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The following was written for Chalk Talk:
If its one thing that is guaranteed to generate talk across the internet, it is whenever a new console is rumored or details of said consoles appear. But there are always two sides argued. One side insists its the only way forward and once we all have new hardware everything can progress exponentially. The other protests and strongly believes more time with the current generation would bring about greater games than advancing to new technology so quickly with possible higher production costs.
The interesting thing is a predominantly PC gamer like me never really gets bothered by all this.Sure we get flashier games too but we dont have to wait for the next generation to shell out a load of cash as the PC hardware market is almost constantly evolving. Obviously though, to those who are using current generations of consoles, this is a massive deal.
So Im going to take a look at what we have, what we might get and maybe what we need from the future of our beloved hobby.
What we have: What we have now is incredible, look back 15 years and we were all on repeated textures with low polygon counts and not much in the way of artificial intelligence. Stories were limited by what the developers could achieve and games simply couldnt compare to the other media out there. We now have sophisticated graphics, AI that at times, have their moments generally are of a much higher quality. And stories that are no longer defined by what is possible, but rather by the developers imaginations.
I think that with a longer time in this generation we actually could see some truly great titles. Developers can push the engines they use further - a lot of what weve seen can be advanced and changed to create new opportunities. Only when the current technology is truly mastered would we see the best results and some developers believe that there is more to come from the current generation.
What we might get: Now this is the part where I needed my crystal ball to predict the future but as I seem to have misplaced it Ill just have to go on what little info we have. The advances we may see in the next generation all depend on the hardware that is used. But there are a few that say the next generation is where all of the best advances dwell, and that our current generation is in fact holding us back.
It becomes easy when looking at the next developments in consoles to focus on the visuals. Yet there are many features that will actually benefit from the increase in power and resources. Simply having more processing capability and a higher RAM will mean that tasks can be handled quicker and in greater quantity allowing more sophisticated on screen action. Will it be a big enough jump from what we have? I think is the most important question though but it is only time that will reveal the answer to that one.
So we might get some something spectacular that can only be achieved with the latest and greatest hardware and tech. But wasnt that true in the previous generation switch too? And are we only now starting to see what these consoles can truly achieve? When they first released it was said that Crysis would never come to consoles. And not only has the original come to them but two sequels also is this proof that we dont yet need another cycle? Releases like Halo 4 are also proving what can be achieved on this generation. Then there is cost to consider. How much will the new generation cost and what cutbacks will be made to keep costs reasonable?
What we need: Is to take a step back, really look at what we are chasing. Developers making completely opposite claims and a community who just want to see more of what they love and less of what they dont. It seems every time a console releases the world stops and looks for a second. But what are they seeing, what has actually been promised? We are told a new generation would herald a new era, but what exactly would that era bring?
I think the next generation needs to have a large advancement in almost every aspect to make the grade. Last time HD gaming meant upgrading was worth the investment. We are now however at a stage where we have a lot of the shinier graphics and sophisticated gameplay. Would you shell out the cash for a new console that only improved a small amount? Do you think the next wave of consoles has been much needed and the sooner the better?
A game is a game, separate from reality. The notion of games glorifying and encouraging violence is no different from the way film and music have done. Escapism is a huge part of the gaming concept, whether you actively seek it or whether you just enjoy it. But are we seeking escapism and being delivered something more sinister, are we actually being fed propaganda in modern shooters?
No, absolutely not. Dont be foolish, to say that modern military shooters are created to make us believe in an ideal could be applied to almost anything. Does shooting Covenant and Prometheans in Halo mean we are being conditioned to act negatively against an alien race? Could it all be a metaphor for extreme xenophobia? Would you believe that we are being encouraged to selflessly volunteer ourselves as the soldiers of tomorrow, unaware that death is final?
That is not to say that these shooters get away with everything though. Whilst military games are not modern day propaganda, they do play with the notion of war in an avant-garde way. There is a valid argument that bringing current conflict and war scenarios in to the games desensitises us from what is happening in our current world.
To a lot of the gaming community, the levels in Medal of Honor: Warfighter were simply a list of levels. Many claimed these levels to be boring and uninspired. Yet these were based on real situations that have happened in the past decade. Real soldiers experienced similar situations with fear, they had to use their wits to stay alive and to them this was anything but boring.
It obvious that through experiencing the levels in your home where you know you are safe can blur the feelings you get from these scenarios in a massive way. If you experienced a life threatening situation that others shrugged off because it wasnt interesting to them, would you consider that reaction normal?
