I was recently introduced to Man Crates and tasked with writing a post about gaming nostalgia. What is Man Crates, you ask? Well, after checking out their site, I found that they sell some pretty cool gifts for dudes. In crates. That need to be opened with a good, old-fashioned crowbar. Think of it like a hardcore gift basket. Continue reading If You Could Package Nostalgia
Happy Easter everyone! It’s hard to believe that we’ve already departed March and made it to April, but it’s happened and with a new month comes a new report back from memory lane. For March I decided to return to Final Fantasy XIII, and it actually held up surprisingly pretty well!
When returning to a game, it’s usually done so in the hopes of getting to enjoy an old favorite again. This was the case for the first game I got back to this year: Ratchet: Deadlocked. Going back to that game felt like rediscovering an old classic. It had all the Ratchet & Clank charm I remembered from my time with the PS2-era games, and it was just as much fun this year as it was almost a decade ago. After having so much fun with this year’s first game in the series, I returned to Assassin’s Creed II with barely contained anticipation. It should have been great, even better than Ratchet: Deadlocked, but, oddly enough, my return to an old favorite did not go as well as I thought it would. Continue reading Getting Back To It – Assassin’s Creed II
Photo taken by Hatm0nstar
Earlier this month we decided to take on the question of “What is a video game?” and challenged our fellows to do the same. At first I thought it was a difficult question to say the least. I mean how do you come up with a definition that actually reflects everything that games have become without first coming up with definitions for everything that makes up a game these days? What counts as gameplay? A goal? A story? Are they all needed for something to be a game? How many? And on it goes. Defining a game based on its components might not be impossible, but it’s definitely a tall order (a very, very, tall order). Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that hard. In fact, defining what video games are doesn’t have to be hard at all. In order to define what a video game is, one need only look at what a video game does. Continue reading What is a Video Game? – It’s a Connection
Image Captured by Hatm0nstar
Nostalgia can be a funny thing sometimes. Sometimes it keeps us from seeing a old favorite’s shortcomings, but other times…other times it can do the opposite. It’s effect of making us simply accept everything in an old game can also blind us towards the nature of its strengths, and even that which sets it apart from the new. Nostalgia discourages questioning, which is exactly what we need to do if we’re to appreciate a favorite for everything that it is, as well as everything that it does. Continue reading Nostalgia and Crash Bandicoot
It’s been a week and a half now since we said goodbye to 2014, and I still haven’t quite gotten my head around the fact that the world has turned once again and left us at the bright beginning of a new year (just…wow!). So as you might imagine, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do for the new year. That’s changed now though. You see, a couple weeks ago I posted my “replay” list for Listmas; that is, the list of all the games I’d like to revisit someday. Like most years, the list continued to grow in 2014, because even though we had more problems and controversy than usual, it was still a year filled with plenty of new games worth playing. This new year is looking like it’s going to be even better, so I figured I’d take a page out of Simpleek’s book, and issue myself a challenge. That is, to fully complete at least one game on the replay list each month this year!
Continue reading Finally Getting Back To It!
Note: This post is going to be a bit different from my normal opinion pieces. In fact, it’s not so much an opinion piece as a personal account of my experiences with coop games. In other words, it’s going to be a lot sappier and more personal than you might be used to from me!
In the last few years, I’ve played a lot of games. In fact, since I started freelancing and interning at games magazines and websites, I’ve found that I have little time for anything else these days. For better or worse, gaming has become an integral part of my life and much more than just a hobby to me. Consequently, I’ve thought a lot about what I look for in a game and my standard is probably much higher than when I was just playing them casually in my spare time. What I most look for in games these days are deep stories, incredible worlds and immersive gameplay. I find myself drawn to games like Far Cry 3 or BioShock Infinite, games that aren’t the easiest to just pick up and put down without getting invested in. Games like this are great, but what I realised was that In the midst of all that playing and analysing and searching for the next best gaming experience, I lost sight of part of the reason I got into gaming in the first place – to have fun. It took playing with other people to take me back to my roots, to remind me of why I love gaming so much. There’s a special magic to coop games that no other type of game has and I really believe everyone should share this kind of experience at least once with someone else.
