Category Archives: Widely Read Posts

Contributor Recap: 9/30 – 10/4

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Happy Friday everyone! Today we have for you a selection of excellent posts from some of the UWG Contributors! These are either recent posts or posts that we all thought really should be shared. Enjoy!
Continue reading Contributor Recap: 9/30 – 10/4

Everyone Plays Video Games

Screenshot by Flickr User: faseextra
Screenshot by Flickr User: faseextra

A strange thing has been happening around my workplace: people are playing video games during their free time. Not just the usual two or three of us who bring our DS to work, but everyone seems to be hunched over their phones and computer screens, clicking or swiping away at little stacks of sweets. That’s right folks, Candy Crush fever is at full pandemic levels in our building, and there is no cure in sight (save for upset bosses).

For those who are unfamiliar with Candy Crush Saga (CCS), allow me to brief you on the game. Available as a mobile or Facebook game, CCS is a match-three puzzle title in which a player must clear certain pieces of candy from the screen in a set number of moves. Combos greater than three and chain-moves will provide the player with special candy, which may be used to clear the board more easily, and failing to destroy the target pieces will result in a game over, and the loss of a coin. This is where the game becomes diabolical.

In a given day, each player is given X coins which translate as chances to complete a level. Once the coins are expended, the only way to gain more chances is through the spending of actual money. Like so many free-to-play games before it, Candy Crush makes its money through the unfortunate souls who spend their hard-earned income to buy more coins, and, in essence, pay to keep playing the game.

This is exactly the sort of scheme that many of us “real gamers” will proudly (and loudly) defame, citing that these so-called-games ruin the medium as a whole. With even one listener, we will ramble about a dystopian future where all video games are money traps. All of these casual games are passing fads that have overstayed their welcome, and we scoff at those who play Angry Birds or Words with Friends when they are waiting in line at an overpriced coffee shop. Don’t these people know that the games that are actually fun and worthwhile only exist on consoles and computers?

At an earlier time, I would have taken up the torch right alongside my brethren and blindly marched on these lost souls, ready to push my gaming preferences on each of them. Then it dawned on me: I am living in a time where nearly everyone plays video games. The advent of mobile games and the emphasis on a casual market have brought so many people into the fold, and that effect continues to this day. I have overheard complete strangers telling stories of playing with their relatives over the iPhone. I have watched kids roam around in Minecraft on a tablet at the airport. I witnessed my own mother, who never touched a controller in her life, toss a virtual bowling ball down the lane, score a strike, and trash talk my brother in the process.

When this realization first hit me, I felt pure revulsion. Here was my hobby, being pulled right out from under me by people who didn’t even seem to care about video games. I spent so much of my life being picked on and looked over for being an “inside kid” who played too many video games to have a proper social life. Suddenly, every department store was selling cheap retro gaming t-shirts and belt buckles, fake geeks were coming out of the woodwork, and crappy mobile games were making millions of dollars. But I would not be fooled, no sir. I had the good sense to know real games from these shoddy facsimiles, so I would stay my snobby course and scoff at these fools who were trying to play pretend at my hobby.

Once I had calmed down (it took a while, mind you) and actually tried out some of these games on my wife’s phone, I came to a harsh conclusion. In spite of all the commercialization and monetization at work in so many of these games, there is fun to be had in their play. Angry Birds is so reminiscent of the simple games of my youth, and Candy Crush Saga (at its core) is a competent match-three puzzle game for the masses. There are several other examples of fun “casual” games, and these sorts of titles exist right alongside what I consider more mainstream examples of video games.

So instead of perpetuating the “casual versus hardcore” games argument, why don’t we take joy in the multitudes who are playing video games all around the world? Candy Crush Saga may not be the game for all of us, but it can be a great first step into the deep well that is puzzle gaming, or just the means to have an actual conversation with an otherwise unknown co-worker. After all, everyone likes Tetris and Mario, right? Just go from there and share your hobby with the world.

-Chip, Games I Made My Girlfriend Play

The Creative Pack Page

Hello, everyone.  We have just begun a new page entitled Creative Pack that will list links to a variety of other game-related sites, including links to fan art and fan fiction accounts, development diaries, podcasts, etc.  (It’s like an expansion pack filled with awesome links and, of course, a nougat center.)  This will be a place where non-blog related material can go, to further expand the United We Game community.  I have several things added so far to mention.  One is my own fan fiction account and Hatm0nster’s Deviant Art account.  The other is a development diary by Michael-Kopp Jones, written about the process of making video games.  A summary of his blog, written by the author himself, is below: Continue reading The Creative Pack Page

With All These New Consoles Coming Out, Why Not Just Get a PC?

