Sunday, January 31, 2010

In the Meantime

I promise I'll write more tommorrow. Like the new blog look? I made the header picture myself. Well, the fairy scene behind the wrought iron window was made by someone else of course but I extracted the old view with Adobe thereby making myself a template or overlay for future uses. Maybe I can actually come up with something interesting to blog about....we'll see!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Video Gamer Mom's Unite!

As a mom and the only woman in my household, I am surrounded by testosterone and video game mania on a regular basis! I admit that I do get sucked into playing sometimes whether due to my husband or one of my sons pestering me to just try it but sometimes it's just due to my own curiousity! I must admit I have been known to get into some video games while others just stress me out or bore me.

It occured to me after reading an article called, Failure to Communicate by Corey Mae in my husband's Game Informer Magazine this morning regarding a lack of communication between gamers and those who create them that maybe, I too, have a voice or, at least, an important opinion about these crazy video games that I have been inundated with for years. Afterall, I do help consume them even if I am not always in agreement on buying them due to the cost, content or the amount at which they are purchased!

So there I was in the bathroom (aka library) asking myself, at first, why I was even looking at this magazine considering that I'm not a game fanatic but what catches my eye everytime is the art and the stories of how the game creators become produces of the games. I am a very creative person myself dabbling in anything from painting on canvas, repurposing old suitcases or jewelery boxes, Sculpey, papier mache, beading and even some computer graphic applications. Therefore, I admire the beauty and talent behind the graphics of many video games but I also, surprisingly, have an opinion about game play and ideas about games as well.

This isn't a subject I would normally speak about as I am more into religious and/or political debates and/or world mysteries like Mayans, pyramids, UFOs and the paranormal but I have always wanted to start a blog and this particular topic was on my mind.

As I was considering my role in the video game arena as the unsung Gamer Mom, I was remembering times that I would walk into a room where my boys were playing and would make comments about whatever was happening in the game. Like if my son just blew someone's head off, I'd jokingly say, "Son, that's not very polite" or if my son got killed by another player and was moaning about it I might tease him and say, "Well, the idea is NOT to get killed!!!" Some might find my relaxed manner with regards to people's heads getting blown off or other untoward happenings in video games as inappropriate but I'm confident that my boys know it's only a game. And, obviously, I do make it a point to know what their playing. Sometimes that's precisely why I make the comments I make about it not being polite. True, I'm joking but also reminding them of my stance on killing. And don't get me wrong there are some games that I've had to ban like Grand Theft Auto due to the sexual nature and criminal context but I am sure I am far more liberal than most parents. I have always been a big proponent of being the hero in games. I, myself, always choose the GOOD guy when the choice is given to be either good or evil. And although, I think it's perfectly fine for game creators to allow an evil choice. I have a tendency of bugging my sons anytime they choose to be an evil character over a good one by blaming their choice of an evil character for any and all calamity that their evil character faces! It's an opportunity to, nonetheless humorously, teach a lesson. You can say, 'now see son had you choose the good guy all this bad stuff wouldn't be happening to your character!' Of course, we all know that 9 times out of 10 whether a player chooses a good or evil character that the same trials will befall that character either way. There are, however, some video games that try to create different scenarios for different choices which, as a parent and a quasi gamer, I prefer because they are more realistic in that manner.

Upon deeper thought, I have decided that my likes for certain video games do, in fact, have a definite criteria. And that even though I may not be the target market for game developers, I MAY be the untapped market. It's similar to the phenomena of a rare country song becoming popular even to those who don't normally listen to country simply because it has that certain hook to it. And then, usually, the popularity launches that otherwise unknown country singer's career into super stardom! It's still a country song but one that captures even the normally UNcountry!

So here is my criteria but keep in mind I have no clue about the technical processes and am normally Uncountry....

#1) Great graphics of both charcters AND backgrounds.

#2) A good deep story line that everyone can relate to especially with RPG games. Including depth of characters that are premade or that a player can create. Consider a movie with great computer graphics but a weak story line. Usually, it fails or, at the very least, will not produce enough money to cover the cost of it's graphics....same thing with video games.

#3) EASY controls but with many options so that one can be a novice OR a pro AT THE VERY START of game play yet still enjoy the game. This is a big complaint I hear from many women. They give up on games right away because they don't feel that they can control them.

#4) Realsitic outcomes in the story line that are directly affected by the players choices..thus making the ability to choose not just a futile, bothersome epilogue. DragonQuest, for example, is a great RPG game but the conversations are the same for all the characters and there's not a vast and/or noticable difference in outcomes for different responses/decisions of the player! ALSO, why is it that you have to be a rogue to open all the chests? If anyhing, there should be a note about this so people don't waste their time creating characters that aren't rogues then finding out later that they will NOT be unable to open most chests throughout the game! That's another complaint I hear from fellow Game Moms....they feel that their time is wasted with these games! Truly, playing video games is a waste but it is, afterall, entertainment. One is not entertained, however, if one is frustrated. Who wants a character that can't open chests????

One game that got many things right, in my opinion, was Oddworld but I was dissapointed when they made fans buy an Xbox to play the next version and then changed the whole style to a shoot em up! What I liked about Oddworld was the artistry and creativity combined with a GREAT storyline about a hero rescuing his fellow Mudockins. It was fantasy but with a realistic heart warming story that was very easily relatable to anyone's life. When that game came out I was a UAW worker feeling the crunch of outsourcing, elitism and all the signs of a dying union and the game paralleled that by allowing me to become a hero by saving fellow workers from corporate greed and corruption! Also, this game was very easy to play as it was mostly hand to eye coordination but as you played it you became very adept at certain moves. It also had a whole library of sounds and quotes that your hero could make that were entertaining even before you mastered them! Another example of a game that had that hook is World of Warcraft. I WISH they could make it for Xbox live so I could play it on my big screen! It is absolutely beautiful and extremely realistic! It can be both relaxing AND scary or stressful but one can almost decide that for themselves. You can either look for trouble or go adventuring alone into uncharted territory just exploring the beautiful scenery thus making it VERY realistic!

In conclusion, I do have many other insights and ideas about video games that I will bore you with at a later date, but I do hope all of you Gamer Moms (you know who you are) will add your insights and ideas to this! I am sure you have an opinion or two yourselves about these video games that we endure on a daily basis! Just as a woman's opinion made a difference in the making and marketing of cars, it may also make a difference here too!

Thanks for reading!