The Best Part
About Games

how to create your first game

Dear future video game by [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE],

The best thing about gaming is making a game. As much as I love talking to other games when they’re all polished by a team of distant people with mysterious developing and publishing motives, I like to get down and dirty with a game that doesn’t even exist yet. I know it sounds difficult, but the reward is crazy good.

There are tons of free tools and awesome people that will help you be great. That’s why the Internet is magical. I made my first game with my best friend. We used GameMaker, made our own graphics, used royalty free music, and failed to distribute it because we suck (but I’m working on fixing that).

Although the conception of said game was made in response to a prompt for a college course, we spent a lot of time making it something we believed in. We are terribly sarcastic ladies, but we also sometimes hated how characters were portrayed in games. So we made a six-minute experience to joke around about how ridiculous we think some game characters are. For me, I wanted the game to make other games (or maybe their creators) think about what they were doing; I wanted to make them feel a little guilty for thinking that negative stereotype scripted characters were acceptable.

This topic may not be what your creator has in mind for you, but have faith. She has feelings, thoughts, and all sorts of cool new mechanics that can make you feel your own special way. It doesn’t matter if you’re a little slow or glitchy or short. You don’t have to be perfect because no game ever is really. Imperfection is what makes games feel real.

So what are you waiting for? Go be you.

Until next time,

P.S. Don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing! Stay connected, and it’s been a real pleasure.

The Rise of Us

Rise of the Videogame ZinestersI know the last post was a little bit of a downer, but we’re getting to the fun part real soon. I promise.

Just one more maudlin anecdote.

For a while, I didn’t think I could make anything creative. I didn’t have any interest in writing about love, death, or any cliché. I wasn’t even sure if I was smart enough to comment on media like Ian Bogost does. Unfortunately, this was not a standard I came up with on my own. It was reinforced in school activities and everyday speech. When I was in tenth grade, my literature teacher told his students that no one in high school should write poetry because we, as teenagers, know nothing. Opinions like it came from multiple sources, so I never created; I never even tried.

That’s where Anna Anthropy comes in. Her book Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form is what every gamer needs to hear. Whether you like it or not, all gamers are partakers in this art form. Video games are the only medium that requires participation. Anthropy takes that a step further to say that being a participant alone isn’t enough to make the gaming experience great. She has a unique and personal perspective throughout her book. It’s written in the first person, and many of her examples are of games where she knows the creators and can somewhat speak on their behalf. Although she claims that this book is not a how-to guide for game development, she does offer many useful tools and advice for creating your first game.

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How to Do Things
With Videogames

How to do Things with VideogamesLet’s be real: 2014 was a year full of suck for games. Between lackluster games and #gamergate, the gaming community took quite a hit. As a female gamer, this year was the first time I had logged off of a multiplayer experience in fear of being bullied beyond repair. In the end, this event only seemed to reaffirm the misogynistic conception of gamers in the public eye.

I can’t say I learned much from these social atrocities, so it’s time to take a different approach. This series of Player 2 posts will consist of two books every gamer should read to help the community. This week, we’ll briefly discuss How to Do Things with Videogames by Ian Bogost.

This book is a collection of short essays about a range of topics. Bogost depicts why video games matter in today’s media-driven culture. Each topic is explored in plain language to be accessible for every reader while introducing important new media scholars like Marshall McLuhan. It’s shallow enough for the everyman but specific enough for a game scholar to go to the appendix and research each topic further. Each essay is full of applicable, real (game) world examples that act as flint for deeper discussions of the medium. The gameography alone is expansive enough to traverse a diverse amount of gaming content. Even if you’re a well-versed gamer, these topics will give you a definitive vocabulary to explain things you already know while teaching you about other concepts you had no idea existed. (For me, it was the content management behind those creepy Burger King Xbox 360 games a few years back.) Bogost covers a range of topics from games-as-art to Easter eggs to political use of the medium. For now and for the New Year, I would like to talk about one chapter in particular: Reverence.

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With Videogames

gemstone iv tsc

Videodame’s 2014 Games of the Year

I have been so, so remiss when it comes to playing new games this year. I still haven’t bit the bullet on a PS4 or Xbox One, though it looks like a surprise holiday bonus from my new day job will afford me the chance to rectify that. Well, after some responsible adulting. You should always use the majority of a windfall for responsible adulting, kids. But then buy yourself some vidyagames.

My list definitely reflects my lack of the latest hardware (though I played the hell out of my Wii U and enjoyed every minute, thankyouverymuch), and one entry, Blek, was actually released in December of last year. I’m giving myself a pass since I didn’t play it until March of this year and because it’s just that good.

5. Mario Kart 8, Nintendo

I have a feeling that Captain Toad would take this spot if I had managed to play any of it this year, but I’m quite happy to have MK8 take the fifth-best spot on my list. It had been awhile since I had played an entry in the Mario Kart series, but picking this one up was like riding a Master Cycle. Add in gravity-defying racetracks and a super fun multiplayer mode (it’s impossible to harass fellow players), and we’ve got a bonafide new old favorite on our hands.

4. Shovel Knight, Yacht Club Games

For some reason I got it into my head that this wasn’t available for the 3DS (I know, what?) so I didn’t even look for it in the eShop until two days ago. Whoa. Big mistake. I’m nowhere near finishing it (it’s too damn hard), but talk about the familiar becoming new again. This platformer hits the sentimental gut like comfort nostalgia-food, yet still manages not to be a tired retread. On the contrary, it’s wide awake and lovingly spoon-feeding you all the gaming tropes that satisfy those retro NES cravings.

3. Monument Valley, ustwo

This game is on so many GOTY lists I don’t think I really have anything to add except to recommend you play it on a tablet. It’s still beautiful on a phone, and if that’s the only way to play then definitely go for it, but its gorgeous scenery deserves the widest of screens and the highest of high resolutions.

2. Blek, Kunabi Brother

I was late to the party with Blek, but even now, ten months after installation, it remains a go-to on my iPad. I go into greater detail here, but sending handwritten squiggles careening around my screen remains one of the weirder joys of my tablet gaming habits. I’m the maestro of my own handwriting!

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