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Choosing your first game console

Your first question might be, “well why do I need a game console? I don’t want one/am a PC gamer”. But what you don’t understand, is the realm of possibility that unlocks if you do decide to get a console. Despite starting off with Nintendo’s Nintendo 64 and transitioning to a PC gamer, I never really thought I would invest in a gaming console. With the advent of Steam and various other websites dedicated to finding when games are discounted, it’s a hard sell to want to justify the three hundred dollar initial investment for the console, and the sixty dollar price tag for following games. Being able to obtain games for a quarter or less of the retail price, and being able to play on hardware that surpasses what consoles are capable of, PC gaming is without a doubt, the apex of gaming to me.

So why do I own a Wii, a Wii U, a 3DS and a Playstation 4?

The simple answer to that, is console exclusives. You can’t get your Mario’s, your Halo’s, your Persona games, on PC. There’s a whole different environment that can be unlocked through console gaming. And games provided by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony each have something unique that they bring to the table, that no other competitor really has over one another. So how does one choose? It’s simpler than you’d think.

Let’s start with the most relatable, Nintendo. As I mentioned before, I grew up with Nintendo’s products, happily playing away at the Mario and Pokemon games without a care. But as everyone grows up, your values change, and suddenly they don’t really line up with Nintendo’s “family values”. You kind of start wanting to look elsewhere. But what does Nintendo do well? Well, Nintendo does “family values”, right. Almost all of their games focus around being able to play games in a family environment. Mario Kart, Mario Party, Wii Sports, Super Smash Bros., I could go on. The commonality with all these games is that anyone can pick them up and enjoy them. Great for entry-level gamers, like say your parents, grandparents, and younger audiences. In this sense, Nintendo has a pretty good market, because that kind of demographic is bigger than the amount of gamers who want something a little more serious than what Nintendo has to offer.

Moving over to Microsoft’s Xbox, this is an area where I’m not exactly fond of. Not entirely because of their reputation (I’m looking at you, EA), but because of the games they have to offer. Xbox is sort of the median between the three companies, where you get a sort of middle ground between gamers a little more serious than Nintendo’s audience, but not quite as much of a time investment as the RPGs that Sony has to offer, but that’s a matter of preference. I’m still familiar with what Xbox has to offer, which seems to fall into two categories: Sports games, and First-Person Shooter games (FPS). Not being a Sports or Shooting game fan, Microsoft immediately falls out of my strike zone, which is why I’m not too fond of them. But the nature of these two genres (games like Madden and Call of Duty) lends themselves to shorter game periods, with each game session/round lasting typically about thirty minutes per match. Makes it really easy to just have something more engaging in short bursts, which would appeal to people who don’t have a lot of time, but can still play without the investment of time. Microsoft also has one of the best multiplayer engagements, with their games often being the best at finding people around the world and matching you into a game. They also support voice chat, which lends itself to more toxic interactions. Something I’ll get into at a later date. My major gripe with Microsoft is that their games don’t have substantial enough depth to them to engage many demographics. Halo and Call of Duty never really spoke to me in the way that Shin Megami Tensei, The Witcher, or Nier games have.

Finally, onto my favorite, Sony’s Playstation. Sony manages to hit all of the things I’m looking for in one go, and does it spectacularly. Sony’s games typically fall under the Singleplayer RPG genre, and since Sony is a Japanese company, they have some of the best RPGs I could ever ask for. RPGs are sort of like an engrossing fantasy novel; sprawling worlds, engaging storytelling, lovable characters, and because it’s a game, gameplay that is engaging for hours. Games have taught me many things over the years. Made me think about my actions, question my morals, or taught me values I never thought I’d consider. This is something I’ve found that Microsoft (and at least most Nintendo games) have never achieved for me. With many games starting at twenty hours of gameplay to around a hundred, I’m definitely getting the bang for my buck here. It’s more of an investment of time, as you don’t read a book in thirty minutes and just be done. It’s something you enjoy over a long period of time, perhaps over a nice cup of tea. And because the RPG genre is so vast, it also encompasses many other genres such as the Shooter genre, so I’m not really missing out from Microsoft. But since these games seem to be rather intense or lengthy to some, it make come off as intimidating to newcomers. As interesting series as Dark Souls is, it may not serve as a very good introduction to gaming to newcomers.

