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    Jun 9th, 2008 at 10:16:20     -    STACK’EM (POGO.COM) (Other)

    Imagine this, it’s a Wednesday night and your stuck in one of your classes listening to Professor (insert your most boring professor’s name here) explain to (insert that student who doesn’t really get it and is always asking stupid questions name here) the same topic that he has been explaining for the whole quarter. Sounds pretty boring right? Luckily, for you, you brought your laptop; however, you have already perused all your usual websites and are starting to get even more bored. So in your infinite boredom you decide to checkout pogo.com, a casual game site that one of your friends recommended. As you are looking through the possible games to play you find a game that looks entertaining, Stack’em. Stack’em is a puzzle game were the player tries to lift box shaped stacks of animals in order to match five and make them disappear. The goal of the game is to help Farmer Fred match the cloned animals in order to make them disappear and keep them from escaping over the fence. If too many of the animals make it over the fence you loose the game and you have to start again. Although at first the game may seem to be casual entertainment to pass the time when one is bored, the game uses the aspects of meaningful play to make the political statement that while cloning has potential benefits it can also be dangerous if it gets out of hand.

    The first aspect of meaningful play that Stack’em uses to make its political statement, that while cloning has potential benefits it can also be dangerous if it gets out of hand, is descriptive play. This is accomplished by having the barnyard that the cloned animals are in shown on the screen and the animals stacked in columns. In order to keep the animals under control and in the barnyard the player must make matches of five by moving columns or parts of columns. When the action of rearranging the animals is taken there is a discernable outcome, there is either a match of five (or more) made and the animals disappear and the player is awarded points or there is not and the animals are merely stacked differently. For every move that the player makes there is also a discernable outcome in that the pressure on the cloning meter builds. When the pressure on the cloning meter maxes out (after four turns) more animals are cloned and rows are added to the columns. The descriptive play thus mimics for the player one of the problems of cloning, which is once we start when, where, and how do we stop.

    Stack’em also uses the evaluative method of play in order to simulate other issues involved with the political issue of cloning. This evaluative method of play includes strategic play and integrated play. The strategic play involves bombs which when matched with the corresponding color match animals makes all the animals in surrounding columns disappear. The use of this strategic method in Stack’em introduces the idea of how cloning in the future will have to be carefully and strategically planned in order to make sure that it is used for good and not abused. The game also involves integrated play in that the moves that you make matter effect your options latter in the game because you will not have the opportunities to make the same matches that you would have if you had not moved certain pieces throughout the earlier parts of the game. This is representative of the political issue in that the choice we make today and in the future about cloning will effect are options of how to go about cloning in the future.

    In conclusion, Stack’em makes a political commentary about cloning through the use of meaningful play to represent issues that are related to cloning. In this game it is very challenging to get a score any where near the high scores that are posted on pogo.com, and this just goes to show that the game is even more complex than I have been able to reach through playing it. This complexity also parallels cloning in that the issue of cloning is very complex because, while on one hand it could possibly be use to cure various diseases and human ailments, it could also be misused. There are also the complexities that are related to people’s beliefs on the sanctity of human life and the whole idea of playing God. So the next time you are thinking about cloning, think about all the complexities that are show in Stack’em.

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    Jun 9th, 2008 at 10:12:34     -    Galaga (Arcade)

    It truly is a dog-eat-dog world! In our society everyone is working to be successful and happy. It is the American dream to work, get married, buy a house, have a family, and stay one step ahead of the Jones. Much of our success in life is determined by what we have acquired. We want to have it all… the best job, the prettiest wife, the perfect (often the biggest) house, the perfect 2.5 child family, and to always be better than every one else is. This aspect of our society is illustrated in the arcade classic Pac-Man. Pac-Man is often credit as being a revolutionary video game because it was one of the first non-shooting and non-sports arcade games. The game is of the puzzle genre and the player has to successfully navigate Pac-Man through a maze while eating pac-dots and avoiding the ghosts. When Pac-Man is caught by one of the four ghosts (Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde) the player loses a life, after losing three lives the player dies and receives the game over message. On the other hand, Pac-Man can attack the ghost if he eats a power-pellet, which turns the ghosts blue and makes them vulnerable to be eaten by Pac-Man for a limited amount of time. Pac-Man further illustrates the dog-eat-dog nature of our society through the usage of the aspects of meaningful play.

