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    Mar 30th, 2018 at 05:23:25     -    Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma (PC)

    My final session ended up surprising me with more gameplay than expected. Though it did boil down to simple point and click interaction. The puzzles were fairly straightforward, and made sense. But the "decision" portion was a game of chance that got the whole team killed. Which I did play through again, with different die results, but the same outcome. I'm assuming that the game has some other conditions that need to be met before this game of "chance" can have a positive outcome.

    The vents can be played in a non linear order, though it seems like it would be best played the first time through in the linear fashion. But this isn't easily possible due to the naming conventions, unless one were to use outside resources, which in my opinion defeats the point of things like this.

    Outside resources brings up to mind some questions on things like achievements, lets plays, and online guides. The ones that have the largest controversy surrounding them are lets plays and video walkthroughs. Lets plays in general are watching someone else have a good time playing a game. You can have a variety of different reasons for watching them, but at the end of the day they are usually adding something to experience. For those that do not add to the experience, are companies in the right for flagging and/or removing videos from a platform? It is an interesting question, and I think it depends on the type of game. With things like movies and books, its pretty straightforward, that content has one way to be experienced on its own. Things like riff tracks can be added on top to improve the experience, but that is adding something on top of, not redistributing the content.

    Though is making a video of the games content the same as redistributing the content? Even in games where gameplay is minimal, the experience is different for each player. I'm sure some people struggle with zero escapes puzzles, where as I did not. Some people might find it enjoyable to watch miserable struggles, while other might want a certain level of competency in their viewing experience. I don't think it is ethically wrong for people to distribute this content, because people are likely viewing it for one of a few reasons: They just like the personality, they are stuck, or they have no interest in actually playing the game.

    The third group in that list is the group that should be looked at. Are the morally in the wrong for enjoying content that others created without paying for it like the video producer? While these people are doubtfully going to equate to a lost sale, they are benefiting from other peoples hard work. That being said, lets look at an extreme, say you don't have an interest in a game, but your significant other is playing it, and you enjoy watching it at least. Are you in the wrong to watch them play? I would say no, the watcher is having an enriched experience, and they are another potential person to spread the word about the product. Both sides get some benefit out of it. If one were to look at it from one of our lenses, I would say utilitarianism would be the one that sees it most favorably. Because in all situations this only increases the amount of good spread, rather than decrease it. The more linear and movie like a game is the trickier this argument can become though. And it is not something I have been able to fully think through at this point.

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    Mar 29th, 2018 at 18:19:10     -    Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma (PC)

    Session two for the game, this play session was essentially watching one long cutscene. I haven't actually played any visual novels before, but this is what I would imagine they are most similar to. The actual "gameplay" from this session was choosing the fate of the characters after the first 90 minute increment. I chose to have them all cooperate and vote in a circle tying everything up, and left off the session after that. Playing it like that makes it seem like a television-esque experience. Where the episode, was the the same 90 minutes cut down and displayed for each group.

    It brings up the question of are interactive experiences like these really games? I would argue not, but that is more a semantics argument then the ethics of these games I suppose. Side note, that shouldn't be taken as these are lesser experiences or anything. I quite like this experience so far, they are just in my opinion too far away from my criteria for the definition of game.

    The character themselves seem to lean pretty hard on stereotypes, based on the first hour and a halfish, while its not a bad thing in my opinion, it is a topic discussed in class, and is generally viewed as a negative thing. The point of them is to construe a character at early glance, and then you can develop on that as time passes. I'm not too sure I would want to touch much on the topic of stereotypes because of the rabbit holes that would be. There are positives and negatives to using them, and it can vastly depend on who the content is meant for.

    Something interesting to me is the idea of just creating a vision. With how much games have to put into marketing and production in general it is not always feasible to do this, but why do we give games so much flak for their content. If you don't approve of the content, then you probably aren't the audience they were aiming for. I guess the counter argument to this is one that has the same foundations as the stereotyping argument. Which also calls back to the last log where I touched on questionable content. Is it the responsibility of producers, to produce things, in general, that don't use what can be portrayed as negative/harmful ideas? Or, is it the responsibility of parents and our education systems to tear down those notions, and moderate what content the more impressionable among us are exposed to? To an extent this has a lot to do with the target audience, which I think most games are pretty good about.

