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Seeing the Matrix Code


Where things get interesting is when this "code" does become visible. Contrary to what most internet forums would tell you, the quality of a game is subjective, relying heavily on frame of reference -- the kid who grows up with the appropriate doses of Doom and Half-Life, with some sides of System Shock, Battlefield, No One Lives Forever, and Halo, is going to approach, say, Soldier of Fortune: Payback (a very very bad game you should not play, for the curious) with a much different mindset than the kid whose entire gaming repertoire consists of McKids and Super Noah's Ark 3D. Not only has Subject A experienced a great number of what would widely be considered "better" games, that range has provided him/her with a bunch of visible patterns -- inventory menus; weapon functions; puzzle types; not necessarily conventions, but enough similarities that he/she can see how the budget Call of Duty clone compares and -- more accurately -- doesn't compare.

This is why so many SRS GAEM CRITCS cream their pants over things like Grand Theft Auto IV and Journey; either those dozens of patterns and (for lack of a better word) devices that pop up in so many different forms are presented or approached with a huge level of depth and variety (Procedural animation! Ultra-detailed worldbuilding!), or they're simply not there, the conspicuously empty space filled by something that can't be easily traced back across a genre clothesline. It's not even necessarily "innovation," to use an overexposed and oft-misapplied word, that draws out the double-digit numbers and angry comments; looking back across an element's history and seeing that every prior example doesn't quite measure up is usually enough -- there aren't many things the first Modern Warfare did that hadn't been done before, but that didn't stop so many of its qualities from shining so brightly.

So, in a really roundabout way, "new things and well-polished things are good and there should be more," then, but I've got to think that all the difficulties I've had defining exactly what I've been trying to write about for the past few paragraphs (count how many times you see "pattern") is the best possible state for the medium to be in. As soon as something becomes categorized and established, it by necessity becomes exclusive and limiting -- defining what something is tends to also define what it is not; and while understanding this Matrix code undoubtedly helps us analyze and appreciate the most well-crafted of video games on a far deeper level than we otherwise could, spend too much time examining it, and you end up tarnishing what makes it so fascinating, turning all the once-likable characters into faux-losophy spewing androids and making people suffer through the most awkward and protracted sex scene since The Room; and at least in that one, you knew whose bare ass you were staring at.
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About Altum Videturone of us since 11:44 PM on 11.04.2011

My earilest memory is of playing a PC port of Pac-Man on my dad's computer. My next earliest memory is of playing a PC port of Tetris on my mom's computer. I've been happily and hopelessly into video games and everything to do with them since, and while I have my favorites - pretty much the entire Metroid series (except, you know, that one) - there are very few good games I haven't played and enjoyed.

Now that I've been here for a few months I guess something else should go here, so: I've set upon myself a personal goal to write and post a blog at least once per week. Sometimes, meeting this deadline means that those articles are not up to the standards I would like, and I'll simply shove them away unpublished and try again next week. More rarely, they turn out great, and up they go. Even more rarely, I'll actually feel very satisfied and accomplished, and will get all excited for the loads of attention I won't be receiving. The following blog entries are ones that I believe fit into the latter category, preserved here in order of appearance for my (but quite possibly also your!) amusement and enrichement:

Battlefield 3: On Scale, Freedom, and Wookies
Deus Ex: Human Revolution - David Sarif
Bigger, Longer, also Harder - A Counter-Case for Longer Games
Location: Darkest Africa
How About a Mass Effect 3 Article with No Ending Controversy (Spoiler-free!)
Quest for Blood: How Seeking Ultraviolence Showed Me the Best Side of Videogames

Also, I mantain the monthly Cblog Analytics series, which tallies up a bunch of statistics and presents them in a simple and organized format. The results are always interesting and often surprising - all the math is done on my end, so no matter how number-phobic you might be, it's worth checking out! This year's entries are listed here: