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National Endowment for the Arts Recognizes Video Games as Art

May 8, 2011

While this is specific to America, it does set a wonderful precedent for video games in general. Icrontic reports that the National Endowment for the Arts has added “digital games” as a form of art that will be eligible for grants from the US government.

Here’s the pertinent portion of the text from the link Icrontic got:

The Arts in Media builds on the success of The Arts on Radio and Television. All project types that were previously eligible remain eligible. In addition, the expanded category now includes:

  • All available media platforms such as the Internet, interactive and mobile technologies, digital games, arts content delivered via satellite, as well as on radio and television.
  • Media projects that can be considered works of art.
I could think of a couple of ways this could work out, but Icrontic already mentioned some of the most important ones:

What does this actually mean for developers? It means that if a developer wants to create games for people, doesn’t want to charge money for them, but still wants to be able to eat, there is an option. One can apply for a grant, and potentially get paid by the government to be a creator, just as painters and sculptors have been able to do for many years.

And for the public it means that we may begin to see some video games of the ‘public’ works’ variety, games which are released for the world to enjoy, which may have good production values, but which are also not part of the commercial video games world. What these games will look like, we have no idea at this point, as it’s a completely new thing. The projects that receive funding are chosen by the agency, and there are not many guidelines or descriptions for what kinds of projects will be accepted.

Of course, that means that while grants are available, video game proposals may still not get chosen. The point, remains, however, that it is a step towards having society see video games as a new form of art, and that should give us pause.

Hyper Video Cast Off: Roll a D6

May 8, 2011

The Mysterious Case of Marcia

May 7, 2011

I received a legitimate from Blizzard today that I found to be very weird.

Blizzard is trying to win back customers with a seven-day pass to World of Warcraft for inactive subscriptions. There was just one problem: The name affixed to this email, which was connected to my World of Warcraft account, was “Marcia.”

Who is Marcia? I haven’t the foggiest.

What I can say is that I grew worried and checked my account immediately upon receiving the email. I found that it was still intact, with my authenticator keeping security tight, and that the email was legitimate since there was a notice below my account offering me seven free days to return to Azeroth.

That process took all of four minutes, and yet I still had no idea where this Marcia person came from.

To that end, I sent a ticket to Blizzard so that it could be investigated, and they got back to me in less than five hours. The result, according to the CS rep, was thus:

I reviewed your account, and it appears that your account *is* under your actual name. The discrepancy is with your World of Warcraft account, which appears to be under Marcia’s name at one point. Since the email was automatically sent out, it just looks like a little mistake on our computer’s part.

Of course, I shot back a follow-up question asking if the name could be changed to my name just so everything’s properly represented, but I expect them to get back to me on Monday. Still, at least I now sort of think I know the name of the person who hacked my WoW account so many years ago (unless it’s an alias or someone else’s name, of course). Here’s to hoping none of my accounts ever get hacked again.

My Secret Gaming Breaking Point

May 6, 2011

Most people have secrets when it comes to gaming. For instance, there are people who lie about the amount of time they’ve played a game, or others who use exploits to further their advancement in the game.

For me, however, it’s far more innocuous, but definitely potentially more expensive to maintain. You see, most people would assume that I enjoy playing games all the time.

The truth, however, is that I have a secret gaming breaking point, and unfortunately, it’s rather short.

While there is no official number of hours I would place on my breaking point, I have noticed that I tend to come back to games that I’ve spent at least two weeks in. Games that fail to capture my interest for any reason for at least two weeks are often forgotten entirely.

As such, I go through a rather large number of games on a yearly basis, and with MMOs, my current main preoccupation, I’ve noticed that despite finding so much to love with specific games, I still keep looking for something beyond the game I’m playing. My case in point right now is STO. I love the lore, and have meta-gamed it by reading up so much that I’m excited to play, and yet here I am downloading a different game to test my mettle on.

Is it because I find something missing in the game, or is something changing in me that I can’t understand yet?

In any event, it’s probably why I wrote that entry about five MMOs I’m excited to play. Possibly because I can’t seem to be satisfied, which is kind of weird.

