Gaming Culture Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Gaming Culture RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network 7 Healthy Snacks for Gamers — And an Entire Category to Avoid https://www.gameskinny.com/qfd5g/7-healthy-snacks-for-gamers-and-an-entire-category-to-avoid https://www.gameskinny.com/qfd5g/7-healthy-snacks-for-gamers-and-an-entire-category-to-avoid Thu, 24 Jan 2019 17:49:08 -0500 Chris Gronkowski

Video games and unhealthy snacks, like chips and cookies, are easily associated with each other. That is particularly because of the evidence that watching TV or playing video games can lead to binge eating and consuming too much of these types of foods, which, in turn, can negatively impact your physical health.

Most commonly, gamers who find themselves eating an abundance of unhealthy snacks while gaming will notice an increase in weight, especially if they’re not engaging in exercise.

Weight gain can open the door to a plethora of more dangerous health conditions, including increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and serious cardiovascular issues. In order to stay in top physical condition while still enjoying long gaming sessions, it is wise to practice a regular workout routine and swap out your unhealthy snacks for some of these nutritious foods instead.

Why Should You Avoid Unhealthy Snacks While Gaming?

Aside from the obvious health risks associated with unhealthy foods, these snacks are often full of empty calories, which means you’ll quickly become hungry again, causing you to overconsume. Plus, snacks like chips have little to no nutritional value, meaning that you’re intaking a high number of calories that aren’t actually providing your body with useful minerals, vitamins, or other nutrients.

While it’s okay to indulge in your favorite unhealthy snack from time to time, you should make a conscious effort to replace these nutrient-free munchies with more beneficial, and filling, snacks.

Types of Foods to Avoid

When determining which types of snacks to eliminate or reduce from your diet, you should try to avoid any overly processed items. Most processed foods contain a dangerous level of unhealthy fats, especially when consumed in large amounts. These fats, particularly trans-fat, are closely linked to increased chance of heart disease and can cause inflammation.

Added sugars are another feature of processed foods that are also known to cause heart disease, and many times these sugars can be found in products you may not expect to be sweetened, such as bread.

Whenever you’re trying to select healthy snacks to munch on during your gaming sessions, be sure to review the product’s ingredients and look for natural components.

Healthy Snacks for Gamers

Nuts

Almost every type of nut can offer some nutritional benefit to your body. Some nuts are known to be high in protein, which will help fuel your body and satiate hunger. Almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, and hazelnuts are among the nuts with the highest protein content.

Many gamers also enjoy snacking on seeds while playing — sunflower and pumpkin seeds being two of the more popular choices. Not only are nuts a great source of protein, but they are also high in fiber, which many processed snacks lack, and they are also associated with lower cholesterol levels.

Protein Shakes

Another excellent source of nutrition, protein shakes can be a filling and healthy snack for any gamer. With a protein shaker bottle, you can mix up shakes in seconds and easily sip on one without needing to pause your game.

Because protein shakes pack in tons of nutrients and minerals without many added calories, they can help manage your weight and encourage healthy eating habits.

In order to keep your body in top physical condition, you should be taking even a small amount of time each day to exercise, and protein shakes contain everything you need to power through a workout before returning to your console.

 

Pita Bread and Hummus

If you find yourself drawn to potato chips when seeking out your favorite gaming snack, then indulging in pita bread and hummus may just satisfy your craving.

Warm pita bread dipped in hummus, which is available with an assortment of toppings including red pepper, jalapeno, and caramelized onion, is an enjoyable snack. Derived from chickpeas, hummus is packed with protein and fiber as well as a list of vitamins your body needs to function.

Veggies with Different Dips

Though pita and hummus is a delicious combination for a quick, easy snack, some potato chip lovers may not be satisfied as pita bread tends to lack the gratifying crunch of a chip. Instead, replace the pita (or your chips) with veggies that can have that same crunchiness without the unhealthy ingredients.

Carrots and hummus are a popular combination or fill a plate with carrots and celery to dip into tangy ranch. Vitamin A, biotin, and potassium are among the many nutritious vitamins found in carrots, and the veggie’s antioxidant properties are said to help prevent cancer and other serious health conditions.

Frozen Grapes

For those with a sweet tooth, frozen grapes are the perfect alternative to sour candies, eliminating unnecessary sugar and artificial ingredients. If you’re prone to binge eating while gaming, you should try adding frozen grapes to your nightly snack regimen.

Low in calories, frozen grapes can be consumed by the handful and still provide your body with important nutrients. Grapes are said to help prevent a number of health conditions, including cancer, eye diseases, and cardiovascular problems.

 

Fresh or Dried Fruits

Though fruits are high in sugar, they contain natural sugars that can be good for your body and that provide healthy nutrients.

Fresh and dried fruits are another great replacement for sugary snacks like candy. Some dried fruits are made with added sugar — you want to avoid these types if you’re looking to lead a healthier lifestyle — but many dried fruits become naturally sweeter in the process.

Bananas are easy to eat while gaming and contain high levels of potassium, which promotes bone strength. Citrus fruits can provide you with vitamin C and apples are a crunchy snack high in antioxidants and fiber.

Oatmeal

Gamers who crave a sweet snack while they play should consider digging into a bowl of oatmeal when it’s game time. Though there is some added sugar to certain oatmeal packets, you can find brands offering less sugar that still provide a plethora of health benefits. Plus, you can easily eat your oatmeal while still maintaining your place in the game.

Oats are high in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, which help to lower your blood pressure and lose weight. Select a tasty flavor like apples and cinnamon for a sweet snack that satisfies your hunger and benefits your health.

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Editor's Note: Chris Gronkowski is contributing to GameSkinny through our guest writer series, where we provide a platform for thought leaders to share great ideas with you, the reader. 

About the author: A former 3-year starter in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos, Chris Gronkowski is now the CEO of Ice Shaker. Ice Shaker has been featured on ABC's Shark Tank, Good Morning America, HLN morning express, Forbes, and others. Chris is the middle of the five Gronkowski brothers and has started writing about his athletic and entrepreneurial experiences.

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Healthy Gaming: 6 Tips for Getting Fit Without Compromising a Gamer Lifestyle https://www.gameskinny.com/4svfh/healthy-gaming-6-tips-for-getting-fit-without-compromising-a-gamer-lifestyle https://www.gameskinny.com/4svfh/healthy-gaming-6-tips-for-getting-fit-without-compromising-a-gamer-lifestyle Thu, 24 Jan 2019 16:34:43 -0500 Chris Gronkowski

Gaming is truly a way of life for many people, but leading a too sedentary lifestyle can be detrimental to your physical wellbeing. Integrating healthy habits into your daily life doesn’t mean you need to compromise your gaming routine.

Here, we'll talk about how to plan breaks from gaming to stretch, exercise, and practice healthy eating. We'll also look at certain stretches that can target issues that arise from repetitive gaming, such as carpal tunnel. 

Negative Impacts of a Sedentary Lifestyle

The human body was designed to be active. While video games are an entertaining hobby, they require sitting for extended periods of time. If you’re a serious gamer, you probably spend a significant chunk of time each day playing on your console or PC.

You don’t need to sacrifice your gaming habits, but you need to be aware of the side effects of a sedentary lifestyle to understand the importance of incorporating active tasks in between gaming sessions. 

One of the most common side effects of being inactive is weight gain. Without physical activity, your body has no way to burn off excess fat and keep you slim and lean. Gaining weight can itself lead to more health complications, including high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

The lack of exercise is the main cause of weight gain, but extended periods of immobility can also lower your metabolism, which makes it more difficult for you to lose weight. A slower metabolism makes it more difficult for your body to burn calories and may even cause your body to be unable to break down fat. 

The longer you sit in one position, the less flexible you become. Your muscles in your back, glutes, and abs will become tightened and inflamed — an uncomfortable and unhealthy situation.

This tightness also leads to a loss of flexibility, one of the reasons that stretching breaks are so vital during long gaming sessions. Inactivity not only leads to a decrease in flexibility, but it can also diminish muscle strength and endurance.

Including healthy exercise and eating habits throughout your day can aid in maintaining your strength and flexibility, keeping your body healthy and in shape.

Swap Unhealthy Snacks for Nutritious Ones

Gaming is sometimes associated with binge eating and unhealthy snacks like potato chips, cookies, candy, and soda. Some research suggests that playing video games, or even watching TV, can have an effect on how people eat. It’s easier to eat more than you need to while focused on gaming or watching a show.

If you’re consuming unhealthy snacks and not integrating physical activity into your everyday life, you’re more likely to suffer from some of the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. To avoid this, try replacing these unhealthy snacks with nutritious ones like

  • Edamame
  • Frozen grapes
  • Pita bread and hummus
  • Fruits and veggies
  • Various types of nuts
    • almonds, pistachios, and walnuts

Shakes made with protein powder are another way to keep your energy up without adding unhealthy, processed ingredients or ingesting a high number of calories.

Stretch While Gaming

To avoid inflammation, joint pain, and muscle stiffness, stretching breaks during video gaming sessions are essential. Spend at least three to five minutes every hour stretching your legs, back, arms, and chest.

Your wrists are another area that experiences a lot of stress from video gaming, but you may want to develop a specific hand and wrist routine to avoid further health issues. Toe touches are a creative way to release tension in your back and can also help stretch your hamstrings.

Any variety of arm exercises will get your blood flowing again and encourage muscle stimulation. 

Exercise Your Hands and Wrists

If you consider yourself a serious and frequent gamer, your wrists and hands may be particularly susceptible to developing issues in the future. Carpal tunnel is one of the most common effects of repetitive motions like using a controller. Try some of these wrist stretches for gamers to prevent problems in the future.

Try Exercising While Playing

Exercise is vital to optimal health because it keeps your metabolism in check, builds muscle, and burns off fat. Believe it or not, there are actually dozens of exercises you can perform while you’re gaming.

Many of these workouts are performed in a seated position to allow you to still focus on your game, but even if you do these exercises while playing, you still need to integrate other stretches and exercises that involve standing to make sure that your legs are engaged.

Practice workouts like ab squeezes and stationary biking along with these other gaming exercises to improve your physical health.

Drink Protein Shakes to Ensure You’re Consuming Enough Protein

As mentioned, dietary habits are important to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise plus a nutritious diet are mandatory to reach your highest level of fitness.

One concern gamers may have is in regard to their protein intake. Though snacking is typically associated with gaming, these unhealthy, processed foods often lead people to feel full when in fact they are not receiving enough protein.

Invest in some quality protein powder and a protein shaker and then try to integrate shakes into your daily diet. This will ensure that you’re receiving the proper amount of protein and provide you with the energy to complete your workouts. 

Invest in Interactive Exercise Video Games

Another great way to get your body engaged while playing video games is by purchasing one of the many interactive gaming systems or VR devices, which allow you to move around while playing.

The Nintendo Wii was the first gaming system that really let you move around while playing video games, but now other major console producers have created similar products to get gamers moving. Xbox offers a wide variety of active video games, including Xbox Fitness, Kinect Sport, and a number of dance games, among others. If you’re a PlayStation user, you can also take advantage of similar interactive games and help maintain your body’s fitness without sacrificing your gamer lifestyle.

If you can afford a VR headset, such as the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, games like Beat Saber are also great ways to get in shape. 

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Editor's Note: Chris Gronkowski is contributing to GameSkinny through our guest writer series, where we provide a platform for thought leaders to share great ideas with you, the reader. 

About the author: A former 3-year starter in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, and Denver Broncos, Chris Gronkowski is now the CEO of Ice Shaker. Ice Shaker has been featured on ABC's Shark Tank, Good Morning America, HLN morning express, Forbes, and others. Chris is the middle of the five Gronkowski brothers and has started writing about his athletic and entrepreneurial experiences.

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Gaming Lingo Every Beginner Should Know https://www.gameskinny.com/ab7b8/gaming-lingo-every-beginner-should-know https://www.gameskinny.com/ab7b8/gaming-lingo-every-beginner-should-know Mon, 26 Mar 2018 11:04:47 -0400 Nilufer Gadgieva

Playing video games is not as simple as it used to be back in the day. There were party or solo games, a controller (often with a chewed up wire) and at the end of the day, just you and the console. There were no die-hard passionate fandoms, or mental health conditions, or mass cheating bans to worry about. Yet change isn't always bad.

As we all know, in this world of rapidly accelerating telecommunications technology, we have managed to reach out to others who enjoy our passions across oceans and continents. We've made every day a party on the internet and turned every opinionated rant into a full-blown civil war. We have created communities and fanbases and many, many pretentious fanboys (and girls). No regrets, since things are better this way. Gaming has become a recognized hobby and an enjoyable pastime with the quick development of consoles, social media, and internet connection.

With a fascinating age of gaming culture upon us, there will inevitably be newbies (or people new to the industry) entering at almost any age and from almost any background. This concise guide was put together to teach and revise some of the most common, basic, and important gaming key terms to latch onto out there.These are handy when it comes to reading up on gaming news and guides, surfing through forums and chat rooms, and trying to make do with fitting into the culture a bit later in the day. No shame, my friends. We were all you once.

AAA:

To be brief, a triple-A game is usually a wonderfully crafted, critically acclaimed release with a big fanbase and an even bigger budget. A favorite example of mine would be BioShock Infinite.

Bots:
Instead of playing versus other live human players such as yourself, artificially intelligent bots are programmed to play against you. This is often offered as an alternative option to live multiplayer, is common in single-player games, and can also be great practice in tutorials for when you want to face off against the real players.


Build:
This term describes a specific character's collection of items/skills etc. for a particular purpose.


Camper:
A nuisance in online shooting games, a camper is one who (often from inexperience) remains stationery in one point of the map and often shoots passing players while idling around. Don't be that person. It's bad and makes people hate you.


