Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Free Indie Game: Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress is one of the hardest to learn games I've ever played. It's also one of the most awesome. The Dwarf Fortress motto is, "Losing is fun". That's because Dwarf Fortress has no win condition.
The purpose of Dwarf Fortress is to help a caravan of dwarves establish a base.

Kind of.

Dwarf Fortress is so sandbox-y that you can pretty much do whatever you want. The catch is you can only do it by ordering around alcoholic dwarves (they actually require alcohol to function.) The game is prone to mass, hilarious destruction. Boatmurdered, for example, was a fortress that resulted in all of it's populace dying because an insane, fire-covered dwarf went around killing everyone else with his axe.

The graphics are ASCII,so unless you've played rogue-likes, it can be hard to understand. However, you can either download tile sets to make the graphics understandable, or you can learn to read it, like the Matrix. Nowadays when I play Dwarf Fortress it's like "Blonde, brunette, redhead..."

While the learning curve is steep, there is a wiki and several tutorials to assist you in learning this game. Believe me, the reward is worthwhile. Ultimately I can't really encapsulate all the awesome in this game, so I leave you with this image:

You Can't Blame Video Games For Making You Fat Anymore

The Obesity Train in all it's glory
as seen on bmj.com
The supposed tie to video games and obesity has been called into question. New study shows that 12 year olds who play video games don't necessarily get fat. The study claims that "race, age and socioeconomic status were the strongest predictors" in regards to whether or not someone was going to take a ride on the obesity train. This is great news, now I have even more fodder for never leaving my room.

The study also reported that the children who used the internet frequently had better reading skills, meanwhile children who frequently played video games had better visuospatial skills. The catch to all this? The young gamers were reported to have poorer grades and low self-esteem.

This study shows that we're still pointing fingers at things that don't necessarily correlate to the issue at hand. Kids weren't moving around, video games caused that to happen, so let's blame video games for obesity. This is an issue that has also blamed television and computers. It's good to see that research is still being done into issues. It's also good to see things that I don't like being negated, but that's mainly because I'm petty.

Up Up, Down Down, Left Right Left Right, B A Select Start

Some kid Me, circa 1989
I've been gaming for as long as I can remember. My parents had a computer for me to play on, and when I was 5, I got my first SNES. Gaming is a passion. Video games are an interactive media, providing countless scenarios that appeal to a wide audience. Video games allow me to be a master strategist, an epic hero, and in some cases, even a dread villain. I'm an Italian plumber, a speed-addicted hedgehog, a spartan soldier. I'm good at them, too. I've made the high scores, unlocked the achievements, seen the credits, and revealed the hidden characters.

But what does this mean to you?

You want to know about a game? I'm your man. We can sit down and have a little chat here. You want to know what's happening in gaming? I can tell you all about that. I'm the informed friend with strong opinions. The gaming industry is getting larger, gone is the heyday of the 90's where only people who were truly interested cared. Nowadays, we've got people who are making shitty games for dumb people. They try as hard as they can to make something look like it's worth your time and money. I'm not going to fall for it, and neither are you. After all, you're here, reading this blog. Let's both make sure that we're at the top of our game, informed and experienced. Our money is valuable, and we're not going to piss it away supporting companies that are making bank turning out half-assed material. Let's support quality.

So why don't we brew up some coffee, sit down, and have a little chat?

That One Guy Ad by Fish_Head

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Video Game Addiction: If You're Having Too Much Fun, There's Something Wrong With You

Image courtesy Mondo-Pixel
New study performed in Singapore has determined that 1 in 10 children are video game addicts. Addicts. As in, these children invest so much time into video games that it's negatively affecting their lives. 3,000 children from 3rd, 4t, and 7th grade were given questionnaires by their teachers. The questionnaires featured such questions as "Do you play video games instead of doing your homework or chores?" I still do that. I probably will never stop doing that. Someone else can take out the trash or do the dishes. I'm at the end boss of Chrono Trigger. Destroying Lavos is way more important than doing that paper tonight. Save all of mankind or finish an assignment not-at-the-last-minute? Decisions.

The study was done over a two year period, with reported symptoms of video game addiction being: Increases in anxiety and depression, drops in grades, increased impulsive behavior. Also, "addicted" children had bad social skills. Wait a minute. Impulsive? Bad social skills? Procrastination and an unwillingness to do chores? That sounds like my childhood. Growing up with A.D.D., video games were my bread and butter. Still are, except my social skills are better (I hope). These children don't have these problems because they play video games, they more likely play video games because they have these problems. If that. Correlation does not equal causation. I'm not the only one who's having a problem with this. Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit has voiced his concerns, too. "Video games have displaced television"

This is just another tirade done by closed-minded people like Jack Thompson. The study has already been called into question for its viability, and it's unlikely that it will have any long term effects. Video games are still working to becoming a fully accepted media form, and I'm thankful that we live in a time where things like this don't result in the sort of overreactions experienced in the 80's and 90's. Even though these sorts of things aren't too threatening, that doesn't mean we should just take them laying down. We should speak out against bullshit like this, and make sure that things like this don't go without rebuttal.

Let's Play Darius Twin

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nintendo Abolishes Multi-Friend Code Headache

Image from Joystiq
Gone are the days of having to find different friend codes for every fucking Nintendo game you own. At least for the upcoming 3DS, anyway. Nintendo did what they should have done years ago, announcing that the 3DS will have one universal friend code, with the bonus of not having to use codes if the systems are sharing the same Wi-Fi. This is the step that will finally make Nintendo at least somewhat of an equal in the online multiplayer field. It's about time that they fixed this, but apparently, they're only doing it for the 3DS, I guess we'll have to wait for Nintendo's next home console to be on par with the 360 and PS3. I guess we shouldn't be to hard on Nintendo, after all, it only took them 5 years to figure out that they had a bad online setup.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Player Profile: Interview With Nathan Barnatt

"They call me the wreaker the wr-wr-wr-wreaker cuz I wreak so much havoc with my l-l-leg sweeper." - Keith Apicary, Classic Gaming Wiz

Nathan Barnatt, better known in the gaming community as Keith Apicary, is a force to be reckoned with. A gamer actor hybrid, similar to James Rolfe (The Angry Video Nerd), Keith plays on all of our nostalgia for gaming days gone by. Keith Apicary is a 28 year old man who lives with his mother and sister. According to Nathan, Keith is a man "who probably stopped growing mentally at the age of 14 when he was having the most fun, playing Genesis." Every week, through his documentary Talking Classics, Keith gives us a glimpse into what it's like to be astoundingly good at video games, unless he's at a convention, then all hell breaks loose. Nathan's brand of nerdcore humor in combination with his pratfalling abilities have made a strong fanbase and caught the attention of networks, a Keith Apicary pilot has been made, and hopefully will be picked up by a network soon.

I recently had the opportunity to have an interview via Skype with Nathan. I don't have the time or effort to transcribe the entire hour and a half interview, however here are some highlights.