It's time for Worth Reading, our weekly roundup of the best games writing around. Enjoy!
Hey, You Should Read This
This is not a new interview with Shigeru Miyamoto, so you won't learn anything about the NX or read any tidbits about the next Legend of Zelda. This is from back in 1992, when Nintendo was rolling out the SNES in the United States and Nintendo mania was everywhere. Seriously, there's a line in here about doctors diagnosing children with "Nintendoitis" for playing too many games and Oprah hosting fearful segments about game players becoming "zombies." It's great.
"Interestingly, older, smarter, tougher players may miss some of the hidden magical moments in Miyamoto's games. Young children, or those who explore at a leisurely pace, have a better chance of finding them than do kids or grown-ups who blast through a game, charging toward the goal, trying for the highest score and best time. "The players must be thinking, 'Well, there must not be anything here,' but it can be," says Miyamoto. "Then the player is curious enough to visit that place. When he finds something he never expected, he feels, 'Ah, I did it. I made it.' It's a great satisfaction.''
As the popularity of Miyamoto's games has grown — an astounding 60 million copies of his eight Mario games have been sold since 1985 — Miyamoto has become well known in Japan and beyond. Westerners who have made the pilgrimage to Kyoto to meet him have included Paul McCartney, who said he wanted to see Miyamoto, not Mount Fuji, during a Japanese tour. Yet despite his success, Miyamoto seems to have changed little in the fifteen years since he first came to Nintendo. His hair may be shorter, but he still bikes to work. He dresses in oxford shirts and wool vests; one red tie is dotted with tiny Mickeys."
I'm not much of a drinking game person these days (though no promises for this upcoming holiday weekend), but I love the way Mattie Brice frames the reasons we engage with them in the first place. While it might be about getting wasted for some people, I'd say the majority of us engage in drinking games for other reasons: breaking the ice between new friends, putting us in a state of mind to share more freely, etc. Brice attended a game jam where she helped come up with a drinking game, which also required her to, naturally, test out the drinking game herself.
We started this discussion to get ideas flowing to start our games. First, was a general explanation of what a canonical drinking game is: a game where drinking is the result of some performance test, or is the main act of performance. The main tension that popped up for me was the ambiguity of whether drinking was a punishment or a reward, after all, when playing a drinking game, you mean to drink in the first place and to get comfortable with friends, and being sober around a lot of drunk people is not usually a common goal. Creating a difficult choice between drinking and another action appealed to me, like having to confess an emotion or drink, or some other lose-lose situation. We also noted that most drinking games are designed for skill level to steadily deteriorate once you've started to take some hits and drink, that is, the parts of your brain that is affected by alcohol will be the parts needed to avoid drinking.
There is also the why. Most found that drinking games are more of a reason to facilitate drinking itself; you have friends, you have booze, now here's a reason why you will be drinking it. Some want to get completely wasted, or get at least get to a place in a certain amount of time that they can't unaided. I was fascinated with the less mechanistic reasons we drink, like for getting to know each other. Games like Never Have I Ever also let people get to know each other, typically with things we wouldn't readily admit. And that's an aspect of our culture that I wished to prod, that we often use alcohol in order to be vulnerable, to admit and share things, or to do risky behaviour. What kinds of games could we make around that?
If You Click It, It Will Play
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- David Motley analysed how some Christian leaders are responding to video games.
- Jamie Madigan examined Mass Effect 3's ending changed perception of the whole series.
- Chris Kohler interviewed one of Metroid's chief overseers on feeling like an "outsider."
- A reddit thread discussed whether it's sleazy for games to specifically be about addiction.
- Raph Koster considered if designers should worry how their games can affect people.
- Rowan Kaiser looked back at how Diablo 2 reshaped RPGs.
- Hua Hsu considered the impact of Japanese musicians on popular music at large.
- Catt Small wrote about how their team developed a black female lead who "mattered".
- Peter Moore recounted asking permission from Microsoft to spend a billion dollars.