DLC:
This stands for downloadable content, which can include additional features, levels, stories, characters or costumes to a game. 

For instance, Dawnguard is a DLC for the open-world RPG Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, where you get to indulge in some good old-fashioned vampirism. This option is not offered in the original game and is purchased separately. 


Easter Egg:
A usually irrelevant but interesting hidden feature of a game. They're a good foundation for memes and are often subtle references to politics or pop culture. You can often find them on social media or YouTubers mocking them for the sake of it.


FPS:
This stands for first-person-shooter, a common gaming genre where you play in the first-person and -- shocker -- shoot at targets. The most common display has a selected firearm as the main visual interface.

An example of an FPS would be the well-known series Call of Duty or Counter-Strike.


Glitches:
This word is mainly used both in gaming culture and even professionally to describe certain graphics lag or bugs in a game. Yes, quality assurance isn't always very reliable or assured.

Common examples include your protagonist floating through a wall in the game, walking under water when they should be swimming, or displaying unfinished objectives for quests you've obviously completed. Or the speedrunner's favorite, a glitch that chucks you to the end of the game. (Speedrunner: someone who tries to beat a game as fast as possible).


MMORPG:
Which stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. This genre is a mixture of RPG and adventure and contains an enormous platform for players, both bots, and humans alike. A great and popular example of this is World of Warcraft.


MOBA:
Which stands for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. This genre is similar to an MMO, but what takes it apart is the concept of strategy gaming based on fighting within an arena. An example of this would be the universally popular League of Legends or its rival, DOTA.


Mana:
A common term used for a unit of magical power in an RPG game, also known as MP. These points are assigned to a character and sometimes indicate how strong their spells are.


Metagame:
Commonly referred to as meta in multiplayer games, this term is quite complex to understand. Its philosophy claims to define it as a "game within a game," where you, as the gamer, would prepare your character by maintaining a high level of skill and accordingly strengthen them to match the opponent's weaknesses, because you are approaching the game from outside its own environment. Or, to phrase it differently, it's stuff about the game but that isn't in the game, like the competitive Pokemon scene.


NPC:
This stands for non-playable character, or a character within a game that is artificially intelligent and program controlled in an RPG. This can be anyone, from your villagers to your spouse to your mentor and companion in the game, and depending on the developer, can be as interesting as real people or boring as hell...like real people.


Ping:
This term is used as a unit in milliseconds, and it means the amount of time it takes for information within the game to reach the server and back. A low ping usually indicates good chances of a smoother multi-player experience.


PvP:
This stands for player versus player, which is a term used to categorize games where people play against each other in live action. Basically, competitive gaming.

An example of a recent PvP game would be Fortnite: Battle Royale


Sandbox:
This term is used as a reference to open-world games where you can explore to your heart's content, build or destroy whatever you like, or even walk around aimlessly if you please. It's your sandbox; you can do what you want. A good and well-loved example of a sandbox game is Grand Theft Auto.


Spammer:
Another common reference to online shooters and another nuisance. Spammers are players who go berserk on their opponents and will shoot at anyone and anything without prior thought, aim, or skill. Their kills are ultimately worthless because it was based on luck and rather persistent distal finger muscles.


XP:
A shortened but universally understood term for experience points, which you collect as you progress through a game and become better at whatever it is you're doing. Some games offer thresholds for a specific number of XP, and thereafter, you can level up your character and get access to other features such as new weapons, skills, or locations.

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This set of terms are just the tip of the iceberg, the most commonly used among the thousands of terms gamers have put together to communicate their needs more expressively. This list should have you getting a better grasp of the world of online gaming a bit more. You can always refer to these definitions until you get the hang of it, lest you find yourself at risk of being dubbed a n00b.

What are any other terms you deem important enough for this list? Leave us a comment below! 

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A Guide to Tackling Your Gaming Backlog https://www.gameskinny.com/cp4xn/a-guide-to-tackling-your-gaming-backlog https://www.gameskinny.com/cp4xn/a-guide-to-tackling-your-gaming-backlog Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:41:40 -0500 Sjaak den Heijer

A “problem” that a lot of modern gamers develop these days is a significant gaming backlog. It sometimes can be intimidating to even look at, let alone to try and get rid of it. This is mostly due to the huge amount of games available  and even more so because of the relatively cheap prices. If you are looking to clear your own backlog, this guide will help you feel confident and prepared enough to take take it on.

How Did It Get There in the First Place?

There are 2 main reasons people develop this kind of backup. First of all, there are people who just over-buy -- something we're all guilty of from time to time. We buy countless games with every sale they see and simply don’t have the time to play all those games, resulting in a huge backlog. And let's face it: it's easy to do.

Then there are the people who don’t necessarily buy all that many games, but spend most of their gaming time with huge time sinks like MOBAs, MMOs, and competitive FPS games. Indulging in something like League of Legends or Final Fantasy XIV is fun, but won't do all of your other sad, lonely games any favors.

However, the most common reason for a backlog to grow is the combination of both buying a lot of games while also focusing on just one or two of them.

Obviously, this isn’t wrong, and you should always do what is the most fun to you in gaming because in the end, it’s a hobby and hobbies should be fun. But if your backlog is preventing you from having fun or is just something you really want to get rid of, here are some things you may want to try.

Narrow Down Your Backlog

Try to determine how big your backlog actually is. You can do this by writing down a list of all the games you have, but haven’t played yet, or use a website like Myvideogamelist. This might be an intimidating list to look at, but don’t give up yet! You’ll also want to determine the games you really want to play. Let’s say you got a free game somewhere, but aren’t really interested in it. Don’t feel obligated to play it; just remove it from the list. Do this with all the games you don’t feel like you have to play or just aren't interested in playing anymore, and depending on your interests, you might have already taken out a big chunk of your list.

Play the Games

This is probably the hardest part of the process, but with some preparation and a good mindset, you’ll get it done without any problems. If you play a lot of multiplayer games, it can be hard to find time to play the games lying in your backlog, so if this is the case, you should definitely try and make a schedule. Choosing one day of the week where you focus on playing games in your backlog already helps a ton and can really motivate you to play those games on other days as well.

When you start out with overcoming your backlog, it’s a good idea to start with some shorter games, games that you can finish in a couple of days or even in a single sitting. This feeling of completion and the fact that your backlog is shrinking will give you a very big boost in motivation.

However, you’ll get to a point where you have played all your short games and are probably left with some very big time-consuming games. When playing these games, you should realize that you don’t have to finish every game you play! Play that game for as long as it is fun to you, and if it starts to feel like a chore or a burden, play something else. Simple as that. If you want to, you can come back to that game later, or just remove it from the list.

If you do want to finish all your games, don't forget that you don’t have to do everything in that game. You don’t have to platinum it, complete every side-quest, or explore every little bit of content that that game has to offer. There simply isn’t enough time in a day for that if you want to get rid of your backlog. So if you just play your games and enjoy them, eventually you’ll get rid of the backlog and won’t feel guilty for not playing them.

Make Sure It Doesn't Grow

Everybody buys games when there are big sales on. That's understandable and saves a lot of money. But when you are on a huge backlog, you definitely don’t want to buy every single game that’s on sale, especially not if it's one of those "I'll play that someday" games. Fret not. It'll be on sale again.

Of course, this doesn't mean you can't allow yourself to buy more games; it just calls for a bit of extra discipline. You can even make a rule for yourself that you can only buy a game for every game you complete, and if you’re going to buy games, try avoiding the huge 100+ hour games that will probably rest in your library for a lot of time.

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In the end, this is all just a recommendation. Unless it's keeping you up at night, it doesn’t really matter what you do with your backlog. Free-time is limited, so you have to make the best of it. Try and play what seems to be the most fun  at that time, and just ignore the banish the nagging thought of a backlog until you're finished.

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The Importance of Realism https://www.gameskinny.com/udjxj/the-importance-of-realism https://www.gameskinny.com/udjxj/the-importance-of-realism Tue, 02 Jan 2018 10:00:01 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Realism is a concept that is used throughout gaming to refer to many aspects of the industry, from the graphics to the storyline, and in reference to art style and characters. So, what is realism, and what does it mean for the video game industry? Realism is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "the quality or fact of representing a person or thing in a way that is accurate and true to life." The question then becomes whether video games need to be true to life or not. Furthermore, do certain aspects always need to be realistic? Does realism suit a certain type of game and not the other? Realism is not a given, and a game shouldn’t just be praised because it is true to life. There are other factors that contribute to making a game great, but that doesn’t mean we should discount realism entirely. Here we explore the importance of realism in video games and whether we truly need it to have an enjoyable and meaningful experience.

Art Style & Graphical Capabilities

One major aspect that is recurring throughout video games is the quality of the graphics and the art style the developers chose to use. These are extremely important in making a game unique and memorable. There have been so many games that are in the forefront of my mind purely because I loved the art style.

When you create an interactive experience, the visuals are incredibly important and need to fit the tone and atmosphere you want to create in your game. Therefore, even when it comes to art style, realism isn’t always the best option. Games such as The Wolf Among Us or The Walking Dead don’t have a realistic art style, but they are trying to mimic the games' roots in the comic book genre. These games wanted to take you on a journey and let you experience the lives and choices of other people, and the comic book style helped achieve this.

Alternatively, take a similar universe, such as that of Telltale's The Walking Dead, and what happens when a game has different objectives and then the art style changes. For example, the developers of Payday 2, Overkill Software, recently announced a co-op FPS centered around The Walking Dead universe. Being a shooter is one thing, and with the added RPG elements of the game, it is likely that Overkill Software is going for the more realistic experience. You and your team are there to experience the grit and horror of the world in a new way. Whereas Telltale's art style brings you into the emotional aspect of the story, Overkill’s looks to show you the gore and atrocities of a post-apocalyptic world. These games need different art styles to truly capture the experience they want the player to have. If you had tons of intense shooting scenes in Telltale’s version, then it would look silly because of the art style.

Furthermore, there is no doubt about Telltale’s success with The Walking Dead series, and this is without having to integrate realism into their art style. The style fit the story and undoubtedly made it a better game. Trying to create an art style that centered around realism for this game wouldn’t have worked as well.

In addition, smaller developers must think about the engine they can use to create their game. If you don’t have the possibility of using a very high-powered engine, then trying to create a more realistic game may not look as good. Rather, they can go for an entirely different art style so that they can create an amazing game without being limited by what the resources will allow them to achieve.

Story & Characters

Story and characters are where realism should be applied consistently throughout games -- I mean, in the sense of creating people who seem real and true to life while also having at least a feasible story to go along with it. Without creating accurate depictions of people, the player won’t gain as much satisfaction from the game overall. Think of some of the best writers of our era, people like Stephen King, who never set out to create great, sweeping works of literature but know how to create a good story. His depiction of children, especially of Danny Torrance in The Shining is a, forgive the pun, shining example of what realism can achieve. The supernatural elements in his stories don’t make you tut and think what a load of nonsense, because the way he writes and how he depicts people are so true to life.

 

It is the same with video games, although there are some crazy scenarios when it is pulled off well and you connect with the characters -- then you can believe the story. The Last of Us is the perfect example of a scenario we have never experienced in our world, but the story and the characters are written so well that you believe it. You engage and connect with the story even if it doesn’t seem extremely possible. The slow evolution of Ellie and Joel’s relationship, losing people like Tess, and Joel’s actions towards the end of the game. These things create an aura of grit and an authenticity that drives the game forward.

Realism is undoubtedly a main force in video games when it comes to the story and characters. The art style doesn’t matter as much when you believe the story you are being told. Realism doesn’t have to be present in everything, but it is extremely important to integrate it into the story. Without it, you would mindlessly wander from one game to another without experiencing the joys and heartaches gamers have known and come to love when playing a game.

The Type of Game

This has been discussed previously regarding realism, but it does need stating again. The type of game is incredibly important when considering whether realism, in more of an artistic sense, matters when you’re playing a video game. Personally, I think the games that benefit the most from realism are shooters or games with a lot of action in them. Furthermore, horror games benefit from a more realistic touch, as it helps induce fear and tension in the player. 

 

However, other games that require a lighter touch, with less feelings of imminent danger, do not need to rely on realism to carry that atmosphere across. If you are wandering through a game like Undertale or Ni No Kuni, there is less action than in the games previously mentioned. They carry a different message and atmosphere, so they don’t need the realism to convey that message.

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All in all, realism is undoubtedly important, but it needs to be handled correctly, and a game shouldn’t be dismissed purely because it isn’t realistic enough. You can still have an amazing experience without having to witness triple-A graphics. It solely depends on the soul of the game and what story the developers are trying to tell.

What are your thoughts on realism in video games? Do you prefer an unrealistic game to a realistic one? Let us know in the comments below. 

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The Coolest Google Doodle Games You Missed in 2017 https://www.gameskinny.com/mruoh/the-coolest-google-doodle-games-you-missed-in-2017 https://www.gameskinny.com/mruoh/the-coolest-google-doodle-games-you-missed-in-2017 Sat, 30 Dec 2017 14:00:02 -0500 Lauren Harris

There are many interactive Google Doodle games out there, many of which celebrate a particular holiday or important person. Here are just a few of the Google Doodle games that we enjoyed in 2017. 

Pangolin Love 

Valentine's Day 2017

This Valentine's Day-inspired game is about a pangolin that travels to Ghana, India, China, and the Philippines. He wants to express his love to his sweetheart and devises many ways to show how much he cares for her. Roll the pangolin through each country using the arrows on your keyboard, and jump over obstacles by clicking on the up arrow.

