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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Cybridity: Unveiling

Last week I wrote about an arcade cabinet a few classmates and I built for our English 794 “Cyberbodies” course. Well, today I received an invite to the official unveiling of our Cyberbodies projects at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener, ON. The flyer is below—hope to see you there.

UPDATE (June 25): I’ve found out that the event will run from 2-4pm EDT.

 

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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Projects

 

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Cybridity: An Arcade Cabinet

Last semester, three classmates and I were assigned the task of building an arcade cabinet (complete with a functioning game) that illustrated the material covered in our English 794 “Cyberbodies” class. Our project, titled Cybridity, was presented—along with others—at the University of Waterloo Critical Media Lab’s “CABS of CURIOSITY” event in downtown Kitchener, Ontario this past April.

A rather successful turnout at CABS of CURIOSITY

The following is made up of excerpts taken from the final paper I wrote for last term’s “Cyberbodies” class. The paper outlines what Cybridity represents in terms of how social media has affected society and will hopefully make better sense of the project we were assigned in general. You can read the paper in its entirety here.

The Game

A look at the game's title screen and controls

Despite the fact that Cyberbodies was labeled an English course, topics therein tended to stray more towards the relationships humans have with technology, new media, environmentalism and philosophy. The following is an excerpt from the official course description, which should shed some additional light on the mission of this peculiar course:

Today, specific technologies such as video games and the Internet lure us into forgetting about our bodies altogether, which pale in comparison to the infinite flights of fancy offered by digital embodiment. But in spite of the discourse on progress and disembodiment that characterizes technoculture, the body still remains—in fact, thanks primarily to screen based technologies that encourage immobility, bodies are getting bigger.

With this in mind, the fact that Team Cybridity and their classmates built an arcade cabinet as their final projects may not be as unusual as one thinks. Especially since Mark J. P. Wolf considers video games to be “the first medium to combine moving imagery, sound, and real-time user interaction in one machine” and that also “made possible the first widespread appearance of interactive, on-screen worlds in which a game or story took place” (21). Video games, then, provide the perfect vehicle with which to analyze the ever-growing relationship between humans and machines. After all, the game’s interface, “the boundary between the player and the game itself [that] includes such things as the screen, speakers, and input devices like a joystick, keyboard, or game controller, as well as on-screen elements like menus, buttons, and cursors,” is the only thing that separates human from machine (Wolf 24). In many cases, this boundary is unnoticed by the user, who allows him/herself to fall into the “virtual reality” that is offered by a video game.

Team Cybridity did not create a “virtual world” that consumed its users as games like Halo, World of Warcraft and Second Life have been known to do. Instead, Team Cybridity decided to make the boundaries between human and machine obvious in order to highlight the effects new technology and digital/mass media have on human society. Their video game, also titled Cybridity, is intended to overload users by asking them to absorb all of the information presented on-screen, through a visual interface that looks similar to broadcasts of CNN News or Toronto’s CP24 news channel. The term “Cybridity” is not widely used and will not be found in any standard dictionary. However, Michael Liskin, in his seminar presentation titled “Evaluating Cybrid Communication: A Structurational Analysis of Computer Gaming Teams,” he provides an interesting definition of the word that he himself may have coined. Cybridity, says Liskin, is the “synchronous interaction between two or more people that incorporates both mediated and face-to-face modes of communication within a given frame of time and/or space” (4). With this definition in mind, it is easy to see why Team Cybridity decided to take on this moniker, not only for their blog—which incorporates a variety of communication media, including video, text, images, a Twitter feed and a database of hyperlinked web articles—but also for their video game.

(Below is a video demonstration of an early prototype of the Cybridity video game. We decided to change the way the questions appeared on-screen in order to make reading and selecting the questions/answers easier for the user, but this should give you a good idea of what the game is all about.)

…despite the fact that the newscast is the only element containing human faces, interfaciality exists elsewhere within the game as well, and this helps the user bridge the gap between human and machine. In order to play the game, users must answer questions that display in the top-left portion of the screen by highlighting one of four answers with a joystick, then selecting their choice using the single button on the interface. In addition to “face-to-face relations with the computer,” Munster says that “interfaciality” can occur when the game “subsum[es] the body into a command-control scenario by aligning human and computational ‘cognitive’ processes” (21). When Cybridity prompts the user to answer a question, the user communicates with the machine by selecting their answer, and the two entities (human and machine) somehow become joined in a reflexive conversation. When the user sees his/her choice highlighted as s/he moves the joystick, “the interlacing ‘of one’s own bodily surface with the visible surfaces of the other(s)” occurs, and “even though in a virtual environment these are immaterial,” the on-screen images act as techno-visual extensions of the human body (Hansen 111). In a sense, the user reaches into the computer game and wriggles his/her fingers inside the “guts” of the machine.

