5 Reasons Why You Should get Excited for the new Guitar Hero

Ah, Guitar Hero – the party starter during the early to mid 2000’s. It almost seems silly, the idea of a heavily large-controller-focused game coming to next gen consoles. But with rival Harmonix announcing Rock Band 4 will be returning to the market very soon, Guitar Hero has fired back with rumours official details will be released in early April.

So that got the late teen nostalgia pumping and I’ve been doing some thinking about what features on the new Guitar Hero would make it even more brilliant – including rumours from around the interwebs.

Shredding in iconic venues

guitarhero fest

From all your favourite festivals – Glastonbury to Coachella – as well as the Madison Square Gardens and Brixton Academy’s of the world, how epic would it be in today’s ridiculously killer graphics to slay a killer riff in these places? Rumours are rye.

Learning while playing

guitarhero real

We’ve all been told about how video games barely ever teach us anything. But what if you could finally pick up how to play real instruments? At least the basics, granted.

Brand new, sweet hardware


Let’s be honest. The only instruments we’re okay but they’ve had their time. Often flimsy and with a bit of a cheap feel to them, a brand new set of up-to-date, epic hardware would be a requirement.

Easy song creation, recording and sharing


These days, we’re all about virality and sharing our always amazing feats with our friends and family. From cat videos to selfies and foodstagrams, we love it. And nothing would be sweeter than having the ability to share songs you have created in the game directly with all your thousands and thousands of followers (they’ll thank you for it later dw.)

Online Online Online

Simply put, online could be something special. With the capabilities currently available with online gameplay across next gen consoles, the oyster is out. Imagine playing with wireless instruments in a band with a British drummer, South African bassist, Japanese lead guitarist and Australian vocalist. With all types of other sexy features.

Whatever happens, this could be one of the greatest things to ever happen to gaming. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed.

Top 5 of 2014: Gaming

Gaming had a pretty tough year this year, what with the whole #Gamergate saga that tarnished a large section of the fan base. But we were also blessed with a lot of great moments and reveals that reminded us just why we all love gaming so much in the first place.

The new generation of consoles came into their own – bringing with them some outstanding HD remakes – and the level of storytelling in video games continues to push them towards the realm of art. We may have a few controversial choices, but here are our top 5 gaming moments of 2014. After all, it wouldn’t be a conversation about games without some controversy.

5. Grand Theft Auto V on Next-Gen

Source: Wolf’s Gaming Blog

You wouldn’t think that adding a first-person view and enhancing graphical details would make such a big difference, but Rockstar managed to prove us all wrong. The graphical capabilities of current-gen consoles are apparent in the tiny details, from the textures of grass and boulders to the explosion of a vehicle – next-gen GTA V looks incredible.

This is only enhanced by the first-person view; it somehow squeezes an entirely new experience out of a game released just a year earlier. Riding a bike while rain pelts the environment, viewing the world through the lens of a pair of sunglasses, flying around in a plane or pulling stunts in your vehicle provide a fresh perspective of San Andreas.

Despite the controversy the re-release saw after complaints arose over the extremely violent nature of the game, it still stands as a fantastic game that should be played by anyone who owns a new generation of console.

4. Kevin Spacey in COD

You cried over his backstory in ‘Pay it Forward’. You were creeped out by his mid-life crisis suffering antics in ‘American Beauty’.  You sat in awe as he manipulated his way through ‘House of Cards’. And now, for the first time, you can experience the greatness that is Kevin Spacey in video game format.

In 2014 we saw Spacey lend his likeness and voice to the latest Call of Duty instalment with pretty awesome results, the only mishap being facial emotions not matching up with the intensity of his performance on occasion. The incredible detail of Spacey’s character proved the powerful capabilities of current-gen consoles, while his acting talents led to a blockbuster-style campaign.

Love it or hate it, the Call of Duty franchise knows what it’s good at, and it’s going to be around for a while longer yet. So what better way to reinvigorate a stale franchise than to use the likeness of a well-loved actor channeling one of his most intense characters?

3. Final Fantasy XV – English Trailer

We first heard of Final Fantasy XV (or back then, Final Fantasy Versus XIII) in 2006 during the announcement for Final Fantasy XIII and Type-0.

I know, we can barely keep track anymore either.

Little was known about the game for a long while, until the first trailer was released to an eager audience. Many years and a couple more trailers later, the game was left in gaming limbo, with promises of its completion following the development of Kingdom Hearts III.

In 2014 we finally saw an English trailer for the game, solidifying its continued development. Final Fantasy XV is finally close to release and it looks absolutely incredible.

2. Portable Super Smash Bros.

Source: Flickering Myth

What’s better than sitting around a console with your friends, beating the heck out of each other with Nintendo characters? Sitting wherever the hell you want with your 3DS, beating the heck out of your friends with Nintendo characters, is what.