Celebrating 50 Years of Kids Coding

December 4, 2017

This Google Doodle commemorates the 50th anniversary of the introduction of kids' programming language. This fun game has you arrange pieces to move a bunny along different stages. It’s an easy program that allows kids to understand the basics of programming and what it consists of.

ICC Champions Trophy 2017

June 1, 2017

Google celebrates the 2017 ICC Championship Trophy by allowing users to play their tap-and-click game. Play the game as a cricket and hit the baseball as a cricket. You just use your finger to slide down on the wicket to hit the ball. This was a nice fun way to celebrate the ICC Championship. 

Fischinger

June 22, 2017

This Doodle celebrates the 117th birthday of Oskar Fischinger. He was a German-American animator, filmmaker, and painter known for creating abstract musical animation before computer graphics and music videos were popular. Here, Google put out a Doodle that lets you create music. Tap the different shapes to create different sounds as you click. 

44th Anniversary of the Birth of Hip Hop

August 11, 2017

This Doodle celebrates the anniversary of the birth of hip hop. In 1973, at just age 18, a Jamaican-American DJ named Kool Herc threw a back-to-school jam in the Bronx, New York. He didn't play full songs; he just played their instruments in sections. His friend got the crowd excited with just a microphone. Thus, hip hop was born. This Doodle allows players to scratch different records by tapping and clicking on the corresponding buttons and records.

Google is very creative when it comes to celebrating holidays or acknowledging so many people who have made history. Giving its users something special for every occasion just makes you appreciate the little things. These are some of the coolest Doodle games I personally missed this year. What are some of the Google games you missed in 2017? 

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Got Dali? Check Out These Surreal Video Game Gems https://www.gameskinny.com/bwyd5/got-dali-check-out-these-surreal-video-game-gems https://www.gameskinny.com/bwyd5/got-dali-check-out-these-surreal-video-game-gems Wed, 27 Dec 2017 10:00:01 -0500 Sarah Elliman

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These were just some of the top Surrealist video games out there. There are plenty of other options to explore, with a lot of indie developers coming out with more and more content like this. 

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What did you think of the games listed? Are any of these games ones that you really want to play? Let us know in the comments below!

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0°N 0°W
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Available Q1 2018

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You venture out on a cross-country road trip that ultimately leaves you stranded in a town in the middle of nowhere. Before you know it, you’re traversing time and space in some incredibly well-designed but odd places.

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0°N 0°W is incredibly minimalistic, but it contains bright neon colors that form the scenes you see in front of you. Sometimes they form objects and cityscapes, and others are just a collection of lines that still give you a sense of direction. This is a game that shows the player that you don’t need incredibly well-rendered, realistic set pieces to create a scene that is recognizable to the player. The use of color and the simplicity of the game create really stunning scenes that match the game's intent.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-contrast-mechanic-1160x630-b4d9f.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-contrast-mechanic-1160x630-b4d9f.jpg","type":"slide","id":"176732","description":"
Contrast
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Price: $3.39
Buy it on: Steam

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Contrast is one of those games that got mixed reviews when it first came out, but for me, I found everything about it to be incredibly stunning. The game is relatively short, so if you’re looking for a quick fix, it is a brilliant game. It follows a little girl who has an imaginary friend that appears to represent an older version of herself. As you travel through the game with them both, you learn things about the girl’s life with regards to her parents and her situation.

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Contrast challenges you to think about perception, and it uses light to achieve this. You predominantly play as the older self and traverse the area using shadows. By angling light and your camera, you can change what platforms you can get up to. Furthermore, most of the story is delivered by shadows, placing further emphasis on light. It takes an aspect of life you may never have thought about that much and transforms it into an integral part of the game.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-limbolarge-349ca.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-limbolarge-349ca.jpg","type":"slide","id":"176731","description":"
Limbo
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Price: $1.99
Buy it on: Steam

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Limbo is an incredibly classic game, and many fans rant and rave about how incredible it is. Its successor Inside is incredibly similar and is also worth checking out. Limbo follows a boy who is making his way through a 2D forest in which there are many creatures and things that want to kill him.

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It requires some thought to make your way through the game, and as you progress, it becomes harder and harder to realize what will harm you. The ending is phenomenal: It’s not in your face, but it makes your heart drop. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played the game, but Limbo shouldn’t just be on a top surrealism list, but also on a top video games in general list.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-maxresdefault-99f3a.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-maxresdefault-99f3a.jpg","type":"slide","id":"176730","description":"
Plug & Play
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Price: $1.49
Buy it on: Steam

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Our previous selections have been very story-based games that instill surrealism in their imagery through the mental instability of their protagonists. Plug & Play isn’t that kind of game at all. It is surreal to the max, with no real purpose or distinct end goal.

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The basic idea is to fit the plugs together through different scenarios. As you progress through the game, these scenarios become odder, and part of what you’re doing is hidden until you have put the plugs together. Plug 7 Play takes what we know about a very basic item and alters it in so many different lights. It’s an incredibly strange game that has this enchanting way of compelling you to play it more and more.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-ba65d37fdf488b26d5498b4f2665fae42ce8960a1920x1080-d5f70.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-ba65d37fdf488b26d5498b4f2665fae42ce8960a1920x1080-d5f70.jpg","type":"slide","id":"176729","description":"
Alice: Madness Returns
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Price: $23.97
Buy it on: Amazon

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The game centers around a girl named Alice Liddell, who has to deal with the loss of her family in a tragic fire. After the loss of her family, she is thrust into the wretched conditions that beset many people in industrial Britain. Her world becomes a whirlwind of horror as she struggles to deal with her family’s death. Alice continually swaps backwards and forwards between England and Wonderland, a place that easily represents her world, but in an incredibly strange fashion.

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Anything related to Alice in Wonderland is undoubtedly going to have surreal elements throughout the story. The original tale written by Lewis Carroll is full of ordinary and otherwise uninteresting items that have become extraordinary and peculiar because of their odd, surreal twist. Madness Returns takes these pieces from the original tale and merges them with its own depiction of Alice Liddell. Combining this depiction with a Gothic/steampunk vibe creates a completely unmissable experience. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-unnamed-55151.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-unnamed-55151.png","type":"slide","id":"176728","description":"
Fran Bow
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Price: $5.24
Buy it on: Steam

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Fran Bow is an incredibly creepy and horrifying game in which you are stuck waiting for the next horrific scene to play out. The story is about a girl who tragically lost her parents and was left with her only friend, Mr. Midnight, who so happens to be a cat. Fran is continuing to battle with mental health issues, and this is present throughout the game.

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Fran Bow exudes a sense of trauma through the imagery and set pieces present throughout the game. Large insect people, a tree with faces and hair, and deformed children are some of the pieces you will see in the game. The menacing twists and violations of everyday items continue to remind you of Fran’s childhood trauma. All these pieces within the game represent items we would see in our world, but here they are twisted into this frightening, surreal set piece that has ultimately been influenced by Fran’s mindset.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-sea-ship-whale-8389d.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/r/s/z/rsz-sea-ship-whale-8389d.jpg","type":"slide","id":"176727","description":"

Whenever you think of Surrealism, the natural reaction for anyone is to think of Dali. He was a master in his field and undoubtedly a well-known Surrealist artist. However, there are many pieces of art and literature outside of the master that fall into this category. Video games also have Surrealist tendencies. 

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Surrealism isn't just for art or literature. The combination of everyday objects in weird places or in different sizes creates a surreal piece of art. Video games and their capabilities are certainly able to hit this checklist as well. 

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We have compiled a list of the best games that feature a Surrealist art style, where to buy them, and for how much. You can experience the weird juxtaposition of objects against one another on your all-time favorite platform. 

"}]]]>
The Importance of Story-Based Games https://www.gameskinny.com/b7099/the-importance-of-story-based-games https://www.gameskinny.com/b7099/the-importance-of-story-based-games Fri, 24 Nov 2017 11:01:43 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Narrative and good storytelling are integral aspects for creating an engaging, high-quality game. There are games where the story is less important, Minecraft for example, but a large number of games rely on writing and story to drive the game. This emphasis on narrative directly involves the player and immerses them further into the world the developers are trying to form. You can interact passively and experience a more linear story like Alan Wake or create your own story out of the choices you have made.

Story is the first thing I look for in a game; graphics, game mechanics, and multiplayer are all secondary. It was the intriguing stories of Assassin’s Creed and Dragon Age that drove me to discover more games and made gaming become a hobby of mine.

However, to some, story is not as important as other aspects of a game, with many believing that stories should be left to films and books if one wants a deep and emotional experience. Ultimately, though, video games are there to tell a story, and even Call of Duty has to have some coherence in its plot to drive the game forward. But violence and other factors take away from the depth of the story, some argue. However, these are minor bumps that can be overcome by truly great games or even made to further the narrative immersion. Not all game stories are created equally, but the stories that remain in our hearts are worthy of being recognized.

Not Just for Point and Clicks

Some believe that the very nature of action video games mean they can't carry a storyline as well as other mediums. The argument goes that powerful narratives should be reserved for point-and-click games or text based games. Far Cry 2's creative director, Clint Hocking, says "that there is a market for narrative games that spontaneously generate stories according to the way they’re being played." Hocking is not alone in this belief, as Guy Gadney, the creator of The Suspect, an interactive thriller, hopes "we are entering a stage, now, where writing shifts from being a monologue to a dialogue."

We are already seeing this shift, with more and more games implementing choices for players to make that directly affect the story. This is most prominent in the success of TellTale’s The Walking Dead.This sort of immersion provides us with something that films and books can’t by putting us directly in the middle of the action. Despite opinions to the contrary, this mechanic is not reserved just for point-and-clicks like The Walking Dead.

Nine months after Gadney's and Hockings's statements, Dragon Age: Inquisition was released. Although far from the procedural generation of Hockings's world, Dragon Age implements multiple choices and different possible endings for the game. To a certain extent, you could experience the story your way and make it entirely your own. Almost a year later, this was further improved on by The Witcher 3. It was a game praised for just about everything, but most importantly, it was praised for meaningful side quests that actually added something to the overall story.

Immersion is important with these games if they are going to succeed, as you are meant to experience the journey with the characters. For example The Walking Dead, wouldn't have been able to make grown men cry if they weren't invested in the story. It's important for developers to try and immerse players, since they are working with fictional worlds. You have to believe the world to enjoy the game, and to do that, you have to feel you are a part of it.

Should We Leave Stories to Books and Films? 

As befits one of the most important and enduring storytelling mediums, novels deal with deep issues and explore every side of humanity. One infamous opinion from Gamespot's forums declared that "novels deal with humanity in all its wonder, flaws and the problems that arise from human relations" but argues video games don’t have that depth. Yet that's not entirely accurate, as Dragon Age and The Witcher show.

Dragon Age

Two of the issues raised in Dragon Age are class and race, important issues that continue to affect the real world. The segregation of the mages and the treatment of the elves is a continuous theme throughout. These are fantasy species and classes, obviously, but they warn us of the issues in our own world. By removing ourselves from the natural prejudices and stereotypes we cast on people in reality, we can begin to see clearly how these attitudes cause great harm, and it does tell us something about the problems within our own relationships to others. After all, when you have no preconceptions of elves, then all you see is the horrific nature of their treatment rather than some attribute or other perceived as a problem.

One reviewer believed that "the ways in which the dialogue and gameplay decisions allow you to express your own views of faith make Inquisition the most personal game in the series." When a game allows you to project yourself that way in the story, it creates an incredibly deep experience. Even the original Dragon Age was praised for it's decision mechanic and its fantastic writing. Kotaku, reviewing the game back at it's release in 2009, expressed this idea nicely by saying "kingdoms rose and fell and important people lived or died based solely on my whims," and this continues to bring players back to replay the game again and again.

There are Dragon Age books, yes, but the books were created after the game and add to the world that was already created. Our ideas of how this world should be and what makes it special come solely from the video game, with all the features that make a good piece of prose work.

The Witcher

The entire Witcher franchise is based on a series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski. Yet most people I have spoken to don’t know the books even exist, and the games convincingly deal with the central problems of power and the soul-consuming search for it. You constantly see kings, sorceresses or sorcerers, knights, and essentially everyone all vying for power, one way or the other. You witness the horror of war that accompanies that search and the devastation it causes for the people. True, the books give you extensive background knowledge of the major players in the story. But those key components that tell--and teach--us something fundamental about human nature translate perfectly into game form, bringing those messages to a wider audience than the books could.

The Witcher was a smash hit, not just with gamers, but developers too. Hajime Tabata revealed that "one of the games my development team played a lot last year was The Witcher 3," stating that they had gotten to know the game really well. Everyone wanted a piece of the series' success, even to incorporate it into their own games, and the story elements were a major part of that. Even reviewers believe that The Witcher captured the essence of the stories. Oli Welsh with Eurogamer said

Sapkowski's universe is built on basic fantasy foundations - dragons, elves and magic in an alternate medieval Europe - but has a distinctive flavour. You'll find the politicking and grim brutality of Game of Thrones here, but also the lusty derring-do of Conan and the creepy allegories of the Brothers Grimm.

In short, the game is a synthesis of all the very human elements that have continued to capture people's imaginations for centuries.

When Games Get It Wrong

When a game's story just doesn't cut it, we all notice--something that couldn't be said if narrative in games wasn't important. Think back to games like Remember Me that held such promise with it's intriguing storyline. Ultimately the game had fantastic concepts, but it's execution was incredibly flat. IGN reviewer, Daniel Krupa believed that:

'Remember Me is brimming with promise. It desperately wants to play up some big ideas...sadly its best ideas don’t really find their way into the gameplay itself,' 

Remember Me is incredibly forgettable, as it couldn't create a cohesive plot that ran through the entirety of the game, even though it had some solid story devices that could have made is great. The frailty of memory and how people's minds can be used for corporate greed are startling and interesting ideas to present in a video game. People are manipulated by the powers above, just as we are today, only it's slightly more subtle in the game. Remember Me could--and should--have pulled from our world more and actually focused on that provocative narrative, integrating it into the action sequences. But it doesn't, and that's what keeps it from being a truly amazing game.

