Fast or Slow? The Importance of Video Game Pacing

Life is Strange Slow Pace

There’s a moment in Life is Strange that reminded me strongly of my own time as a teenager. Not the intense teen drama or the time traveling, but rather one of the spaces in between. The early morning haze, a best friend’s bed, the quiet strains of “Bright Eyes” in the air—maybe this sounds cheesy, but when I played through that scene, I had to let the whole song finish before moving on. Though I had the option to interrupt it at any time, I couldn’t bring myself to end that quiet moment prematurely—I loved it too much.

Fast-paced action may be exhilarating, but there’s something to be said for a more introspective, quiet gaming experience, too. A faster pace lets you experience the thrill of being an action movie star, while a slower pace is typically more about embodying a character or exploring a particular story. Different pacing affects the tone, with each style representing a unique take on video game storytelling.

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How VR is Affecting Long-Distance Relationships

Long-distance relationships in VR

While being hundreds or even thousands of miles away from someone you care about is never easy, thanks to innovations in communication technology such as Skype, Facetime, and instant messengers, people are able to keep in contact in ways that past generations could only have dreamed of.

After all, it wasn’t that long ago that the only way to keep in contact with someone on another continent was through the postal service. Continue reading

How VR Can Teach Compassion Through Gaming

loading human is a stellar vr game

Looking through the eyes of another person is a powerful experience.

It’s often hard to relate to people who harbor a different worldview than us. We tend to wonder why people with different political or religious beliefs see things the way they do. Even when we’re doing our best to sympathize with the trials and challenges that others face, to truly understand a person’s point of view can be challenging when we don’t have first-hand experience of what they’ve been through. Continue reading

How Crowdfunding Video Games is Invigorating the Industry

LoadingHuman_UE_lab_07

I love crowdfunding. Sure, I’ve had a few duds among the projects I’ve backed, but for the most part, it’s been a positive experience. There’s nothing quite like knowing you were part of the creative process of some wonderful new project or seeing your name listed in the “special thanks” section in a game’s end credits.

But backing these projects is about more than personal satisfaction. Crowdfunding video games helps ensure that risky titles—those that push against mainstream ideas about what games are or can be—keep the industry thriving and innovative. Without crowdfunding, we wouldn’t have the Oculus Rift, Shovel Knight, or FTL, three of the most exciting creations of the past few years.

It’s not just about getting games funded, either. Crowdfunding is also a barometer for consumer interest, and high popularity can spur publishers to pick a game up and bring it to the attention of an even broader audience. There are few things more inspiring than a good rags-to-riches (or indie-to-classic) success story, and sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer fertile ground where the first seeds of such stories can take root.

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Don’t Forget It’s Not Real: VR and Suspension of Disbelief

Loading Human is a prime example of what VR games have to offer

When I was younger, sometimes I would lay down to sleep after an evening spent rotating blocks in Tetris and have a hard time turning off my brain. Behind my eyelids, in the dark of the night, I could still see a familiar pattern of falling geometric shapes. My brain was trying to solve a puzzle that wasn’t there anymore.

Virtual reality is a wonderful, immersive tool that can provide us with hours of realistic, believable entertainment. But what happens when we turn it off? If Tetris can lodge itself firmly in a ten-year old’s mind, you can be sure VR’s going to have an impact that lasts long after you’ve taken off the headset. Continue reading

The Psychology of Video Game Interaction and Immersion

BioShock Infinite Bathroom

If you see a toilet in a game, it must be flushable.

Rarely does an in-game toilet have any bearing whatsoever on gameplay, but if there’s a toilet in a game, you better believe I will try to flush it. Portal begins with an attempt to flush the radio. In Gone Home, I made sure every one of those toilets got flushed. Even in Fallout, proper post-apocalyptic flushing practices must be observed.

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Virtual Vacations: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to VR

Virtual VR Vacations

How many cities have you visited in your life?

Ten? Twenty? A hundred? No matter how many you’ve seen, it’s a miniscule number compared to the variety that planet Earth has to offer. This is to say nothing of all the incredibly uncharted locations around the world—rich, thick Amazonian jungle, snowy arctic fjords, and vast, arid deserts that no human has ever fully explored.

With virtual reality, gamers have the opportunity to see the world, all from the comfort of their own living room. Beyond real world locales, it’s even possible to play the tourist in an imaginary setting, traversing Middle Earth or exploring the galaxy. Continue reading