…Bernard Stiegler (with inspiration from Katherine Hayles) feels that by encouraging people to focus on the quantity of information that they are exposed to— rather than the quality—society has experienced “a generational mutation” (72). In a rather excessively dystopian claim, Stiegler describes what kind of generational mutation we are dealing with:

What parents and educators (when they are themselves mature) patiently, slowly, from infancy, year after year pass on as the most valuable things civilization has accumulated, the audiovisual industries systematically destroy, every day, with the most brutal and vulgar techniques, while accusing the family and the education system of this disaster. (72)

…The theories of Stiegler and Hayles are most evident at the end of Cybridity, once the user’s “score” is revealed. Users who answered 0-20% were told they had Attention Deficit Disorder, while those who answered 21-80% were declared hyperattentive, and anyone who managed to answer over 80% of the questions correctly were told they exemplified deep attention. Of course, these labels were not handed out with any scientific backing, but were rather a fun way of connecting the game to course theories.

The Cabinet

Painting the inside of the cabinet in an attempt to make it look like it has turned inside-out

Empty cabinet, painted, interior

Empty cabinet with faceplate installed

Wiring up the controls

…Epiphylogenesis played a big role in the most interesting aspect of Cybridity—the inside-out arcade cabinet in which the game was played. But perhaps a better way of explaining the concept would be to describe the cabinet as being “outside-in.” In the early 1980s, during the peak of video arcade popularity, “teens could go to the video arcade not only to play video games and perhaps consume minor refreshments… but also to socialize” (Farr 35). Video arcades were community centres, public meeting places like arenas, ball parks, and bowling alleys. People had to leave their homes and go to the arcades to play video games. They socialized face-to-face with opponents; they stood over each other’s shoulder as they attempted to defeat high scores; they sat beside each other as they drove virtual racecars around a virtual track. Human interaction was always present to some degree at the arcade.

Completed cabinet, exterior. Note the coin mechanism and exposed wires, enhancing the "inside-out" aesthetic

But as technology evolves to meet the needs of humans desiring to become more mobile, so too are humans evolving by taking advantage of stationary technology within the home. With the demand of affordable, practical personal computers came the technology necessary to create small and affordable game systems that people could plug into their televisions, and experience the arcade from the comfort of their own living room. In 1985, when the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) hit North American markets, the popularity of the video arcade began to diminish and people stayed at home to play their games. Additionally, with the popularization of the Internet in the 1990s, global communication changed forever. Now people can play games over the Internet with people they may have or have not met previously, they share personal stories with friends and strangers publicly over Facebook and Twitter, and are able to speak face-to-face with people around the globe with computer programs such as Skype. As the title of Sherry Turkle’s book suggests, we are “Alone Together”—together in the fact that “the global reach of connectivity can make the most isolated outpost into a center of learning and economic activity,” but quite literally alone in our living rooms or bedrooms (Turkle 152). Having users of Cybridity play inside the arcade cabinet rather than outside emphasizes this current dominant trend of people communicating virtually from their homes.

Cybridity is planned to be placed on permanent exhibition in THEMUSEUM, downtown Kitchener, Ontario. Additionally, a conference paper on the subject has been submitted to the SLSA 11 conference (also in Kitchener) and is pending approval.

Read the full Cybridity paper

Works Cited

“Engl 794: Cyberbodies: Rhetoric and Fiction.” Course Description. Date Unavailable. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://english.uwaterloo.ca/grad-courses.html>.

Farr, Daniel. “Arcades.” Encyclopeida of Play in Today’s Society. Vol 1. Ed. Rodney P. Carlisle. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006.

Hansen, Mark B. N. Bodies in Code: Interfaces with Digital Media. New York: Routledge, 2006.

Liskin, Michael. “Evaluating Cybrid Communication: A Structurational Analysis of Computer Gaming Teams.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden International Congress Centre, Dresden, Germany. Date Unavailable. Web. 14 Apr. 2011.  <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p93315_index.html>.