Even though I loved Infamous: Second Son, the story falls flat and doesn't pack the punch it should . Delsin is likeable, in a roguish sort of way, but the other main protagonists, Fetch and Eugene, are boring stereotypes. I also just couldn't engage with Fetch, probably as a result of her being such a static character; she was infinitely irritating, and I hated the missions with her. There were some scenes that should have been more powerful than they were, too. Reggie's death, for example, happens too fast, and you never have time to think about it. It always seems like Infamous  tries to pack a punch with it's story, but it just doesn't know how to get there.  

Films Vs. Games

So where does that leave us? Could we still say, as The Atlantic's Ian Bogost does, that "the best interactive stories are still worse than even middling books and films?" In short, no.

National Treasure got a 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it a good candidate for a "middling" film, and I wouldn’t put the narrative's quality anywhere near something like The Last of Us or Banner Saga in terms of engagement, value, or insight into human nature. Games are their story. Otherwise, games like Witcher and Dragon Age wouldn't get game of the year awards. There are examples where a game's story doesn't hold the same power, but this is the same for any art medium. 

Violence Doesn't Solve Anything

One opinion often expressed about how story isn't important in games is that the violence detracts from the story being told. For example,  BioShock Infinite has an incredibly deep and well-thought out storyline, but is interrupted by Booker DeWitt running around shooting ravens at multitudes of enemies. Grant Howitt argued that "BioShock: Infinite’s sumptuous world, fascinating plot and metaplot – and its series of nonsensical gunfights augmented by mad-science superpowers" conflict with each other, with the action sequences throughout the game undermining the strong story.

Basically, the argument goes, the fact that you have to interact with the story is sometimes what stops you from experiencing it. Whether it’s your AI partner running into a wall or a part of the map you can’t get to, these incidents take away from the story.

But if the violence and action scenes take away from the power of the narrative, then it should be true for films as well. For example, one could easily say the exceedingly long runway in Fast and Furious 6 detracts from any presence the story has, though others would say it's part of the story.

It all depends on how the story is carried out. For example, the original Jason Bourne trilogy merged the action scenes with story fantastically because the action and violence make sense within that world. The Last of Us has gut-punching emotional segments in the narrative, where the danger of enemies was imminent, and any violence or suggestion of it made sense within the universe. Carried out well, the interactive action scenes, should, and do, advance the story, rather than hinder it.

As far as the argument that action scenes and violence mean you don’t get the same flowing experience as you would with a film--that’s the beauty of video games. You don’t passively sit and absorb the story; you are part of the story. Even with a less story driven game, such as The Sims, people take joy from creating their own story in the game. You are directly moving the character through the story and in some games making their choices. You’re still experiencing the artists' vision while making the story your own.

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A lot of gamers want strong story elements in their games, and the power of the narrative cannot be overstated. Games tell a story that will never leave you, just as a favorite book or film won’t. The important difference, though, is you’re in the action--you live the story and learn even more from it as a result.

Do you think the story in a video game is important? What's your favorite narrative-centered video game? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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7 Best Games for Music Lovers https://www.gameskinny.com/u4bz0/7-best-games-for-music-lovers https://www.gameskinny.com/u4bz0/7-best-games-for-music-lovers Sun, 12 Nov 2017 17:05:07 -0500 Lauren Harris

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Music plays a huge part in most video games. Finding the right game that gets you moving is very important to music fans. There's many genres to choose from  these days but finding that perfect sound in a really fun game keeps music fans begging for more ways to jam out alone or with their friends.

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Whats your favorite video game soundtrack? Let us know in the comments below. 

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/9/f/8/9f831f60e46201ff168cd7cc570838fb2438e5e5-70931.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/9/f/8/9f831f60e46201ff168cd7cc570838fb2438e5e5-70931.jpg","type":"slide","id":"173024","description":"

Beat the Game 

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This indie-adventure created by Worm Animation allows the player to find sounds that bring about cut scenes as the story unfolds. Your character is equipped a Sound Scanner to help you track down sounds. Players will have to search the desert with a "Roboball" device for hidden objects within the game. 

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Finding and creating sounds that you can bring together to perform a live show at the end of the game is an exciting experience for music lovers. This strangely beautiful game brings the player a chance to create many sounds and mixers to use in their show; it allows players to enjoy searching and finding characters to give them items to use. Music lovers could enjoy this mysterious game that brings music and adventure together in one twisted and alluring way. Get it for yourself or read GameSkinny's review of Beat the Game.

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Price: $9.99

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Purchase the game on Steam.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/l/e/elekds00b-c0916.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/e/l/e/elekds00b-c0916.jpg","type":"slide","id":"173023","description":"

Electroplankton

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Nintendo created another portable game for music lovers. The player gets to choose from a variety of monsters called Electroplankton, with the different monsters having their own unique sounds. By placing them together you can create an array of different sounds when you touch them.

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Electroplankton can be a good game for music lovers. Especially if they are playing gigs. Music lovers could even create full albums of soothing - electronic music.

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Price: $14.99

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 Purchase Electroplankton here.

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"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/j/a/m/jamsess-abd6c.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/j/a/m/jamsess-abd6c.jpg","type":"slide","id":"173022","description":"

Jam Sessions

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This on-the-go type of guitar player let's you play guitar by strumming the string on the screen of the Nintendo DS as well as selecting chords using the control pad.

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The sound of the guitar is authentic, just like if you were playing a real guitar. Music lovers would really enjoy this portable games as it is an exciting way to play guitar.

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Price: $6.65

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Purchase Jam Sessions here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/i/p/lipspromo2-2fe3a.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/l/i/p/lipspromo2-2fe3a.jpg","type":"slide","id":"173021","description":"

Lips 

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 Karaoke has been around for a long time. Every now and again people want to sing, even when they can't. Lips provides just that, in the comfort of your own home.

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The game lets you sing pop, rock, and many more genres of music. Music lovers would enjoy this game because it lets you pick what you want to sing. The players have choices and everyone loves choices especially when it comes to music. We all have different preferences in music so why not enjoy what you like in your own home or with a group of friends. 

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Price: $2.99

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Purchase the game here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/4/e/3/4e335916160a9e7437f1765af64b70a09d8be7d0-9a302.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/4/e/3/4e335916160a9e7437f1765af64b70a09d8be7d0-9a302.jpg","type":"slide","id":"173020","description":"

Brutal Legend

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This has got to be one of the most popular music games for RPG. This action-adventure brings the combat and open world freedom. The Demons want to take over the human race and to permanently erase heavy metal music forever.

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The characters are played by an All-star cast like Jack Black and Eddie Riggs. This heavy metal action RPG is a music lovers dream. If metal is your forte, this game would be the perfect rock session for friends to enjoy together. Fighting demons and commanding the power of rock in exhilarating band battles will keep any music lover’s attention for hours.

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Price: $14.99

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Purchase this rock sensation on Steam.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/n/o/gnog-bc30a.png","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/g/n/o/gnog-bc30a.png","type":"slide","id":"173019","description":"

GNOG

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This visually stunning 3D game sends the player on a musical  and mechanically beautiful journey. GNOG takes you through a 3D world beyond the imagination. The player explores this mechanical toy land while enjoying the intricate designs and puzzles along the way.

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The soundtrack is very playful and exciting. It really makes you want to dive deeper into the game. Because of how well the music flows with the gameplay, GNOG appeals to all sorts of music lovers. 

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Price: $14.99

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You can purchase this exciting music adventure here.

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/e/t/metronomicon-screenshot-featured-47d99.jpg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/m/e/t/metronomicon-screenshot-featured-47d99.jpg","type":"slide","id":"173018","description":"

The Metronomicon

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There's a lot of video games that are popular for making you get up and dance. Rock Band has been the most popular throughout the video game universe for just that, but there are many other video games that bring dancing and fighting together.

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One of the best is The Metronomicon, dancing to a tune is one thing but fighting monsters with the power of music is something a lot more interesting to see. This funky-RPG lets you take control of eight newly graduated masters of the "rhythmic combat arts." Using four tracks at a time you can control the spells and other abilities of your eight characters. Good-timing and excellent performance will determine the effectiveness of those funky moves. 

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The Metronomicon appeals to all types of players. Music lovers would enjoy the newest electronic and synth wave soundtracks, bringing exciting music to a groovy game would make anyone want to dance. The game also allows music lovers to use Rock Band guitars. This funkadelic RPG game would be a hit to music fans everywhere.

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Price: $19.99

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Buy it on: Steam

"},{"image":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_360,w_640/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/b/c/bbc6ae20-30b7-44f6-b2fa-6976e5b4ef7f-42ba2.jpeg","thumb":"https://res.cloudinary.com/lmn/image/upload/c_limit,h_85,w_97/e_sharpen:100/f_auto,fl_lossy,q_auto/v1/gameskinnyc/b/b/c/bbc6ae20-30b7-44f6-b2fa-6976e5b4ef7f-42ba2.jpeg","type":"slide","id":"173108","description":"

Most music lovers understand the importance of a good tune, but video game music lovers have their own taste in music whether its rock, electronic, or pop. Some have to actually enjoy the music as they play and indulge their ears in the beautiful tunes. Music lovers can enjoy a good game but the music has to grab their attention. If you're a fan of game soundtracks, then check out seven of the best games for music lovers.

"}]]]>
5 Tricks to Get Through Your Gaming Backlog https://www.gameskinny.com/ivexg/5-tricks-to-get-through-your-gaming-backlog https://www.gameskinny.com/ivexg/5-tricks-to-get-through-your-gaming-backlog Thu, 09 Nov 2017 11:05:35 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Have you got a library of games on Steam as long as your arm? Have you not even played 75% of your GOG.com library? Well, you’re in luck, as we’re here to help you conquer that backlog. Our useful tips should help you power through those games you always wanted to play but haven’t gotten around to yet. Before you know it, you will have overcome that mountain of games that has been staring at you for so long. 

Make Time to Play Games

This one may seem quite obvious, but sometimes we neglect the time we should be devoting to playing video games. In our busy lives, it’s hard to sit down regularly to get through that hurdle of games, so playing when you can is important. Just as you would sit down once a week for your favorite show or read a book for an hour before bed, you’ll need to set aside time to play video games.

Not everyone has the same amount of free time, so work games into your schedule. If you can’t play for a day or you can only play for half an hour, that’s fine. The important thing is to make time to play your games, and that pile will start to dwindle before your eyes.

Try to Focus on One Game at a Time

It’s hard to focus on one game when there are so many you could be playing, but not doing so can set you back on your quest to get through your backlog. Try to focus on one game at a time (or two, if you get bored), and prioritize what you want to play. This way you aren’t missing out on any of those games that you desperately want to play.

This trick can also be implemented once you’ve made your way through the backlog beast. If you continue to focus on one or two games, you’ll find that your backlog hopefully won’t return as quickly.

Prioritize Single-Player, Campaign-Based Games

We all love playing video games with friends and strangers. It’s what makes being a gamer so fun -- the community is always there. However, this is majorly contributing to the backlog of games you’ve got piling up behind the scene. When you continue to play multiplayer games or simulations with no definitive conclusion, you can sink hours into them with no end on the horizon. Focusing on a game that has a set ending will help you get through your games much faster.

That’s not to say you should give up on open-ended games entirely, but try to make time for single-player, campaign-based games in particular. Dead by Daylight or Civilization VI are still going to be there once you’ve finished your backlog, and they can create a fun change of pace for when you get bored of a certain game.

 

Stop Buying More Games 

I know it’s difficult and that you practically want to strangle me through the screen for saying it, but it's important to finish the games you already own first. It’s always so tempting when those Steam sales come along and you can purchase that game you’ve had your eye on for a few dollars. Nevertheless, continuing to buy games when you haven’t gotten close to finishing the ones you have only adds to the gaming mountain.

You need to be strong and know that these sales will come around again at some point and that you’ll be ready for them then. Until that time, you’re just adding to the masses of games you’ll want to get through.

You Don’t Have to Complete Them 100%

Achievement hunting is tempting, and it fulfills that completionist need inside of us, but do you really want to slog through just to earn a badge? Some people do, but odds are if you’re trying to clear a backlog, it’s because you want to move on to more games out there instead of getting that 100%.

As for finishing the main campaign, that is entirely up to you. If you’re not feeling the game you’re playing, or if you think you’ve achieved everything you wanted to, then you don’t have to play on. Gaming is about your experience and how you interact with the story; you get to decide for yourself when you've reached the end.

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Remember when working through your backlog of games that gaming should be fun, and if you’re not enjoying yourself, then something is wrong. Let your games sweep you away, and don’t get bogged down by titles you haven’t touched. 

Have you got a backlog of games? How do you deal with it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Header image courtesy of Nerdist

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5 Video Game Worlds that Should be Expanded into Novels https://www.gameskinny.com/w1att/5-video-game-worlds-that-should-be-expanded-into-novels https://www.gameskinny.com/w1att/5-video-game-worlds-that-should-be-expanded-into-novels Wed, 08 Nov 2017 16:35:33 -0500 Lauren Harris

Video game stories and adventures are just as good as any book we’ve read or are currently reading. For some of these games, I think their story should be continued or created into heart-warming and courageous novels. Most video games stories deserve to be written and expressed meticulously to the reader and these are some of the best RPG adventures about survival, mystery, and hardship that should be published in a good book.

