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After an expansion rife with disappointments, people are careful to place too much hope in the MMO’s latest expansion

There seems to be a wave-like effect when it comes to recent World of Warcraft (WoW) expansions. Warlords of Draenor is generally considered bad, while Legion was given praise. Battle for Azeroth was largely disliked — so, by this rule, the new expansion Shadowlands should be great...right?

World of Warcraft has always attracted the type of player that will pour scorn on a game that they will still play daily. Even in the glory days of WoW’s initial Classic release, the Blizzard forums were awash with players that demanded everything from nerfs and buffs to new classes and bosses.

Looking through the feedback sections of the forum was like ramming your foot onto a bed of Lego pieces over and over again — you’ll often end up with nothing constructive to show for it except a lot of unnecessary pain. The Roguecraft series showed this pretty succinctly — not only is it a great PvP series, but it also calls out a fair portion of the vocal minority for its ill-thought comments on the state of the game. …


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New research shows games can boost literacy rates, especially among reluctant readers

GamesIndustry.biz has reported on a study by the UK’s National Literary Trust that links video games to “improved literacy, creativity, positive communication, empathy, and mental wellbeing in young people.”

To me, this kind of research is long overdue. It has baffled me for some time why there still seems to be apprehension around considering the literary benefits of video games, especially when the medium has pumped out countless role-playing titles filled with enough text to bust open a library.

Far from the assumption that playing a game is something to be done exclusively to kill some time, I believe that playing a game also has the potential to teach new aspects of a language and literary techniques to a player. Rather than shaming children (and adults) for playing games, this fascination should be encouraged and grown through titles that educate and stimulate a hungry mind. …


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While games are generally getting better at delivering narrative, The Stanley Parable completely broke the mold

Talking directly to the player has evolved into something more than delivering a paragraph of exposition to them during a loading screen. As games have evolved, so too have the writers creating them, and increasingly we are seeing some masterful strokes of storytelling within gaming. As of 2018, the Nebula Awards now welcome the contribution of games as a storytelling device through their Game Writing category. Already, there have been some incredibly strong contenders as nominations — and winners — of the award. …


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From dad’s living room to global phenomenon

Back in September 2010, the work of seven people was released for the first time at the Penny Arcade Expo. It was an indie game. People were impressed with the game’s initial presentation — so much so, in fact, that the game received awards from E3 and the 2011 Independent Games Festival before the game had even released. That game was called Bastion, and had started development in the living room of the studio director’s dad. …


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Subverting player expectations by swapping in a surprise playable character is fraught with peril — but has it worked before?

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This article contains spoilers for both Metal Gear Solid 2 and The Last of Us Part II.

The bait and switch is a crude tool. Used well, it can subvert expectations and encourage the player to think about different viewpoints or ways of playing through a story. Wielded poorly though, it forces an expectation on a player who may feel like marketing has misled them. Personally, I think it’s one of the cheaper ways to evoke a reaction from someone playing a video game, but does it work?

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I’d like to take you back in time to the early noughties. It was the time of the Nokia 3310, where all the cool kids had elaborate and stylish MSN Messenger names, and where video game consoles were still in their infancy: grappling with technology that could enable them to start telling stories of real consequence. It was the time when digital artists really started to chip away at the jagged edges of character models that existed in the era of the Original PlayStation. Video games started to mean something more than a school playground talking point, and people the world over — even adults — started to sit up and take notice. …


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CS:GO veterans will be at home, but new players are being left behind

After a few days playing Valorant, I’m not sure if I’ve actually gotten any better at the game or not. My score seems to vary wildly from match to match: sometimes I’ll have a K/D ratio of 3:1, and other times I’ll eat dirt every round with one paltry kill to my name. I feel like I’m getting better at using abilities and using certain types of guns, but the multiplayer experience seems to be entirely random, for the moment. …


The streets were barren. They stood with their shields inside a fading halo of tear gas that had spread around the church. The man gazed ahead, solemn, posing for friendly, State-approved cameras. He had to remain totally ignorant of any signs of civil unrest, because the camera folks would add music and sound effects to make the photo op look beautiful. Law and Order was the mandate. He resisted the urge to tidy a stray wisp of hair.

In one hand, a book. The Bible. The man’s favourite book. It would take him too long to pick a single preferred verse from the book, because he loves them all equally. …


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If games are to be considered art, then even the most sensitive topics should be fair game — but developers must tread carefully

Politics in video games is the sort of topic that is almost guaranteed to provoke an angry reaction on Twitter from someone aggrieved that their safe spaces are being invaded. The mere mention of politics going hand-in-hand with a video game narrative quickly sends some people into hysteria, driven by a fear that in future Nintendo games, Mario will be portrayed as a protestor, trying to avoid the brutality of the Goomba police state. …


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VR is a great experience — but for many people with physical disabilities or assistance requirements, it is an experience with limitations.

The team behind WalkinVR has developed a platform that aims to help make VR more accessible. Using this software, they hope that it provides a way to enjoy VR experiences and gameplay forpeople who face difficulties with movement.

Releasing on Steam on June 15th, WalkinVR boasts a number of features aimed at helping to bring VR to more people. Plays will be able to move and rotate without having to do this in the real world — instead, the action can be done with one of the controllers, allowing people to weave, duck and peek with the movement of one controller instead of having to stand up, and other settings allow players to amplify the movements of a controller — so, for example, a three-foot motion can translate into a 12-foot motion. …


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The best game on the market for beard customisation

Deep Rock Galactic is a co-op space dwarf mining simulator that speaks to my Welsh mining roots. Up to four dwarves shoot and pickaxe their way through procedurally-generated networks of caves and tunnels, seeking precious ore and mowing down swarms of bugs. Light is as important as ammo in this mine-’em-up, and with several different traversal options available between four different classes, this all adds up to a gameplay experience that will shake you to your core.

That’s not the best thing about this game, though. The best thing about this game is the overwhelming amount of facial hair options and combinations available.

About

Matt Edwards

I chat about games and the stories they tell. Sometimes I chat about stories of my own. www.impface.com

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