Munster, Anna. Materializing New Media: Embodiment in Information Aesthetics. Hanover, NH: UP New England, 2006.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic, 2011.

Wolf, Mark J.P. The Video Game Explosion: A History from Pong to Playstation and Beyond. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2008.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Projects

 

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Pac-Man: A Dark Tale of Addiction

Pac-Man has a gambling problem.

Pac-Man, seduced by the bright lights and glamour of a Las Vegas casino.

This became clear to me last week, after I read through articles about games and their ability to contain narrative. “Certainly, it is easy to argue that games such as BioShock, Zelda and L.A. Noire tell a complex and engaging story,” scholars often say, “but what about popular games like Tetris or Pac-Man? What stories do they offer?”

It may be true that Tetris and Pac-Man do not offer any explicit narrative at first glance. No text displays in order to offer a back story of the falling blocks or the missing-pizza-slice face that is chased through mazes by a gang of colourful ghosts. No dialogue is offered. But that does not mean that narrative is completely bereft. In fact, I say that these games leave the creation of story up to the gamers who play them, and offer building-blocks of narrative (no Tetris pun intended) in the form of characters, actions and symbols in order to facilitate this creation.

Marie-Laure Ryan, in her article “Beyond Myth and Metaphor: The Case of Narrative in Digital Media,” explains that narrative can be presented in a number of varying degrees, and is not always made obvious for gamers/users:

A game such as Tetris represents the lowest degree of narrativity, because “fitting blocks of various shapes into slots as they fall from the top of the screen” is hardly interpretable as the pursuit of human interests in a concrete situation.

However, Ryan suggests that Tetris‘ “low degree” of narrativity may offer enough symbolic representation for gamers to find meaningful story within:

The narrativity of Tetris would increase if the player stimulated herself by imagining that she is a slave building a wall from bricks thrown at her at an increasing rate by a sadistic master, and that she will survive only as long as she is not buried under the falling blocks.

For Ryan, the narrativity within games grows as far as gamer imagination allows it to grow.

Pac-Man falling into the abyss of gambling addiction

Pac-Man (1980) is rife with symbols that suggest creator Toru Iwatani may have been trying to make a statement about the dangers of gambling. Pac-Man clearly represents the insatiable greed of capitalists from the developed world. He never stops gobbling the “power pills” (which I will henceforth refer to as coins) that line the maze through which Pac-Man navigates, and indeed the game only progresses once Pac-Man collects all of the coins in each level. The maze represents the constant battle Pac-Man wages within his own mind—a battle between the rational realization of odds and moderation, and the irrational, maverick desire for the potential riches that lay just beyond his reach. Within the maze are four ghosts—Pac-Man’s inner demons—that threaten to trap him within the maze and destroy him mentally, and financially. When Pac-Man is caught by one of the ghosts in the game, the missing-pizza-piece character turns on its side and diminishes into nothingness. Pac-Man literally transforms into a pie-chart that represents his financial standing; he ultimately succumbs to his demons, which destroy the last of his willpower, and he loses everything (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1 – The onscreen “death” of Pac-Man

Much of my theory rests upon the round, yellow objects within Pac-Man being understood as “coins” rather than “power pills,” as is usually the case. If the round objects of Pac-Man’s desire were pills, there would still be an argument that Pac-Man is a game of addiction. But I argue that the classification of the coins Pac-Man collects as “power pills” is a cultural mistake. After all, the game’s title screen does not label them as such (Fig. 2), and the disks are quantified in a way that replicates standard currency—at least standard currency of the time (10 pts=dime, 50 pts=50-cent piece). Additionally, the yellow hue with which the coins are coloured represents gold, the standard with which international currency is measured. It is also notable that the famous platform game Super Mario Bros. (1985) included the “gold coin” currency, and many games continue to do so today (ie.World of Warcraft).

Fig. 2 – Quantification of Pac-Man coins

The ability to defeat ghosts that Pac-Man gets when collecting a large coin (worth 50 pts) represents the highs that gamblers achieve when things are going well. After winning or losing modest sums of cash for days, weeks or months at a time, Pac-Man may eventually hit it big and, for a time, he quells (or at least forgets about) his demons. He may even claim that his gambling days are over now that he has enough money to get by on, or at least enough to pay off his debt. But ultimately his demons return (they never truly go away) and Pac-Man is pursued by his demons once again.