Firewatch

Firewatch was one of those first-person RPGs that stayed with me after I completed the game. The intense fear of being by yourself in the Wyoming wilderness with only a walkie-talkie to communicate with your supervisor is a compelling premise. The game really gave you the feeling of actually being the character. Creating a book around Firewatch would be a good way to expand the story and bring out a lot more detail. It would be exciting to display to the reader how scary it can be when you're on your own in the wilderness and highlight the story of survival and friendship found within the game.

Gone Home

This nostalgic mystery exploration game gives you that classic 90's feel. The player returns home after a year overseas. You get home, and no one’s there. This interactive story lets you comb through each part of the house to pick up objects and find clues. You discover the events of the lives of your family members in the items they left behind. A book adaptation for this game would really bring out the story of the characters. It’s a story about discovering one’s self. Books bring out detail in every story, and a book for Gone Home would bring the story to life on another level. This game would be an amazing mystery book for all ages to enjoy.

Heavy Rain

Quantic Dream has created some of the best life-like games that I've ever seen. Their video games should be made into movies if you ask me. Heavy Rain was one of the most emotional games I've ever played.

This action-adventure and cinematic psychological thriller revolves around multiple characters. Each character has different agendas in the story. The player's decisions affect how the game progresses. This could be a good interactive book. This game covers the struggles and consequences associated with the decisions each character has to make. Readers could relate to some of their stories and feel the pain of the result of their actions. The story of Heavy Rain is heartbreaking, but it has profound potential to be written into multiple stories or become one thrilling novel.

Horizon Zero Dawn 

This exciting action/adventure RPG takes place in a vast post-apocalyptic world where deadly machines have taken over what’s left of the ruins. The civilization of humans is primitive and almost extinct. 

The game has great potential as an in-depth fantasy book if written by a good author--someone who can bring the ruins of this once thriving world to life and illustrate that surreal feeling to the readers. The story is an exhilarating action adventure about survival--the struggle to survive and co-exist with machines. Writing a book about this game would be a new chapter to keeping the video game's story alive and it could also build more stories from the game to extend the adventure. 

Infamous:First Light

Sucker Punch created a standalone game which allows the player to control Abagail Walker. Abagail and her brother Brent ran away from home because of an accident in school that involved injuring a student. They both turned to drugs to deal with their struggles, but Brent eventually got clean. He wanted Abigail to get clean as well, so he would hide her stash. He even ended up working for gangs to get enough money to cross the border to Canada by boat.

First Light could be a novel about the struggles that both siblings had to face from society and in their everyday life. Although the story-line of the game was short, it has the potential to become a powerful fantasy novel. This story could be expanded to delve deeper into the characters' lives and show how resourceful they both had to be to survive. The story of this game could definitely be an interesting novel. 

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Everyone has their own opinion about video games and how they’re portrayed in movies. I have to say most movies don’t do the video games they are based upon any justice because they don’t stick to the story or the characters they portray. Extending the story in a good book gives the game life and actually takes the reader on a journey into the life of the characters. We all know books are far better than any movie. So, to create a novel about any of these amazing characters would be an exciting adventure I’d want to be a part of. 

Do you think video games should also become novels? Which video game stories would you like to see in a book? Let’s hear your opinions in the comments below. 

 

 

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East to West: The Major Differences in Game Releases Based on Geographic Locations https://www.gameskinny.com/w75lm/east-to-west-the-major-differences-in-game-releases-based-on-geographic-locations https://www.gameskinny.com/w75lm/east-to-west-the-major-differences-in-game-releases-based-on-geographic-locations Wed, 08 Nov 2017 15:40:40 -0500 Sarah Elliman

Ever since video games started being released internationally, developers have been changing or removing certain pieces of content. These changes usually end up being cosmetic only, with some larger changes required depending on the region,and the most common things to be changed are depictions of violence, sex or nudity, and religious content. However, it's not just games released in the US that end up changed. Japan, Europe, and some Middle Eastern countries adapt releases to suit their particular cultures or needs as well.

Censorship or Localization?

Many games go through a variety of changes when they are released for different areas. These are often minute changes to fit the cultural differences between the areas they are being released. The changes do not mean that a game is censored, however; it's more that they are localized for that specific region.

Censorship means that there is a suppression or prohibition of parts from a game and other forms of expression, such as books or films, whereas localizing a game is the process by which a company adapts something to be local in character. So, in other words, "localisation is not outright censorship, but merely adapting a piece of work," while censorship deals more with the suppression of thought and ideas.

With that in mind, a lot of games that move between regions fall under the category of localization, rather than censorship. These changes are typically made because of cultural differences, tragic circumstances in the region, or for religious purposes. Some regions may have issues with nudity, with North America being one of the major regions where this change is made, alongside Middle Eastern areas, such as Saudi Arabia.

Or the culture could have issues with certain religious depictions, and these are changed in the localization process to fit that region's perspective. It doesn’t restrict free speech, as it doesn’t tend to restrict ideas, but change certain cosmetic effects to fit the sensibilities of the region.

Nudity and Sex

This is one of the major aspects of video games changed for all sorts of launches. It is especially true of releases in North American and Middle Eastern nations, since they tend to have a greater aversion to nudity, rather than other things like violence, but other nations aren't always happy with certain depictions of sexual content.

Cover-Ups

You can find numerous examples of localization changes made for American releases when it comes to sex and nudity, especially with a series like Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI were games that were changed for American releases by removing anything risqué. For example, the town dancers in bikinis were covered up with leotards in Final Fantasy IV, and all nudity was covered up for the Espers in Final Fantasy VI. More recent games were localized for nudity and sex too. Games like Indigo Prophecy and The Witcher had graphic sex scenes removed, and most of the nudity was removed as well, unless the scene happened to be integral to the story.

The FFIV remake, however, stuck to the original intention for the dancer's design.

Although countries such as Japan are more open about nudity and sex in video games, that doesn't mean every instance is permissible. GTA V, for example, was changed for Korean and Japanese launches, removing or modifying a lot of controversial sex and nudity. However, the examples and instances where this is changed for Japanese audiences are fewer by far compared to North America.

Why Bother?

So why is there a massive difference between places like North America and Japan when it comes to sex and nudity? 

There is a substantial cultural difference between Japan and America, which explains the frequent level of localization between the two countries. Culturally, Americans are more sensitive to nudity, and sex is a particularly sensitive topic. The 2015 Parents Ratings Advisory Study showed that 80% of Americans studied were more concerned with sex scenes in films than violence. This was a study predominantly looking at films; however, considering the gaming medium's similarities with the film industry, the concepts involved are still closely linked.

There is not the same stigma in Japan and European countries, especially regarding female nudity. My own experience can attest to that. When I was working in a gaming store, a woman wanted to bring back a copy of GTA V that she had bought for her 8-year-old son. She told me she knew about the violence in it, but didn’t realize there was nudity and brought it straight back. Whereas traveling through Europe, I saw many of the beaches throughout Europe are topless, and the Scandinavian spas normally have a clothing optional policy. Being in Spain at the moment, I see even their advertisements featuring full-frontal nudity, as long as they air after the watershed.

Religion

Religion is another reason why games can be altered, because religion is central to lives of those who worship, regardless of the creed. Insulting or demeaning someone's religion, even without meaning to, can send people into a fury and cause backlash against the company.

Holy [Censored] Batman!

One issue that caused mass controversy was the design of Hindu gods in SMITE, especially Kali. The Hindu community in India was not pleased with the representation of their goddess and asked Hi-Rez to make changes. The developer eventually removed Kali from the website, but not much more. 

Kali is an important goddess within the Hindu community, and some sects worships Kali as the ultimate goddess or the true form of Brahman. She is the goddess of death, time, and sexuality, but has always had strong roots in motherhood too.  Hi-Rez didn't want to issue a statement on their removal of Kali from the website, but the Hindu community is still pressing for their other gods to be removed as well. 

However, Hi-Rez's Todd Howard believed that:

Hinduism, being one of the world's oldest, largest and most diverse traditions, also provides inspiration toward deities in our game. In fact, given Hinduism's concept of a single truth with multiple physical manifestations one could validly interpret ALL the gods within SMITE to be Hindu. And all gods outside of SMITE as well. Ponder that for a minute. Anyway, going forward SMITE will include even more deities, not fewer.

Although this opinion suggests that Todd Howard would have preffered not to remove the gods altogether, the Hindu community still wants their gods to be removed from the game. Rajan Zed, a Hindu statesmen and the President of Universal Society of Hinduism said that the removal of Kali from the website was "a 'step in the right direction,' thanking Hi-Rez Studios for being so understanding."

Games like CoD 4 have been banned in countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because of the perceived negative presentation of Arabs, along with passages from the Qur'an being added into the game. Since the games are banned outright, these issues come under censorship, rather than localization. But the religion and culture of these places will not permit these offenses, so it also relates to localization and shows how the two are often closely connected. 

The Devil in the Details

It isn't just the Middle Eastern and Asian worlds affected by religious imagery in video games. Many localization changes from Japan to America change the religious imagery presented as well.

Religious imagery had to be removed in games like Final Fantasy IV and Super Castlevania IV. Any references to Christianity in FFIV were removed, including Holy, and religious imagery and all references to prayer were taken out or altered, such as the Tower of Prayer being changed to The Tower of Wishes. Even direct references to death were taken out.

The other early Castlevania games were no different, with a lot of crosses taken out of the North American release, among other things. The only piece of religious imagery to stay throughout Castlevania was a piece of rosary that was integral to the game and it's overall image.

There was also the infamous chanting debate surrounding the Fire Temple in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There has been some controversy about what happened with the Fire Temple and whether the chanting was removed from the game before release. It has always been argued that the chanting was removed to avoid religious controversy, along with changing the original Gerudo symbol--which resembled the Islamic crescent and star--over misusing religious elements. Continuing with the Zelda series, but on a smaller scale,the Bible was turned into the Book of Magic, even though Link's shield retained its cross.

Violence

Violence is another aspect of video games that is often changed for releases. However, we mainly tend to see  North American games being changed to accommodate European and Middle Eastern standards of what constitutes over-the-top violence.

Some interesting examples of these changes relate to North American games released in Japan. Games like Crash Bandicoot 2 and The Last of Us were altered for their gratuitous violence. One of the death scenes was altered for Crash, where he was just a squashed head and feet, as it resembled the work of a serial killer in Japan at the time. The Last of Us was mainly altered in multiplayer to remove any dismemberment or exploding heads. The change doesn't feature in the main story, and the dismemberment is obscured and covered by camera angles, rather then removed.

Other games, like Manhunt, were banned for their excessive violence in a variety of different countries, from the East to places like the United Kingdom.  Germany has strict rules for their games, as decided by the USK, that limit the amount of blood and gore that is visible in their video games. (The USK "is the officially recognized institution responsible for the classification of computer and video games in Germany.") For example, the German version of Team Fortress 2 has no blood or detached body parts shown as part of the required regulations for the game. The USK is responsible for the protection of children and youths particularly in the gaming industry and the content they are available to see.

One theory for Germany's censure of video games is that:

due to its history and a cohesive nation opinion, the legislature limits content severely, much more severely than the surrounding European nation.

This is why the USK exists, as the general consensus of those living in Germany is to limit profanity and violence in video games.

You Decide

Perhaps all these changes are limiting our gaming experience and we're putting too much pressure on the companies. Yet some also argue that many of these changes are purely cosmetic and do not alter the story. However, one anti-censorship opinion is "it is no one’s responsibility but yourself to determine what is offensive or not."  Video game development is a business, though, and companies, at all cost, want to avoid backlash, since it is much better for business if they aren't involved in a major scandal. In the end, there are multiple sides to the story that make it difficult to arrive at an easy answer. 

Do you think that games should be changed at all? Or is it not worth worrying about? Let us know in the comments!

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Top 7 Gaming Subscription Services for Your Money https://www.gameskinny.com/0i56a/top-7-gaming-subscription-services-for-your-money https://www.gameskinny.com/0i56a/top-7-gaming-subscription-services-for-your-money Tue, 31 Oct 2017 17:22:02 -0400 Sarah Elliman

We’ve all heard that cliché, the unavoidable "Netflix for gaming," phrase, but who can really take the top spot? There are surprisingly more gaming subscription services than you would expect that can offer you different services. But which ones offer you more bang for your buck? What subscription offers you the greater variety of games? We’re here to answer your questions and give you the top 7 list on gaming subscriptions.

7. OnePlay

This service mainly came in dead last for me as it felt less clear on what services it offered for your money. There are a variety of options from a basic package, to VIP membership, then to renting and buying. It appears you get some games for free as part of your subscription, but other titles you buy at a discounted rate. The distinction didn’t appear to be very clear when browsing through their site.

OnePlay does boast one of the most extensive list of video games with over 2,000 titles and new games added weekly. Furthermore, it is both a PC and Android games subscription, so you get games for both platforms within the bounds of your subscription.

The price is pretty good at $9.99 for the month which also gives you 10% off your purchases. If you’re not sure about the service than you have a 7-day trial to give it a go. However, the confusing nature of the website and the lack of clarity on what titles are playable, rent-able or to buy is worrisome. There are other gaming subscription services with greater transparency and with a similar number of games.

 

6. PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now is a great subscription service if you want to play PS3 classics or perhaps don’t have access to a PS4. PlayStation Now features over 500 games for PS4 and PS3 with more being added every month to the gaming subscription service. However, it is the price that lets this service down.

As you will see throughout the article, PlayStation Now is the most expensive service going. A one-month subscription will set your bank balance back by $19.99 and a three-month long package will take you back by $44.99. Compared to other gaming subscription services, PlayStation Now is incredibly pricey.

