Another October Link Drop: Games Edition

I’ve been spending this month on a paper-revising frenzy, applying to jobs, and (this weekend) dogsitting for some friends, so the blogging has kind of taken a back seat. In the meantime, of course, the useful links just keep piling up. I’ve got so many to share, in fact, that I’ll just start with the gaming-related ones today.

When Protagonists Die: Nate Combs has an interesting piece up at Terra Nova about losers in online games. As I’ve mentioned here previously, I’ve been putting together notes for a paper on protagonist death in video games, but my approach has been focusing on how death disrupts the player’s experience of narrative and how some game developers have been trying to get around that convention. This is a potential problem in online games, too—as Nate writes, you don’t want anybody feeling like they’re playing the redshirts—but long-term online games introduce another whole set of implications: How do you keep people coming back to your game when they have so much to lose upon character death? According to Nate, the answer is an online culture that encourages keeping losers in the loop.

Thinking Outside the Box: Gonzalo Frasca brings Julian Oliver’s Levelhead to my attention. I could tell you it’s a cube with a little man inside, but really, you should just click on either link and watch the video (or download a higher quality version). I’m not sure what genre or medium you’d consider this, but I’m fascinated.

Squashing Myths about Games: The BBC brings us “In Defence of Computer Games” (link via Kotaku). The article comes in response to the massive success of Halo 3, and basically just asserts that gamers aren’t antisocial lunatics. A nice sentiment, but I imagine it will be lost on non-gamers, who would have to wade through a few paragraphs about Master Chief before they realize the article is meant for their eyes.

Geek Cred: Actor and Robot Chicken co-creator Seth Green will have a part in the upcoming and much-anticipated game Mass Effect—a move that Joystiq blogger Justin McElroy suggests is all about culling favor with the nerd set. It’s actually a fairly good move, when you think about it, as the Comic Con crowd will stick by its favorites from one series to the next. The Sarah Connor Chronicles pilot screening at this year’s con left me personally feeling pretty unimpressed, but it didn’t matter for most people in the room—they were just happy to get Firefly‘s Summer Glau back and busting heads again.

More Achievements, More Mature, More Sales: So says a study by EEDAR, anyway, but Ross Miller at Joystiq wisely points out that correlation probably doesn’t imply causation in this case. Ditto for the study suggesting the same about having an M rating, as the hardcore gamer demographic is probably skewed more toward the R-rated moviegoing audience more than mainstream audiences as a whole.

The Time-suckingest Game Genre: And finally, even when the results aren’t particularly flattering to gamers—as in the case of MMOs being found to take more time and cut into sleep more than other types of games—bloggers respond to findings with a heartfelt, “Well, duh.”

I have so many tabs of links open and left to blog that they don’t even fit on my Macbook’s wide laptop screen—and at least two or three are worth posts in their own right. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back into the blogging saddle a little more regularly after I meet some impending deadlines!