Community college student Palmer Luckey made a splash at CES 2013 with his 3D gaming headset, the Oculus Rift. The buzz was so strong, in fact, that Facebook purchased Oculus in 2014 for the staggering sum of $2 billion. The interesting thing is that this technology is not new news.
The Stuff you need to know:
There’s something about a perfect heist that is viscerally satisfying. Some of the greatest films of our time are heist stories – Reservoir Dogs, Heat, and The Usual Suspects. Maybe it’s the thrill of casting off the shackles of society and organized behavior.
By their very nature, shooters are all about violence. Usually, the grim, gritty, blood splattered kind of violence. In recent times, however, there have been a whole spate of games which challenge the genre tropes they fall under.
Many people, even those who aren’t into the current gaming scene, have a certain strong nostalgia for the video games of their youth. You might remember feeding quarter after quarter into games like Galaga and Ms. Pac Man at that arcade next to the mall food court, or maybe your favorite part of going grocery shopping with your mom was that there was a Frogger machine at the store!
Maddeningly, we’ve all had the experience. You’re progressing through an enjoyable game, devoting your time and being rewarded for it, when all of a sudden there’s a glitch. A glitch that makes it impossible for you to carry on as you were.
Magicka 2 had one of the most hilarious announcement trailers for a game in recent history. It featured an out of work wizard committing blunder after blunder until he saw an ad where wizards were being hired.
Destiny was supposed to be the greatest thing to happen to shooters since sliced bread. It wasn’t. The game featured a notoriously weak story and several critical gameplay bugs, including a loot system that would make Scrooge McDuck wince.
A large portion of the horror genre is based on shock value. Where jump scares don’t work, horror stories often go to the weirdness well, mining terror out of sheer grotesqueness and/or gore. Occasionally, these efforts work spectacularly and deliver a setting or a character which is truly memorable.
Back in the day, ID Software came out with a game called Heretic. It was a 3-D fantasy shooter and developers Raven Software used a modified version of the excellent Doom engine.
The Witcher series has always been somewhat of an outlier in the RPG genre. Not because the games aren’t great (they are) or because the setting is completely different from every other RPG (it isn’t.)
In 1941, the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges wrote a story called “The Garden of Forking Paths” that was basically a “wouldn’t it be cool” vision of a story that could include all of its different possible outcomes—when a decision was made, the story could follow each of the forking paths that result.
For a while there in the 90s and 00s it looked like video games would be a medium in which you could never look back. Video games are a medium tightly bound to its underlying technologies, and with those technologies improving in leaps and bounds, playing a three-year-old game, let alone a ten-year-old game,
State of Decay sets it up well – your friend isn’t long for this world. You decide it has to be done, so you drive him up to the nearest home you can find. The neighborhood has been ravaged by the zombie plague.
I have killed a lot of digital enemies in my day. I can’t even imagine what my overall gamer kill count and bullet count are—I’ve popped enough related trophies and achievements to know it’s got to be high. Which is why I really appreciated the short, contemplative puzzle adventure title Valiant Hearts: The Great War, which follows four characters through the madness, heartbreak, and tenacity of the Western front in World War I.
The McGuffin. At once a potentially infuriating and amazing plot device. Usually, the purpose of the McGuffin is to drive a larger story. Cinema has given us some great McGuffins like the Pulp Fiction briefcase and the Maltese Falcon.
In 2011, Mortal Kombat finally grew up. Yes, a game that featured more mutilations and blood spatter than ever before, grew up. Our beloved gory fighter took a step up and finally became a game that was worthy of professional competitions.
Video games are primarily a visual medium—it’s right there in the word itself. But of course they’re more than that, too. There’s the interactivity, of course, and the sound design can really improve or drag down a game…and then there’s reading.
Skateboarding is a Blast:
Last year, an unassuming 2D skating game made its way onto PlayStations worldwide. It was called OlliOlli. Almost instantaneously, the game became a smash-hit.