Transparent Seas

Mitch Bowman's internet domicile.

Monthly Archives: December 2011

The Blurring Line Between Arcade-Style and Simulator

It wasn’t too long ago that racing games firmly divided themselves into two very separate camps. There were two very different breeds within the genre, and it was easy to tell them apart.

On the one side of the fence were the Need For Speed Undergrounds, the Midnight Clubs and the Tokyo Xtreme Racers, holding it down for the arcade racing fans. These games had no real pretense of being realistic, despite having licensed real-world cars and sometimes even real-world locations. They were happy to exist in a world where cars were indestructible, and walls were bouncy. There was certainly a market for them, too; without any obligation to be realistic, they could focus on simply being fun, exciting games.

On the flip side, we had Polyphony Digital and their Gran Turismo franchise, staying true to their mission of making a “driving simulator.” These games were fun in an entirely different way. Gran Turismo tried – and for the most part succeeded – in being an accurate representation of auto racing, right down to the tuning and part-swapping aspects of the sport. For car nerds, this was a dream come true, and these games had their own sizeable market, quite separate from the Need For Speed market. Read more of this post

A Shooter In Name Only

In November of 2008, something crazy happened. Electronic Arts, a publisher who had managed to build a reputation for being unadventurous throughout the beginning of the 21st century, published what might be the most adventurous game of the current console generation.

This wasn’t an entirely unprecedented move on EA’s part. With the changeover of CEOs in 2007, EA had begun to release some interesting new IPs. Among them were games that went on to be quite successful franchises, like Dead Space and Mass Effect.  None of these titles were quite as risky or progressive as what was to come, however.

The game I’m talking about, some of you have probably figured out by now, is DICE’s Mirror’s Edge. Taking a step back from their popular Battlefield franchise, DICE proved to the world that first-person platforming can indeed be made to work well. They also proved that you can make a first-person shooter without having gunplay be the primary gameplay mechanic. Read more of this post

Maybe Video Games Don’t Need Television At All

In the aftermath of this weekend’s Spike TV Video Game Awards, many people have been quick to condemn them as nonsense, including the likes of Jeff Gerstmann and Wired.com’s Jason Schreier, and I can’t say I disagree with them. They were a fairly obnoxious affair that had as little to do with video games as they thought they could get away with.

A similarly large number of people have taken the opportunity to put forth their own vision of what a respectable video game awards show would look like. While their intentions are in the right place, I’m not sure this is the path we need to be heading down as a medium. Read more of this post

The Short Lifespan of Hand-me-down Gaming

I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is, something awesome is happening right now. Video games have reached the age where the first commercially successful examples of the medium are becoming heirlooms. The generation of kids who grew up playing Atari 2600 and the original Nintendo are grown-ups now, and that means some of them are having kids. For the first time, parents are able to pass down some super cool video gaming history to their kids. They can dust off that box in the attic and have their kid fire up some Mario or Sonic, just like they did when they were kids.

This is great news for a bunch of reasons, but the one that comes to mind most prominently is this: The kids growing up right now are being raised by the first generation that grew up playing video games. It can only help the general acceptance of the medium, to have kids growing up without being told that video games are going to rot their brain or similar such nonsense.

Now for the bad news. This might also be the last generation that gets to enjoy this unique privilege. Read more of this post