As you can see, each of these companies and consoles achieve difficult goals in their unique way, but none of them capture the essence of what the other does best. As a person who looks at games from a design aspect, I find this very interesting regarding how one would be able to incorporate all these great aspects into one game, essentially making it approachable to all demographics while having substantial depth to them. Is this possible? It might not be. It is a really ambitious of a task, and you can’t possibly hope to please everyone. Especially if you’re trying to do this alone. But certainly these are some of the steps needed to be looked at, that would certainly lead to some great games being made.

So with all of my personal bias in mind, I probably haven’t swayed your decision in the slightest. You might be even more confused. But by defining broad scopes of focus like this, it becomes easier to narrow down what people are interested in, and how I should design games for people. What’s your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Farewell for now,

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Peer Review of Bongga Wear

Paola’s site, Bongga Wear is a blog with a focus on plus-size fashion. At first glance, the blog seems to take on a very simplistic stance. The blog seems to consist of the white of the background, the highlights of blue on the top and bottom, and the grey text on the background. As with the previous Peer Review of Bongga Wear, I would also suggest that a little more color be incorporated into the blog to lend the blog a more personable feel, as there isn’t a particular element that stands out about the blog.

Going into the social media aspects of the blog, there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of representation for social media. There is a link to their Instagram, but only the promotional video for the website resides on what is otherwise a barren platform. As mentioned in class, there is something about landing upon an empty page that doesn’t convey a very good impression of social media presence. Branching out and using one’s own Facebook can help provide some traction for social media presence, as well as adopt an audience who would be able to give open feedback. But if the decision to stick solely to Instagram is the choice, then consistent content being posted, the advocating of said Instagram to other social medias and/or social circles may be ideal.

The only other topic of note from the previous Peer Review would be to provide more engagement with Bongga Wear’s audience in order to grow a following. There aren’t necessarily any new challenges that the site faces that doesn’t already present itself. The parting piece of advice would be to follow the suggestions made in the previous paragraph and focus on a more social media-oriented approach.

If you’d like to check out Paola’s site on plus-size fashion, you can visit her at

Process Post

Something something week 9 brand story something etc.

Remember my promotional video?

Look, it’s a gif.

View post on

Oh, describe my brand without using any text? Pretend that the words on the screen are just an imaginary construct of images aligned in a particular order that happens to coincide with the English lexicon. Don’t overthink it.

Hey, so remember what a FitBit is? I don’t. Never owned one. I always viewed these ‘wearable’ devices as sort of these novelty items that no one really needed, but trends would dictate that it would be the next big thing. But looking beyond that, I kind of figured that if I wanted to track my exercising or eating habits, I’d make an effort to log that myself. Not have a sixty dollar device dictate to me that I’m slacking on my life choices. It’s kind of like putting the cart before the horse. If I can’t be bothered to do the tasks a FitBit would, something tells me that maybe I should be reorganizing my priorities a little bit.

But it turns out, wearables are much more than just shame-tracking devices! They can actually be integrated into medical technology that monitors other critical components of health. Kind of makes me think that for all the good that these wearables are doing, that they don’t have more traction than say, a FitBit. After all, I’ve really only heard of wearables being utilized in this manner about thirty minutes ago. Some of the biggest companies who are capable of utilizing this kind of technology are companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung. And to me, it feels like they’re cashing in on a culture and society that seems rather focused on personal fitness, health, eating habits, et cetera et cetera. Not that I blame them. A market’s a market.

It’s great that focus on personal health has gotten more attention over the years. I just thought that it wouldn’t require a shiny new gadget to tell me I need more sleep.

Stylistic Visuals

I already have a post called “Visuals”, so this goes to show that my post titles are just getting worse and worse. But bear with me, I’m going to tie something into that. For a lack of a better term, I am going to refer to “Stylistic Visuals” as the choice of animation and art style used in games to convey meaning. Sounds really deep, doesn’t it.