The most obvious evidence of gambling that one finds when playing Pac-Man are the fruit that appear within the maze at various points in the game. Cherries and lemons in particular have become well-recognized symbols of casino slots, due to their regular appearance on the spinning wheels of these machines (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 – An online slot game. Pac-Man continues to be a regular on online gaming sites. *chuckle*

It is clear to me that there is an understated and under-appreciated storyline that surrounds the popular Pac-Man video game—one of highs and lows, nervous tension, indecision, mistakes and ultimately despair. It should be no surprise that a game inspired by impulsive gambling was first bestowed upon games that required gamers to insert coins to play. Was Pac-Man an early statement against underage gambling? Was it a warning of things to come—that video games could be as disastrously addictive as gambling? Was it a statement on Western society in general? Was Ms. Pac-Man the driving force behind Pac-Man’s gambling addiction?

Or am I completely out to lunch?

Let me know by commenting below!

Pac-Man consumed by his obsession.

Works Cited

“Pac-Man.” Wikipedia. 9 June 2011. Web. 11 June 2011 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-Man>.  

Ryan, Marie-Laure. “Beyond Myth and Metaphor: The Case of Narrative in Digital Media.” Game Studies. 1.1 (July 2001). Web. 11 June 2011 <http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/ryan/>.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2011 in Miscellaneous Thoughts

 

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Bow to WoW Entry #1: “What’s YOUR Game?”

All I needed was an excuse, and finally I got it.

Recently the English 794 “Video Game Theory” class and I were assigned to play and comment upon World of Warcraft: Cataclysm. The playing was done in the fine arts computer lab, where 10-day trials of the game were installed on the school iMacs, and the commentary (at least some initial commentary) will be provided right here. I had never played the game prior to this course assignment, though I admit that I would have happily jumped on the opportunity, had I the necessary bandwidth on my home/dorm computer and a few close friends who played the game.

I’ll put together a more complete review of my World of Warcraft (WoW) experience later on, but first I have to answer the question offered by Mr. T(ureaud)—”what’s your game?”:

The Creation Screen. (Why anyone would want to play this game of imagination and make-believe as a human is beyond me.)

It’s an interesting question to be sure, because for Mr. T (and the millions who play WoW), it is not the game itself that is so interesting, but how each individual user of the game approaches it and interacts with others. For instance, WoW users do not take control of a pre-determined character in the same way that a user would control Batman in Arkham Asylum, or Cole Phelps in LA Noire. Before they start playing, users create their online “avatars” by selecting one of 12 “races” for their avatar, which range from the familiar mythological (dwarves, elves & taurens) to beings of Middle Earth (orcs, trolls & humans) and creatures I’ve never heard of (draenei and worgens). Users then assign their avatar a “class” and customize the look of their avatar in terms of its colour, hair, gender and size.

For “my game,” I chose to play as “Dyldebeest,” a Tauren Hunter.

A strapping young Tauren.

“Dyldebeest,” the Tauren Hunter

In choosing the Tauren race, I did not pay much attention to the polarization of the 12 races, which are split into teams of 6—the “Alliance” and “Horde.” It doesn’t take a student of history to spot the similarity with the Allies and Axis of WWII, and the obvious assumption is that the Alliance in WoW=good, and the Horde=evil. But in my experience this is irrelevant, since the point of WoW is to kill nearly anything in your path in order to loot the remains for money, and the game’s back story doesn’t do a good enough job to make me feel more guilty for killing an elf than an orc or a wild rabbit. The Tauren falls under the “Horde” grouping, so if that makes me a bad person, please feel free to pass judgement.

But why a Tauren as opposed to the ever-popular elf, dwarf or troll races? Simple. They are badass. Look at the picture above. That thing’s shoulders barely fit into the frame. The only WoW race that would pose a challenge to the Tauren in battle (in my opinion) would be the “Worgen”—essentially werewolves of a 70/30 split in favour of the wolf. But werewolves tend to have those annoying habits of howling at the moon and urinating in public, so I thought I’d stick with the serene and civilized ways of the Tauren.

Yeah, pretty cool. But my Tauren would stomp this guy.

