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    • Video Game Review: American McGee’s Alice
      After the recent release of “Alice: Madness Returns,” I  picked up a copy. With each copy, console gamers also got a free download of  the original “American McGee’s Alice.” Before playing the new Alice, I had to  go back and beat the original again. While many things were just as I had  remembered, I’m glad […]
    • Video Game Rant: Donkey Kong Country Returns
      One of my favorite games of all time is Donkey Kong Country 1 and 2. When I heard they were making a new one, I was super excited, but also somewhat skeptical. So a few months ago, I picked up a copy of Donkey Kong Country Returns to try out the new game. My fiancee also joined […]
    • Scott Pilgrim Versus the World: Movie Review
       (Warning: some spoilers) When they decided to turn this Canadian comic into a movie, I’m not sure they were aware of what a cult smash hit this would be. Topping the charts for Blu-rays on the first day it was released on home video, it’s also been on several top ten lists. It appeals to […]
    • Good Kitty: WoW Feral Cat DPS Rotation
      ***Note: this information is from before Cataclysm. There have been major changes to the class. See my sources below for more updated information.*** When I rolled Druid on the first character I legitimately got to level 80, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I leveled Feral Cat, and when I hit 80, I realized […]
    • Finding a Job
      This is a digression from my usual topics, but I wanted to share some of my strategies with other unemployed or soon to be unemployed people out there. My job search has been the focus of my free time lately, so I figured it would be the perfect topic for my next post. 1)      Assess […]
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Can Video Games Tell Stories? Excerpts from my Senior Study


As video games have grown up from arcade shooters and text based adventure games to Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) and motion-detecting games of all genres, so too has the field of discussion on the subject. Writers world wide are theorizing on what games do, how they do it, and what they should be doing.

Academia is beginning to develop a sizable body of opinions on video games, moving far beyond simply addressing the violence associated with playing games. The big scholarly issue many people are addressing is whether or not games can tell stories, and if they do then what kind of narrative it is, or in what way is it told, a complex discussion situated amongst conflicting sources and academics.

So why study video games? Are they even worthy of academic thought? Do they produce anything meaningful? These are questions that have been debated since the birth of video games as an innovative mode of entertainment. Yet when watching someone play a game, it is obvious that the player is not simply seeing units in a program.

Games are not simply a form of entertainment either. Games are a mode of interaction, of expressing something about ourselves, both for the player, designer, and onlooker. They shape how we see the world by looking at how others see it.

Reading a book can make you laugh, cry, and forget it’s only a story. Watching a movie and playing a game can produce the same reactions, a game arguably even more so because of the high level of audience participation. Playing a game can make you think ‘Oh, I never thought of it that way.’ Playing a game lets people literally get into a story and even help tell it. Finally, digital technologies represent a growing medium for storytelling, and they may be the future of narratives.

Games for Guys


Hope: Because she just might want to hear about your 12th level Paladin.

I keep coming across articles about women in gaming, and a repeated topic is how to introduce women to games. What’s with the supposed hordes of guy gamers who lament their girlfriends’ unwillingness to pick up a controller or keyboard? ‘How to get your girl into gaming’ sounds like a bad romance movie to me. Should women try to get their boyfriends to start scrapbooking and sewing, since those are girl hobbies and gaming is a man hobby? ‘How to get your man to do yoga’ will be my next article. Or maybe ‘How to get your boyfriend to play video games’ would be more appropriate, considering women now outnumber men in online gaming.

Lots of sites have beaten me to gaming for guys, including WikiHow, though it seems to have been written before the joystick was invented. Wiki says: “Find a few games he likes and play the ones he is better at. Mix it up, but always go back to the game he is good at. Racing games are generally easier for you to lose at without showing it.” Purposely lose at a game just because he’s a n00b? Men are our equals, so we shouldn’t go easy or treat them any differently just because they button mash and haven’t learned any combos yet.

WikiHow has more to say: “Consider your girlfriend’s personality when picking out a game. Some girls may prefer the brightly colored, all-ages games like Katamari Damacy, Bust A Move, Lego Star Wars, Sims, or just about any Mario game. But remember that your girlfriend is an individual who could just as well go for Halo, Resident Evil, or Grand Theft Auto.”  This is exactly right. The ‘games for girls’ like Cooking Mama or Barbie Horse Adventures are just recommended based on gender stereotyped hobbies. I like cooking but would much prefer Fallout 3 over Cooking Mama, and I’m sure there are guys who watch football but aren’t Madden fanatics and love Viva Pinata.

So remember, anyone can be a gamer; you don’t need a Y chromosome to hit the Y button. A follow-up on games to play as a couple will be posted next week. Readers, what are your thoughts on introducing men (or women) to gaming?

Munchkin: Dungeon-Crawling Card Game


The holidays usually mean spending time with your family. That means time you could be spending playing video games is being wasted decorating trees, baking cookies, and getting presents. What if you could play games AND spend time with family, without having to perform the traditional holiday chores or listen to Aunt Muriel gab on about her seven cats? 

Munchkin

Munchkin

Why not try the game of Munchkin, a multiplayer card game where you fight monsters, get sweet loots, backstab your friends, and level up to win? It’s like a simplified, fast-paced version of Dungeons and Dragons, so it’s pretty simple to teach non-nerds, but it’s complicated enough for gamers.

“This award-winning card game… captures the essence of the dungeon experience… with none of that stupid roleplaying stuff. You and your friends compete to kill monsters and grab magic items. And what magic items! Don the Horny Helmet and the Boots of Butt-Kicking. Wield the Staff of Napalm… or maybe the Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment. Start by slaughtering the Potted Plant and the Drooling Slime, and work your way up to the Plutonium Dragon…” 

You can customize the rules as much as you want, so you can dumb down the rules for newbs until they figure it out. And because it has some pretty silly descriptions and crazy rules, each round is unpredictable and hilarious and always keeps you on your toes. Wanna be really crazy? Turn it into a drinking game! 

Dungeons!

Dungeons!

The original Munchkin version is traditional D&D/RPG style, but there are 9 other stand-alone versions with expansions, plus you can also mix and match to your heart’s content. Other versions include: Munchkin Cthulhu (Lovecraftian style), Munchkin Bites! (vampires that don’t sparkle in the sun), Munchkin Booty (pirates!), and Munchkin Fu (ninjas!). Included: 168 cards, 1 six-sided die, and a rule sheet, for about $25. Official site! 

Chibithulhuq

Chibithulhu

An average game can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, longer if you’re playing Epic Munchkin (with dungeons, special abilities, and a higher level cap). It’s a multiplayer game, so 3-6 players makes a good match (4 is ideal). The cards themselves are pretty cool too, with cute descriptions by Steve Jackson and illustrations drawn by John Kovalic (my favorites from Munchkin Cthulhu are H.P. Munchcraft and Chibithulhu). 

So if you need a new game to keep your family occupied, for your next LAN party, for the next time the power goes out, or for Patch Tuesday, try out a Munchkin game. It’s a fairly involved game, and once you play it once, you’ll probably be hooked. So kick down the dungeon door and dive right in to the Munchkin universe!