How To Rectify All The Crap You Do As A Gamer

Video games are an undeniable part of many of our lives, as is the negativity that frequently tags along – the addiction, grumpiness, caffeine, and general lack of sun. If you’re like me, you might find yourself experiencing some guilt when you over-indulge. You could be a real member of society if you didn’t spend 8 hours last night getting flashbanged by teammates.

If I had spent this much time doing something constructive...

If I had spent this much time doing something constructive…

As it turns out, being a gamer and also a contributing member of society are not mutually exclusive. I’ve taken the liberty of listing some ways you can do both:

  • Strive to be a decent person both in and out of game. Staying positive in the midst of the negativity of others will greatly benefit both you and those around you. In the moment, it may feel rewarding or completely justified to react negatively to someone who is feeding, raging, or otherwise, but you should go on to play your best and ignore the person who is definitely having a worse day than you.

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  • Next time you’re in a game, compliment someone – you never know if you’ll be making someone’s day by recognizing them. Or, try to turn a bad situation into a humorous one. Do anything except help fuel the negativity that we so often come across.

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  • For many of us, staying positive is hard, and we won’t always do it. Fortunately, there’s more ways to rectify our consciences. Consider gaming for unhealthy amounts of time in order to raise money for charity! Extra Life encourages participants to game nonstop for 24 hours to raise money for local hospitals. I held my first marathon last year and it was incredibly fun – a dining room table stocked with alcohol, Red Bull, and a game-filled Steam library. With help from donors, we powered through all 24 hours and ended our Twitch marathon donating $2,275 to the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Nationally, Extra Life has raised over $14 million dollars for hospitals and is growing larger each year!
Don't play games and you're literally killing kids.

Don’t play games and you’re literally killing kids.

  • Recognize when good things are happening in your backyard! From May 25th – June 1st, Ignite Gaming Lounge will be donating 25% of their package sales to their own Extra Life campaign. If you can’t be bothered by any of the suggestions above, take the opportunity to stop by and stock up on hours and get your gaming fix.

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Playing games is a largely self-serving activity and is associated with a lot of negativity, but that shouldn’t prevent you from giving back. There’s no better time to do something positive and feel great about it.

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Megan Thaler is an avid PC gamer who helps represent Extra Life Chicago. A former cook and musician who found her niche in gaming, she believes in enacting a positive influence on communities and supporting charitable causes. You can find her on Twitch (Silvare), Instagram (Silvare_VoidRay), and Twitter (@SilvareVoidRay).

INTERVIEW: Video Game Writers

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to make a video game? I know I have, so when I made friends with some guys who wrote for the Double Fine Productions Kickstarter game, MASSIVE CHALICE, I had to ask them some questions! Here are some insights from my interview:

Alisha: Alright guys, first question: Who are you, who do you work for, and what do you do?

Nick & Max: We are Nick and Max Folkman! We worked for Double Fine Productions as writers on their game MASSIVE CHALICE.

How did you get into working for Double Fine Productions? What was the audition/interview process like?

We were given a writing test that consisted of a few different things. It asked us what we thought the tone of the game should be and what other media we thought had a similar feel to that tone. Then it gave us a template for a random event (a text-based event that involves at least one of the heroes you’re managing and you making a choice that will affect the gameplay in some way, like a hero dying or your research speed doubling) with some factors already set (two choices, each with two outcomes each, etc.) that we had to then complete. After that we had to make up our own random event completely from scratch, and after that write a short dialogue exchange between the two halves of the Chalice about a situation that just occurred in the game. Finally, we had to name and describe an item based on the effects it would have on a hero. When we were finished with all of that, we sent it off, waited a bit, had an interview where we talked about the test, and were offered the job!

Woo! How did you start writing? What’s the first step in the game writing process?

We were brought in about a year after development started, so they already had some stuff set up like the Chalice itself, how the game began and ended gameplay-wise, what the enemies were, etc. We spent a while doing world-building, which meant deciding the back story for the world, what the Chalice was all about, who/what the Cadence (the enemy of the game) is, who are the people who live in the nation, naming the different regions, what the citizens do in their daily lives, methods of transportation, etc. Once all that was decided, we moved on to writing dialogue for the two Chalice characters, all of the random events, and finished with naming items and weapons along with writing their descriptions.

As for the first thing writers must do in the game writing process, there’s no one answer! It really depends on when the writer is brought on and what is required of him/her. Some writers are brought on in the very beginning and help develop gameplay/level design/etc. with all of the other departments, and others are brought on towards the end when everything has been decided and they have to connect it all together through the script or just write dialogue for the NPCs (Non-player characters) or what have you. The writer’s responsibilities can be very broad or very narrow, it all depends on the job. In general though, the only thing that’s common is that a writer should always be thinking about how their writing can complement the gameplay and not run against it.

A screen shot from MASSIVE CHALICE. Here we see some of the brothers' work!

A screen shot from MASSIVE CHALICE. Here we see some of the brothers’ work!

Did you have any involvement with any other parts of the game development process? (work with artists, actors, casting, etc.)