Add in some random strangers and you achieve mobile gaming perfection.

After three console iterations of the much loved franchise, Nintendo released their acclaimed all-star fighter on the 3DS as a companion to its bigger brother on the Wii U. It holds true to the chaotic spirit present in all Smash Bros. titles, and provides yet another reason to get yourself a 3DS.

Despite the limitations of the 3DS, it’s proven to be a worthy title in the franchise. The game has a large character roster, a ton of great and innovative stages to fight in.

1. Open World Zelda

Source: Gamespot

The Legend of Zelda series – while undoubtedly brilliant – is often criticised for rehashing the same gameplay mechanics with every release in the franchise. In recent years they have attempted to tackle this criticism by adding things to spice the gameplay up a bit, but it has never really seemed like it made enough of a difference.

Enter the Legend of Zelda for Wii U, the series’ first modern open world game.

Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto showed off gameplay footage recently and it looks absolutely stunning, and is on par with some of the better open world environments you usually see in Western games.

I personally can’t help but reminisce over ‘Shadow of the Colossus’ when I see Link traversing across the vast lands of Hyrule on Epona and I couldn’t be more excited to see what Nintendo bring to this new instalment in the franchise.

GamerGate: A Gamer’s Perspective

Source: Kit Guru
Source: Kit Guru

Video game journalism needs an overhaul. It has been a long time coming, and sadly it took the people I respected most to make me realise this.

But who am I to pass judgement? I’m just a random 22 year old, from the inner-west of Sydney.

But, I am a gamer.

I’m someone who has seen the shift in the community from whispers and rumours on the playground, to the open forum of the internet. I was first introduced to video-games at a young age as a means to distract me from my fear of a dog at my dad’s colleague’s home. I was handed a SNES controller and for the entirety of the day played Super Mario Land, from then on, I never put the controller down.

My passion and love for the medium blossomed to the point where I’d pretend to be sick to stay home from school to play Spyro the Dragon on the PlayStation 1’s bundled demo disc. Or I’d secretly play Pokemon Gold under my covers at night with a torch in my mouth, barely seeing the sprites scrolling on screen.

Hundreds of thousands of others stood up to the industry, as the gaming community at large said no to the current state of gaming journalism and media.

It’s the hours spent in front of the television, arched over a keyboard or in the back seat of the family car that has created my love for gaming. As I’ve grown up I’ve become further involved with the community. I’ve attended cons, gone to meet-ups, joined chat rooms, and written essay after essay at university about gaming. I have dedicated my future to this industry.

As you grow up you’re constantly told by others that playing games is wrong. That “if you play for too long it will make your eyes go bad”, that I should “grow up” because “I’m not a child anymore”, that playing violent games will make me violent.

Now, according the industry that I love, “I am a disgusting representation of the gaming community.”

When the industry I am striving to become a part of is calling its audience names such as “basement dwelling children” and “misogynist white male”, labelling them as the problem at the heart of the gaming community, it becomes very disheartening to tell anyone I want to become a video-games journalist.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Hundreds of thousands of others stood up to the industry, as the gaming community at large said no to the current state of gaming journalism and media.

GamerGate was born.

The events started in August, when indie game developer Zoe Quinn was accused by an ex-boyfriend of allegedly having an affair with one of the writers for prominent gaming site Kotaku, to supposedly propel her originally failed game Depression Quest to greater popularity and garner new support for the project.

Quinn was then supposedly involved when an IndieGoGo campaign by the Fine Young Capitalists was hacked and shut down. The campaign was for a game jam where five women with next to no programming skills would create a concept for a game and work with programmers to have it made. If the game proved popular with the online audience, it would then be released with proceeds going to a charity supporting women in the games industry. The alleged reasoning for the hacking of the site was to promote Quinn’s own similar game jam ‘Rebel Jam’ which is still being developed.

Video game award panels IndieCade and the Independent Games Festival (IGF) lost validity after it was revealed there were multiple conflicts-of-interest with the winners, as two of the judges were previous partners of an IndieCade winner. Seven judges from the IGF had also invested money towards a project of one of the IGF winners.

The personal attacks and privacy violations have nothing to do with the core reason for GamerGate’s existence.

Gamers turned to online forums like Reddit, 4chan, and NeoGAF to talk about the events in progress, but they were interrupted by the mass deletion of comments and posts relating to certain personalities. Users began digging, and found that Quinn appeared to have called in a favour from a friend, who operates as a moderator on some of these sites.

She has also allegedly used copyright clauses to have articles that denounced her behaviour taken down. Respected internet critic TotalBiscuit said, “Using the DMCA to take down criticism of your product is a terrible idea and is unethical, if not in many cases flat-out illegal. Don’t ever fucking do this. The Streisand effect is real and even if it isn’t, you don’t get to run around using copyright law to censor people”. This led to a backlash against TotalBiscuit from not only Quinn herself, but from outspoken gaming developer Phil Fish who used playground slander to degrade the validity of TotalBiscuit’s opinion.