Now you may be wondering, just what exactly is a “choice” in animation and art style? Let’s have a look at two games in particular: FromSoftware’s Dark Soul’s franchise, and Disney/Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts; two games differing vastly in style. So as per tradition of my blog, let’s start off with an example. Take a look at the following two videos.

Let’s first take a look at the art style of both games. Looking at the visuals alone, what kind of atmosphere, mood, or world, do you think both games are trying to convey? What kind of audience do you think these games are trying to reach? Dark Souls, as true to its name, is often a poorly-lit environment, with very reserved colors. Aside from stating the obvious, the game creates a very somber atmosphere from its surroundings and its visuals. Kingdom Hearts on the other hand, can be considered the polar opposite. With its bright, sunny visuals, it leans itself to a more vibrant, cheerful world around it. Disney’s art style can be often attributed to being very “cartoony”. To go into more detail about that, I would narrow down “cartoony” as being overexaggerated, such as having uncharacteristically big feet (I’m looking at you, Sora). That’s not to say that either game couldn’t have adopted each others styles, but it’s important to know that there are certain choies that are more suited to achieving certain asspects.

Now, let’s look at animation. Note the speed of the actions in both games. The attacks in Dark Souls are very slow and deliberate; lumbering, even. Each swing conveys the weight of the attack, both figuratively and quite literally. Like I said before, it doesn’t have to be that way. You could have faster animation speed, and suddenly you’ve got From Software’s Demon Souls. But that’s neither here nor there, because the animation speed of Dark Souls was deliberately chosen to be that way through all three installations of the game. I need not say more for Kingdom Hearts, because the same analogy works there as well.

Of course, there’s a lot more to games than just animation and art style that will convey a mood or atmosphere, but often times people will get a good feel of the game from that alone. Not everyone will look at a game and analyze it to see if its good or not, often times they’ll look at a game and ask themselves: “Does it look fun?”. Not necessarily a bad way to go about it, but there’s always a deeper meaning to things that you’d have originally thought. The next time you play a game or think of purchasing one, start asking yourself “why does it give off this feel?” and see what you notice. Maybe you’ll see a common occurrence.

That’s all for now. See you next time.

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Smartphone Gaming

A couple weeks ago, you may have noticed I’ve already talked about mobile gaming. But it wasn’t mobile gaming in the sense that most people thought of. Because I tricked you. Yeah, tricks are for kids, but I was pretty sure the first thing that came to mind when the words “mobile gaming” come up are games like Clash of Clans or Candy Crush. Games that make me shudder in disappointment, and I’ll save you the rant.

So why, despite their lack of substantial depth (don’t mistake this to mean ‘lack of depth’), do many smartphone games like Clash of Clans do so well?

Well, that’s an easy answer. They prey on people’s lack of patience, attention, and time. Micro-transactions are the easy, lazy answer, and only play a part of the whole picture, so I’ll get there at the end. So! Lack of patience. Many games these days are starting to adopt a “stamina”-based system, where you can only do certain actions if you have a certain amount of stamina stored up. Stamina which takes time to restore. And with this stamina-based system, it practically restricts your access to content until you’ve got enough. Of course, you could spend money for in-game currency to restore stamina, Now why would you ever want to do that?

Oh yeah, to actually play the game. And faster.

So if people can’t play all the time, then wouldn’t they just get bored, leave, and do something else? Potentially, yeah. But many smartphone games are just so low-investment that you don’t need to be spending every waking moment and stamina point playing the game. The developers of these smartphone games are banking on the fact that their game just has so much content and depth waiting, that they hope you’ll just be hooked on coming back. And once you’ve started investing time into their app, they’ve practically won; they’ve grasped your attention. Since you’ve spent so much time on the game already, you may as well keep committing to it, since you’ve sunk so much time already, what’s a little more?

Since these games have such a low barrier of entry (most are free to play), have such a low learning curve (with children having the competency to pick up these games and enjoy them), compiled with the fact that they don’t take long to play, they practically hit every single demographic there is.