The only other parts we were involved with were casting and the recording sessions. When the auditions came in, we gave our input on who we liked best, as did the rest of the team, and Brad Muir (our boss) made his decision based on that. Then, since the recording sessions were near us in LA, we sat in and helped Khris Brown, our amazing casting and voice-over director, understand what was going on in our script when working with the actors.

What was your favorite part of the process? What was the most difficult?
Nick: The world building. It’s stressful because barely anything has been set in stone and there’s a deadline constantly over you, but it’s so much fun when you’re just bouncing ideas back and forth about stuff: like what the ending can be, how to tie in the themes, why is that Chalice so ridiculously huge, and so on. The most difficult thing… Names. Oh my god there were so many meetings about the names for the enemies, regions, and classes that we’d even bring in the whole team at some points so we could all brainstorm at the same time. Item and weapon descriptions would be a close second. The stuff that you assume would be the easiest always turns out to be the opposite.

Max: My favorite part was the puzzle aspect of trying to integrate the writing with gameplay as much as possible. For instance, apart from the opening cut scene, we never really see the citizens of this nation you’re in charge of. How do we build empathy for them and make their presence felt within the actual gameplay, while also minimizing the amount of extra work for everyone else in the process? Our solution was the random events, which ended up being the answer to a lot of these sorts of questions, so for as many events as we could we would use the problems your heroes were involved in to build a relationship with these citizens and regions of your nation.
The most difficult part was writing dialogue for the combat moments that could repeat possibly hundreds of times during an entire game. The Female and Male Chalice are our only fully voiced characters in the game (besides the grunts and cries of the heroes), so when a hero lands a critical strike against an enemy, we have to write a piece of dialogue that ideally: is short enough to be repeatable without boring the player and gets the character’s voice across. This is really hard! The answer we found was, if you can do both then great, but if not then try to nail one of them. Having talented voice actors also helps immeasurably, as they can lend their own special bit of magic that can elevate even the most generic-sounding of dialogue.

That chalice really is ridiculously huge...

That chalice really is ridiculously huge! I like it.

How involved are the writers once the game is released?
We’ve been pretty much finished since the game came out on Early Access, but every now and then we help out with touch-ups and small stuff like the descriptions for the Steam cards. If the game does well when it’s fully released though, who knows! 😀

We mentioned Double Fine Productions in our previous blog about Kickstarter! Check out MASSIVE CHALICE and help DFP get the game ready for a full release!

We mentioned Double Fine Productions in our recent post about Kickstarter! Check out MASSIVE CHALICE and help DFP get the game ready for a full release!

What’s next for the game? What’s next for you?!
The game’s still getting balanced while it’s in Early Access, we actually just put out a big patch last week, and getting ready for a full release on PC/Mac/Linux/Xbox One very soon! As for us, nothing announceable yet, but we’re keeping busy!

How did you get into writing for video games as a whole, not just for MASSIVE CHALICE?
This was actually our first experience writing for video games ever (we had been and still are focused on screenwriting for film and TV). The way we got MASSIVE CHALICE is the way a lot of jobs happen in the entertainment industry, we were at the right place at the right time. Early last year we were visiting Brad in San Francisco when he told us that they were looking at writers for the game and that we should apply. We got the application and that was that.

Do you have any advice for anyone who may want to get involved in any part of game development? For anyone who wants to be a writer?
We can answer both at the same time: Make stuff and go to events. Whether you wanna be a game designer/programmer/writer/etc., you have to just start making stuff. Don’t worry about it being bad because everyone’s first work/draft/version, is bad. The important thing is that it’s just going to get better the more you work on it. If you don’t know where to start, the internet is an amazing resource for tips, tutorials, and finding people to ask for help. And that leads to events. There are tons out there like Indiecade, PAX, and GDC where you can meet tons of amazing people who are starting out, super experienced, and everything in between. Besides the inspirational value, events like those are fantastic for learning more about the advances in the industry and for building connections that could lead to future work.
Just remember the golden rule: don’t be a dick.

Our interviewees! Nick & Max Folkman, writers for Double Fine Productions. Definitely not dicks. :)

Our interviewees! Nick & Max Folkman, writers for Double Fine Productions. Definitely not dicks. 🙂

Nick and Max write words for film, TV, and video games, and since they live in Los Angeles, they also direct stuff on occasion as well. They believe Speed Racer is one of the greatest films ever made and are eagerly awaiting the next game in the Gex franchise. Follow the brothers on twitter! @twinmadefilms & @maxfolkmax.

Have any questions for Nick & Max? Interested in another aspect of video game making? Comment below and we’ll make sure the brothers see your questions and we continue to bring you material you love!

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Press F To Do The Thing (An Assessment of QTEs)

Last month, guest writer Tucker Poindexter got us thinking about the effects of film on video game storytelling. One of the points he brought up involved cinematics, or cut scenes, in games and how we as an audience want those scenes to enhance our gaming experience. It all came down to one thing: interconnectivity, or, how game developers get us to move from “a passive observer to an active participant.” One way in which developers get us to be active participants, is with Quick Time Events (QTEs). QTEs are context-based actions played by the gamer after receiving an on-screen prompt. There are lots of incredible QTEs that help the audience stay connected to the game, but lately we’ve been feeling a little let down. Are QTEs still here to keep us actively engaged or are they merely here to make game cinematics less passive?

Pay F to Be Super Lame. This is an example of a QTE.

Pay F to Be Super Lame. This is an example of a QTE…and it sucks.

From a developer’s perspective, I could see how QTEs are extremely valuable. QTEs allow players more control during major events and fight scenes that, in the past, would have delegated them to the sideline rather than having some control over the outcome. The player therefore doesn’t have to spend much time watching the character they have spent countless hours controlling do something without them. That being said, what is required of a QTE in order for a player to feel emotionally and mentally engaged? In “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare”, there is a moment where the player is asked to “Press F to pay respects.” All this does -spoiler- is make your character walk over to a casket, place his hand on it for a moment, and then turn away. Is that really more engaging than not prompting the player, but instead letting them choose to go to the casket (or not)? On Reddit, users felt that on top of it being a pretty basic QTE, it also attempted to force them to feel a certain way – “Press X to feel sad”. Doesn’t that also take away from the “active participant”? Not only does the player not get to move naturally, but they don’t get to feel naturally either. In “The Walking Dead” there is a moment where the protagonist, Lee, faces a dilemma: a young boy may or may not be bitten, and the character’s father is adamant that he has not. Meanwhile, another character insists that he has and that swift action must be taken. You have the choice of whom to side with and, even though your choice has no drastic effect immediately, the game tells you that the character you DID NOT side with will remember that you chose not to. This sort of emotional storytelling allows the player to identify with their character and the characters around them much more deeply than simply giving them a single option with a single outcome.

Clementine never forgets.

Clementine never forgets.

QTEs, when done right, allow the player a level of focus that other game mechanics don’t. For example, major boss scenes with intense button mashing QTEs make me crazy, in the best way. I’m on the edge of my seat, almost sweating, throwing it all in in an attempt to knock out the big boss. I am totally engaged and the victory is so rewarding. Is that what it takes to make a QTE successful? Mechanical complexity and high stakes? “The Walking Dead” is a good example of this not being the case, but many gamers cite sequences such as the one above as being their favorite kind of QTE, so it clearly has merit. Games like “God of War” and “Asura’s Wrath” are great examples of this sort of high stakes, intense QTE. “Asura’s Wrath” triumphs with its “burst” QTE. The “burst” takes on different forms to fit the situation, sometimes amping up the player to perform something powerful or even do something as silly as get drunk in a very NSFW scene. Even though the player does not always know what the burst will accomplish, they know it is at their disposal based on a meter. The player is kept focused and engaged because they know when the meter is finally full, they will be able to perform something truly impressive. Or just, ya know, get shwasted! In either case, the player is no longer passive or participating in something mundane. Perhaps getting drunk isn’t as emotionally engaging as many of the choices in “The Walking Dead” or “Heavy Rain”, but it is entertaining, another necessity when crafting a story of any kind.

Heavy Rain laying the QTEs on pretty...heavy.

Heavy Rain laying the QTEs on pretty…heavy.

Unfortunately, all QTEs aren’t silly drunken escapades or emotionally engaging decisions. They’ve increasingly become nothing more than “press x to not die”. Even inside of stellar games such as the recent “Tomb Raider” re-boot, this trend continues. What’s with the current trend of lackluster QTEs? Are developers basically writing film-esque cinematics within games and then realizing, “Oh snap. We gotta give them something to do here”? Are we as gamers okay with that? Which is better: a long, intense cut scene without any action on the player’s part or a cut scene with a few lackluster QTEs thrown in? Can we have a strong story with multiple, mechanically complex QTEs? Or does story suffer for mechanics? While many of these QTEs are thrown in to give a player a sense of control, the truth is that “control” is a facade, one that has only one outcome and little to no impact on the player.

Clearly, a QTE is a tool and can be used well, but recently we’ve found ourselves with lackluster attempts at interconnectivity. It’s obvious that gamers want sound storytelling and fully realized mechanics so why aren’t we getting them? Are developers getting lazy? Are we too demanding? I think there is a lot more to explore surrounding QTEs, hence all the questions in this post, but I know that right now, I’m not satisfied.

If only there were a single button I could push to fix it all…

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Separation of Film & Gaming

Modern storytelling exists under the umbrella of film. For more than a hundred years, film has been the American audience’s most culturally significant way of connecting with stories, more so than literature or even television; as opposed to video games which are very young in the world of art and storytelling. Though the gaming industry has now financially become the largest aspect of the entertainment industry – surpassing film and music quite handily – in the eyes of critics and most of its audience, gaming still lags behind films in the quality and presentation of storytelling. Throughout this adolescent phase of video games, we have consistently seen attempts at emulating movies. Read any review about a game like Mass Effect or Uncharted and you will probably run into the word “cinematic”. Why are video games constantly compared to movies? Are video games doomed to live in the shadow of film, or can they forge their own unique storytelling voice?

