Tag Archives: nostalgia

To All the Games I’ve Never Played (Media Mavens episode 14)

Here’s the latest media Mavens. We invited our friend AppeCiderWitch back to chat about her latest article, Gaming Without Nostalgia. We chat about what it’s like to not have that connection to the ‘classics’ and feeling like an outsider. Please leave us a review if you like the show!

Today’s topics:

Today we’re talking about AppleCider’s article, Looking Back on Gaming without Nostalgia! We chat about feeling left out of the conversation, and how you don’t necessarily have to play a game to talk about it.

Guest Intro (00:00:45)

Brief intro to our returning guest, AppleCider!

What we’ve been up to (00:01:19)

AppleCider (@appleciderwitch)

  • World of Warcraft
  • Fall TV Shows: Atlanta, Chef’s Table: France

Kaleri (@kaleri_)

  • World of Warcraft
  • Zootopia
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grey’s Anatomy

Pam (@jasyla_)

  • Virginia
  • The Bunker
  • Attack the Block
  • Hard Candy
  • The People vs OJ Simpson
  • American Horror Story
  • Chez Lindsey

Gaming and Nostalgia (00:36:03)

AppleCider’s article:  https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/09/looking-back-on-gaming-without-nostalgia.html

  • Why write this now? What spurred you to talk about it?
  • Gatekeeping in gaming
  • Positives and negatives that come from having a lack of nostalgia
  • How much mainstream dialogue around games requires extra knowledge (ex describing a game as a ‘Metroidvania’)
  • Cultural osmosis of gaming knowledge
  • There are so many ways to experience a game now (Let’s Plays, Streaming) so do you need to play a game to talk about it?

Twitter/Listener questions (01:27:47)

  • Does a gender double standard also apply to requiring childhood gaming for credibility or is that universal? @lonelyboardgame
  • Does a remake of a classic owe a duty to new players to do more than just modernize the graphics? @alatinolawyer

AppleCider’s new article is up on Kotaku! Check out her writing on Overwatch and femslash here: http://kotaku.com/why-overwatch-fans-are-obsessed-with-shipping-its-femal-1787244865?utm_medium=sharefromsite&utm_source=Kotaku_twitter

If you’ve got any feedback, questions, people or topics you’d like to hear on future episodes of the show, you can reach out at MediaMavensCast@gmail.com or on Twitter @_MediaMavens. If you like the show, please give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher.

Walking Simulator

This is for day 26 of Blaugust

“Walking Simulator” is pretty bad, somewhat derogatory name but for better or for worse it seems to have become its own category of games lately. These games mostly feature you walking, in first-person view, while exploring an environment. Mechanics are minimal – you may be able to jump or crouch, or interact with some objects, but other than that the games are mainly about exploring an environment.

What makes some of these games great while others can be a giant snoozefest?

Story

Without a whole lot of gameplay mechanics to keep the player engaged, the story really needs to hold up. In these games you’re generally not interacting with any other characters directly and story is mainly told through observation or narration. While leaving things up to the player’s interpretation and being vague can work for some games, a combination of vague story and lack of any action makes for a really dull experience. Like Dear Esther. Snippets of narration were given (as far as I could tell they weren’t even in a particular order), visuals sometimes offered clues but, otherwise, there was no solid story. Just a lot of walking. In Gone Home, on the other hand, the main story is very clear. There are little mysteries around the house that aren’t explained but you do learn Sam’s story.

Goal

Stanley Parable corridor

If the story isn’t strong, there needs to be a clear goal. In Slender the goal is very simple – gather pages, don’t die. In The Stanley Parable your goal is constantly shifting based on your decisions, but you are told quite clearly what to do. In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter your goal is to find (or find out what happened to) Ethan. The games I’ve found less engaging – Dear Esther, Serena, Mind: Path to Thalamus don’t have a clear goal. While Sunset does have a goal, that goal is to clean some rich dude’s apartment.

Tone

Having good tone and atmosphere is good, and having a changing tone is even better. Again, with a lack of action or interaction you need to feel engaged in some other way. The Stanley Parable does this best. Comedy (as long as it is truly funny) is a great way to make something interesting. Then at times that comedy turns a bit mysterious and dark, things get creepy. Then, back to funny! Horror is another way to make a game that is lacking in action engaging. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter had me on the edge of my seat from the very beginning. Even among the beautiful, idyllic scenery, there was always a sense of danger and occasionally the unease was broken up by actual scares. Gone Home adds some scary elements without it being a scary game which I think was a good choice.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter cemetary

On the other side of things, Dear Esther had a mildly unsettling atmosphere throughout the whole game but I was unsure why I was unsettled the whole time. Serena classifies itself as a horror game, without including any scares or creepiness factor until the very end. Sunset has a backstory of civil revolution and war but nothing in the gameplay or immediate environment ever really reflects that. It’s tonally even the entire time.

Length and Pacing

This is a big one for me. Not only do I have a love for short games, but I can also only walk around so much. Gone Home is a perfect 2 hour experience. It doesn’t overstay its welcome. The Stanley Parable can be finished in 10 minutes, but it makes you want to go back and try different things. Though Ethan Carter is on the longer side, there’s enough interaction to make that okay.

Sunset would have been a much better game at 2 hours instead of 4.

The Gone Home Factor

Gone Home VHS tapes

While I think many people enjoyed Gone Home, for people of a particular age group/culture/location, it was catnip. I fall into that group. Besides having good writing and telling an emotionally affecting story, this game hit the nostalgia sweet spot. Taped X-Files episodes on VHS! I used to record it every Friday! Lisa Frank stickers, yes! SNES carts lying around, Street Fighter doodles in notebooks, magic eye posters, the Dream Phone board game. So many references to growing up in the 90s filled every room of this virtual house, and each provided a dopamine hit.


 

Do you have any particular favourites in this genre? Or have you played any particularly boring ones?