The breaking point came on August 28th, when 14 articles were published to popular gaming websites, all musing that the “Gamer is Dead”. Sites like Gamasutra, Kotaku, Polygon, and The Daily Beast willingly let staff post articles that blatantly attacked the audience they have built for years. The years of progress that gaming culture had made were washed away.

As a gamer I was told to be embarrassed of what I loved, of the experiences I had felt in the past, the people I had met through my passion; that the memories of staying up all night for that final achievement were a disgrace, because the industry would no longer cater to me.

The years it took to not feel embarrassed to pull out my 3DS while travelling on public transport were tainted. The bullies of the playground were back – and they were people I looked up to.

Source: Attack On Gaming
Source: Attack On Gaming

GamerGate was born out of frustration. It’s not about gender or race in gaming. It’s about keeping video games about video games.  It’s to ask for reform, to have Journalistic integrity.

In the days and weeks following, others have used this issue to further their own horrible views. The personal attacks and privacy violations have nothing to do with the core reason for GamerGate’s existence.

As a consumer what do I want to see on gaming sites? For me its release dates and press releases, new DLC and previews of what’s to come. It’s acquisitions of companies and new technology, from time to time its sales figures but without all the factual regurgitation of press releases. I want unbiased opinion pieces, reviews and analysis.

Games journalism falls into an interesting category because most writers are purely talking about opinion. Sure, they have many roles, sure it’s nice to know about the specs of a game and how many frames it runs on console in comparison to PC, but it’s really the opinion pieces that the community seeks out. That way we get a real sense of what the game feels like. Because of this, we have no choice but to trust them.

Games journalists need to become aware of the difference between networking and friendship.

The trust is developed because the consumer sees themselves in the writer – the passion and love that they share for games or the disgust at poorly textured environments of others. Video games journalism has always been incredibly unique because of the amount of personality one is allowed to reflect into their writing.

I learned this year’s ago as a teenager when I’d stay up late on GamesRadar and read top 7 lists or when I’d rush home from the news agency to read Official Nintendo Magazine cover to cover because of the expression, humour and personality that makes the consumer trust the writer.

However, it seems like for years we’ve heard stories of corruption and bribes within the concentrated, insular world that is games media. Last year reports were leaked by an anonymous ex-employee of ‘IGN’ that companies were paying the site behind closed doors to give their games higher scores to push success.

When that trust is broken, and those speaking against it are criticised by the few powerful voices in the gaming community, it only results in regression. If you are a journalist and you back a fundraiser of a particular game: do not report on it at your place of work. If you are an awards judge and you’ve had personal or professional relationships with those you are judging: resign from the post. Games journalists need to become aware of the difference between networking and friendship.

Reform is already upon us, both The Escapist and Kotaku have created stronger guidelines that there journalists must follow to help guide journalistic integrity. The fact that these issues have been addressed by these flagship sites makes it obvious that this situation is being taken seriously in the right circles, and that the overall effect on the gaming community will be massive.

I am not your shield. I come to your websites because of our shared passion. I read your blogs because I respect your opinion. I comment on your reviews to be a part of this amazing community.

I am a gamer.

Uncharted: Naughty Dog’s Fortune

Source: http://girlinacape.files.wordpress.com

The annual E3 event rapped up last week, giving gamers a glimpse into the latest videogames in development for their consoles. Sony’s subsidiary videogame developers, Naughty Dog unveiled the trailer for their latest title, Uncharted: A Thief’s End, which was streamed via a Playstation 4 using in-game graphics rather than CGI.Naughty Dog have had a phenomenal track record in developing top quality videogames in over 25 years of existence. From humble beginnings to their more modern breakthrough hits with the Crash Bandicoot and Jack and Daxter franchises, Naughty Dog proved themselves worthy enough to be adopted by Sony Entertainment as a second party developer. This was an incredible feat for western developers during an era when Japan carried the video game industry on its shoulders.

The Uncharted series follows Nathan Drake, a charming, daring treasure hunter who just happens to get into more gun fights with opponents than he does at actually finding treasure. The first title, Uncharted: Drake’s fortune, was released in 2007. Players led Drake through exotic South American locations in search of the fabled city, El Dorado. He is accompanied by his cigar toting, bowling shirt wearing, quick-witted mentor, Victor “Sully” Sullivan, who quickly became a fan favourite of the series. Initially deduced as an imitation of the Tomb Raider franchise, the game’s fun gameplay mechanics, robust story and characters, and excellent visuals steered the series into its own league. The game’s High production values were praised by critics who likened Uncharted to a blockbuster film.