The comparison between film and video games comes from the way in which modern audiences consume stories. Film has taught each of us the basic building blocks of story and story structure – heroes that take action and go on an adventure, overcome obstacles and learn about themselves, and a conclusion that allows our heroes to achieve their goals, having changed. Of course, these ideas are much older than film; they are as old as humanity. However, the 20th century was dominated by film in the arena of storytelling and has thus influenced audiences the most. The men and women who create the games we all enjoy were influenced by these films as well. Without Star Wars, we may not get Mass Effect. Without Indiana Jones, we may not get Tomb Raider or Uncharted. Without Alien, I’m assuming we might not have Alien: Isolation. Is it possible that these games exist without their film counterparts? Yes. However, not only are the influences clear while playing, but the ideas and themes found in some of these films laid the groundwork for the games to expand upon. Movies and video games are similar in their most basic form – visual presentation to create an entertaining and hopefully emotional experience for an audience. Because of this, the influence of film on video games is neither surprising nor necessarily bad. The extent of which that influence reaches is where we begin to see video games succeed or fail.

Without Indiana Jones, we might not have Indiana-Lara Croft fanfiction! (oh god) Image from comicvine.com

Without Indiana Jones, we might not have Indiana-Lara Croft fanfiction! (oh god) Image from comicvine.com

Despite the positive influences of film, the negative aspects are clearly visible as well. Far too often a gamer will reach moments in a game where control is ripped away from us and we watch a video of our character doing super awesome things we would love to be a part of, but instead are now regulated to the role of spectator. Cut scenes in video games, while not always bad, undercut the very thing that makes video games unique – interactivity. That’s the major element of gaming: being able to thrive in worlds and circumstances we may not experience in real life. We’re not just watching someone else’s life unfold while playing, we’re making choices and making moves that make us feel responsible for what’s happening. Other times we’ll see video games attempting to tell a story in a way that mirrors film, despite games typically being much longer, resulting in missions and quests that feel like filler or unimportant to the real story. Unless otherwise stated, gameplay should be the focus of a game, not the ninth song on a twelve song album. Gameplay is the pre-released solos, so we need something with which we want to engage. Any time a game developer attempts to make players feel like they are in a movie, they fundamentally undercut the unique aspects of gaming as a medium – immersion and interactivity.

Games like Mass Effect and The Walking Dead have begun to capitalize on the emotional impact you can have on an audience when you allow them choice, creating personal connections with the characters in the game. While these games were certainly not the first to attempt this, they are currently the ones doing it best and allowing gamers a form of immersion that most do not. When we are forced to choose between Kaidan or Ashley or between fighting a zombie horde or running away, we become immersed in a way that other art forms can’t offer. We are allowed to move from a passive observer to an active participant, giving us an unprecedented level of interactivity. Games become more than just something we consume, but a unique collaboration between the developers and their audience.

How do you choose?! Image by Ethaclane on Diviantart.

How do you choose?! Image by Ethaclane on Deviantart.

Advances in technology will be a key partner in the future of video game storytelling. Oculus Rift and other virtual reality (VR) companies are vying to bring a brand new experience to gamers around the world. VR gets us even closer to full immersion, a step that will again allow the gaming industry to highlight what makes gaming unique from other art forms. Allowing gamers to stand in the shoes of a hero rather than merely controlling one breaks down another wall that stands between an audience and the art they are experiencing. We will fight dragons, pilot spaceships, leap out of buildings, shoot zombies, form relationships…everything that film and TV merely present to the audience we will have the chance to actually perform. The possibilities are truly endless.

A .gif from the Oscar winning film, "Birdman".

A .gif from the Oscar winning film, “Birdman”. 

We are all watching the video game industry grow up, and as with most things that go through that awkward, pimply phase, there have been and will continue to be growing pains. However, we are also witnessing some of the most exciting and groundbreaking projects that the video game industry has ever put forth. Thanks to advances in technology and the creative minds now flocking to video games as a medium for storytelling, the time has come for video games to emerge as the pioneers of a new kind of storytelling. A new wave that allows for an interactive experience with the audience, creating engagement at a level that is impossible for any other art form to achieve. Video games can acknowledge their roots in film and, firmly grasping the lessons learned from that medium, move the idea of modern storytelling forward in ways that have never been imagined.

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Tucker Poindexter is a guest writer for Ignite Gaming Blog. He is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago whose passions lie in directing and writing for film. For more writing, witty commentary, and a bit of sarcasm, check him out @TuckDeanPoin on twitter.

Own The Night

Last Friday, Ignite held “Own The Night”, a Dying Light launch event. With over 200 participants coming through and over 50 separate games played, I would say that people were…dying to play it.

To start the celebrations, we added a few thematic elements to our space to create an eerie feeling throughout the facility: red dimmed lighting, chains hanging from trusses, our pod signs and desktops were Dying Light themed, all while the adrenaline pumping soundtrack blared over the house speakers. We wanted to the attendees to feel like they were in an abandoned building in Harran.

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Red lights dimmed, chains hung…now we wait…

For the main event, we focused on the Be The Zombie game mode. In this mode, four human players go head to head versus one player as the zombie – called the Night Hunter. While you might be saying, “That doesn’t sound fair at all…” the Night Hunter just so happens to be zombie Spiderman. The infected swings from building to building with fleshy tendrils shooting from his hands. It also has an array of grenades, such as an EMP-like phosphorescent grenade that disables the players’ anti-zombie UV flashlight and globular grenades that attract zombies, similar to Left 4 Dead’s Boomer vomit.

