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A chap from from the British countryside (Cornwall that is) currently residing in the big city of London! Video games are a big part of my life, although trying to find the balance between that, uni work (doing a Politics degree) and having a social life!

Despite my chosen degree I have been increasingly researching Ludology and ways in which video games as a medium sends its message and progresses in line with other mediums and whenever possible writing essays on the topic for marks towards my final grade. Shame its currently part of media studies...
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This is the first time I have got round to writing as part of the monthly musing, but this monthís topic got me thinking, there is nothing in video games that I truly excel at. Sure I may be good at FPS', but Iím not the best, there are plenty of people who can beat me in their sleep, and the occasional noob can get the upper hand. Even simple games like Peggle which as much as I enjoy playing I will never get truly high scores.

However there is only one genre at which I am truly terrible at, that being RTS', I once read that people with blue eyes are better at these games over action games, well I call BS, because for me that really is not the case. With RTS games there is just so much going on, and to be honest, I just can't be asked. And it is partly because of this why I do not play MMO's. I tried to play WoW a few years ago and was thoroughly bored.

So one could argue that I am good at games that interest me, but surely that would be the case for everyone. Whilst trying to think of an exception to my "mehness" of gaming skill I decided to look at my gamerscore to see if that gave any insight into which type of games I excel at. Well the only games that I have got all the achievements for so far are: Battlefield 1943, Assassin's Creed 2, Oblivion and Dash of Destruction.

What is interesting about 3 of those games is that whilst the achievements aren't too difficult to get, they do involve a lot of time in order to get these achievements.

With Oblivion one simply needs to complete the missions, a process that takes around 70+ hours! BF1943 gives out most of the achievements in the first few hours of play. However to get the final achievement, which is to play one hundred matches, took me 25 hours! And Assassin's Creed 2, that simply hands you almost 200 points in the first few hours, and the rest are received easily throughout the game like they are in Oblivion. However the final few achievements require a lot of time! Those of you that have played it know what I'm talking about, and that is finding all 100 bloody feathers!! God that was frustrating! Also to get the "Show your colo[u]rs" achievement, you have to have found all the feathers to be able to get it!



So really my skill in video games is the ability to persevere to gain time consuming but perfectly attainable achievements! Yet not too lazy to be an achievement whore!

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My last post was essentially how casual indie games (most of which on theiPod Touch) were able to give me just enough gaming goodness in between essay writing hell! That was a long time ago. Why is this post so long after? To be honest I am unsure, but partly due to Christmas, exam revision and most importantly because of playing video games!

Long story short when I wasn't having to worry about revision and wasn't out with friends, I had a lot more free time than I have had in a long time. This meant that this time could be dedicated purely for the pursuit of playing my recently received Assassin's Creed 2. I am well aware of the low Destructoid rating, and Jim is perfectly within his rights to defend it. However I loved the game. Especially obtaining the "Truth", which me and my best friend discussed in great detail.



The great thing with this game compared with it's sequal was that there was so much to do other than simply assassinating the key people and moving on with the immediate story. This entailed many many hours of play, sometimes up until 4 in the morning! And it was worth it. So far according to my Raptr Profile I have played Assassin's Creed 2 for around 28 hours! That is very impressive for a game that isn't an RPG. Although it is not out of reach for other sandbox games.

After gaining the majority of the achievements and finishing my one and only exam so far I decided to get Borderlands. This is a game which requires alot of time. So far I have played it for around 8 hours, and I expect there to be many more to come. None the less it is a great game to pass the time and enjoy. But not for much longer though, and that is because Mass Effect 2 comes out next week!!

I loved the first game, played it through twice with the second play through being at least twice as long as the first. And I expect in the long run the same will be the case with ME2. However, as the key theme of this entry is time, it will bite back at me. This is because this coming week is my first week of lectures. Of which have been re-arranged so that I have to go in 4 days a week now. A see competition for my time!

I'm going to leave it here for now. I'll let you know how the conflict of time goes!

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There is an unfortunate trend that many of us face as we get older. This trend being that we often have less free time in which we can spend playing video games. Before hand the only thing getting in the way was school work, but you never let it take over your life, and at the end of the day you knew what was important. But as you progress through the educational system the work load increases, as well as the importance of the work. Then you get to the stage iím at now, University.

University is a complete life change. Youíre now more responsible for your actions than ever before. You have to spend time cooking, cleaning and shopping (primarily food). Then of course there is university itself. Now depending on your course varies how much time you spend in lectures and how much time you spend reading and writing essays. For me whilst I may not have many lectures, I am constantly reading. Plus for the last month or so I have been very busy writing four essays all due for the same day!

What did this mean for my video game time? Well as you can imagine it diminished significantly. My 360 was unfortunately starting to gather dust like my DS, (although whoís DS isnít, except for this week as Spirit Tracks comes out). The only time I felt it was acceptable to drag myself away from studying was for the release of Modern Warfare 2. This was because I knew the single player wasnít going to take too long, and then I was free to go onto the multiplayer in my other free time. During the peak of my essay writing even getting onto the multiplayer was difficult.

This lead to an interesting turn of events for me, I ended up getting out my old iPhone (which is without a sim card so may as well be an iPod Touch) and played the games that I had on it such as Peggle, Stone Loops (essentially a Zuma clone) and Doodle Jump which I would play for half an hour or so before I went to bed. The thing with these games is that one could easily describe them as casual games, because you can pick up and play and there isnít too much skill involved. Yet for me this didnít matter as this was precisely the kind of game for me to play at the time. Now despite the fact that I would call myself a hardcore gamer, there are often moments now when I canít find the time to indulge in lengthy play sessions. And casual games have been my saviour and allowed me to enjoy some quality time playing video games. As I was enjoying these games so much I headed to the app store and downloaded a couple of other games such as OMG! Pirates and Critter Crunch. Really enjoyable games that you can pick up and play, but also cost very little, both games were around £1!



Of course the thing about these games is that theyíre all indie games (with the exception of Peggle). The hardcore is still blaming the shift in priority to casual games, but I think what we need to consider is that the difference is that the big companies like Nintendo, Ubisoft and the third parties that exploit the Wii/DS are only doing so to make ďa quick buckĒ. The quality of these games is atrocious yet they still sell, and it is this which annoys us so much, whereas with indie games the quality is often much better despite the cheap cost and often the simplicity of the games. Which when you think about it isnít too dissimilar to arcade games.



From now on when we refer to casual games we need to clarify the difference between cheap cash in and a great piece of work. Although with the recent fall in sales of these games for Ubisoft, others might just wake up! Hereís hoping Nintendo will listen.