Let Us Cling Together: The joy of playing games cooperatively

Imagine you’re delving into a dark labyrinth. You’re exploring the endless hallways, looking for a path leading deeper into the ruin when you’re ambushed by a dozen demons both ahead and behind. You’re certain this is the end… but then you realize your partner was trailing a ways behind you, and by now she should blasting her way through the enemies attacking from the rear. Thus assured, you unsheath your sword and charge on ahead… This is the magic of cooperative gaming.

I find it hard to get into any competitive game (with the exception of Smash Bros). The idea of playing against other people just isn’t as fun as playing alongside them. I tend to find cooperative games much more enjoyable, but it’s a much under-appreciated genre. Before the release of Half-Life, Valve promised cooperative play in the game but never delivered, instead creating only an online deathmatch mode. →  Shadow of Read

Can gaming magazines survive?

Super corporation Ziff Davis has seen better days. Both Electronic Gaming Monthly and 1Up are being sold because they have been losing money, which the ZD accountants claim is bad for business. Forget that 1Up is also failing for a moment and think about the printed gaming magazine. Has the internet replaced the need for EGM and Game Informer much like literacy replaced the need for PSM?

It’s almost hard to believe that at one time EGM was popular enough to sell two magazines.

Once upon a time, game mags were the only place to get video game news. The concept of waiting for your mailman to bring you breaking news is comical today; speed of communication is the internet’s forte. Similarly, attempting to contact a writer or respond to an article by writing a letter is almost silly, especially for tech savvy gamers. →  Read more? No, I’ll read it all.

Ten years without a new genre

A decade is a long time.

A few days ago in the comments to “Houston, Wii have a success story“, I made a rather old-fogey remark about re-hashes of games that I’d essentially been playing since 1992 or thereabouts. This got me thinking…when I complain about developers making the same game over and over, what I’m really complaining about is the fact that they’re making games in the same genres. Do you remember the sense of anticipation when you first played Wolf3D or Dune II? It didn’t just come from what you could do within that game – it was a realization of what that particular game meant for the future…because its underlying gameplay mechanics were simple enough and yet deep enough that they moved from being differently quirky games to inspiring an entire genre of development and expansion. →  One must imagine video games happy.

Why I play the games I play

While collaborating with the rest of the staff about yesterday’s article, I started to wonder a little more deeply, very much in the abstract way Jay was specifically trying to avoid, why I play the games I do. I think the answer to this question is very much the answer to the question of why play games at all, when there are hobbies/ways of life that are likely to lead to more sex/money/interpersonal relationships than video games.

A simple answer would be that I can never be a ninja, a WWII general, a wizard, an NFL quarterback, an etc, etc but video games allow me to come as close as I am likely to be able. I’m sure this is part of it, the desire to be immersed in a game to the point where I feel as though I am a part of it, but I do not think this is all, or even most of why I game. →  You lost me.

Videolamer’s Holiday Shopping Guide

Knowing what game to buy for whom is a job all in itself, especially for out of touch parents. If reading review after review of technical mumbo jumbo sounds like too much work, the videolamer Holiday Shopping Guide is for you. Simply identify which grouping best fits the lucky recipient of your gifts then follow every word of advice to the letter and Christmas/ Chanukah/ Kwanza / Ramadan/ Festivus/ Dhanvantari Trayodashi will be saved.

The Indiscriminate Eye

Who they are: We all have that friend or relative who seems to have had their taste assigned to them by pop radio, Howard Stern and MTV. While it would seem these people should be easy to shop for, they actually react quite violently to anything that is unpopular. These people are the “mass” in “mass appeal.” →  All this can be yours, if the read is right.

Launch Game Revelations

In less than three weeks, the Wii and the Playstation 3 will be let out of their respective cages. And let me tell you, they’re definitely not a nice bunch, those two. They’re always making you feel bad for playing with those traditional, non-motion-sensing controllers like that of the Xbox 360. They’re just a couple of jerks. Best thing to do is to not pay them any attention. And what better way to do that than remember the launches of old systems?

If we take a look at previous launches, you will notice one interesting thing: many consoles launch with at least one game that goes on to be one of the greatest games of all time. I’ve listed them below.

Best Launch Titles

For those of you who haven never heard of it, this is what Super Mario Bros.

 →  Lame is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

The pros and cons of unlockable content

Congratualtions! You unlocked a new article. This one is on, you guessed it, unlockables and extras in games. They’ve been around for a while, but nowadays it seems that very few genres do not include some sort of rewards for the player to earn. Many gamers have respond kindly to this, so much so that a lack of bonus content may actually hurt a game in a review.

However, not everyone considers them rewards. There is a strong group of gamers who seem to greatly dislike unlockables, citing that a person who has spent hard earned money on a brand new game should have access to all its content without jumping through hoops. I’ve seen the debate rage on many times, but I’ve never been able to determine which side is right. →  Screw Jesus, this article's the real deal

11 Rules for making a successful gaming website

This guide will enable you to climb to the top of the internets.

Successful gaming websites don’t make themselves. They are created by webmasters who follow sets of rules posted at other websites. To help you bring your site to the forefront of the internet, here is a list of what must be done.

1 – Make headlines more misleading
A rumor may only be a rumor, but why run the risk of losing hits by clearly marking it as so in a headline? The best aggregator sites understand that when someone clicks on a link to one of their articles and the story turns out to be different than they expected, the reader is thankful that the site has cleared up any misconceptions due to the inaccurate headline. Thus, misleading headlines are a way to engender trust with your readers. →  Final Post VII

A multiplayer world

Raph may want to think about updating his pic on his website.

The other day I was listening to the Penny Arcade podcast, specifically The Zone of Breakfast. First off, a quick shameless fanboy plug: although our glorious cult leader (may he always provide for us Kool-Aid), Jay, dislikes these guys, I’ve always been a huge PA fan. In particular, I enjoy their new podcasts because I get to listen to a lot of video game news I ordinarily would not. Rather than do research and reading, I can just listen to the voices from the computer, which is more comfortable to me, because I am illiterate and hear voices in my head. Anyhow, they were discussing a comment that Raph Koster, a designer for both Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies made at a E3 several years ago. →  I’m readin’ here!

Market research is stupid

A few days ago I got a call from a friend looking for “hardcore gamers” who were willing to be part of a focus group. This friend has a friend who works for a research group, so through a friend of a friend, I ended up taking part in a video game focus group. The important part was I’d be getting paid.

Hmmm... I wonder

It would be wrong of me to tell you what company the commercials were for, so I’ll just give you a hint.

I was a little disappointed that the group was just to get feedback on some commercials; I’d hoped to get to influence the design of a game (“more explosions, bigger breasts, less reading!”). I’d penned a few crazy sounding comments with Pat before the meeting, but sadly didn’t get to recite them. →  Max Post 2: The Fall of Max Post

The Videolamer Guide to In-Game Advertising

Video games are an exciting new medium, primarily because of the potential for huge profits. These profits won’t just fall into our laps, though. Video games are unlike other media, and as such we cannot rely on the same tired marketing tactics. An annoying tagline like “can you hear me now?” may work on TV, but that’s because TV viewers are morons. The gamer is slightly more clever and we must treat him as such. Because most marketing is aimed at stupid people, most ad agencies will not have the know how to target a gaming audience. This guide, specifically tailored to the advertising needs of the video game advert, will lead you step by step to your ultimate goal: Take money from the ignorant.

1. Target your demographic

An ad, no matter how clever and well thought out, will not make an impact if it is seen by the wrong audience. →  All the lonely gamers, where do they all come from?