Whether they played co-op or as the zombie, everyone was having a blast! Some groups of four came in ready to take on the zombie, but solo players and smaller pairs united to take on the infected as a team. We even saw a group of friends travel over an hour from Naperville and a handful of individuals off of Meetup.com, well, met up. For us, having events is important because they do exactly that: bring the gaming community together. It’s events like these that make me realize the thrill of gamers coming together and enjoying themselves; even if it’s a game that everyone’s learning for the first time.

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Full house! Teamwork vs Spidey Senses…who will win?! Just like on Oprah, everyone!

We gave away a bunch of prizes as well! Who ever won, either the four person team or the zombie, received a super extremely rare (not really) raffle ticket that was added to the pot in order to win the night’s grand prize, one of three Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 graphics cards! By the end of the night, many people had won multiple times, some even walking away with dozens of tickets. We had other prizes that participants could score too, from t-shirts and mousepads to copies of the game. The prizes didn’t stop at the door, as participants also had a chance to win a GeForce GTX 980 or two GeForce GTX 960’s online through Alienware Arena instant win codes.

nVIDIA graphics cards, the big prize of the night!

nVIDIA graphics cards, the big prize of the night!

For everyone to come out and just have a fun time means a lot to me, and to Ignite. At the end of the day, I really felt as if this event connected differently with our community. For starters, it was our first game launch event! We worked directly with the developers and emphasis was placed on discovering the game’s mechanics, surviving a Night Hunter’s assault, and playing cooperatively with friends. If you’ve been following our events over the years, you’ll know that we typically focus on intensely competitive games with high stake payouts. I really liked the pace, feel, and response we’ve received from this launch party. My hope is that you’ll continue to see an eclectic variety of events around games that might not have the most obvious competitive scene…you know, throw in some curve balls and get everyone hyped up! In the months to come, we’ll do what we can to really broaden our spectrum by introducing more games into our arsenal and coming up with fresh ideas for events.

For those that don’t know me, my name is Chris and I am the Gaming Events Manager here at Ignite Gaming Lounge. Gaming is my passion and I love interacting with the community by putting together fun and exciting events for everyone to enjoy. I’ve got my eyes on the global gaming scene and would love to bring the growth we’ve been seeing as an industry right to our backyard. Hit me up at Chris@ignitegl.com, or twitter @TheStormbeard for any and all your gaming questions, events suggestions, or if you just want to talk about whether Han shot first.

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Noob Diaries: Day 1- Intro to Halo

We have a wide variety of gamers who come to Ignite. Each day we see our PC and console stations constantly filled by both casual and competitive gamers. Some gamers are dedicated to mastering their craft at one game, some play whatever they’re in the mood for, and others are trying out games for the first time. Some customers are even taking a crack at gaming in general for the first time! We love to see the variety of gamers playing alongside each other, showcasing the gaming community at its best.

The same absolutely rings true for our staff! Some of our staff have been with Ignite for forever, having spent many after school hours as loyal customers chatting with the staff and downing Swags. Others found us online or through friends and started their friendship with Ignite as staff members. No matter how they came to join our team, they’re here and we love what they bring to Ignite. Some of them are veteran gamers who love to be right in the middle of the competition, while some like to play more casually. At Ignite, we like to celebrate both the casual and competitive gamers, so no matter what you play, you’ll find your place with us!

To really push this idea and not get too cheesy with the love we have for you guys, we’re going to have a recurring diary-like entry once a month to showcase how awesome having a variety of gamers creates a really cool and welcoming atmosphere. This month, we have long-time gamer, Ignite customer, and new Snack Bar staff member Fluffy introducing casual gamer and Ignite’s Social Media Coordinator, Alisha, to the original Halo (from the recently released Master Chief Collection). In this entry, Fluffy and Alisha will give you a little bit of play-by-play and some personal thoughts on what it was like to experience the game together! Fluffy has played and finished all of the Halo games and Alisha never plays any First Person Shooters (FPS), so Halo is extremely foreign to her.

Our journey begins with Halo’s opening cinematic, seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwuoTueSR7k

Fluffy: I was watching Alisha the whole time. I’m used to playing with people who have played Halo before, so no one pays attention to the cinematic. She was so intensely concentrated on understanding everything. It was cool to see her show the interest that my friends and I had back when it first came out.

Alisha: Fluffy told me about Halo’s story line a couple weeks ago, but he tried to tell me about all the games at once, so I had to focus in order to know what was happening!

Right after the opening scene, the players have to navigate the ship, called “The Pillar of Autumn”, to find the bridge where they receive their first orders and weapons from Captain Keyes. Fluffy lingered behind Alisha, letting her try to find out where to go. She was running in circles quite a bit.

“Ughhh! How do we get to the bridge?”

“…There are signs on the floor.”

“Oh.”

Fluffy: I had very little hope for Alisha at the start, haha. She was running around barely able to use the controls and totally ignoring the very obvious signs telling us exactly where to go. I just let her run around…

Alisha: I don’t play console games, so I was pathetic in my attempts to move and look around at the same time. Logic wasn’t an option, haha!

Fluffy was supporting Alisha in her attempts to learn a new game, but she seemed (comically) hopeless! After Fluffy pointed out the signs on the floor, our duo made it to the bridge. Where Fluffy’s favorite moment of the night happened.

