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how to do things with videogames

Slow Down, You Don’t Want to Miss Anything

How to do Things with Videogames brings up an important idea of transit and movement.  Ever since the railway system was invented, modes of transportation have been becoming faster and faster with the invention of the car, airplane, or even spaceship.  While this is great because people are gaining better access to further and further away places, the locations in between are getting lost.  Bogost brings up the point that when the train was invented (much like the car), the high speeds make it hard to see the details of the places we are passing.  We cannot stop to catch a breath of fresh air nearly as easy as people could a few hundred years ago.  On top of that, modern day roads and highways are often lined with sights that are not exactly the most exciting, such as stores, cement walls, and other modern day buildings.  What video games allow us to do is go back in time in a way and appreciate space and what every square foot has to offer.  Bogost uses Animal Crossing as his example and it really is a great one.  The only method of transportation is on foot, and a typical day of playing the game requires you to walk or run past the same spots numerous times.  I know from my experience playing the game that the player will learn every single inch of his town very quickly.  Every single tree will be recognized and every rock in the ground will be remembered.

Another example the comes to my mind that focuses on the detail of space is Skyrim.  In this game, the map is extremely large and the places you travel to seem to be endless.  While there is a fast travel feature that allows you to jump from one town to another, the town needs to be discovered first.  Along with that, quests force you to go to new places that you must walk to, and any player that wants to succeed in Skyrim knows that we all must do at least some walking because that is the only way to find many important and useful things.  Skyrim was made to intentionally give a lot of detail of the nature and surrounding landscapes.  On a travel, a player can come across anything from a deer running by, an attacking bear or dragon, a rundown shack, or at the very least some lavender or purple mountain flowers that can be harvested and used as ingredients to make useful potions.  This collecting of ingredients really focuses the player in on the nature around him.  If one does not take a careful look at the areas he passes, he will miss many plants, insects such as the orange dartwing that may be flying around, or fungi growing on fallen or dead trees.  Along with being forced to stop for certain things, a player can stop at any time to appreciate the scenery made around him, which is definitely something that the makers of the game wanted everyone to do at least a few times.

While I do not advise anyone to watch this entire video since it is very lengthy, I recommend to skip around simply to see parts of the map that can be traveled and focus on the details put into the game, such as various grasses and plants, the sky, and other noticeable landmarks.

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Discussion

One thought on “Slow Down, You Don’t Want to Miss Anything

  1. Immersive, engrossing game worlds are an undeniably essential part of a memorable gaming experience. Skyrim is perhaps the most extraordinary example of this, absolutely gargantuan in size while at the same time almost impossibly detailed. The realm has its own history, and its creatures and inhabitants to go on and exist with or without you. Experiencing that firsthand is endlessly awe-inspiring and profoundly engaging–that sense of wonder is integral to motivate the player to continue exploring and eventually progress through the game.

    To counter your point on the ideas of transit and movement from How To Do Things, I have to point out that while advanced methods of travel do indeed take away from the nuances and details along the journey, they also greatly broaden the scope of that journey. Even in games like Skyrim, or other ambitiously sized titles like the Grand Theft Auto games, eventually the adventure grows too large in size and scale to be reasonably traversed on foot and other means become necessary. An Infernus across Las Venturas in San Andreas, an airship from Balamb to Esthar in Final Fantasy VIII. There’s a lot gained with the added transportation options–and you can always choose to slow down and walk.

    Posted by bretth2 | June 1, 2013, 2:59 am

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