    I feel like I'm writing and thinking myself in a circle again, so I'll leave it off there and hope the final gameplay session has something I would be less conflicted about and can articulate my thoughts on better.

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    Mar 29th, 2018 at 02:47:03     -    Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma (PC)

    Starting this game log a day late, due to not having internet last night. (I apparently didn't have the game installed.) Hopefully that can be forgiven.

    The first gameplay session was mainly going through the same scene a few times for me. So launching the game as one would, and loading into a new game you are given what appears to be a 50/50 chance or a given answer, based on the cutscene's slowdown before he puts his foot down. I made that choice based the latter, and this ended up being the correct choice. This plays the first ending, credits role, then you are prompted to save. This multiple endings style reminded me of Nier:Automata, so I didn't think too much of it.

    I wanted to see what happened if you made the wrong choice initially, this was before I chose a team and realized the game seems to be basically all about replaying events. So, I restarted and tried to choose the wrong side by using the same strategy as before. I got the correct side of the coin though. So, I tried this two more times before moving on with the game, thinking that it was probably rigged this way. I continued on to see the first scene with team Q, and this is where I realized what the game is probably about. And I think it is going to amount to a short choose your own adventure style book.

    Based on this limited experience with the game, I haven't had much in the way of new reflections. With my previous logs I at least briefly question some of things that this game has brought to mind, illusion of choice and forced character choices (if you want to progress) primarily. The question of objectionable content influencing the viewers behaviour comes to mind as a topic discussed in class, and while I don't believe there is anything wrong with a story, I would have a hard time proving the case otherwise. This game appears to be pretty heavily influenced by SAW, which probably has its own influences elsewhere, but I don't know them. A lot of people are into these kinds of movies, and others not so much. But people often object to representation in stories across all mediums, whether it be for one esoteric reason or another. A story can be just unenjoyable due to the way of handling the content, but is that going to influence someone to go become an immoral person? A lot of content I consume is what other people may be pout off by, or some moral viewpoints (though I'm blanking on a specific one) would say is wrong to consume. But I would abhor doing those acts, this is obviously one case, and maybe consuming that content does affect what I would or wouldn't do in other ways, that would be hard to tell even about oneself. Like Thinking there is X which is so much worse then Y, which is worse then Z. Z is fine to do.

    At this point my thoughts are getting a bit to tangential, Hopefully the next class and more gameplay will inspire new self reflections other than this one. Or at the very least will give me more time to mull these thoughts over and come to a much more concise point about it.

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    Feb 15th, 2018 at 22:57:47     -    Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC)

    For this final session of the game log, I wasn't really able to come up with any new meaningful reflection. But I did have some musings about underdog character and characters perceived as evil in general. I haven't consciously thought about about it before, and I am lacking examples for that reason, but I wonder what the feelings are towards those types of characters both evil and good. Its something I will probably be cognizant of in stories going future because of it. Last time I had left off with a question about the attachment people may or may not feel towards these characters in this form of entertainment, and one of the first things I did today was look at the captain listings to decide which one to go after. I was quite close to an upgrade I wanted so I figured I would grab that really quick. My immediate thought was to make sure Ratbag was not implicated in any power struggles, and then because he was I went after the opposing captain first. Which is what brought up the musing on the underdog earlier, he is clearly defined as an underdog character, "evil", and he is also the comic relief.A well done comic relief character I might add, which I think is why I enjoy that character more than the others introduced so far. I'm pretty sure he can't die outside of what is probably going to be a main story mission down the line, but the fact that it was my first instinct to check that out was interesting. (not a huge fan of Gollum, heresy I know.)

    writing this also makes me reflect on stories that made me feel something in a game context, and I realized most of the games I play are not very memorable to me, although it doesn't help that my memory is abysmal in general. I know it is possible to make characters and stories that have an impact, the most memorable for me are actually short stories nestled within Lost Odyssey, but games themselves that I can think of are probably Final Fantasy 9 and Dragon Age: Origins. Which I realize are my favorite games for other reasons, so maybe that is a bias or rose tinted spectacles. Either way, I wish I had more time with this game in particular for these logs, I'm sure I will have some interesting things to say once I've beaten the campaign. (Sorry this one ended up being more stream of consciousness than I meant it to be! Gotta go deal with some things at work else I would revise it a bit.)

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