Fluffy: Oh, dude, this was SO good. So funny, oh my god. So Alisha runs onto the bridge, we FINALLY made it after she used her freakin’ brain, and immediately runs into a guy and says,

“Are you Keyes?”

-random dude walks away-

“Guess not.”

The timing was perfect and I almost missed her finding the actual Captain Keyes from laughing.

Our team then watched a cinematic with Captain Keyes and received an unloaded pistol with the instruction to “Find more ammo around the ship.”

“Are you kidding me? You’re gonna give us a pistol without any bullets?! Wow, thanks Captain. That’s super productive.” 

Alisha: Dude, seriously. Who says “Go protect the ship!” and then gives you an empty gun? Send people on missions ill equipped….THAT’S HOW YOU GET DEAD PEOPLE.

"Hello! I'm Captain Useless."

“Hello! I’m Captain Useless.”

Fluffy: Alisha was too busy criticizing the Captain to realize that we were going to get ammo in about 3…2…1…

AH!! OH MY GOD! WHAT THE…! Oh my god, Fluffy! That scared the crap outta me!!!!”

Alisha turned to look at the screen just as the animation of her new pistol loaded and set itself up in her sight line.

Fluffy: She literally freaked out at her own gun. I made a bet with myself at how soon and how many times she would die. Hint: Very soon and a lot.

Alisha: Pfffttt….maybe.

Alisha regained her calm and the pair went off through the rest of the ship. Alisha managed to pick up a plasma pistol, how she did not know, and fell in love with it.

Fluffy: She literally liked the weakest weapon in the game…I pretty much gave up all hope.

Alisha: 🙂

The duo continued running around the ship, and Alisha was somewhat successful at killing the Covenant aliens. Though she still didn’t have a good grasp of the Xbox One controls.

Alisha: I was trying to look and run at the same time, but my fingers were doing all sorts of funky things. It felt counter-intuitive to move the joystick up when I wanted to look down. I couldn’t move and shoot, because I couldn’t move and aim, so I was taking a lot of damage. I wasn’t dying!! But I definitely wasn’t doing super great, either.

Fluffy: She started running into people and blaming them for being in her way, haha.

Alisha: SOME OF THEM WERE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Fluffy: Whatever, nerd! ANYWAY, after she ran in to a few more guys (and blamed them), I asked her to show me what she was doing with the controls to see if I could help her. Turns out she’s awesome like me and needed inverted controls!! We are a special few, we inverted controls people!

Alisha: It makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE. Oh my god, I could look and move at the same time! I was still a little off because I’m clueless on consoles, but it was much more comfortable than before. Seriously, if you’re new to consoles and it’s not working out, test out inverted. Life. Saver.

Once Alisha found the right setting for her controller, the two got back into the mission. Alisha was taking slightly less damage now that she could move and shoot and she was doing more damage by being able to actually aim at the aliens. Things got tough again in the ship’s crawl spaces, though.

Fluffy: Another hilarious Alisha moment…she cannot crouch. I mean, she physically can as a person, because she kept crouching in her seat when attempting to crouch in the game, but she could not get the crouch function to work.

Alisha: Oh my god, I did not.

Fluffy: Yeah, you definitely did! You kept sinking into your seat every time you were trying to crouch. I’d hate to see you play a racing game, haha. You’d probably fall out of your seat every time you’d crash!

Alisha: Pfffttt, no.
…maybe. I gotta put my acting degree to use somehow!

Fluffy: Is your acting degree the reason why you make up names for the Grunts and Elites?

Alisha: I’m sorry…the what now?

Fluffy: Haha! The “short people” and the “tall people”…

Alisha: Oh! The aliens! Well you never told me what they were called and neither did Captain Useless. I had to call ’em like I see ’em!

Short people, aka Grunts

Short people, aka Grunts. Image from the Halo CE wikia.

tall people

Tall people, aka Elites. Image from the Halo CE wikia.

Our duo continued on killing all the “short people” and “tall people” they came across. By the end of the first mission, Fluffy was shocked…

Fluffy: She was doing better than I thought! I bet myself that she would die a lot and she hadn’t died at all in the first mission. I had to change that. However, right as I thought that, she fell off a cliff.

“Oh my god, Fluffy. I just fell off a cliff.”

Indeed, Alisha had fallen off a cliff.

Alisha: I didn’t realize there would be planes attacking us. FROM THE SKY. I knew the ground wasn’t level and I should be cautious (I have a habit of falling off cliffs and edges in the PC game Guild Wars 2…), but I felt like I was bending my head all the way back in order to shoot the planes. Clearly, I wasn’t bending it far ENOUGH back because I didn’t see the cliff and I backed right off of it.

Fluffy: She survived a Covenant assault on the ship, but she walked straight off a cliff. I just…oh man. It was too good. I had to make sure she experienced virtual death a lot more.

Our duo headed into an underground compound, after killing several more grunts and elites, in a vehicle found outside. Fluffy was at the wheel and Alisha manned the gun. They made it inside and Fluffy told Alisha to go look around.

