Monthly Archives: October 2011

Game Interview with a Biology Major

For this second interview I wanted to ask the same general gaming questions to someone in a different field of study. I also wanted to ask those same questions as in the first interview to someone who actually is a gamer. This is the interview with biology major Wesley Critcher.

ME: What do you think about video games?

WC: “I think they’re fun and I probably play games because I have nothing else to do. I would also say that they entertain me and I love figuring out how to play new games.”

Me: What is the earliest video game you ever remember playing and how did it make you feel?

WC: “Duck Hunter on the original Nintendo. Duck Hunter was so fun because it wasn’t really violent yet you were able to play with the gun controller. Playing video games is extremely exhilarating to me because there is constant action.”

ME: Why do you play video games?

WC: “I play video games because it’s a fun way to relieve the stress of life. But then if I play a game online, it gives me a completely different stress.”

ME: Why do you think people like to play video games so much?

WC: “I feel like people play video games to relax and have fun. It’s a totally different type of fun that you can’t get from anything else. I could go out and play sports with a team but I like depending on myself for survival.”

ME: What is your all-time favorite video game character? Why?

WC: “Hands down Yoshimitsu from the Soul Caliber series because he had the coolest special moves.”


Game Interview with a Sociology Major

For this interview I decided to ask sociology major Elizabeth Greggo some general questions about video games and gaming. The questions are on topics that I discuss and think about on a daily basis. This is the interview with sociology major Elizabeth Greggo.

ME: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘video games’?

EG: “I think of nerds and teenage boys wearing headsets and spending hours in front of their television. Video games to me seem to be about fighting or sports. I hope children that start playing these games at an early age are aware that these games aren’t reality at all.”

Me: What is the earliest video game you ever remember playing and how did it make you feel?

EG: “The first game I ever played was Sonic 3on the Sega Genesis console. After I got the hang of it and could beat my brother, I felt powerful. If I played it now, I would probably just be embarrassed because I would probably be awful at it.”

ME: Why do you play video games, or if you don’t,  why don’t you?

EG: “I don’t have the patience for games or the time for that matter. I love watching other people play but I’m just not into it. I don’t find video games entertaining and I would rather spend my free time doing other things.”

ME: Why do you think people like to play video games so much?

EG: “I feel like people play video games to escape society and all the struggles that real life brings. I think for some people it’s thrilling and a “high” that they just can’t get enough of.”

ME: What is your all-time favorite video game character? Why?

EG: “I would definitely have to say Tails from the Sonic games. He’s my favorite because he can freaking fly! And I hated knuckles!”

Game 1: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Part 2)

The previous blog post focused on the atmosphere and the innovation found in the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution for the Xbox 360. This post will focus on two different game design elements that are equally important to the previous two. These design elements are game mechanics and the flow of the game.

Game Mechanics – Is the game any fun to play?

The game is extremely entertaining, immersive, and meaningful. Although leveling Adam Jensen up takes the player a good amount of time, it is one of the reasons why gaining new abilities can be so rewarding to the player. It is a slow process but it allows the player to master the basics while not being overwhelmed by the number of abilities.

When the player learns a new ability, adding it on top of an already solid foundation of basic moves is easily done. The slow leveling process also helps in keeping the gameplay fresh for the player because they are given new abilities to work with throughout the entire game.

Since the character progression takes so long to complete and because the game encourages the player to creatively solve a problem however they want, the player is never confused or frustrated. While playing the game I did not come across any major technology issues or glitches.

Flow – Immersion and Pacing

The story of Deus Ex: Human Revolution is extremely immersive. The pacing of the game helps immerse the player in the game’s world without rushing the player through the story. The story takes time to unravel ensuring that by the middle of the game, the player will be completely immersed in the world and the story.

The pacing of the game is very similar to the pacing of the character leveling system. This pacing helps balance the more difficult game play as the story progresses with the player receiving better character abilities as they progess.

The quests are fairly linear with roughly each one consisting of a ‘good guy’ or ‘bad guy’ way to complete it. However, the way the player gets the quest done, whether it be by means of stealth or guns blazing to name a few, is completely up to them. This helps the game feel not as linear as one might expect from the quest lines. It allows the player to play through the game multiple times but in a new way each time.

The next blog post will focus on these same game design elements but in the world of a different video game, Dark Souls for the Xbox 360, so stay tuned.

