the last moment. First, university required such a financial and, while of less importance, psychological and physical stress that i would be unable to sustain at that time.

Second, i had come to realize that university meant a lot more than what i expected it to. Mainly to others. Unlike myself, university would be a symbol, an achievement, the first step in the road of success. This came as a surprise for me, someone to whom university was nothing more than a new learning platform. I had no intention of professional success. It did not matter to me if i didn't get a job in my area of choice. Those newly found expectations were alien to me. And if i were to be sustained by them, i had to minimally expect to achieve their objectives. I did not.

So i refrained myself from it. If the opportunity arrives again, it'll be one that allows me to sustain myself, one that allows me to learn not for success's gain, for for my gain. You'll come to understand, i hope, that what i understand of success is not what most do.

First part is over. Next. Video games.

I have been playing since i can remember. And if my family is telling me the truth, even before that. Apparently, i began duck hunting in the NES. Although the first console i remember playing was the Game Boy. That huge piece of awesome. Next, and i hold this one the biggest consideration, the Saturn. Thank you Sega. Still remember the countless afternoons after school, having lunch in my room, glued to the TV.

Stretching my monies as well as i could, i continued playing. Always. Learning, studying, talking about them, and more recently, seriously considering monetizing my interest. Fortunately, i  has already the pleasures of the Open Source, and had already been made an anti capitalism kind of person.

My life may certainly have had more interesting turns, but none i value. This is all that is needed to define me.

However, never did i have an outlet for the kinds of things I'll make this blog about. It's hard to find anyone as interested in our newest medium as me. Maybe I'm just not looking, but that is beside the point.

This blog is my outlet. One day, I'll refer to this blog. One day, this blog will help define me. And over are the days of leaving the Link text box clean.