    The first aspect of meaningful play that Pac-Man uses to illustrate the dog-eat-dog nature of our society is descriptive play. This is accomplished by having the player accumulate points as the players Pac-Man eats pac-dots and bonus items while moving through the maze. If Pac-Man runs in to a ghost he loses a life and if he eats a bonus item he gains more points. This is discernable play because when Pac-Man completes an action, he eats a pac-dot or bonus item or is eaten by a ghost, there is a discernable outcome, he gains points or loses a life. This descriptive and discernable play is much like the real, dog-eat-dog world because for every action there is an outcome. Therefore, if you do something right in the real world you are rewarded where if you do something wrong you a punished.

    Pac-Man also uses the evaluative method of play to show the dog-eat-dog nature of the real world by simulating the way that real life requires evaluative thinking and actions. This evaluative method of play includes both strategic play and integrated play. The strategic play is created because Pac-Man must avoid ghost and collect all the pac-dots while strategically using the power-pellets to eat the ghosts and complete the level. This illustrates how we, as people, must make choices on how we will accomplish are goals. The integrated play of the game is created by the fact that in order to complete the level you must eat all the pac-dots; therefore, if you leave a pac-dot at the beginning you must go back at the end and eat it before you can finish the level. This is symbolic of how in the real world there are things that must be done in order to accomplish ones goals.

    In conclusion, Pac-Man through the use of meaningful play has illustrated the dog-eat-dog nature of our society. Although, this game may have pointed out this gluttonous nature it has done little to stop it. In fact people even spent lots of time and quarters in the arcades in attempts to beat the machines high scores. Although without a little bit on competition what kind of world would we live in??

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    Jun 9th, 2008 at 10:08:30     -    BioShock (360)

    “I’m Andrew Ryan and I’m here to ask you a question: Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow? No, says the man in Washington. It belongs to the poor. No, says the man in the Vatican. It belongs to God. No, says man in Moscow. It belongs to everyone. I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible. I chose… RAPTURE!” This quote from Andrew Ryan is given at the introduction of the game as Jack (the main character and player’s character) is lowered in the bathysphere to the underwater city of Rapture. This quote is quite ironic because after hearing this introduction the player would expect that he is going to enter a Utopian Paradise, Atlantis, or the Garden of Eden; however, when the player reaches Rapture the city is anything, but a paradise is a deteriorating underwater city that the Atlantic Ocean is slowly taking back.

    In the bathysphere Jack, the player, is contacted by Atlas. Atlas is a citizen/survivor of Rapture and explains that the society of Rapture has deteriorated through the use of Eve and Adam, substances that give people special powers. These substances have changed the inhabitants of Rapture to crazy overly aggressive junkies called splicers. As the player leaves the safety of the bathysphere he is attacked by splicers and must kill them to survive. Then through the guidance of Atlas, the player is instructed on how to make his way through the city. During Jack’s adventure he gains powers through the use of Adam and Eve and is guided by Atlas through the underwater city. During his journeys through the underwater city Jack encounters Little Sisters, who are the keepers of Adam, and Big Daddies, who protect the Little Sisters. Atlas urges Jack to kill the Big Daddies and Little Sisters, but Dr. Tennenbaum intercepts Atlas’ message and urges Jack (the player) not to kill the Little Sisters. Now Jack has a choice… weather to kill the Little Sisters or to let them live. As the story progresses Jack learns that Rapture is under a civil war between Andrew Ryan and Atlas and that he is really Ryan’s son. After being commanded by Ryan to kill Ryan, Jack must now with the help of the Little Sisters (if he chose to save them) defeat Atlas.
    Game Play:

    Game play is descriptive in that when you do perform an action there is a reaction… something explodes, dies, scatters, or you receive something. This and the interactive environment make the game really life like. When this descriptive game play is paired with the non-linear game play of the game it makes the game seem really real. Game play in Bioshock is also evaluative because the player is faced with many choices of how they will play the game. For example, each player must choose weather to kill or free the Little Sisters and this will affect the player later in the game. Therefore game play is also integrated because choices the player makes changes the outcome of the game.