Gaming with other people has often seemed like more of a hassle than it’s worth. You have to deal with other people’s play styles, competitiveness (because even in a coop game people find a way), differing levels of skill and sometimes, clashing personalities. I’ve seen friendships tested over games and heated words exchanged over as simple a game as New Super Mario Bros. I’ve generally preferred playing on my own, inside my own little bubble. Since I started playing games more regularly (when I was a teenager) gaming has always been a very personal experience for me. Back then it was purely a form of escapism. My favourite games from around that time were Knights of the Republic 1 & 2, the original Fable and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. I was a massive RPG fan. I loved those detailed worlds, involved stories and being able to explore and interact with people in the game to my heart’s content. Since then, I’ve played all manner of games from many different genres, but RPGs will always have a special place in my heart.
However, it wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I was young that gaming was an exclusively coop experience or at least one shared with others. When I was a little cheeese toastie, I used to live above my cousin. They had an N64 and NES and I used to go downstairs to play games all the time. Though the memories are already hazy, the feeling it’s left with me has never really died. I think those times we spent together are still some of my favourite gaming memories to this day and is part of the reason that after so many years and so many things have happened in our lives, we’re still best friends. Obviously we shared a lot of other memories together and had fun in other ways too, but those early days of playing games together and trying to beat games together (like Chip n’ Dale Rescue Rangers) helped instil a lasting companionship and a sense of teamwork and togetherness that only grew stronger over time.
Then the gaming scene changed. Graphics got better, there was a higher standard of writing, characters and quests became more involved and games became more akin to interactive blockbusters than the little timewasters of the past. BioShock Infinite isn’t something I would pop in to play for fifteen minutes to half an hour. So, the second stage of my life in gaming life began and while it was in many ways a lot more fulfilling and exciting than gaming was when I was a kid, it was also a lot lonelier, at least for me.
It was only when I started having LAN parties again with friends that I began to rediscover the joy of including other people in your experience and of just slowing down and taking it easy sometimes. I remembered that gaming doesn’t need to be an intense experience all the time. It doesn’t always have to live up to your expectations or fulfil your gaming desires to be a game you enjoy playing. Sometimes, gaming can just be kicking back with your friends and playing a few rounds of New Super Mario Bros. or Left 4 Dead. Gaming together is also a way that I spend time with my boyfriend (the other Sam from our Minecraft videos). While some people might not think it’s the most romantic thing to do, finishing the coop campaign for Portal 2 with him are some of my fondest memories. Also, we’re clearly still doing the Minecraft videos and hopefully the fact that we love it and have fun shines through, because we are. Actually working together to build something is an amazing feeling and one that despite all our ribbing of each other, is something that strengthens us as a team. That sense of fun, companionship and easy going friendship came rushing back to me in moments like those. I started actively seeking these experiences more and more.
The games I found myself coming back to are coop games. PvP can be fun and most people have that competitive streak that makes winning all the sweeter, but coop forces you to work with other people. The sense of accomplishment I get from beating a level while working with other people is unparalleled. Sure, sometimes people still get competitive, especially when there’s scoring involved, but most of the time you have to depend on each other. Personally, I’ve found that I’ve learned a lot of important things along the way – how to be supportive, how to let things go when things don’t go your way, how to carry people, how to be carried, but most of all how to just let go and have fun.
Coop games reminded me of the most important thing – to have fun. It’s sad that there aren’t more coop games coming out at the moment, because I think they’re a central part of the gaming experience. In a world that’s becoming more and more competitive, as well as more isolated (in both games and real life), I think it’s important to find moments like these, moments that you can share with the people you care about, where you can just kick back and laugh and connect with other people. That power to bind people together I think is what makes coop games so special to me and if you haven’t included them in your life yet, I’d suggest finding a game to play online with a friend or better yet, picking up that phone and inviting him/her over right away.