It's here. You can argue next-generation kicked off with Wii U, but our traditional definition of "next-gen" comes with a certain advancement of graphical fidelity, and that's finally coming with PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Soak it in, folks! It's probalby going to be a long, long time before we're here again.
But while everyone else is streaming, talking, and reviewing, I want to highlight something very important that's happening.
Ana Kessel worked as a graphic arts intern on Insomniac Games' Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus. It's the studio's latest platformer, and one that, by most accounts, is a surprising and appreciated return to form. But Ana's adventure into gaming development has been interrupted by a painful, horrible car accident, one that will require a new leg. She is currently raising money to pay her medical bills on the service GoFundMe:
"Ana is at Wake Med in North Carolina recovering from a serious car injury. Her leg has been amputated as a result of the crash in which a man without a license hit her and then fled the scene. She will be in and out of surgery for the next few days. When she wakes up she will endure a life changing moment. Losing a limb is never an easy obstacle to overcome for anyone and with the healthcare changes currently being revamped there is no telling how much this could affect her recovery. Ana is a recent graduate from Full Sail University with a very unique talent. Although, given that Full Sail is a very expensive school to go to she will be having many financial issues with medical bills and college loans. I as well as all her friends and family are wishing for a full recovery and hopeful future using her talented skills with as little complications as possible."
Her friends and family are hoping to raise $150,000 to help Ana out. That's an ambitious goal, but we've seen what passionate people have accomplished with crowdfunding in the past, and it'd be lovely to see this one become a success story, too.
Give an extra hug those close to you this weekend, too. You never know what the future holds.
And You Should Read These, Too
And lo, Simon Parkin did write a new article, and Patrick did insist that you read it. Parkin continues to do wonderful work at The New Yorker, and in this piece, we have the results of Parkin's research and reporting on game players in Iraq. The most surprising revelations from the story involve the current way many Iraqis currently acquire games over Steam (paying people in other countries) and the reactions to games set in their own region, such as Battlefield 3 (they sell exceptionally well, and are viewed as catharsis for a region used to terrorist-driven conflict). I'd love to se more region-specific stories of gaming habits.
"For Abdulla, playing these games in their real-world settings isn’t problematic. 'Any video game that’s set within Iraq and involves killing terrorists becomes instantly famous here,' he said. 'Everyone wants to play it. We have been through so much because of terror. Shooting terrorists in a game is cathartic. We can have our revenge in some small way.”' Alanseri agreed: 'Any game that has a level set in Iraq is popular. They always sell more copies than other games because they are related in some way to our lives.' The games have even established a kind of empathy for foreign gaming partners that Alanseri said he would not otherwise have. 'I have learned a lot of things, like Western-world values, culture, life style, and even the way that they think through video games.'"
By coincidence, the other story I've plucked expresses similar sentiments with the anxiety-inducing Papers, Please. Becky Chambers is intimately familiar with the wondering if someone is going to stamp her papers or not, having spent years unsuccessfully trying to have her partner immigrate to the US from Iceland. When Chambers started to consider why she was playing the game she was, her understanding of what it means to be a small piece in an enormous bureaucratic machine was transformed. What were the people who approved (and denied) her papers like? Where they just having a bad day? What were their families like? It's a powerful piece about the empathetic potential of games.
"I’ve spent countless hours in airports. I can tell you how security differs, depending on where you’re flying to or from. The different kinds of questions, the typical length of lines, the thoroughness of the frisking. I always smile when going through checkpoints, and keep my voice easy. I comply as quickly as I can. “She’s just doing her job,” I tell myself, as a stranger runs the backs of her hands over my breasts. And then, as anger starts to creep in, the thing that always mollifies me: 'Don’t. You can’t afford another ticket. You need to get home.'
I watched people in the game comply just as quietly. I fought back queasiness as I examined naked photographs of strangers’ bodies. When they did not comply, I detained them. I detained more people for lesser offenses after one of the guards promised to cut me into the bonus he got for making arrests. I found myself feeling spiteful toward mistakes — no, not toward the mistakes themselves, toward the people who made them. What a bunch of idiots. How could they not know the rules? They’re so clear! I felt smug in my undeserved power as I slammed the red stamp down. Smug, and ugly. Hollow."
If You Click It, It Will Play
Like it or Not, Crowdfunding Isn't Going Away
- Interstellaria seems to reflect a growing interest in PC games exploring space.
- Interference was highlighted on Worth Playing, and now you can back it.
- Dino Run 2 is a video game called Dino Run 2. Again, it's called Dino Run 2.
- Dropsy may contain the creepiest god damn clown in video games.
- Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works looks like a wonderful coffee book retrospective.
- Reset is that game with the sad robots traveling through time.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
I’m starting to feel pretty sure that sports games are the only kind of games that actually get better as they get more realistic— Bennett (@bfod) November 14, 2013
what I’m saying is: while I love both hyper-realistic and unrealistic sports games, I just don’t want to play a hyper-realistic murder sim— Bennett (@bfod) November 14, 2013
I don’t feel like realism ever improves shooters or fighters or strategy games or stealth games, etc etc— Bennett (@bfod) November 14, 2013
@fullbright there’s this tipping point where sports games start to get good because of the aesthetic realism. It’s hard to express— Bennett (@bfod) November 14, 2013
@fullbright I love NBA Jam! But I also love NBA2K14. I think they’re hitting very, very different highs, though.— Bennett (@bfod) November 14, 2013
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Eurogamer asks Shuhei Yoshida about review scores. His response is humble and genuine.
- Robert Yang continues RPS' excellent designer-interviewing-designer series with Thomas Grip.
- Steve Beynon writes about how the Battlefield games helped him with grapple with PTSD.
- Cara Ellison has never played Half-Life before, and she's writing about her reactions.
- Vince Pearson reports about tracking player behavior is changing game development.
- Ian Williams makes a strong case for why developers should consider unionization.
- Lucas Pope reflects on the development process for Papers, Please.
- Mike Bithell used to be a developer on the outside looking in. Now it's the opposite, and it's weird.
- Russ Pitts has this profile on the groundbreaking development of the original Xbox Live.
- Jeff Vogel responds to criticism leveled against his piece on indie marketing from last week.
- Nathan Grayson pushes Blizzard to better articulate its online requirements for Diablo III.
- Terry Mulachy considers how games may be finding success embracing non-standard characters.
- Ian Hardingham provides advice on how to respond and internalize feedback to a beta test.