The games follow up, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was released in 2009 to universal critical acclaim, winning numerous “Game of the Year” awards by various institutions. The sequel led players through various locations, including Nepal and the Himalayas in search of the lost city of Shambhala. With every iteration of the Sony Playstation, Naughty Dog has pushed the limits of the console’s capabilities and Uncharted is no exception. Motion capture technology enabled realistic movements and the game engine utilised 90 to 100% of its processing power for a significant improvement in visuals. Gameplay mechanics were also tightened, especially during gun-fights and an online multiplayer mode was introduced for increased longevity of the game.

It seemed to be near impossible to improve on such a monumental effort, but Naughty Dog went from strength to strength with the 2011 release of Uncharted: Drake’s Deception, the series’ most ambitious title to date. The developers fine-tuned their game engine, leading to incredible visual effects such as visible grains of sand, which flow over the dunes among a vast desert setting. Its improved textures provided a more realistic visual experience, and the physics engine had been improved to look more authentic. This title focused on Drake’s relationship with Sully, to the delight of fans of the series, providing more depth to the characters through their history. Drake travelled to even more exotic locations this time, from a castle in Syria to the streets of Colombia and many places in-between. Players were rewarded with incredible visual representations of these environments. The franchise had done well, spawning a book, a comic series and a spin-off title for the Playstation Vita, however, the end of the last game left fans curious about the future of the series.

Their curiosity was satiated during the trailer, which appears to be set several years after the last game. A slightly older Drake wakes up on an island while a voice over of a conversation between Drake and Sully implies that they are ready to embark on one last treasure hunt. Not many other details are known, however, a teaser trailer released earlier shows a map of the African continent, which may be the region that Drake will travel around in his latest adventure. Regardless of the scarcity of details, it is without a doubt that Naughty Dog’s impeccable reputation at producing high quality videogames will ensure a much needed, incredible experience for gamers. Uncharted: A Thief’s End will be released on Playstation 4 sometime in 2015.

E3: Our Wrap-Up

Joint written by Eamonn Warner & Andrew Toledano

As usual, there were some huge announcements at E3 this year. Master Chief is getting the HD treatment; Star Fox is back for the Wii U; and Sony has officially revealed Nathan Drake’s return in Uncharted 4. In reality, there were way too many to adequately discuss here, so we here at 5Why have taken a different approach. Two of our gaming experts, Eamonn Warner and Andrew Toledano, have trawled through everything E3 had to offer, and each have returned with 3 highlights and one lowlight from gaming’s grandest show.

Eamonn’s Highlights

No Man’s Sky (PS4, 2015)

Source: Hello Games

The promise of an “infinite universe to explore” is an incredibly enticing proposition. Starting on your own unique planet, you set out across the surface to discover as much as possible before jetting off into the stars in search of something even more unique (no two planets in the game are the same). The gameplay trailer showed glimpses of space combat against either AI controlled ships or other players, with dogfights between ships a real feature. This could lead to some very interesting story possibilities, even if they become secondary to the exploration, which would be a nice change when compared to many of the heavily scripted adventures on the market at the moment.

Evolve (PC/PS4/X1, October 2014)

Source: Turtle Rock Studios/2K Games

No surprises for guessing what Liam Neeson will play as. Evolve continues to impress with the unveiling of its second monster, the Kraken. Also with the announcement of 12 hunters in total (3 different variants on each of the 4 classes) and a 3rd as yet to be determined monster to hunt (control), Evolve is showing more and more that it will possess unmatched depth in terms of tactics and abilities within co-op play. The 12 dynamic arenas are full of secondary dangers and creatures which you can avoid, or hunt to gain XP to make the battles with the monsters more of an even fight, as it looks like you’ll need all the help you can get once the beasts evolve into their more powerful forms.

Arkham Knight (PS4/X1, 2015)

Source: Rocksteady/Warner Bros

Rocksteady look to be one of the first studios really pushing the next-gen hardware to its limits. The gameplay footage debuted during the Sony conference was amazing. Gotham looks absolutely massive and just as interactive and detail packed as Arkham City. But the scope of Gotham is simply immense when compared to previous titles in the series, with new levels of verticality added for good measure. Fluidity of movement between the different elements is something that makes these Batman games so well renowned, and Rocksteady appear to have upped the slickness of movement in both combat and the traversal of the environment. Exclusive “Scarecrow Nightmare” missions for the PS4 are a nice bonus as well for those who still haven’t picked up a next-gen console.

Eamonn’s Lowlight

The Last Guardian (???)