The saving grace for the service is being able to use it without owning a PS4. You can use PlayStation Now on PC and even on some smart TVs if you have a compatible controller. This is perfect if you want to experience those PlayStation exclusives like Uncharted or The Last of Us without investing in a console. Furthermore, for as long as you hold your subscription you have unlimited access to PlayStation Now’s library.

Sadly, with the higher price tag and the 7-day trial it puts PlayStation Now in second to last place. The range of games and cross platform play is fantastic. However, there are other services that offer a similar range for a less expensive price.

5. Xbox One Pass

The Xbox One Pass ranks slightly higher than PlayStation Now simply because of the pricing. The service is relatively new, which is why you have a much more limited selection of games. The service boasts only 100 titles, which is the second lowest of all seven.

Nevertheless, Microsoft are slowly adding new games to the roaster which include both Xbox One and Xbox 360 games. Additionally, when you have a 14 day free trial and a monthly subscription for $9.99, you get way more for your money.

You will receive unlimited access to the Xbox Games Pass library and get discounts on select games and season passes for Xbox One games. Fantastic titles like Halo 5: Guardians and Payday are already available with Xbox Game Pass, with more to be added along the way.

The Xbox Games Pass saves you money while still offering you the chance to play classic Xbox games. The price tag is on the lower end of the scale and once the games roster has been bulked out, it’ll be worth more than the money you pay.

4. GameFly

GameFly offers you a gaming subscription without having to buy an expensive console. No PlayStation, no Xbox, no PC? Don’t worry because GameFly has got you covered.

GameFly works through certain smart TV’s and through Amazon Fire. All you need is a compatible controller or your handheld device and you’re good to go. This is the perfect service for anyone who can’t purchase a console for any reason, but still loves gaming! The app is applicable to certain Samsung, LG and Phillips TV models, but if you don’t have that model then don’t panic. An Amazon Fire Stick will turn your TV into a smart TV and you can access the app there.

The subscription service is less than $10 a month with a growing list of games and unlimited access. It is one of the best gaming subscriptions out there. GameFly also saves your data to the cloud so you won’t have to worry about losing all the hard work you put into a game. There are already notable games on GameFly, such as Borderlands 2, the Batman series and the Bioshock series.

GameFly is the perfect middle ground gaming subscription service. It allows for flexibility without burning a hole in your wallet. You can play some great games as much as you want without having to fork out the cash for a console.

3. EA Access

EA Access is a personal favorite of mine, mainly because of the incredibly cheap price tag and the access to games you receive as part of your subscription. If you haven’t already guessed, they are all EA games which is why it is in third place. But, the type of access you get for the price is astounding to say the least.

For a one-month subscription you will pay $4.99--this is the cheapest subscription price yet! Even better is that if you invest in a year of EA Access it will only cost you $29.99. It feels like you're practically stealing from the company, especially when they throw in a further 10% discount on digital EA purchases on games not included as part of Access. You really get incredible value for money. You can access the service through Origins or through Xbox One, giving you more freedom of movement with the service.

When you sign up to EA Access, you will be able to play games from the EA vault. These games are free to play and for an unlimited period, as long as you keep the subscription. I personally downloaded all three Dragon Age installments for free and all the DLC’s came with them. It really gave me incentive to re-play this beloved series. If Dragon Age isn’t your style then other games in the vault include Mass Effect Andromeda, FIFA17 and Battlefield 1, with many more that I haven’t listed. You don’t just get old forgotten games nobody wants to play anymore, but hot new releases as well. If that wasn’t enough, you also get to try EA games before they are even released!

EA Access has incredible value for money with some fantastic AAA titles to keep you entertained. However, because it is simply EA games it won’t be to everyone’s taste and that’s why they only win the bronze.

2. Jump

Jump is a wonderful gaming subscription service if you’re mad for Indie games. Jump specializes in giving their customers access to award winning Indie games; you won’t find an 8-year old's attempt to make their Halo fan game here. It’s the perfect way to discover magnificent pieces of work that you may not have heard of before.

Jump offers you a 14-day free trial which then turns to a $9.99 charge after the trial period ends. With that subscription cost you get unlimited access to their Indie collection. The only negative is that their roster is just over 60 games. It is the lowest roster in our list, but is comprised of high-quality games. A lot of services may throw in a lot of titles that don’t give you the quality that Jump does. Some intriguing titles that have been added recently include Along the Edge, The Bridge and Always Sometimes Monsters. Furthermore, you can also submit a game to the company that you think should be added to the list.

Even though Jump offers the lowest number of titles, it is still a fantastic service. Indie games are the soul of the gaming community, and Jump brings the best together for you to play. Without any constraints as well. It may not be the most extensive, but the quality of the games is the highest.

1. Utomik

Last but not least by any means is the grand gaming subscription service Utomik. Combining a low price with a larger roster and a high number of quality games puts Utomik in the top spot. They have partnered up with companies such as TellTale Games, SEGA, Paradox and even Disney to bring you quality games at a low price.

 So how low can Utomik go? For one user you will pay $5.99 for the month and this will give you unlimited access to Utomik’s library. This consists of over 640 games, with 20 new games being added every month. You’ll never be able to get through them all! Even better if you’re in a family or you and your roommates want to join than there is a family plan. This is only $9.99 a month and allows 4 users unlimited access and for any family’s parental controls as well. You even get a 14-day free trial to test it out!

Saint’s Row, Dead Island, Borderlands are just some of the games you can access through Utomik. They also have a whole host of Indie games that are ready at your disposal. Kid’s giving you hassle? Roommate won’t budge from the couch? Throw in Utomik and you’ll be able to enjoy the gaming subscription service too.

My Verdict

Utomik, to me, is the best service out there. It combines a great price, range and quality of games with unlimited access to those games. Why not check them out for yourself? All services have been linked so you can see which one is right for you.

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Do you agree with the list? Did I miss your favorite gaming subscription service? Comment below and let us know what you think!

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Learning with Assassin's Creed: Origins https://www.gameskinny.com/vywq5/learning-with-assassins-creed-origins https://www.gameskinny.com/vywq5/learning-with-assassins-creed-origins Wed, 25 Oct 2017 12:23:08 -0400 Sarah Elliman

With the upcoming release of Assassin’s Creed Origins on the horizon, an aspect of the game which is rarely discussed is the educational and cultural significance of the franchise. Undoubtedly, the last few installments of the series have leaned on these attributes less, yet there is hope that Origins may return to form while simultaneously injecting the series with a fresh attitude. Over the recent years, big titles such as The Last of Us prove that video games don’t have to be mindless and that it’s not about consistently killing waves and waves of faceless enemies. A good game should give us insight into the world and reflect the depths of human nature.

Firstly, let us start with Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood as well-rounded examples of a video game that nurtures a more intellectual environment. I have chosen these two specifically as they implemented a lot of new features to the series while refining other aspects from the first game. For example, the introduction of the codex was a marvelous innovation that was lacking in the first installment that further immerses the player into the world. The codex acting as snippets of information is wonderful for a brief overview of key events, buildings, etc and would have been a dream when learning about the Crusades in college--the perfect excuse to play video games all day.

Although it can be considered to offer a small and basic snippet of the history of the period, it nevertheless ignited a love for the Italian Renaissance that I never realized I possessed until playing Assassin’s Creed. Furthermore, Ubisoft were able to expertly weave the historical events in with the fictional narrative of the series that made the period of history seem exciting, which upon further investigating, is a wonderfully diverse era. The desire to learn more about the era came from the realism in the characters and the wonderfully romanticized image in my mind about Italy and its culture.

Leonardo Da Vinci is a perfect example of this, everybody knows the name and the genius behind the man, but to see him conveyed in a human form instead of the divine one written in history is what intrigued me to look into the polymath more. This is implemented exceedingly well in Brotherhood when he helps Ezio against Ceasare Borgia, it is believed by many historians that Da Vinci abhorred war and a lot of his war machines had intentional faults so that they could never be used. This is perfectly conveyed by the kind and gentle nature portrayed in Da Vinci within the series and lets you connect with the many possibilities of history in an easily consumable format. There is a more wholesome air to these installments in the series than has ever been portrayed in the later games. 

As discussed the series hasn’t always been able to capture the zeitgeist of whichever era it is trying to capture. This is perhaps due to the series’ inability to be able to adapt with the times and move forward in a way that fits with the changing attitudes and desires of gamers. Anyone who is close to the series and has been following it for a long time can probably remember the social controversy around Unity and its lack of playable female characters. Considering this was a game heavily leaning on cooperative play within the main campaign, there was no diversity in terms of character design. What made the situation worse was Ubisoft’s statements about the fiasco:

Assassin’s Creed Unity is focused on the story of the lead character, Arno. Whether playing by yourself or with the co-op shared experiences, you the gamer will always be playing Arno, complete with his broad range of gear and skill sets that will make you feel unique. With regard to diversity in our playable Assassins, we’ve featured Aveline, Connor, Adewale and Altair in the Assassin’s Creed games and we continue to look at showcasing diverse characters. We look forward to introducing you to some of the strong female characters in Assassin’s Creed Unity."

However, this statement was not satisfactory to a lot of fans of the series, considering that one of Ubisoft’s own spokespeople stated that putting in female characters would have taken double the amount of time. But why is this important? When you consider the four examples given in the statement above, where two of the four were simply spin offs and not part of the main series, it highlights a massive problem. A lot of people may say that it is simply for historical accuracy, however it is important to remember that the soul of the game is the combination of the historical element, but also the overarching story of the Assassins.

Any art or entertainment reflects the world we live in, and if people don’t see themselves represented it takes away from the immersion and perhaps desire to learn about the events in the games. The game doesn’t need to be one hundred percent accurate as it has its own narrative to carry it forward. In addition, if people cared about the accuracy of the game then they would be up in arms about the portrayal of the French Revolution. Then further down the line at how Syndicate deals with the horrors of the Industrial Revolution, it is clear from these examples that Ubisoft lost what made it special with these two installments.

Unity, to start with takes place in the period of the French Revolution, not the one popularised by Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. If someone was truly concerned with historical accuracy or at least a lasting impression of the era, then characters such as Napoleon wouldn’t simply be thrown in to make anyone with a basic knowledge of world events jump for joy. In the words of Eric Hobsbawm, a British historian, Napoleon was:

“...as a general he had no equal; as a ruler he was a superbly efficient planner...” Eric Hobsbawm (The Age of Revolution)

Napoleon was undeniably a figurehead of the later part of the revolution which lead to astronomical political change within Europe, but his portrayal in Unity doesn’t even scratch the surface of that depth. Unlike Leonardo, there is no deeper understanding of the character and their personality. By sidelining important figures they lost that connection of history and narrative that worked so well previously. This is further evidenced by the treatment of Marx in Syndicate: he appears only for a couple of side quests so you gain no substantial information about such a key figure within this time period. Assassin’s Creed lost its charisma and liveliness by benching the history and losing a key element of what made the series interesting.

The break in the regular yearly installments to the franchise appear to have injected a sense of vitality and reawakening in the series. Although there are only short snippets of game-play, they appear to have moved forward with the times and observed what gamers have been longing for. The Witcher has had a massive influence over the industry in recent years due to its overwhelming success that took what was considered a cult game to world-wide acclaim. Many games are now implementing the open world aspect and creating quests that feel like they contribute to the wider story arch. Assassin’s Creed Origins appears to be no exception, with a map that opens up more as you explore, which should hopefully convey the expansive history and culture of Ancient Egypt. Combine this with the fantastic graphics and expansive environments we have seen within the trailers and snippets of gameplay, and we could be witnessing a revitalization of this classic series. With being able to:

“...uncover lost tombs, explore the pyramids, and discover the secrets of mummies, the gods and the last pharaohs,”

this could mean that Assassin’s Creed fans get an immersive experience comparative to the second installment. By adding diversity into the world, the reflection of Ancient Egypt will hopefully run smoothly with the tale of the Assassins and the cultural vibe of the time.

Perhaps, then, Assassin’s Creed is moving back in the direction that made it so popular in the first place: the intriguing take on historical events without losing the intricate details. The Crusades and the Italian Renaissance were very prominent time periods within European history, and the game captured this essence in a fantastic way. It fanned the flames of interest in history and made it more accessible to people. It is a popularized version of history, but a realistic and human version, too. It would be wonderful if Ubisoft could create a history of Ancient Egypt within their game that doesn’t feel commandeered by Western media. The decision to add the guided tours has given me hope that Assassin’s Creed is trying to retain the magic it started with.

“Discovery Tour is clearly focused on education and on bringing people actual facts, more academic knowledge,”

- Jean Guesdon (Creative Director AC: Origins)

Hopefully we are seeing not only a revitalization of the historical aspect but a more in depth one as well. The choice for Bayek as a main character keeps the hope alive. With fingers, crossed we await the release of Origins on the 27th of October, praying that it is a return to the series that has long been anticipated.

How do you feel about Assassin's Creed? Do you think Origins can redeem the series? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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Why Video Games Should Be Considered Art https://www.gameskinny.com/mzcvo/why-video-games-should-be-considered-art https://www.gameskinny.com/mzcvo/why-video-games-should-be-considered-art Mon, 23 Oct 2017 09:56:03 -0400 Sarah Elliman

It is incontrovertible that the debate around whether video games can be considered an art form or not is a contentious subject. Some believe it is the ultimate medium of expression, combining various art forms into one and making it interactive. Others believe that considering video games as art devalues the works of various artists in different fields. Although video games are legally recognised as art forms, the debate is still widely discussed. I personally believe that video games combine many beautiful art forms into one incredible interactive piece. You can learn from and experience situations you may never have been in before. The public's view on art and what mediums should be considered art vary as widely as the pieces of art present in our world.

In 2011 it was ruled by the Supreme Court that video games should be protected by the First Amendment.