More specifically, the Tauren race has a number of traits going for them that, from my perspective, made them the ideal choice for me. Here are the guiding points that I was offered when putting together my avatar (paraphrased by WoWWiki) and my thoughts:

  • Their natural body structure grants them not only great strength, but an incredible Endurance to damage.

Awesome. As a n00b, I know I’m going to take some early hits. I need all the help I can get as I wander around blindly.

  • Their immune system is compounded with a deep connection to the natural world, thus they have a passive Natural Resistance to everything from poisons and acids to the weather.

Excellent. World of Warcraft is huge, and I’m likely going to spend some time bush-whacking. If I can take advantage of the world around me, I’ll have a significant advantage. I’ve also read that I move pretty slowly, so I’ll probably be stuck in the weather from time to time.

  • Being great huntsmen and natural wanderers with a certain natural affinity, the tauren developed a deep knowledge of the botanical life of Azeroth, using it in various shamanistic rituals, as well as for medical treatment. Because of this the tauren are natural herbalists.

This is pretty interesting to me. I don’t really understand the significance, but as I said earlier, I expect to take hits, so medical treatment would be a good thing to have.

A Kodo, the Tauren ride of choice

  • Hunting the kodo and wandering the wilds has not been easy for the tauren, and facing the centaur has made it no easier. All tauren are born with the ability to communicate with the spirits in times of need, beseeching them to shake the earth and stun their enemies. This ability has been nicknamed the War Stomp by the tauren’s enemies.

I like this. I didn’t really want to deal with magic and attack enemies with fire or lightning that comes out of my hands. I want to hit them with hammers, shoot them with arrows and, apparently, hoof-stomp them.That sounds like a rewarding experience.

Next, I had to assign a “class” to my Tauren, and I chose the Hunter class:

Hunter is the only ranged class in game that do mainly physical damage. They can tame pets to help them in a fight. Depending on what type of pet you decide to tame, you get different spec options for your pet… Hunters also have the unique ability of putting down various traps to help the party and handicap their opponent(s). (WoWWiki)

I liked the sound of being able to avoid face-to-face combat with the use of “ranged” weapons, pets and trap-setting. As far as I’m concerned, the more annoying I can be without taking a bunch of damage, the better. Plus, I figured that if an enemy got through my ranged defenses and close enough to strike me, the hulking mass of my Tauren should compensate and I’d just stomp on whatever strength my enemy had left.

Finally, I named my Tauren Hunter “Dyldebeest” (my go-to gaming username, hence the name of this blog), and customized my avatar’s colour and facial hair (went with the braided goatee, obviously).

Below is a chart that shows the different races, the classes available to them, and the “base stats” that work as the foundation of all of the avatars’ abilities. The Tauren is like a stegosaurus—a walking tank with a brain the size of a walnut.

Click image to enhance

World of Warcraft gives each of its races a pretty in-depth back story, in order to give you a feel for what’s in store during your first few hours of play in your avatar’s “home” territory (eventually, you’ll be able to wander outside of this territory and the back story will mean less and less). The Tauren race has a pleasant history, much of which is modeled after the history of North American aboriginals. WoWWiki (clearly my go-to for everything WoW-related) provides the Tauren back story, as borrowed from the World of Warcraft Guide:

For countless generations, the bestial tauren roamed the plains of the Barrens, hunted the mighty kodos, and sought the wisdom of their eternal goddess, the Earth Mother. Scattered across the land, the wandering tribes were united only by a common hatred for their sworn enemy, the marauding centaur. Seeking aid against the centaur, the chieftain, Cairne Bloodhoof, befriended Warchief Thrall and the other orcs, who had recently journeyed to Kalimdor.

With the orcs’ help, Cairne and his Bloodhoof tribe were able to drive back the centaur and claim the grasslands of Mulgore for their own. For the first time in hundreds of years, the tauren had a land to call their own. Upon the windswept mesa of Thunder Bluff, Cairne built a refuge for his people, where tauren of every tribe is welcome. Over time, the scattered tauren tribes united under Cairne’s rule. There are a few tribes who disagree about the direction their new nation should take, but all agree that Cairne is the wisest and best suited to lead them towards the future.

Though the noble tauren are peaceful in nature, the rites of the Great Hunt are venerated as the heart of their spiritual culture. Every tauren, warrior or otherwise, seeks identity both as a hunter and as a child of the Earth Mother. Having reached the age of maturity, you must test your skills in the wild and prove yourself in the Great Hunt.

