The Death of Creativity in Games: The Flappy Bird debacle

Although I never got the chance to play Flappy Bird before it was pulled from app stores by developer Nguyen Ha Dong, it’s been a bit difficult to avoid the furore that erupted in the aftermath its removal. For those of you not in the know, Flappy Bird is a hit app that was downloaded over 50 million times and was well known as being both very simple and extremely challenging. It also had a rather interesting resemblance to a certain Nintendo game featuring pipe-diving plumbers. According to the Nguyen legal difficulties were not the reason for Flappy Bird’s removal, but that he pulled it because of the addictive nature of the game.  Regardless of the reason, the result was an outpouring of abuse and vitriol, including horrific death threats to Nguyen.

This is not even close to the first time that a business or creative decision by a developer has led to death threats to his family and person. While it’s usually a minority of gamers that engage in this kind of behaviour, it’s also a very vocal minority that undoubtedly makes the rest of us slightly more well balanced gamers look bad. And beyond that, it’s simply unacceptable that people spew this kind of hatred and abuse at anyone. If you threatened someone like that in real life, you’d be arrested. Of course, the people who say stuff like this on the internet are usually the same kinds of people who wouldn’t have the cojones to confront someone in real life. They’re sad people who take playing games way too seriously, possibly because they’re very young, mentally unstable or don’t have much else going on in their lives. It’s easy to say that it’s not our problem, because we’re not the ones making death threats or harassing people online. The truth is that it affects all of us, not just in terms of our collective image as gamers, because it’s killing the creativity of the very people who make the games we love. Continue reading

Playing Outside of Your Comfort Zone

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This post was inspired by Shaun from At The Buzzer’s ‘Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You’ pledge, which you can check out here. I think it’s an awesome idea and probably one that’s not foreign to any of you. Although they might not do it every day, people step outside of their comfort zone all the time in real life or least think they should. It’s seen as character building and from my own experience, I’ve found that stepping out of your comfort zone regularly can open up many new opportunities for you. So why can’t we apply the same attitude to gaming? Most gamers probably have a favourite genre or type of game that they prefer to play over others and many of them (myself included) tend to just play what they’re used to or the kind of game they’ve had fun playing before. It’s a pretty normal attitude I think. There will naturally be certain games that attract you and there might be reasons you don’t play others. If don’t like socialising you probably don’t play a lot of MMOs, for instance. It might be that you know the controls in your genre (they tend to be fairly standardized these days) or maybe you don’t want to have to learn a new set of rules. However, for many of the same reasons you might want to do be a little more adventurous in real life, playing games outside of your comfort zone could lead to some surprising and beneficial results.

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Dota 2: Well, there goes more of my life…

As you can tell from the title, this is going to be a positive review in a sort of resigned way, because I know how much time I’m going to be spending on this game in the future. I can’t really believe how much I like it. This isn’t even the kind of game I usually play. My experience with RTS is fairly limited. I was into Warcraft III and Age of Empires, but generally speaking RTS as a genre doesn’t appeal to me too much. I like things to happen fast in games and a lot of the time there’s all this painful (at least for me) base-building to get through before you can even begin to think about attacking the enemy. You can’t just stroll on over and shoot someone and be done with it or rather you could try, but you’d probably die a quick death. There’s nothing wrong with RTS of course, that’s just my personal preference and my lack of patience for and experience at it. However, Dota 2 is a major exception to this. It’s an RTS game that doesn’t feel like pulling teeth to me. It’s fast and action-packed and has zero base-building. The only character you control is your own hero and it’s all about upgrading your skills and buying the right equipment and of course strategising. The best thing though about this action-RTS game? It’s free-to-play.  That’s right, this incredibly involved, dynamic and addictive game is totally free (unless you want to pay for some completely optional and purely cosmetic items). For $0 you immediately get the full range of over 90 heroes, all with their own unique appearances and combination of skills and over 60 items. I can tell you now, this is possibly the best free-to-play game I have ever played. How they can sustain this, I have no idea, but I’m not complaining.

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