“Like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas – and even social messages – through many familiar literary devices…and through features distinctive to the medium.”

- Anthony Scalia, Supreme Court Justice

Even legally protected as an art form, many don’t see the artistic nature of video games.

People view art in different ways and without a clarification of meaning it can be hard to differentiate between the mediums. Jonathon Jones wrote for The Guardian on the matter stating that:

"...any definition of art is one person’s reaction to life. Any definition of art that robs it of this inner response by a human creator is a worthless definition."

Understanding that this is a valid point if that is how you view art is applicable, however the basic component of this definition is that art is a reflection of life. If you take the opinion of the famous playwright, Oscar Wilde, he believed that ‘life imitates art far more than art imitates life,’ having varying personal definitions of art harms our view of video games as art.

So when definitions aren’t clear it is hard to define what should fit the unstable definition of art. Perhaps, you may argue that there are much more established forms of art and their importance is greater. It can’t be denied that prose, song and visual art have been established far longer than video games. However, this does not mean it isn’t an art form--video games simply haven’t had the time to gain the prestige of other art forms. Furthermore, what are video games but an interactive medium comprised of prose, song and visual art? Albeit not every video game is a masterpiece, but neither is every single book. When video games combine these three traditional art forms and use them masterfully, they create a soulful experience.

For example, if we are to start with visual art there are plenty of examples of video games that are visually appealing. There is no one true style when it comes to the visual aspect of video games. You can have a completely realistic style with a game such as Uncharted and be blown away by beautifully rendered landscapes. Or alternatively a game such as Limbo has a simpler art style, but carries the sinister nature of the game. It is not simply how we use the visual style but how it adds to the tone of the game. What Remains of Edith Finch is an absolutely stunning game and emits a sense of quiet and mystery even from its art style. The visuals match the purpose and the narrative of the game.

The same can be said for the writing of an individual game. Nobody could deny the power and heart-wrenching nature of the opening to The Last of Us. It set the entire tone for the game. You understood Joel’s character and knew why his interactions with Ellie were tenuous at the beginning of the game. A game with a good narrative does the same thing any piece of prose does: it makes you want to continue on. Whether you’re running home to read the next chapter of the book you’re reading or complete the next mission of the game you’re on, good writing makes you want to continue the story.

In addition if you played the first season of TellTale’s critically acclaimed The Walking Dead, you would know that at the end of the season there was not a dry eye to be seen. And what about video games that take inspiration from a piece of prose? The Witcher 3 reached legendary game status back in 2015, with many games, such as Final Fantasy XV and Assassin’s Creed Origins desiring to implement many mechanics from the eponymous game. The Witcher 3 had fantastic source material. (I highly recommend the books to anyone who is a fan of the series.) Does having source material based in more established art forms make it better? No, good writing comes from the team who are passionate about the game they’re making.

Lastly is the soundtrack. Song is an incredible part of human nature. Folk music is a testament to the longevity of song, and when a video game has the right soundtrack it makes all the difference. Life is Strange is a perfect example of this. It has a soundtrack that carries the message of the game, but the tracks are in themselves pieces of art. I have been introduced to so many new artists through games such as Life is Strange that I would never have found otherwise. Even instrumental music composed for a game carries a tone and a beauty within it, such as the Assassin’s Creed 2 opening instrumental. It carries an emotion and purpose that a video game would be lost without.

When you have the combination of so many brilliant art forms, how can you not justify video games being classed as an art form?

“Video games are also the only form of media that allows for personalizing the artistic experience while still retaining the authenticity of the artist,” - Chris Melissinos

is one opinion standing for the validity of video games as an art form. You’re not just a passive consumer when you engage with video games. You’re directly part of that experience and with more and more games implementing various choice paths in their games you can see the appeal. Video games allow you the option to interact with a whole new world and sometimes make it your own. You’re still experiencing someone’s vision, but you’re also part of that vision--which allows anyone who plays the game to become part of the art.

What is your opinion? Should video games be considered art or not? Leave a comment below with your opinions! 

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Armada Designs: Video Game Merchandise for Gamers with Old-Lady Hobbies https://www.gameskinny.com/gumx7/armada-designs-video-game-merchandise-for-gamers-with-old-lady-hobbies https://www.gameskinny.com/gumx7/armada-designs-video-game-merchandise-for-gamers-with-old-lady-hobbies Wed, 18 Oct 2017 16:47:02 -0400 bazookajo94

Merchandise for videos games used to be non-existent, but with the gaming industry morphing into a multi-billion dollar industry, contemporary consumers have an easier time finding cool shirts and cute figmas without having to traverse the underbellies of the internet to find them.

Still, most of the merch costs the Macklemorian “Fifty dollars for a T-shirt,” or the designs grow stale after they've been slapped on every item in every store. Some overcome the herculean hurdle by making their own video-game inspired items, while others accept the fate of three overused shirts with different variations of Link saying, “Call me Zelda one more time.”

But not all video-game inspired merch needs to be laminated or emblazoned. Some of it can come from hobbies older than video games themselves. For those who like to or are fans of cross-stitching or latch-hooking, video game merchandise isn't (really) widely available. They have to rely on their own creativity to design something -- or they can check out Armada Designs.

Armada Designs started in 2002 on Etsy and has since expanded to a proprietary website. The company even had a panel at Salt Lake City’s 2017 ComiCon. 
 


Customers can buy cross-stitch kits that include everything needed for any of the projects the store provides -- even the needle and hoop. But the best part is most projects and items from the shop are video game-related. From classic Pokemon to Dragonball Z to Final Fantasy sprites, Armada Designs appeases cross-stitcher enthusiasts so they no longer have to stare despairingly at a piece of blank grid paper in hopes that if they just believe hard enough, the vision in their head will appear on the page.

Though there aren’t a lot of Pokemon to choose from -- not even 150 -- most of the classics are present (Haunter, anyone? Dratini? You’re gonna make me say it -- Pikachu?), and the shop mentioned at ComiCon that whatever they didn’t have, they’d be happy to design upon request, although they did say that may take a while. 

Most of their designs range from $6 to $11, with their biggest projects costing around $30, but considering they ship everything needed with the package except a pair of scissors, that's a decent price for the solid 4+ hours of stitching. That's not to mention the awesome video-game inspired piece you'll have on your hands when you're done. 

So sure, maybe cross-stitch isn’t as practiced among the younger generation as the older -- but one day, that younger generation will grow up, and instead of spending hours playing video games, they are going to spend hours wishing they could be stitching those video games.

And Armada Designs will have probably reached 802 Pokemon by then…right?

You can visit the Armada website here.

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8 Ways to Celebrate Video Games Day https://www.gameskinny.com/kwro2/8-ways-to-celebrate-video-games-day https://www.gameskinny.com/kwro2/8-ways-to-celebrate-video-games-day Mon, 11 Sep 2017 09:52:54 -0400 Joshua Broadwell

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Share the Love

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We all know someone who isn't a gamer, whether it's a relative or co-worker. Unless they are adamantly opposed to video games, though, this is the perfect time to introduce them to something they may enjoy.

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That friend of yours who loved Brain Teasers as a kid might just find the perfect fit with the Professor Layton series. The co-worker who hasn't touched a game since Banjo-Kazooie? Bring out Yooka-Laylee and see if that brings a sparkle back to the eye. Or try out something with your grandparents, like Little Big Planet or co-op with New Super Mario Bros. or Super Mario 3D World.

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You probably won't convert your granny into a diehard Call of Duty fan—although that depends on the granny in question—but at the very least, you'll learn more about the people around you and maybe find new ways to bond with them.

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How will you be celebrating Video Games Day? Have any of the ideas in our list inspired you? Or do you have something else in mind that will help you have a gamertastic time? Let us know down in the comments!

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Try Out a Brand New Game

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On the other hand, you could always branch out and try something new as a way to deepen the love you have for your favorite hobby. Hardcore FPS fan? Test your reflexes with some platformers, or maybe try something that combines FPS with other genres, like the Metroid Prime games. Never tried an MMORPG? Give something like Final Fantasy XIV a try. (Not only is there constantly something new to do, but we'd even have you covered with our FFXIV guides.) Or, if you have the means to, try switching systems for a new experience all around.

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Either way, apart from having a blast with a variety of games, you're also giving yourself a brain boost by creating new neuropathways to process the new knowledge and ways of thinking about what you're doing -- so it's a win-win situation

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Image via 123rf

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Revisit Your Retro Roots

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Another way to celebrate all things video gaming is to go back to where your life as a gamer began. Start one of your favorite games again -- the one that first made you fall in love with video games. Most modern consoles and handhelds offer some kind of support for retro gaming (except the Switch, of course). So why not take advantage of that?

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If you don't have your original system or feel sick at the thought of paying the asking price for that retro cartridge on Ebay, you should still have no problem finding a way to fire up Spyro the Dragon or revisit Dinosaur Land in Super Mario World. If you're fairly new to gaming and have not dabbled in retro, then it's the perfect opportunity to see what we old cranks are always going on about!

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Image via La Casa de El

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Get a Tattoo

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Despite being fairly commonplace nowadays, tattoos still remain one of the most visible and permanent ways to express yourself. Why not permanently stamp on an image from your favorite video game to show everyone how devoted you really are? With a plethora of games and characters to draw inspiration from, the possibilities are almost endless -- check out these awesome gaming tattoos if you don't believe me.

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Earthbound fans could always choose a playful twist on the "Mother" and heart tattoo as an option. Or you could be really brave and try something more detailed -- like full color representations of the elemental crystals from Final Fantasy or some of the more detailed and extravagant Keyblades from Kingdom Hearts.

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Still, there is something to be said for simplicity, and for Pokemon fans, it's hard to beat the retro charm in this throwback to Pokemon Yellow.

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Header image via Daniel Huscroft

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Pokemon tattoo image via Pinterest

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Throw a Gamertastic Cosplay Party

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There's no need to wait for Halloween or a convention to throw your own cosplay party. Don, make, or buy your favorite costume, invite all your gaming friends and have your own game convention! Plus, it's the perfect reason to make all those game-themed foods and drinks, and you'll have everyone you need for your multiplayer marathon.

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Like with any holiday, if your schedules don't allow for a gathering on the actual day, you can always observe it over the weekend or whatever other time happens to be convenient for everyone involved.

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Image via WikiWand

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Organize a Multiplayer Marathon

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The most natural way to celebrate the day would, of course, be to play video games. If you're a social bug, gather your friends together for a multiplayer marathon. Revisit some of the old classics like the Nintendo 64 Mario Party games and work your way through to modern classics like Overwatch and Mario Kart 8.

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There are also less traditional options, like setting up an elimination competition with Fire Emblem Fates to see who reigns supreme. Better yet, make it a potluck, where everyone brings their multiplayer game and system of choice, and see what happens from there. You might even find a new favorite!

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Image via Quantic Foundry

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Whip Up Gaming-Themed Cocktails

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If you have food, of course you're going to need drinks. Luckily for you, the Internet is brimming with a wide variety of choices for game-themed drinks -- particularly cocktails.

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Whether it's a nifty take on the Heart Potion from Legend of Zelda or a simple, elderflower concoction inspired by the Elder Scrolls, there's a drink out there for you. And if you're a Pokemon fan, you'll definitely want to check out our custom recipes for cocktails inspired by your favorite pocket monsters:

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This next one might be best of all, though, both for its adaptation of source material and the fact that it works just as well as a non-alcoholic beverage: homemade Chateau Romani. Careful how much you drink of any of these, though, or you might be seeing aliens too.

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Image via PCGamer

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Make Video Game Themed Food

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What could be better than playing video games on National Video Games Day? Making and eating video game-themed food, of course! Scouring the Internet brings up countless ideas for recipes, ranging from Slime meat buns --the Japanese version of a meat pie or pasty -- to Koopa Shell cake pops and mushroom ice pops. There are even recipes out there for Kirby cakes and Triforce lemon bars.

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Inventive as these are, few recipes can top these Poke Ball cakes pictured above.

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However, if you're not feeling up to making anything yourself and still want something sweet, you can always place a custom order at your favorite bakery for something along the lines of this PlayStation 3 cake.

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National Video Games Day arrives on September 12th, not to be confused with its cousin Video Game Day from back in July. It's a time to celebrate all things gaming, whether that be by hosting or attending a party, digging out your favorite retro console and games, or donning an apron and making a batch of treats inspired by iconic franchises close to your heart.

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There are as many ways to celebrate as there are people, but we've compiled a list of 8 ways to celebrate with friends or by yourself that we think you'll enjoy.

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Image via The Odyssey Online

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First! What It's Like Beating A Game Before Anyone Else https://www.gameskinny.com/6u9h8/first-what-its-like-beating-a-game-before-anyone-else https://www.gameskinny.com/6u9h8/first-what-its-like-beating-a-game-before-anyone-else Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:00:02 -0400 ThatGamersAsylum

I have always had wild fantasies. As a kid, I was told I could wish on a dandelion. Over the course of several months, I probably made more than 100 wishes on 1 dandelion. Roughly a third of those wishes were to become a Super Saiyan. I knew that humans hadn’t historically done that. But I didn’t care; I wanted it with all my heart. Sure, it never happened, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t. I am willing to accept that I might not be the chosen one, though.

As I’ve gotten older there has been a similarly fantastical thought that’s popped into my head -- in various forms -- on numerous occasions. Sometimes the question was,"What if I had a game made explicitly for me and no one else?" Other times it was phrased as, "What if I was the first person to beat a game?" No matter the form the question took, they were all informed by one idea: that no matter how much a game ensured me that I was unique, I knew that I was not. There were millions of other Pokemon Champions, many of whom had a better team than I did.