Here’s a fly-by of the first territory Tauren users experience when they begin playing WoW:

That pretty much breaks down the initial “character creation” stage in World of Warcraft. While this experience occurred before I even began playing the game, one classmate remarked over my shoulder as I was creating my Tauren, “here it is—the moment of truth. Don’t blow it!” Indeed, having the ability to create an online avatar—a second personality not unlike those created in the infamously popular game Second Life—is perhaps what most effectively draws gamers to WoW. More than the massive world in which players can explore, more than the epic battles that take place between a variety of mythological creatures, and more than the interaction between players that the game offers. Perhaps it is all of these elements combined that truly creates the “second life” (if I may borrow the phrase) that WoW players experience,  but I argue that it is with the computer-generated “physical” presence that players most readily identify themselves.

In my next installment of the “Bow to WoW” series I will attempt to provide a more academic approach to the phenomenon of the online avatar, and what it means for not only online gamers, but casual surfers of the web. I will then follow that up with a broad overview of my gameplaying experience with the 10 day trial of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm.

Fun Fact

Not as awesome as the Tauren, but still a classic.

The Tauren race is clearly based off of the minotaur, which has always been my favourite mythological creature. Wikipedia alert!

In Greek mythology, the Minotaur (Greek: Μῑνώταυρος, Latin:MinotaurusEtruscan Θevrumineś), as the Greeks imagined him, was a creature with the head of a bull on the body of a manor, as described by Roman poet Ovid, “part man and part bull”. He dwelt at the center of the Cretan Labyrinth, which was an elaborate maze-like construction built for King Minos of Crete and designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus who were ordered to build it to hold the Minotaur. The Minotaur was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.

Works Cited

“Minotaur.” Wikipedia. 4 Jun 2011. Web. Retrieved 4 Jun 2011 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minotaur>.

WoWWiki. 2011. Web. Retrieved 6 Jun 2011 <http://www.wowwiki.com/Portal:Cataclysm>.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in Gaming Experiences, RPG

 

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New Arkham City Trailer – Catwoman Announced as Playable Character

Any news about the upcoming Arkham City video game warrants its own blog entry, in my opinion.

Earlier today, GameSpot informed us that the upcoming Arkham City video game (Rocksteady) will include the ability to play as Catwoman. A new trailer for the video game was also released. Not surprisingly, the new video features Catwoman and hints at what gamers can expect from the new perspective.

Not sure what in particular it is about the video that has me more excited than ever to play Arkham City. It might be the amazing graphics, the evidence of the impressive fighting engine, the clues into the original (at least to my knowledge) storyline, the ability to play as Catwoman, the way Catwoman looks in that tight leather suit, the trailer’s provocative soundtrack or the subtle insertion of Joker looking ever-so diabolical.

… Who am I kidding? It’s Catwoman’s leather suit that has me all excited.

What should be most exciting from a gamer’s perspective is the ability to play Arkham CIty (at least parts of it) as Catwoman, a character completely different from Batman in terms of her speed, agility, tools and skill set. Most notably, Catwoman doesn’t wear a cape, which will make gliding from tall buildings (as Batman has been known to do) a bit tricky.

In the first installment of Rocksteady’s Arkham series (Arkham Asylum, 2009), gamers fortunate enough to have a Playstation 3 were able to play through the game as The Joker, Batman’s arch-nemesis. This feature offered a nice change-of-pace from Batman’s serious, calculated and powerful persona. Instead of hiding in the shadows and efficiently taking out enemies with a single blow as one would do with Batman’s character, gamers playing as the Joker strutted around the asylum, hopped on the backs of enemies and banged away on their heads with comical inefficiency.

The other, more important, difference between the experiences of playing as Batman and the Joker was that as Batman, gamers fought “bad guys” in the name of sanity and justice. As the Joker, gamers were able to unleash insanity upon the innocent (though maybe not) guards of the asylum.

Unlike Batman, the Joker feels rather at ease capping people in the head.

For those of us who chose to play Arkham Asylum on our Xbox 360s, “Joker Mode” was unavailable. Here’s hoping that “Catwoman Mode” (or whatever it’ll be called) is available across all consoles/platforms.

The new trailer, as borrowed from GameSpot:

Updated June 12, 2011—new video, courtesy of G4TV:

http://www.g4tv.com/lv3/53553

 
 

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