People are getting lazier these days, myself included. They don’t want to over commit to something that won’t have pay-off. I’ve heard countless stories of people “never having the time to do X, because they’re busy”. And when I ask them what their free time consists of, a lot of the answers are Netflix, surfing YouTube, and being on their phone. My ass you’re busy and don’t have time, but that’s your deal, whatever. But the key point here, is the “illusion” of being busy. Smartphone developers are trying to take advantage of this “fact”, and attempt to fill any open time slot in a person’s given day to get them to play their game. In transit. Right before you sleep. On the toliet. Take me seriously on the toliet one, you’d be surprised at how long people spend on the toliet with their phone in their hands. And companies will start taking advantage of metrics measuring how long you spend on the game, to tinker with their game to be as long as the average use time on their app. And that’s how they maximize your time. Because of how perfect the length of a given game is, it’s perfect for you to be playing in the few moments you have free.

So let’s tie this all back to micro-transactions, the main source of revenue for these smartphone developers. Well, all of the things I’ve talked about: patience, attention, and time, all come back to micro-transactions in which they allow the player to have an easier time playing the game, without all the fuss of “stamina” or all that other nonsense. At a hefty sum of money, of course. Now, this may sound unappealing to you, which it should, but that’s fine. There are millions of other players playing these games. Some micro-transactions may just appeal to even a small group of that million, and the smartphone game developers can just sit and pat themselves on the back. Because they’ve just made a profit.

As I’ve said before, smartphone games are great for what they do. But they are terrible for what I really want people to be interested in, and that’s to get into the games that tell dozens of hours of story and compelling gameplay. Might not be your cup of tea, but you don’t know until you try. In order to do that, there’s got to be a way to tear down that “illusion” of being busy, and to just sit down play an actual game. Get a friend into it as well. Play it together. You might just find out your new hobby.

Thanks for reading.

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Design as an Overall Concept

If you’ve been following along with my content, or even if you are new, you will soon find out that I preach design as a fundamental basis for everything. If you’re not totally sold on the concept that game design is the most amazing thing ever, then let’s take a step back. Away from games (le gasp) and take a further look at design as an overall concept. If you’ve read my About page, I mention that game design is about creating experiences for others, but in order to do that, you need to have experiences of your own. So let’s look at some examples.

Design is a part of everyday life. It’s the things we take for granted, and things that make our lives easier as a whole. When you enter a building, do you immediately get lost? Maybe, but there are steps to get around problems. Like essential areas being in plain sight when first entering. Perhaps a directory, the receptionist desk, or even just a sign at the very entrance of a building to guide people to where they need to go. Or how about a chair? Perhaps the very one you’re sitting in right now? Is it comfortable? Maybe we attribute it to the people who designed the chair to conform to a person’s spine, their different height, different postures. You could say someone intentionally designed it to be that way for that specific purpose. Holy crap!

So why do we design? Anybody could make a building or a chair. But would it be any good? Did you ever consider the people who are unable to walk? How do your buildings or chairs accommodate for that? Do they? That’s where we hit accessibility. We design so that we make our lives easier or interesting. We like easy and interesting. Do your design choices affect everyone who is involved? Does it affect only a certain about users? If you aren’t targeting for your entire userbase, you’re doing something wrong. Elevators can assist those who cannot use stairs to get to a higher floor, but they can also assist people who are carrying heavy objects. There’s no limitation on use, making it so that it ends up being dual-purpose for more than what you initially design for.

Games are no different. We apply these everyday design choices back into game development, thinking about how the player interacts with the game, and how we make it easy for the player to just play the game to enjoy it. Unless your game is purposely difficult or purposely clunky, then all power to you. That’s still a intentional design choice. But if you just blindly go in and make decisions without thinking them through, you may end up frustrating the people who use your product instead, and end up driving them away.

So take an object, any object, and let me know what design decisions have gone into making that given object or concept in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.

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Handheld Over Smartphone Gaming

Gaming used to be something only kids really played, with the majority of games being released on a console (likes the SNES and the Sega Genesis). With the introduction of smartphones, mobile gaming has taken off with users of all ages, with the advent of casual games taking over the mobile platform. Casual games being those that don’t require very much investment of time and don’t require very much attention of commitment to playing the game. And that’s great. Having young children, seniors, and everyone inbetween are able to enjoy games as a source of entertainment.