Fluffy: We were in the underground leverage area…

Alisha: It’s basically a big silver and blue-ish room with a bridge…kinda Star Wars-y? I don’t know if that makes sense, but as soon as we got in there it made me think of Star Wars. I was looking around expecting some aliens to pop out, but nothing was happening. I thought maybe a cinematic was about to happen…?

Fluffy: My time had come! Anyone who has played Halo before knows there’s a glass panel in the floor to the left as soon as you enter the underground area. I told Alisha to go stand on it and look down through the floor.

Alisha went over to the glass floor and looked down, trusting her companion.

Alisha: Then he SHOT THE FLOOR.

Fluffy shot the glass panel Alisha was standing on.

Fluffy: Hahaha!! It was THE best. She was looking down and then BOOM. Dead.

Alisha was dead.

Alisha: I was doing so well with the whole not dying thing after the cliff incident and he has THE NERVE to kill me?

how rude

Fluffy: It was the greatest. I killed her a couple more times throughout the mission after that, too.

Alisha: A COUPLE?! More like SEVEN more times. Of the NINE deaths I had in the 2nd mission, EIGHT of them were your doing! Moral of the story kids, come have fun and play at Ignite where everyone is supportive, except Fluffy!

Fluffy: Nahhh c’mon. You love me!

Alisha: Alright, fine. Moral of the story is friends are awesome…but can’t be trusted!

Fluffy: I’ll take it!

END OF NOOB DIARIES: DAY ONE

Even though it is obvious Fluffy can’t be trusted, Alisha had a great time learning a new game! In last week’s blog, Ignite Co-Owner and Operator, Sam, wrote a blog about reasons why people should come to a LAN center to play games as opposed to staying home and the biggest point was the people! Whether they’re new gamers or seasoned pros, Ignite cultivates an environment of encouragement and fun! Our staff and our customers come in at all skill levels and there is no reason to be afraid! It’s okay to not be good at a game, you can still have fun while learning. So, gamers new and old, come pick up where you left off on your favorite game, or come in and try something new! We’re ready for you!

Want to put some faces to those names? Here are Fluffy and Alisha:

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Fluffy looking fluffy in the Snack Bar where he CAN’T KILL ANYONE.

Alisha and Master Chief are best buds now. Master Chief is super excited about it!

Alisha and Master Chief are best buds now. Master Chief is super excited about it!

More Noob Diaries next month! Should Fluffy and Alisha play more Halo?

Or do you want to see Fluffy teach Alisha a different game? What do you want them to talk about?

Let us know in the comments below!

Why play at a gaming lounge?

Day in and day out, for over a decade now, we open our doors to hundreds of guests that make their way to our lounge to play games.

 

Some come alone.

Some come with groups of friends.

Some come on dates.

Some come for birthday parties.

Some come with teams to compete in tournaments.

Some come to watch professional eSports athletes duke it out for fame, glory, and millions.

And some come to play a game of League but end up finding their new duo queue partner because well…they’ve never seen a support LuLu get played like that.

 

But to this day we still get asked, why would someone go out to play video games? Better yet, why would someone pay to go play video games? Can’t they just play online at home? Doesn’t everyone have internet at home? Who doesn’t own a computer, Xbox, or Playstation nowadays? It costs what an hour?! Where are your restrooms? (Question has nothing to do with this post but we do get asked this a lot.) Now, if you don’t mind, we’d like to share with you why we think people choose to play local. To be clear, this won’t touch on reasons why people choose to  play games in general, as there are countless articles and studies that outline the social,  emotional, and cognitive benefits of gaming. (You can read some of that stuff here, here, and here.) This will focus more on the reason why people go over to a friend’s house, a giant LAN event like Dreamhack, or a game lounge to play games.


The central reason is the fact that games are innately social.
They are designed with the purpose of bringing people together. From First Person Shooters (FPS) and Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBA) to Real Time Strategy (RTS) and Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games, each game is built to immerse players into multiplayer landscapes. In some scenarios you’re working cooperatively with your team to fend off hordes of flesh-eating zombies while in others, you’re going head-to-head versus an equally matched opponent. According to ESA’s Essential Facts of 2014, about 77% of gamers play with others either in-person or online.

Co-op zombie games like L4D2 and Black Ops II are still some of the most popular games around Ignite. Photo credit: kevinjameswong.com

Co-op zombie games like L4D2 and Black Ops II are still some of the most popular games around Ignite. Photo credit: kevinjameswong.com

We like to believe that even single player games are social. Much like a movie or book, we can’t help but talk about a rich, character driven storyline that toyed with our emotions with a friend. If you didn’t have at least four conversations about the opening scene in The Last of Us, you might need more gamer friends. Just saying. Regardless of the situation you are almost always playing or enjoying video games with others. There is a reason why Dreamhack’s yearly LAN’s attract 10,000 unique players, why South Korea is home to nearly 25,000 game lounges, and why gaming conventions like E3 can see upwards of 48,000 visitors. It’s the reason why we’ve been able to do business for 13 years – because gamers are social and they want to play together. Now take the social aspect of games and give players the opportunity to share them in-person,  and you have a truly visceral experience. There is a much different form of social connection that is had when you are sharing space with someone who is taking in the joy and camaraderie that games have to offer. Which is way more fun! (Though we may have a slight bias…)