Source: Team Ico/Sony Computer Entertainment

Or should I say, no Last Guardian. The cynic in me saw all the chatter about it being cancelled, and then not cancelled, and then in active development in Japan as a sneaky marketing ploy to get the game right back to the top of everyone’s thoughts going into the convention. It was shaping as a perfect show stopper for Sony, and a release date or gameplay trailer would have arguably ended the presentation with a bigger bang than the reveal of Uncharted 4. I can’t really help but be disappointed. I’m aware that might be mainly my own fault for misreading the situation, but I know I’m not the only one who was expecting at least something from Team Ico.

Andrew’s Highlights

Sunset Overdrive (X1, October 2014)

Source: Insomniac/Microsoft

Sunset Overdrive, the newest exclusive for the Xbox One – a third-person shooter from the esteemed Insomniac games – took the stage with both an entertaining trailer and interesting piece of gameplay.

The game sports a cell-shaded, cartoony art direction, full of bright orange and blues that oddly wrap up the nature of the game, accompanied by comic book styled onomatopoeia splashing across the screen when taking out the enemy. It’s 2027, and after the contamination of a new Energy Drink that has turned the population into terribly disgusting mutants, which meet somewhere between The Last of Us’ Clickers and the Amnesia Monster, it’s up to you, a previous Nobody to become a somebody. Using amazing parkour mechanics that see the protagonist grinding, wall running, and zip lining while firing an array of weapons like bowling ball cannons and teddy-bear bazookas, there’s so much to be excited about when Sunset Overdrive arrives this October.

The Legend of Zelda (Wii U, 2015)

Source: Nintendo/Polygon

There was one thing I wanted to see specifically out of Nintendo’s E3 digital event – The Legend of Zelda Wii U, and although it was very short on details and footage, it was officially revealed.

Series producer Eiji Aonuma introduced us to the first glimpse of the game. The small piece was Link on Epona (his trusty steed), as they sat looking out at what we can assume is the land of Hyrule. The small detail we were given was similar to last year’s 3DS title A Link Between Worlds, where the player was able to travel to dungeons in any order they want, and approach them in multiple ways. Aonuma went on to discuss that in this iteration of Zelda, you may be sitting in a quiet plain when a monster comes out of nowhere and attacks you, which was then demonstrated on screen. The game boasts a familiar looking art style in the vein of both Skyward Sword and Wind Waker, which has become almost a staple of the game.

Interviews with Aonuma in regards to Link’s feminine portrayal have also been mentioned from the conference, with a laughing Aonuma replying: “No one explicitly said that was Link.” Interesting information as we wait for the release in 2015.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege (PC/PS4/X1, 2015)

Source: Ubisoft

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege, a series that debuted back in 1998, was always commended for feeling realistic, using planned strategy before even touching a gun, and the use of perma-death.  The trailer demonstrated the amazing pre-alpha footage of a team of operatives planning to intrude and take down terrorists holding a women hostage. Team planning is key. A sleek HUD shows the amount of allies and enemies in contention at all times and health and shield systems. Combined with gameplay ideas like shooting out drywall to flank the enemy, or leaning around corners, the sheer destruction and game mechanics alone had me hooked. Get your friends together and put Counter Strike on the back burner for a while, the next team-based shooter is coming in 2015.

Andrew’s Lowlight

EA’s Press Conference

Source: Michal Czerwonka/Getty Images

EA probably had the worst idea for the conference, in deciding that if they had nothing to show for games that they wanted to announce were in development, they’d show a behind the scenes look at the teams and development of the titles instead. Mass Effect, Mirrors Edge 2 and Star Wars: Battlefront got this treatment; we were shown little to no gameplay or pre-rendered cut scenes, and no major details on titles or mechanics. To be fair, Mirrors Edge 2 did reveal the most information out of the three, but all in all, if you’re going to show something at least have something small thrown together – particularly for E3. Announcing a game and not showing anything new or of detail is not announcing anything at all.

Gaming, Gatekeepers, and Legitimacy

We are slowly proving to the mass audience out there that video games deserve to be held in the same regard as film and television as a legitimate form of entertainment.

The entire movement comes from a desire for games to be taken seriously. Even with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of sales and widespread critical acclaim, mainstream audiences still struggle to see gaming presented as the legitimate form of entertainment that it is.
The gatekeepers of our society still see them as a child’s plaything, and that isn’t going to change anytime soon no matter how many fiendishly original and affecting experiences Ken Levine unleashes upon an unsuspecting world.

The movement merely wants the very best that gaming has to offer (not all of gaming) to be spoken of in the same considered and reverential tones reserved for films like There Will Be Blood and television shows like Six Feet Under. If we try and convince people that the likes of Call of Duty fall into the same category then we must be willing to accept the Transformers series and The Big Bang Theory into the category as well (I believe Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth would have the perfect phrase for such a world).

Journey (Source: Thatgamecompany)
Journey (Source: Thatgamecompany)

To any gamers out there – not just the hard-core – if I try and explain to you why The Last of Us is so special, I would tell you that the game is gorgeous, technically outstanding and brilliantly written. It tells a mature, ambiguous and grown up story that very few games even think of, much less execute.