Many games try to play up this idea that we are unique. Games very rarely care about the mundane, and instead usually lean towards fantasies of epic power. At its best, games that tell us we are unique might give us choices to make, like the Mass Effect Trilogy. Still, just knowing that I made choices to have slightly different stories never really felt like it was special to me. The illusion was thinly veiled because I knew I was not the only Commander Shepard saving civilization by one handedly destroying the Reaper threat.

Everybody forgets how ridiculous this sequence was. 

This was perfectly encapsulated by the controversy surrounding the ending to Mass Effect 3. The reason we were so offended by the ending was that we wanted our choices to put us into a unique situation. A unique situation that fit our unique personality, which was displayed through our unique actions.

Maybe some people wanted the "best" ending, to ensure themselves that life doesn’t have to be sloppy and messy. You want to believe that you can do everything right and you can have the perfect outcome. Maybe some people wanted an evil ending that made them feel like being a wretched asshole at every turn for the last 3 games was actually worth something. Any of these yearnings were reflections of our desire to attain outcomes that were reflective of who we are.

But that wasn’t what we got. We got something that was one size fits all. Saint or sinner, when all was said and done you got the same choice and same set of outcomes that everyone else did.

My personal desire to be the first person to beat a game spoke to a larger issue: that I am not as unique as I might like to think. But everyone else who also plays these games and are beholden to the false promises of uniqueness therein also falls into this category with me. We desire to feel unique and games appeal to this.

We see this reflected in all sorts of games that insist we are unique, only to figuratively slap us in the face with how much we aren’t. In Borderlands, I am supposed to be a unique vault hunter, but then I see a Siren hop in that is literally the same person as me and it kind of ruins the illusion a little bit. In games like World of Warcraft and Destiny, you are assured that you are the only chosen one that can help save the world… only to then see another person getting the same quest and the same spiel at the exact same moment as you.

Couldn't find multiple of the same character. No one wants to play a "slightly different" Maya.  

I always particularly loved leaderboards for this same reason. I remember playing Devil May Cry 4 and feeling so successful while earning good marks… only then to see my score compared to the rest of the player base and to see that I was not some stellar hero at all. In fact, there were literally millions of people that were measurably better than me.

It might not have been a competition, but I sure felt like I was losing.

I can’t help but feel that maybe I am over exaggerating this. Maybe we all see this stupid appeal to our baser instincts and we all just sort of overlook the usually shoddy storytelling that plays into the trope of, "You’re the only chosen person that can do this painfully specific thing for arbitrary reasons!” And I think to some degree that is true; we do see through it. But it still says a lot about us that the desire to be unique is so powerful, even to the point that it consumes our media. More interestingly is how and why it consumes video games.

These sorts of tales about a chosen (i.e. super unique) one have always been common. But prior to video games, we were always a step removed from it because we were never active participants. Sure, Frodo is the chosen one, but we aren’t Frodo when we are reading the book or watching the movie. But now, in video games, we are Frodo. We take over control of these various characters and we become the powerfully unique, chosen ones depicted therein.

Nothing like the smile of a chosen one to brighten up your day. 

I believe this goes further than merely retelling the same types of stories in a different medium because video games have evolved to embrace this particular type of power fantasy to an alarming degree. Like the aforementioned Mass Effect series, building a game around a proverbial chosen one while still letting the player shape their own path. But even more damning is the overly affirming callouts present in most Triple A games. Just listen the next time you are playing. You will hear all sorts of call outs from your allies ensuring you that the shot you made was awesome once it finally connected after 4 misses.

You may be guided along like a young child who can’t be trusted to walk 5 steps off the beaten path, but the ground you walk upon will be worshipped with reverence by your allies.

This might not be present in every game. But it is certainly disproportionately represented in the biggest, most popular games that we indulge in as a society. And that makes this worth paying attention to because it says volumes about our culture. We are so obsessed with being called unique and special that we are willing to accept it from our media even when we know it is blatantly lying. We are perfectly pleased to have these meaningless platitudes thrown at us. Maybe we know we are mundane, but that is seen as an insult, not an inevitability on a planet filled with 7 billion other people.

Pharmakon, a game I recently reviewed, was the game that I beat before anyone else. At the end of the game, you are given an ambiguous option: you can either click end or answer. Upon clicking answer, nothing seemed to immediately happen––I thought it was a glitch. But once I closed the game, I noticed a Discord chat had been opened in my browser, which connected me to the developer.

The first and only message read: 

I sort of froze. The chat was empty. Was I really the first person to be greeted with this screen? To view this chat? I was tempted to ask, but before I had the chance to do so, the one man dev team congratulated me on having been the first person to beat the game.

I never expected to see those words; not that I had ever thought about it. I didn't feel different though. Sure, it was technically special and unique, but just having that badge didn’t really change anything. It had no real value to me. No more or less than any other game I’d beaten.

After discussing the game a little bit with the dev, he ended up sending me a message thanking me for having played and completed his game.

Unlike before, that really did feel good. I think we inherently know the feeling. When someone says they are thankful for all their millions of fans, it can’t help but come off as a platitude. They can’t possibly know all of them, some are inevitably shitty, and the human brain just can’t comprehend millions of other people; they just become numbers on such a large scale. But when an indie artist (musician, developer, etc) says the same thing, it feels truer. Because when you have 5 fans, you can sincerely know and express gratitude towards all of those people.

I'm still the only one who has engaged in the chats so far.

Being able to be the first of hopefully many fans for someone that is still paving their way does feel significant. In this way, I find that my feeling of being unique didn’t come from the real life equivalent of an Xbox Achievement, but rather from the relationship I forged with someone else through this accomplishment.

Often times, pursuing uniqueness is a way to show off, to separate ourselves from a crowded pack. It can be a solitary, self-absorbed experience at times, even to the point that it hurts the rest of us. Other times, being unique is merely a byproduct. Maybe you work hard to be the best you can, and that just so happens to make you unique once you eventually reach that goal. But it’s become clear to me that being unique doesn’t have to be something that is exclusionary or that separates you from others. At its best, it can bring you together.

Header Image Obtained from Liz West via Flickr. Edited.

Image of Frodo obtained from Imgur. 

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These Graphic Novels Need Video Game Adaptations https://www.gameskinny.com/lpktx/these-graphic-novels-need-video-game-adaptations https://www.gameskinny.com/lpktx/these-graphic-novels-need-video-game-adaptations Mon, 10 Jul 2017 16:12:14 -0400 Michael Dellapi

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Graphic novels tell truly unique stories that are simultaneously timeless and emblematic of the period they were written in. They capture the essences of humanity through colorful characterization, offering windows into who we are through a cartoonish lens. This list only scratches the surface of graphic novels that deserve the video game treatment.

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What graphic novels do you hope to play in the future? Let us know in the comments section below! 

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Black Hole
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Black Hole is a graphic novel set in an alternative 1970s America where a mysterious epidemic has been let loose that physically mutates those affected by it. The disease is solely sexually transmitted, creating a wealth of division between those affected and those that aren't. It's important to note that Black Hole is not focused on trying to eradicate the epidemic, but rather is focused on navigating the difficult social intricacies of teenage life. 

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Black Hole, despite its setting, is a timeless work that highlights the gross cruelty of high school life with a supernatural abstraction. By looking through the lens of physical mutation, Charles Burns is able to deliver a story that successfully tackles American teenage life and its many paradoxes. 

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Black Hole could see a video game adaptation most akin to a Telltale adventure game. After all, the emphasis of Black Hole'narrative is on its character and the dynamics between them. Focusing on the interactions between the characters opens up a wealth of opportunities to challenge the player.

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Blankets
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Blankets is a graphic novel by Craig Thompson that chronicles the author's experiences of growing up while trying to understand himself, his dynamics with his family, and his own relationship with Christianity. Based on art style alone, Blankets deserves to be a video game thanks to its minimalistic yet powerful visual style. However, it is the powerful story that it is able to tell that best suits Blankets to an interactive medium. 

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Blankets would perhaps work best as a side-scrolling platformer, similar to a game like Inside. What the game would lack in complicated mechanics it would make up for with a deep, compelling narrative. Through the actions of the main character, players would be able to explore the complexities of Craig's coming-of-age. What Blankets does best is deliver a truly raw emotional experience, and being able to play through that experience would create something unforgettable. 

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Watchmen
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The presence of Watchmen on this list is practically standard given how incredibly influential the graphic novel is not just for its medium, but for storytelling as a whole.To this day, it serves as a landmark piece of American literature. Technically, a Watchmen game exists in the form of Watchmen: The End is Nigh, but that game serves as a prequel to the film adaptation of the graphic novel. The world truly needs a canonical Watchmen video game. 

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Watchmen is a gritty imagining of what it would be like if superheroes occupied our world, and how they would shape the course of all civilization. Masked vigilantes were involved in all of the key conflicts in American history, yet have been denounced by the federal government. A simple murder investigation of a former hero eventually transpires into a dramatic exploration of justice, humanity, and the evolving American discourse that occurred over several decades.

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The challenge of converting this graphic novel to a game is that the game itself
would need to be absolutely enormous. This doesn't just describe the geographic scope, but also its depth. The world building in Watchmen is incredibly robust, and any game that seeks to do it justice must account for this. However, if done right, a true Watchmen adaptation would be nothing short of stellar. Rocksteady would perhaps be the best developer for this game due to their handling of Batman in Batman: Arkham Asylum. An action game with the level of mechanical depth and intense atmosphere present in the Arkham series would be perfect to replicate Watchmen

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Seconds

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Seconds is the most recent graphic novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley about a struggling restaurant owner that gains the ability to redo all of her mistakes by eating magic mushrooms. Katie, the main character, eventually abuses this power with results that change not just her life but the lives of everyone she has contact with.

Bryan Lee O'Malley is no stranger to video game adaptations of his graphic novels, with his hit series Scott Pilgrim being featured as a side-scrolling beat 'em up. O'Malley has an inherent understanding of what makes games a unique storytelling medium, with each of his works already possessing a certain playfulness to them.

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What makes Seconds such a good potential video game is that the game can succeed regardless of scope or genre. The simplicity and humor particular to O'Malley's style ensures that his characters realistically can work anywhere, from mobile games to full scale console releases. However, Seconds would
work best in a way similar to the retro style of the Scott Pilgrim game. If Ubisoft were to work on an O'Malley title again, a Seconds video game would be a surefire hit. 

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Graphic novels are able to tell stories that stand the test of time across generations. A unique art style or gripping narrative can make a novel truly memorable, leaving us only wanting more to be explored. Herein lies the perfect place for a game adaptation. Graphic novel adaptations of games have been more desired than ever thanks in part to Telltale, but there are still so many more stories that need to be told. These stories span multiple genres and game styles, which further goes to show just how diverse graphic novels.

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Remove Airline Passenger Is the Perfect Mix of Fun Gameplay and Serious Social Commentary https://www.gameskinny.com/aaol8/remove-airline-passenger-is-the-perfect-mix-of-fun-gameplay-and-serious-social-commentary https://www.gameskinny.com/aaol8/remove-airline-passenger-is-the-perfect-mix-of-fun-gameplay-and-serious-social-commentary Fri, 28 Apr 2017 12:00:01 -0400 Dan Roemer

Developed by esayitch (yes, esayitch not easyitch.) -- Remove Airline Passenger is a free to play game available on the Google Play store now that openly mocks the recent events with United Airlines by putting you in the shoes of a “Divided Airlines” security personal as you are tasked with dealing with pesky overbooked passengers.

Notably the game's name is incorrectly spelt on the main menu...

Despite those passengers who may have booked their flights weeks in advance*, unfortunately for them other staff members of Divided Airlines need to be on this flight, regardless if you're a doctor or not! Which is odd considering the flight is seemingly already in-flight judging by the clouds in the background, but who are you to question Divided Airlines?

So as a member of Divided Airlines you do what is best for these customers, by simply punching them so hard they go through the cabin window. The gameplay is more or less a score based rhythm game, you tap the screen when the red “TAP” arrow appears to remove the passenger. The higher your score gets, the faster and in turn the more difficult the game becomes.

All in all it's perfect for a short play session as the game is pretty fun in the same addictive way other games of this nature are, but it's packed with advertising between play sessions.

A Fun Take on a Very Real Event and Serious Social Commentary

Once again this is another game hoping to cash in on big (sort of like how Dr. David Dao is doing!) -- on a very real event.

GameSkinny's founder Stephen Johnston sarcastically claimed this game will make "a million dollars for the next thirty days." But a game like this is another great example of games in general being an outlet for social commentary. Whether it's "I'm O.K." which is a game designed by Jack Thompson himself and made by a small indie developer showcasing what his own depiction of what violence in video games looks like.

To something more recent and popular like Persona 5, which has plenty of serious themes and commentary on coming of age and adulthood, to other subjects such as peer pressure and social anxiety.

Video games prove to be an art form that can easily convey and depict social commentary of the current period, time and time again. The mobile gaming marketplace is easily becoming a huge platform for this as well. The days of browser-based flash games making light of serious issues is slowly shifting towards mobile -- which also shouldn't shock anyone considering the massive amount of revenue the mobile gaming marketplace makes.

Popular mobile games that often mimic current cultural interests have made a huge splash on the mobile marketplace in the past before. Take for example the Kardashian game -- Kim Kardashian: Hollywood -- which has well over 42 million downloads since 2014 and has estimated to have made over 100 million dollars within its first five months.

We could easily be seeing a huge boom in cultural relevance in the mobile gaming marketplace as more and more of these games revolving around social and current cultural interests continue to gain in popularity and revenue.

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But with that said, will you guys be checking out Remove Airline Passenger? If so what is your high score? Let us know in the comments. For everything mobile gaming and games with social commentary, stay tuned to GameSkinny!

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