Thousands of gamers lanning in Dreamhack Winter 2014’s BYOC section. Photo credit: Dreamhack.se

Thousands of gamers lanning in Dreamhack Winter 2014’s BYOC section. Photo credit: Dreamhack.se

If being social is peanut butter, then environment is jelly. They go hand in hand. The atmosphere compliments how a player feels when they are gaming with their friends. It enhances and heightens the experience. When going out to game locally, there is a persistent thought that says ‘I can’t game like this at home’.  It comes from the energy of getting together with a group of friends or large crowds, the amenities offered, the equipment and technologies available. It can be achieved through lighting, music, art, decor and extend all the way to the customer service. All of these come together to create the environment. It’s right along what we believe anyone seeks when going out – a unique physical environment where they can socialize with their friends. Bars, concert halls, and sport arenas are all great examples of venues that bring enthusiasts together using both elements.

A group of friends hanging out after a match of Dota 2.

A group of friends hanging out after a match of Dota 2.

And finally, gamers are competitive. It’s another driving factor that brings players out locally. Getting to witness the excitement of your team’s success face-to-face is much more exhilarating than hearing their shouts arguably too loud in your headset at home. Also, you know, seeing the look on the faces of the team you just totally dominated is pretty fun, too. Countless gamers have come through our doors and exclaimed “There is nothing like stomping your opponent and immediately seeing their reaction.”

This reaction.

This reaction.

There is undoubtedly high levels of stress and anxiety when competing, but much like the social aspect, it gets much more intensified when in-person or on stage. Higher stakes, crowds watching your every move, and your opponent sitting across from you elevate the competition to its rightful place.

We think it is safe to say that Ignite and other gaming lounges offer a unique experience hardly emulated in the comfort of your home. The friends are livelier, the place has all the tech you need, and the stakes are higher; which all compliment each other to create a space perfect for the gamers of today.

So that was our perspective on the big question: “Why LAN?” Now we want to hear from you! What gets you out of the house and into a gaming lounge?

SamSignature

Gaming & Nostalgia: Super Smash Bros

The recent release of Super Smash Bros for the Wii U and its inclusion into our catalog has brought in a new wave of excitement to Ignite. We experience excited rushes when including many popular games but this time, it’s different. With releases of games like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, we see more of our typical crowd: male gamers between the ages of 17 and 25. However, when Super Smash found its way into Ignite, it brought along new and old friends of all ages and genders. I think we owe this difference to one element Super Smash Bros has over arguably most games out today: nostalgia.

When I think of gaming, one of the first games that comes to mind is Super Smash Bros. I remember being absolutely terrible at it as a kid, but always having fun! It was a game everyone enjoyed playing and watching, so it was a perfect party game. The variety of arenas and solid group of beloved characters had something for everyone. For those of us who weren’t massive gamers, characters like Pikachu and Jigglypuff satisfied our player slots while those like Link and Samus satisfied the more knowledgeable gamers. Super Smash brought the first hint of nostalgia with call backs to other games in its N64 debut and perhaps that is part of why it constantly holds a spot in our nostalgic hearts.

Original character list. Photo from gamespot.com.

N64 character list. Image from gamespot.com. 

Melee and Brawl brought us more Pokémon (like Charizard and Mewtwo) and more standard game characters (like Diddy Kong and Peach), but the Wii U version has really stepped it up a notch. We go two years prior to Samus’s introduction in Metroid with the “Duck Hunt Duo” from 1984’s Duck Hunt and then come into this decade with yoga poses from the “Wii Fit Trainer”. Super Smash Bros brings the nostalgia for everyone from Generation X (they would have been in their late teens/early twenties upon the releases of Duck Hunt, Metroid, and the original Super Smash Bros) to Millennials and keeps up to date with those born after the turn of the century. We also see more female characters with each new version, which is great progress from having just one, Samus, in the original game. There is something for everyone, making it a perfect amalgam of past and present and, with the inclusion of 8 player slots, a better addition to parties than ever before!

Talking about new characters, how can we not mention amiibos?! For those of you unfamiliar with the new addition, amiibos are character figurines that you can connect with the game on any device (WiiU and 3DS). The figurines then store data from the game, which is then used to level up characters and learn new abilities. You can even transfer data from console to console, so if you play at Ignite and then at a friend’s house, your levels and abilities go with you. Then, you can play alongside your amiibo’s character or against them as practice. Not only is this great for the hardcore gamers who want to toughen up before competitions, but those of us who weren’t so great back in the day can beef up our Pikachus…without the added embarrassment of frequently losing to our friends. (There is hope for us yet!)

First wave of the amiibos! Image from Wikipedia because I'm not in high school anymore and it's allowed.

The first wave of amiibos!  Image from Wikipedia because I’m not in high school anymore and I CAN.

Go Pikachu! Suck it, Ness. Image from Kotaku.com

Go, leveled-up and now super powerful Pikachu! Suck it, Ness! Image from Kotaku.com.

My question now is: What are you waiting for?! We have three Wii U stations all equipped with the newest Super Smash Bros, ready for you to play! Bring your 3DS to expand beyond 4 players and grab your amiibos to keep your characters in tip-top shape.

AlishaSignature