The reasons why the game is regarded as one of the very best of the last console generation, and why the game is so important are clear to you. Having grown up with games in some shape or form, you possess a kind of baseline understanding about what makes a game good. And in very rare cases you can easily identify why a game might transcend the medium to become what some might call “art”.

Now try explaining The Last of Us to your average Baby Boomer, a generation of men and women raging against the dying of the light. Sure, the graphics may blow them away to a certain degree, and the realistic movement of the characters may be impressive. But the subtleness of the narrative, the little interactions between Joel and Ellie, the morally ambiguous nature of your choices within the story won’t be seen as ground-breaking in any way. After all, television and movies have been dealing in shady morality for years, why is it so important that a game does it now?

See, the problem is, while the achievement may be appreciated to a certain degree, the scope of the achievement won’t be.

Arguably the biggest challenge in seeking appropriate recognition for videogames is that this viewpoint, this seemingly ignorant stance against interactive storytelling doesn’t come from a place of outright ignorance or a vehement refusal to acknowledge advancements in the technology of storytelling – if they were all The Honourable Michael Atkinson this would be easy.

Grand Theft Auto V (Source: Rockstar Games)
Grand Theft Auto V (Source: Rockstar Games)

The problem is, that baseline doesn’t exist for them. They didn’t grow up absorbing stories and tales of right and wrong by living them through a controller. Those gloriously affecting experiences most of us had as a child playing Final Fantasy VII or Bioshock are totally alien to them because they don’t see games as interactive storytelling – they see them as games, as things children play with.

The term “playing” here is the key. You can’t play with culture. You can’t play with films or television. But you can play videogames. Our generation is part of this odd transition period where for the first time in our history we can interact with truly complex, adult stories and affect their outcome. But to our parents and grandparents a video game is something their child wanted to play with – because all children want to do is play – so they bought a Sega Megadrive or Super Nintendo or Sony Playstation and for them that was the end of it.

This secondary meaning to the word “play” wasn’t really around in the 50’s or 60’s. “Playing” was always something tangible that you did with dolls or balls and sticks. The children and younger adults of today have that secondary meaning implanted deep in the recesses of their brains from a very young age (just look at every 4 year old with their parent’s smartphone).

A generational shift is required for gaming to build up sufficient momentum to truly be taken seriously as a form of entertainment. By the time we become the gatekeepers everyone will have played videogames in some shape or form, whether it be mobile, PC or console everyone will have that reference point allowing them to truly appreciate the complexities of the very best that gaming has to offer.
Now that is a planet I want to live on.

Just a Matter of Time

Source: Comedy Central

It can be extremely frustrating trying to fit a gaming habit around your social life, your job, and the long hours of study you are expected to do while completing your degree. Gaming has always been one of those hobbies that consume vast amounts of time if you are fully committed to the cause. Experiencing all that is offered by a classic game is the ideal experience, but in doing so you miss out on 2 or 3 new releases because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

The virtues of what make gaming great are demanding by their very nature. If a game is successful in immersing you into its story and if it makes you care deeply about the characters then you will naturally desire to spend as much time as you can within the world of the game.

We are pre-disposed as people to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the things we love and enjoy, but the sheer scope of the content offered by most quality games puts us at odds with what is seen as an acceptable level of time devotion to a single piece of entertainment. This is no doubt one of the reasons the pervasive anti-social stereotype still surrounds much of the gaming world.

No matter how good a movie is, no matter how much it drags you in and consumes you, it will be over in around two hours. Games that are considered short generally take four or five times that amount of time to complete, and even that is only the main story. When you include factors like multiplayer or collectibles, even for short games it can take around twenty hours to fully experience what the game has to offer.

Source: Irrational Games/2K Games
Source: Irrational Games/2K Games

Gaming is a medium which lends itself to binge consuming. So, when you can only fit in two hours of play time every three days, you lose some of the momentum built up from the previous session.

Have you ever tried watching a movie in three or four sittings? You spend the first ten minutes of each session trying to re-establish where you are in the story. You also struggle to regain the emotional state you were in at the moment you pressed stop. What if the final shot you watched was of the killer being revealed in a mirror? What if a character had just sacrificed themselves? During instances such as this the film is designed so you are an emotional wreck during the next few scenes, but because you are watching it two days later, after having been at work, then you’ve gone out for coffee and had dinner, you are not in the appropriate emotional mindset to properly appreciate what is going on.

This rings true for games as well. Yes, games are built with very clear checkpoints and levels where you are encouraged to save your game, and then shut down the system and move on to something else if you so choose. But do you ever really want to?