Image by Flickr user Handles
Image by Flickr user Handles

With the bulk of the big E3 announcements behind us, and as the excitement wanes just a tad, what are we left with? A slew of great looking games for either a new $500 console or a new $400 console. The Wii U is still hovering around the $300-$350. Maybe its price will drop by the time those other new consoles hit the market. Or maybe not. Either way, if someone was looking to buy all-new this holiday season, s/he could easily drop $1200. And that’s not even counting all the games, accessories, online access fees, etc.

Going to the Backlog

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6202/6033366195_7d7bd332f9_b.jpg
Image by Flicker user paige_eliz

Even though I don’t have tons of time to game, I like to keep at least two games in regular rotation at all times. That way, when I have only an hour to play, I don’t spend thirty minutes of it deciding on the game. I also prefer to only play one game per system to prevent overuse/overheating. Right now the 360 is on lockdown with Dragon Age 2, which means that the other game I choose has to be on another system. Since I don’t feel like spending money on games right now (despite all the goodness of offer, I know, I know), I guess it’s time to head to the backlog…

Oh, the backlog. That notorious shelf (or shelves or rooms or data storage devices) containing a selection of games that one intends to play. These games were purchased new or on sale, stolen borrowed from friends, retrieved from yard sales, or rescued for other terrible fates. We hold onto these games because we want to play them but just don’t have the appropriate time. We’re too busy with life and/or the latest games. Or we’ve moved onto other systems entirely. Or we’re collectors. However you want to look at it, most gamers have backlogs of various sizes. I know mine is pretty small compared to some, and it consists of games I’ve never played or started but never finished:

Continue reading Going to the Backlog

Gaming And Me – My Identity As An Intermediate Gamer

Screenshot by Flickr User: nixinStudio
Screenshot by Flickr User: nixinStudio

Many of you may not be familiar with me or my blog over at simpleek. If you visit my blog, you may notice how I call myself the “intermediate gamer.” Ever since I started blogging over a year ago, I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiences and my identity as a gamer. I consider myself an intermediate gamer because my level with games lies somewhere in the middle. I’m not completely clueless about gaming because I have watched my cousin play Mario and other games that would be considered classic and retro at this point. I have held a controller before and played a little Mario, Mortal Kombat, and Aladdin as a kid. For some reason having a brief flirtation with games as a kid wasn’t enough for me to become a hardcore gamer.

My transformation as a gamer didn’t come until 2009, the year I decided I wanted to purchase a Nintendo DS and then the Wii. The Wii attracted me to gaming because of the motion controls. I don’t know why, but the idea of interactive gaming that encourages you to get up and move was appealing. By purchasing the DS and Wii it just opened up the floodgates to more gaming devices my friends felt I needed to have. When the PSP was added to the bunch, thanks to a friend who gave me one as a birthday gift one year, I thought this would be the last portable handheld device and console I would have in my possession.

Friends thought they could sway me to add an Xbox 360 or a Playstation console to my growing collection of gaming devices. I refused for the longest time. I was content with Nintendo and all the current systems I had. And the games! They just never stopped coming. I bought a few and then each Christmas and birthday were opportunities for my friends to pile on games they thought I would like to add to my growing library. I still have an insane backlog of games. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to put a dent on them.

My resolve against getting another console finally broke sometime in the fall of 2012. My friend showed me Dragon Age: Origins and I was a goner. It quickly became, “Why hello there, Xbox 360! Where have you been all my life?” The rest, as the tired saying goes, was history. I was knee deep into gaming and there was no turning back. I don’t regret my transition into a full on gamer. It just makes splitting my time amongst other leisure activities way trickier than it was before. Navigating my new found status as gamer was exciting, confusing, and a little intimidating.

Being the intermediate gamer meant I was no where near being a total infant in the realm of games, but I wasn’t an expert either. When I bought my Xbox and it came time to play a game where I had to get used to all the buttons and joysticks the controller had, I was as awkward and unsure as the girl who waited with baited breath to find out if the guy she had a crush on in high school may actually like her back. That’s how I compare the experience. It was a little embarrassing to find the simple use of a controller hard to grasp. What do all these colorful buttons do? When do I need to use the left/right trigger buttons? Why am I getting dizzy from moving the camera with this joystick? Believe me, there were plenty of issues I had to overcome when using the Xbox controller for the first time. These were not issues I encountered with the Wiimote.

Nowadays, these aren’t issues I have anymore. I was amazed by how quickly I got over them. It was a matter of getting used to something unfamiliar. A few years have gone by since my entrance into gaming, but I’m still reluctant to call myself an expert gamer. I have a lot to learn and plenty of games to conquer, but maybe in a few years time I can proudly call myself an expert gamer.