Do any of you experience this? What is your gaming breaking point? Is it based upon an arbitrary time frame, or upon sensing a realization, or upon getting burnt out?

Tackling Thought-Provoking Issues Takes Time and Mental Fortitude

May 5, 2011

At present, I’m not exactly in the mindset to really write well-prepared articles. Without making it sound overly dramatic, my dad’s in the hospital and is under observation at the moment for something painful, but not necessarily serious. I’m going over there later to watch over him, and so I’ve been trying to take my mind off of things by playing games and thinking about the things I like about games, such as the sense of advancement, the enjoyment of story, the ability to tell stories, and the short-term glories that achievements and new equipment bring.

That said, there are a couple of items I’d like to link to for your perusal, and these are articles that I find rather well-written, yet cannot completely agree with from my own personal standpoint.

The first one is a link I got from Tobold, and it’s about how achievements in games are essentially fake.

The second is actually a blog post from a blogger that people elsewhere have linked to. The pertinent quote here is thus:

Because I’m no longer interested in the pixel rewards my characters can earn.  WoW has conditioned me to accept that they’re transient and entirely pointless.  The only thing of value to be gained from MMOs is the experience of playing the game itself.

I’ll try to have a more decent post on this matter when I have the time and compulsion, but well, feel free to read and chime in on both here or on their respective blogs.

Five MMOs I Look Forward to Playing

May 5, 2011

As a tourist to various MMO and single-player gaming worlds, I find myself looking forward to a ton of different games every year. This year is no exception, though I can say that I am looking forward to seeing a ton of MMO goodness within the next year or so.

Based on what I’ve gathered, you can find a list of five MMOs I’m raring to play below, listed according to when they’ll be released.

1. Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising

RELEASE: June 21, 2011

This game is supposed to be rather niche, but has the potential to be quite interesting. Since it uses Roman mythology and history as a backdrop of sorts, it’s already painted itself into quite a specific audience compared to other fantasy settings. The one thing I think that really makes me interested in this game is the Estate System.

This estate system basically gives players the ruins of their old home, which they would then have to develop through the course of the game by gathering loot, investing in it (I’m assuming here) and basically making a name for themselves. It should be nice to see a full-blown estate with statues and stuff, and seeing it grow from a ramshackle tent community into a small chateau is going to be mighty interesting.

2. The Completely Revamped Pay-to-Play Version of Final Fantasy XIV

RELEASE: Unknown, though incremental updates are paving the way.

As I’ve said before, Final Fantasy XIV is not perfect. However, with a new director helming the project and the game taking an altered course through the sea of MMO games available to the gaming market, I hope that it won’t be too late for FFXIV to make a resurgence as a game more people will find worthwhile to play.

The changes and revamps are supposed to include an improved combat system, less harrowing crafting, and tons more content for people of all levels and ranks to enjoy within the game.

3. Guild Wars 2

RELEASE: According to the GW2 Website, “When it’s finished.”

I think many MMO players are excited for GW2, mostly because it promises to bring a high-quality MMO experience without having to pay for more than the box or digital download for the game, meaning that some non-essential aspects will be fueled by microtransactions.

Of course, that’s not the main reason why GW2 is interesting.

I’ll let the video below explain it better:

4. Star Wars: The Old Republic

RELEASE: Possibly within 2011, if recent reports are accurate.

I’m also excited to try this game out, but then again, I’m more a fan of Trek than Wars. There is, however, a big part of me that wants to step into the shoes of a stormtrooperish looking outfit so I can start doing the Dancing Chewbacca.

Whatever the Dancing Chewbacca is (I hate spelling Wookiee as I tend to get it wrong).

5. Archeage

RELEASE: Honestly, who knows?!

This game is currently in closed beta testing in Korea, which means that we may not see it until a long time after. That said, the game is supposed to promise a sandbox attitude to the themepark traditions, seeing as you can make class combinations, craft houses, and basically do what you want when you want.

Of course, these sorts of promises have been made before, so I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, below is a video of the game:

For Him, It Was Tuesday.

May 3, 2011

I’m just going to leave this here to remind myself of how awesome M. Bison is when played with gravitas.