From a designers standpoint the whole game relies on you needing to immediately start that next level or that next mission. Quality games make it very difficult to hit that off switch and retire to your desk to highlight key phrases in a textbook. The Last of Us is a testament to this and is probably responsible for more all night cram sessions and extensions than The Ashes, 21st birthday parties and Game of Thrones combined.

This time issue is ingrained into the very nature of gaming.  It remains one of the ultimate frustrations with the medium while simultaneously being the reason it is beloved by so many. In the end, the fact that we spend so much our lives inside these virtual worlds only adds to how much we cherish our time with them.

Sure I could go out and have a good night and still find time to watch a movie. But I could stay at home and use that time to explore a mere 10% of Rapture. And you know what? It would be worth every minute.

But as a final counterpoint, losing yourself for eight hours in a game world and suddenly realising you have an essay due in the morning that you still haven’t begun is an adrenaline rush even Felix Baumgartner would be jealous of.

A Link Between Worlds: Review


The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is set 6 generations after 1994’s hit, A Link to the Past, sharing more than just a witty play-on-words in the subtitle with its former. This game is a love letter dedicated to fans of classic Zelda – A Link to the Past in particular. Many aspects of A Link to the Past have been recycled for this new game, including the world map and some of the music, which has been remixed and is now fully-orchestrated. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this game won’t provide a captivating experience. Nintendo has combined the best of classic Zelda with many new features to embed itself firmly into the hearts of fans and newcomers alike.


Main protagonist, Link, is here to save princess Zelda and banish evil once again. This time, he must save Hyrule as well as Lorule, a destroyed kingdom in an alternate world filled with fearsome monsters. Link has gained the ability to turn himself into a drawing on any flat surface, allowing him to move along walls to reach new areas. This provides depth to many of the puzzles and also enables Link to traverse between the two worlds by entering fissure portals placed around the map.

Most of the Legend of Zelda games have a formulaic way of progressing through the adventure. You find an item that allows Link to enter a specific dungeon, and then find another item that allows Link to unlock the next relevant dungeon and this process is rinsed and repeated until the end. Nintendo have switched things up this time by introducing a merchant, Ravio who allows players to rent all items straight away, enabling them to choose the order in which dungeons are completed. This is a step in the right direction for the series, as the freedom and limitless exploration is what this gives life to the adventure.

Those wanting a challenging game may be disappointed. The dungeons are quite easy to complete and enemies generally don’t provide much of a challenge. The only exception to this is the battle arena, which pits the player against up to 50 levels of monster slaying fun. Even then, the arena is only difficult towards the end.

The game comes with a few mini-games and side-quests to tackle for when you want to take a break from the main plot. Mini-games range from the previously mentioned battle arena to a baseball-like game called ‘Octoball Derby’, while side-quests include the usual heart piece and empty bottle quests. The most interesting quest is the Maiamai sidequest. Link must find 100 baby Maiamais which have gone missing. For every 10 that you return to their mother, you get an item upgrade, and a pretty cute orchestral tune plays in the background.

This is a familiar game for fans, and is certainly not going to stray dangerously far from the Zelda formula. However, with its fun puzzles, catchy music, bright colours, colourful characters and entertaining story combined, this is already a guaranteed classic.

Is Video Gaming an Art?

(Img: 1ms.net)
(Img: 1ms.net)

One of the most talked about topics within the gaming community in recent years is, whether or not video games are art. While film and television are well regarded as an art form, why do we hesitate a tad over gaming? A new wave of games like Dear Ester, The Stanley Parable and Gone Home were released in the past couple of years and are regarded as great titles, well… except Dear Ester cause you know, it freaking sucks and barely passes as a game (I mean $AU9.99 on Steam to walk around for 30 minutes?!)

I myself, regard gaming as art. The storytelling that is true to other visual media is amplified when the audience is directly responsible for the choices and direction that a characters journey takes. Not to mention visually, game designers have taken us to environments that vary from beautiful to menacing, to lush and even ravage.

A great example is Irrational Game’s Bioshock Infinite, a gorgeous game that really creates a surreal environment where every corner of the floating island beckons for exploration, rewarding players with thorough history, back story and Easter eggs. It’s varying environments, from inside a cathedral to the city streets of 1912, to the rotting walls of an abandoned mansion, the game continually throws the player into beautiful scenery and amazingly diverse environments that seem so spectacularly real that the player can’t help but be drawn into its fictional setting. It truly took my breath away at times, in the same way a brilliant movie would, or a perfectly taken photo could.

Last week I was chatting with two friends, one who I often play games with, the other who’s gaming experience was literally only Plants vs Zombies on iOS. We ended up engaging in a lengthy conversation about modern gaming. It sparked from me saying that Grand Theft Auto V shouldn’t have been given game of the year by a particular company, it then moved to me describing how I enjoy the manner in which particular games can create a universe and lore that’s so extensive I can live in them for weeks, and sometimes years. I continued to talk about story building in games like finding articles or diary entries, narration and flashbacks, when one of my friends interrupted me and basically got me to explain what a cut-scene was.