Sources, Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review, by Arthur Gies, Accessed Oct. 21 2011

Game 1: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Part 1)

The first game analyzed was Deus Ex: Human Revolution on the Xbox 360. Out of all the elements of game design, this post will focus on the two elements that stuck out the most in this game, which were the game’s atmosphere and innovation.

Atmosphere – The Art and Sound

The atmosphere of the game is its strongest characteristic. The overall yellowish noir look to the game immerses the player into a grimy, mechanical, and yet beautiful world. The art style is what comletely ties this game together. It feels completely appropriate with every other aspect of the game.

The in game audio was done extremely well and the music fit perfectly within the world of Deus Ex. The soundtrack and art style work together in creating an immersive world for the player to get easily lost in. None of the atmosphere is distracting; it only continues to add onto an already well crafted environment.

The world of Deus Ex combines futuristic components, such as body modifications and buildings, with an art style similar to what was being created during the Renaissance. Everything seems to have a futuristic and science fiction feeling to it while at the same time containing historical characteristics.

Innovation – The Unique or Different

The second design mechanic that will be focused on is the game’s innovation. One thing that is really enjoyable and different about this game compared to others, is the fact that the player is always given a number of ways to complete a quest.

At the beginning of the game the player does not truly understand that the most obvious solution to a problem is not necessarily the best solution. As the player progresses through the game, they begin to see these solutions much quicker allowing the player to gain an edge on the enemy. This also helps increase the game’s lasting appeal by allowing the player to experience the game a number of times in new ways.

Another unique aspect of this game that is executed well, is the blending of the shooter genre type of game with the stealth genre type of game. If the player wants to complete the game killing everyone in their way, then they are allowed to do so. Blending these genres changes the focus of the game where it has more elements of the shooter genre type of game. If the player wants to go through the entire game without killing a single enemy, besides bosses, then the game takes on more elements of the stealth genre type of game.

The next blog post will focus on two different game design elements from this amazing game, so stay tuned.

What is Game Design?

So what is game design? There are many definitions of what game design is but one of the best definitions I have come across is that game design is the brainstorming of an idea for a video game and then putting that idea down onto paper. This is the initial phase of making any video game.

Video game design has been around since the early 70’s when video games were first introduced to the world. Just like most things created in life, video games begin with a design. As we have learned through out life, design is everything. If you have a bad design, more than likely your product will suffer because of it. If you have a great design, your product has a much higher chance of being successful.

Though this blog deals with game design, it is primarily focused on one aspect of game design which is called game analysis. Game analysis involves breaking down a game, or idea, based on four elements which are game mechanics, flow, atmosphere, and innovation.

The 4 Elements

Mechanics refer to how immersive or entertaining a game is based on what you, or the player, are doing in the game. When someone asks if a game is fun to play, they are more than likely referring to the game’s mechanics. Mechanics are the questions every gamer asks themselves when they are playing through games. Gamers usually stop playing a game or never put down their controller because of the game’s mechanics.

Flow deals with a game’s level design and pacing as well as how gripping the game’s story is. If a player feels like they are accomplishing something and are being smoothly led through a story then a game is said to have a nice flow to it.

Atmosphere entails everything from the game’s art style to its music and sound effects. Atmosphere is about how these elements work together to immerse the player in a game. If the atmosphere is not cohesive with all of its elements then the player could be distracted or outright annoyed with the game.

Innovation happens when a game does something that makes it stand out amongst other video games. Innovation is what makes certain games memorable and playable for years to come.

In the following blog posts I will be combining these game design elements to analyze some current video games that are out on the market today. It is extremely rewarding and exciting when you can begin breaking down the games you love to play to find out why it is you love to play them.

Sources, “1o Commandments of Game Design”, Dr. Adam Brackin

Welcome to my world!

My name is Jason Willett. I am currently a student at The University of Texas at
Dallas studying video game design, which is one of the main reasons for this
blog topic. Gaming is what I love to do and will continue to do for the rest of
my life. My passion for gaming began when I received my very first Nintendo at
the age of four. I haven’t stopped playing games since.

Although my passion for gaming has never changed, the way I play games has. I not only play games for the enjoyment I get while playing them, but I also play to study them. I focus on each small detail within the game and how they come together to form a fun, intuitive, and lasting game. This focus is what I want to bring into this blog.

The focus of this blog will be on a video game of my choosing and the elements
of design within that specific game. In this blog I want to dissect a video
game based on its design and then determine whether or not the design was a
success. With this blog I hope to discuss my passion of video games and my growing knowledge of game design in a fun and informative way. I hope you are ready to take this exciting journey through the inner workings of video games with me. Thank you!