    Review:

    I found this game to be incredibly enjoyable, while at the same time very thought provoking. As I was playing the game I always found myself asking myself what message the designers of the game were trying to get through to me. Some of the ideas that came into my head were ethics and moral issues in using science to adapt human genes, how much control should the government and religious institutions impose on people, and what is the ideal government or society. This though provoking nature of the game, the action, and the incredible graphics is what kept me hooked on playing this game for hours. However, I gave the game 5 beers out of a six pack because in my current position (finishing college and working too much) I found the game to be too time consuming and would have preferred to be playing a racing game. So I had to drink one of the beers while I was playing to keep my mind off the other things I should have been doing.

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    Apr 24th, 2008 at 14:56:44     -    Mario Galaxy (Wii)

    As a child of the mid-eighties the first video game that I ever played was Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It is from that moment that I became hooked on Nintendo’s Mario video game series. I went from Super Mario Bros to Super Mario Bros 2 (which was somewhat disappointing) to Super Mario Bros 3 (redeemed the redeemed the series after Super Mario Bros 2) to Super Mario Land (on Super Nintendo) to Super Mario 64. It was after Super Mario 64, a game that I thoroughly enjoyed, that my life became very busy with high school and high school football that I stopped playing the Mario games. However, after a nearly eight year break from Mario games I picked up Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii and started to play, again. Super Mario Galaxy like all the other games in the Mario series is a mix between the platform, fantasy, action, and adventure genres. The goal of the game is for the player, as Mario, to once again rescue Princess Peach from Mario nemesis Bowser; however, unlike the other Mario games which have the same basic goal, this time Mario is in other space and must find stars and return them to the Comet Observatory. To accomplish this goal, Super Mario Galaxy uses both descriptive and evaluative play.

    Super Mario Galaxy accomplishes it goal of having the player, as Mario, save Princess Peach from Bowser though descriptive play allowing Mario to wonder through multiple three dimensional worlds and galaxies, fight enemies, and complete challenges in search of stars which allow the play to progress through the game to get to Princess Peach. To do this the player must use all the functions of the Wii remote and nun chuck. The player uses the analog joystick on the nun chuck to move Mario through the worlds, “A” to jump, the pointer function to collect star bits, “B” to shoot star bits, and the motion sensor function to spin. By using all the functions of the Wii remote the player is thus able to move Mario through the beautifully designed world where Mario due to the lack of gravity can walk upside down and jump higher than ever. In this descriptive level of play when Mario spins and hits his enemies or an object the enemy get hurt or the object breaks.

    Super Mario Galaxy also accomplishes it goal of having the player, as Mario, save Princess Peach from Bowser though evaluative play because the player must make strategic choices on how he is going to defeat his enemies, collect stars, collect star bits, and use Mario’s special mushroom and powers in order to beat the game. This is evident in how Mario must figure out a strategic way to be each of his enemies. For example, in order to beet the boss of the first galaxy the player, as Mario, must figure out that he must lead the Mario seeking bullets into the machines Power Star power supply in order to free the Power Star. The game is also has integration because once you accomplish a task and receive a star the world changes to a new challenge so that the world can be played again to collect other starts.

    In conclusion, Super Mario Galaxy uses both descriptive and evaluative play to take the player on an action packed fantasy adventure to save Princess Peach from Bowser. As a long time fan of Nintendo’s Mario Serious I am thoroughly enjoying this game and I am once again hooked. I see many long nights in my near future as I continue to explore and hopefully beat this game.

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    1BioShock (360)Playing
    2Galaga (Arcade)Playing
    3Guitar Hero III: Legentds of Rock (Wii)Playing
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    5STACK’EM (POGO.COM) (Other)Playing

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