Monday, December 7, 2015

Illuminations 12.7.15


So I've been asked a couple of times to talk about video games more, and being asked that is like being asked to talk about books.

"Hey, Christian! Can you talk more about books?"

"I mean, yeah. But, like, what about books?"

"You know... books."

The term "video game" can mean a whole bunch of things, and kind of like how there are different kinds of books for different purposes, there are different types of video games that present themselves differently. Not everyone can get into the newest self-help book and not everyone can get into the newest war shooter, but there's always a cookbook that could interest you in the next aisle or a new rogue-like role-playing game on the next Steam sale page.

I'm not here to sit you down through a presentation of all the different types of video games (that's impossible), so I'll just present you with a couple of different games that you may or may not find interesting.

***

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes


The title seems to explain itself. This is a multiplayer party game where a single player is presented with a bomb and their friends hold the instructions to defuse it. You'll find yourself fumbling through pages of instructions trying to find the right page as you're asking your friend to describe what they're seeing. "I don't know. There are runes on these buttons." "Can you describe the runes?" "One of them looks like an 'A'." "That's not helping." The asymmetrical gameplay keeps you on your feet, sweating, and constantly communicating with your friends.

Hatoful Boyfriend


Have you ever wanted to romance birds? Well do I have a treat for you. This game will have you in tears over birds in 1080p as you fall in love with the pigeon next door or the mourning dove hiding in the school library. You'll find yourself in St. Pigeonations, the world's most prestigious school for birds, except you're a human. 
This is just a fun game to play and a great conversation starter. How many people can say, "one of my favorite games is a pigeon dating simulator?" coughmecough But aside from the silliness of the game, you'll find a world that needs exploring and you'll find yourself asking questions that you didn't think would come up in a game where you try to get birds to fall in love with you. There's a darker story behind Hatoful Boyfriend and if that's what interests you, you also have the fun lighthearted romance between yourself and your harem of birds.

Bioshock Infinite


Want something serious? Something with a solid writing and storytelling? Something that tackles racism, captivity, religion, and revolution in an interesting way? Come on down (or should I say up?) to the beautiful city of Columbia: a floating city in the clouds set in 1912, a place that worships the founding fathers of the United States of America as gods, and a place riddled with racism and bigotry. Big metal birds and automated soldiers in the form of George Washington await you as you soar through the sky looking for a girl to erase your debt, meanwhile a revolution of races is in the midst and you'll have to pick a side. All of your choices matter and in the end you'll never know if you made the right ones. What is right anyway?

Undertale


Are you tired of all the fighting? Well here's a role-playing game where you have the option to talk your way out of every situation. You can: wiggle your hips, give advice, ask personal questions, anything under the sun to get out of fights. Or you can just kill everything if you have no heart. It's a funny, quirky game with humor akin to the cult-classic, Earthbound and it tries its best to break the conventions of battle systems in games that are similar to it. Please don't hurt goat mom.

Space Chem


Despite the title, you don't need to know anything about space or chemistry to play this game. If you're willing to believe me, it's actually a puzzle game about programming. Your goal in the game is to create molecules using only a small set of tools and your brain. It starts off very easy but once you continue on, you'll be racking your brain for weeks on end trying to figure out how arrange your pipeline so that you can form that complex molecule out of only hydrogen and carbon. Space Chem can be easily used to teach people about programming and how to look at problems spatially; it can be as much of an education as it is a game.

***

It kind of feels like I'm trying to sell you guys something, and in a way I am. Games get a bad reputation for being violent and vulgar, and it's hard seeing a form of medium being beaten down and generalized in the way video games are. I just really wanted to showcase a couple of the games I like to represent the diversity that video games have to offer. 

-Christian

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