The other issue at hand is; where is the line drawn? When have we gone too far? We have played through levels involving the slaughter of civilians and voluntary acts of friendly fire. Weve seen games try to play on our hearts by depicting child casualties and the effects that losing a loved one in the military can have. Is this a realistic, necessary part of the game? Or simply a ploy to make it seem more real, a detail to be added in to encourage you to want to fight on.
These aspects should be allowed in our games, like they are in our other media. My question would be if they are being added for the right reasons. It would seem that we are being sold an action game on the premise of fighting off a terrible evil, and to convince us that the evil is real, we are being shown and made to do things that are simply exploited to provoke a reaction. The death of thousands of innocent people should not be a gameplay tactic to create a reason to fight on. Especially when the consequences are never properly dealt with, the game carries on, and we forget all about the massacre that we just witnessed.
That is where my main issue lies; the loss of life is a tragic event. No matter in what scenario, yet there never seems to be any consequence to it. I understand that it is difficult to create a game where if the player dies that is it, but I feel the constant disregard for gunning down hundreds of people without it taking its toll on the soldier a little too left out.
There is nothing that really connects the consequence to the action. Real soldiers are trained to deal with the situationI know, but there are some that still struggle with the concept. Im not saying everything needs to be all Im a terrible person, Ive taken a life, but some emotional effect showing on a character or those around them should be apparent at times. It isnt often that we see soldiers feeling anything in these games. That makes it all too easy to forget that they are humans.
The question we must ask ourselves is not are videogames encouraging violence but rather are we seeing the true consequences of actions carried out in a game. That question need not only apply to military shooters either. This is an important question that needs answering, not only to see delicate situations handled correctly. But also to maybe enhance the experience we receive when we pick up these titles.
The following piece was written for this weeks Chalk Talk task:
Representation, respect, rights. All of these words are key when the topic of girls in gaming shows up. Since the early beginnings, women have struggled to make an impression or even be respected within the gaming universe. How many women can you name in the gaming industry? There are some catastrophic issues with being female and into games, none of them to do with the women themselves, but rather what transcends.
The simple act of enjoying a game online boils down to either being insulted or being subject to crude remarks and offensive slurs. Of course I am not female; I know nothing of really how it feels to be on the end of the following borderline abuse, but this is not something that is acceptable in anyway. Where it comes from does not matter, it needs to stop.
Years of mistreatment has meant that girls have had to stick together and become more secluded to keep gaming hassle free. We now have a divide; hostility has now formed in both camps. Women have learnt to keep a distance and males have seen this as rejection. So the way forward is difficult, in a virtual space full of anonymity what can we do about making things better?
Well the best answer is for both sides to just get on with it. If you find a decent human being in your game and they happen to be of a different gender, dont make a huge deal of it. Just be nice, like you would to any other gamer out there. We can all coincide without special treatment or abuse. The middle ground is where success lies.
This of course is only half of the battle; there is that old chestnut, the portrayal of women in games. This is for me the biggest problem, forever the damsel in distress, the distant hero with a bad past, the abused, the helpless; it seems that whenever there is a girl in a videogame she has a problem, a problem a male must fix.
This is one of the biggest problems throughout the gaming world. There never seems to be a strong female character. Of course there are some examples, but the common trend is to make you rescue or fix the female characters around you to make everything better. One of the few games to get this notion of a strong female character right is Lollipop Chainsaw; even through the poorly chosen camera angles and lacking amount of clothes one thing remains. Juliette is a strong woman.
Of course the most recent example of controversy surrounding the portrayal of women in games comes courtesy of the upcoming reboot of Tomb Raider. The details have been discussed at length but it did cause me to ask an important question. In 2012 why do we find ourselves still having this conversation?
Why hasnt this been eradicated? It seems completely crazy to think that women are still getting a hard time in gaming. Gaming has evolved so much from what it once was. We have characters that can show emotions, we have the capability to create games that are only restricted by what our minds can conceive. So why cant we take the step and start treating everybody equally?
Regardless of how we do it, it needs to be done. But Id like to end on a better note than this, so Im going to highlight someone for whom I have the utmost respect for.
Most know for whom I speak of when I say one of, if not the best female FPS player out there. Kelly Kelley (MrsViolence) is a brilliant example of how great this industry could be if we forget for one moment about gender and let our pastimes bring us all together.
She is an amazing gamer and a strong woman, and that is exactly what this industry needs more of. Ive recently been watching her livestream on twitch.tv and it is fair to say that the comments made on the video couldnt be more misogynistic. The mods, who are also girl gamers, on the channel are permanently in action yet this doesnt discourage either them or MrsV.
I encourage everyone to check out the channel, http://www.twitch.tv/MrsViolence if you dont think there is a problem in the way females are viewed in gaming it will certainly change your perception. It will also show you that great gamers are out there, and they arent all men. Neither do they have to be.
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