But as a kid without a phone years ago, that wasn’t the kind of gaming I had available. I’m talking about handheld devices specifically designed for gaming. I want people to see the capability games have to tell a narrative, much like books or movies are able to, while being a more engaging and interactive medium in its gameplay. As much potential that smartphone gaming has, I believe it’s one of the worst platforms out there to be enjoying games, and is a terrible representation of what games are supposed to be.

I realize that smartphone games are perfectly suited for those that don’t have a lot of time for gaming, such as your average nine to five salaryman who wants to kill some time on the subway. To each their own. But due to the capabilities of a smartphone, you won’t be getting games of substantial depth. I’m talking about games like Candy Crush and Temple Run and all their other variants. As successful as these games are, I think they’re terrible games. I’m the type of person who enjoys being told grand, fantasy-like stories, with engaging gameplay that can keep me absorbed for hours. That’s not to say that I’m not guilty of being sucked into these mobile games, but I realistically only have two games on my phone that have at least more engagement than Candy Crush. 

But what I really want to draw attention to, is Nintendo’s mobile gaming. Sure, it may be difficult to convince people to invest at least two hundred and forty dollars upward on a separate device for gaming, but I can probably guarantee you that you’ll get more enjoyment out of a single game from Nintendo than anything smartphone games have to offer. The fact that Nintendo continues to dominate the mobile game market, even over Microsoft (Xbox) and Sony (Playstation Portable), which speaks volumes of what they’re capable of. The Nintendo DS is compact enough that it’s convenient to carry around in your bag or on your person. Hell, they’ve made their latest console, the Switch, compact enough to double not only as a console, but a mobile gaming device. Big title console games on the go? It’s a novel idea.

So as great as I think handheld consoles are, why aren’t they as popular? People nowadays simply don’t have the attention span nor interest to be playing out entire narratives on the go than when I was a kid, but I want to argue that they can. It’s just a matter of willpower. Fifteen years later I’m whipping my Nintendo DS out on the bus, playing out an entire Fire Emblem game. Who cares if I look like a nerd, I’m probably having a better time than you are, just staring down at your phone. Hell, I know of friends who keep their Nintendo DS by their washrooms, and have finished entire games on the toliet. Not the greatest example, but my point still stands.

I applaud the fact that smartphone games have a low barrier of entry, allowing just about anybody to hop on the bandwagon. But what really piques my interest is how casual gamers can be converted to computer or console gaming. So why don’t you ask around in your social circle if anyone has a Nintendo DS? Chances are they might not be using it, so that’d be prime time for you to give actual mobile gaming a go. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new hobby you’d have never expected. And if not, you didn’t have anything to lose. Just make sure to return the Nintendo DS, all right?


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Peer Review of Makeup Your Mind

A first look at JordanAnne’s blog, Makeup Your Mind, takes a look at Jordan’s perspective of what “self-care” means, and everything encompassing the definition. A clear overview of what to expect from the blog is provided in the “About Me” and “My Vision” pages, revealing a clear brand revolving around what self-care means to her. Immediately upon visiting the site, the reader is met with the brand’s logo; the initials of the author. But upon viewing the first post and the About Me page, it appears there are a total of three different variations of the logo being present, causing a lack of consistency among the brand logo. Granted, the logos do not differ immensely from one another, this leads to the question of which one should be considered to be the brand’s logo for the sake of brand recognition, should readers be introduced to the site for the first time. Another issue with the logo, is its appearance on a browser tab. Due to rescaling requirements and size restrictions, there are limitations when it comes to having a ‘recognizable’ URL logo. As of now, the logo appears to look like a cursive capital letter ‘A’, as opposed to the initials “JA” which is the main focus of the logo. Perhaps applying an outline to the letters and some repositioning would make the logo more viewable.

Another point to take note of is screen size scaling. On my screen, the picture banner takes up half the screen, making it at first, a little difficult to discern where the content is on the blog. Other than that, navigation is clearly presented on the front page, with a sidebar on the right side providing relevant information regarding social media and other navigation links. The layout of the posts however, appear to display the full contents of the writing, making it difficult to find specific posts or to browse through the different available pieces of content. Having the posts be tucked away in a “Read More” format, where the first three lines can be viewed initially before allowing the user to navigate to the relevant page would allow for posts to take on a more “cleaner” look, as well as avoiding too much clutter. The blog is well-populated with posts, providing enough content to give a new viewer a chance to get acquainted with the author’s work.