This friend then pressed me about what my game of the year was, without a hesitation I said The Last of Us. It’s a game that shows real human interaction, character progression, human choices and far from a cliché ending. With lushes and sometimes morbid locations, the game continually surprises you with moments that pull on your heart strings, resulting in a series of emotions.


Speaking through an exhale, with widened eyes, my friend was shocked to learn that games could evoke these kinds of feelings and thoughts. The fact my friend didn’t even know, that she had no comprehension of, the idea that gaming was more than killing people for points and jumping a-top a flag pole to ‘win’, led me to crack the blatant secret of why people don’t recognise games as art, or even register it as a modern medium of storytelling .

It’s because people don’t know that there are games out there that can build stories with greater depth, that are more complex, compelling and elongated (for the better), than film and television. Is it the older generations not taking an interest? Did you ever notice when you were a kid and you went to go see a movie with your friends, and your parents might ask, “honey what are you going to see?” And you’d be like, “the South Park movie seems funny…” resulting in a response along the lines of, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU THERE’S NO WAY MY CHILD, THE BEING I CREATED IS GOING TO BE CORRUPTED BY THE FILM INDUSTRY!”

But if you asked them for a copy of Grand Theft Auto they didn’t have a care in the world as long as you were occupied for a couple hours. It seems like a lack of knowledge may be the villain of this topic. So how do we change this? The answer is simple, make the subject matter more prominent.

One way that I’ve suggested to remedy this is to have a video games ceremony similar to the Oscars, stay with me. Reward creators with more than a freaking VGX awards with condescending hosts, a place where we literally award people for their efforts in writing, coding, directing and producing masterpieces across different genres. It may take a bit longer than the Oscars but aren’t games usually longer than films anyway?

We push to show audiences that the classification and game content directly impact each other, and not just because you get to shoot people, but because the themes and actions within the game are mature. So if you’re reading this, tell your parents the plot of the last game you played no matter what it is, and show them those beautiful landscapes, god knows I do, as much as my Mum doesn’t care who got announced at E3 or not.

Gaming on a Budget


Gaming isn’t the cheapest hobby in the world. Recreational duck hunting would probably work out cheaper in the long run. So as a student who is struggling financially – shocking I know – it can be quite difficult to justify the financial outlay required to play a newly released game. Shelling out A$90 – A$120 can be quite a bit of cash, especially when you consider that you are not really assured value for money.

Perhaps the art design bugs you, the aiming system is too twitchy or the story is so bland and predictable that you lose all desire to plough through the admittedly entertaining levels. There are so many variables present throughout the production and execution of a game, and often so little margin for error, that only one small mistake in production can ruin the experience.

This gives you two options. One, forego gaming as a pastime as you simply cannot afford to live off carpet stir-fry’s anymore. Or alternatively, continue to chance your arm with the constant stream of expensive new titles and write a cook book to finance your habit outlining the best way to grill polypropylene.

Both of these are quite frankly horrible ideas. So I propose something else.

The only real assurance you can give yourself that the sacrifice will be worthwhile is by putting in a bit of time and effort into your purchases. Yes my friends, hours of research can be used for the forces of good.

Look closely at what you like, think of previous games you have enjoyed and see if you can find any common denominators. For instance, if you loved the escapade of Nathan Hale and company in the Resistance series and you are only taking your first tentative steps into platforming games, you could start with Ratchet and Clank as it was developed by the same studio (Insomniac) and the gloriously innovative weapon design present across both games will help ease the transition.

You may consider yourself a huge fan of shooters, yet you only enjoyed one of the last three entries in the Call of Duty series. Again, look at the developers involved. It is possible you only really enjoy the games from Infinity Ward and not from Treyarch. This way you can pick and choose, plus have a greater degree of confidence that your money will be well spent.

It isn’t just the people who make the game that you should look out for either. Hold off on that pre-order until a few reviews have started to trickle out. Make sure you read multiple reviews if it’s a game you are unsure of, unless of course you have a particular reviewer or website that tends to line up very well with your own opinions on games. If you generally agree with the opinions of the IGN or GameSpot staff then chances are you may rely on them to help influence your purchase.

The big moral here is to be smart about what you’re going to purchase if you’re a student or on a budget, don’t make any mistakes and research what you’re going to buy, especially if it’s going to burn a huge hole in your wallet for the month.

That way, you don’t end up with an empty fridge for two weeks just so you can be disappointed by a massively hyped and revolutionary shooter that you’ve been counting down the days for. Which ultimately turns out to be the boiled shag rug soup of the videogame world – Haze.