Want to know more about JordanAnne’s blog? Take a look for yourself at Makeup Your Mind

Meaningful Choices in Games

When it comes to games that revolve around ‘meaningful choice’, series like Don’t Nod Entertainment’s Life is Strange and The Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead come to my mind. A lot of excitement seems to surround these two games, especially when it comes to being able to make choices that matter. Perhaps its a sense of involvement that everyone so desperately wants to be a part of, when it comes to interactive games. But if interaction is what you want, there’s plenty of that to go around. See every game ever made. A little disclaimer before I start to get all riled up in a huff and puff. I haven’t actually played either of the aforementioned games, but I have watched playthroughs of both games. You might argue that I can’t have an opinion unless I’ve actually played the game myself, but really, I don’t think I’m missing anything.

So let’s narrow down the definition of ‘choice’ a little further. My definition of a meaningful choice is when one is presented with two or more options that have lasting and/or significant consequences. Moral quandary choices are also applicable here, being the basis for The Walking Dead and Life is Strange. As popular as these games are, I can’t bring myself to call them good games that incorporate meaningful choice. My main bone to pick is that while you ARE presented with choices, many of them overlap, if not lead to the exact same conclusion. Imagine a fork in the road, and you had to choose a path to proceed. Well, doesn’t matter because they join back up. Congratulations, you just circumvented a tree. So could you really call that a choice? In more technical terms, we call that the “Illusion of Choice”, where the developer seemingly presents the player a choice that has the same outcome. Sure, the games I mentioned before aren’t ALL illusions of choice. Perhaps a character dies here, or you manage to anger another character for the rest of the game. You might think “well, that’s a different outcome right there, I just released all of that man’s chickens!”, but you aren’t seeing the end game.

Now why do most outcomes turn out the same?

For The Walking Dead and Life is Strange (and speaking from my own experience creating a game with ‘choice’), the developer is trying to tell a story. When you’re trying to create a narrative-driven game, you can’t have too many options, lest they begin to derail your game. For example, imagine you have a game that followed the rules of the real world with exact precision. Now, you made a choice and now one of your characters ends up with his hands broken. Well, later along in your narrative, imagine it was absolutely necessary for that character to break into a safe and he was the one person who HAD to do so. Well you just shot yourself in the foot there because his hands are broken. Sure, you could go back and edit that choice, or change the story, but most of the time you want to avoid breaking your narrative with loopholes or inconsistencies. And for games that consist entirely of choices, you have to tread extremely carefully. Life is Strange had to be extremely careful with this, as they had made a game that occurred before the first timeline, so they had to make absolute sure that everything lined up with what happened in the first timeline. Hence, you end up with a lot of dead choices that don’t really do anything for you in order to fill in the white space, and for me, that breaks my immersion and trust in the game.

Another thing to worry about for making meaningful choices, is the different amounts of ‘branching’ you have to do. You have to write out every scenario in case the player did ‘X’ over ‘Y’. This can be troublesome and tiresome, as the choices may begin to trail off and begin to conflict with the narrative where you don’t want it to. Also, what if the player never goes back that choice ever again? That’s an entirely different part of the game they never got to experience and potentially a waste of development dollars and time if no one ends up playing that route. So the game has to be compelling enough that the player wants to revisit that choice branch again. But is it really a ‘meaningful’ choice if the player just defaults on the original decision and chooses the better option? The list goes on.

Meaningful choice is a difficult feature to implement into games, and isn’t something I’ve seen a lot of games, for good reason too. While I can’t blame Don’t Nod Entertainment and The Telltale Games for handling their games as they did, I can’t help but wish it could have been something more. Next time you encounter a game with dialogue branches, try testing them all, and see if you get a different result.

I’m pretty sure we just call those dating games. After all, you can’t get together with all the girls, boys, pidgeons, or dads (most of the time).

Dating games can be weird sometimes.

See you next time,

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