Project Statement: Pixellated Culture

I went into this project thinking of all potentials for a video game blog. At first I hit some speed bumps when I tried to come up with an idea that was different enough, making reviews and videos quickly out of the question to avoid being called a copycat. Thus Pixellated Culture combined my penchant for all things history, literary, and video game.

One of the first things I noticed when creating this blog is how hard it really is to get out there. There are a lot of blogs just on Blogger, let alone getting WordPress and Omeka in the list. I was unsure how to get into this. Thankfully Blogger’s random button convinced me I’d get traffic and off I went.

Right now, Pixellated Culture, while not a booming success, is a success by my standards. I had wanted only 10 page views per post, and have averaged that and more. This surprised me as I’ve done little marketing of the blog outside my Twitter feed. I do regret not being able to market more, which is probably the only thing I would change if I had to do this again. This whole project has made me think about the status of video games as part of a scholarly agenda and what kind of audience wants this type of blog.

What surprised me the most was the google searches that led to my blog. Unfortunately, those who read my blog appear to be RSS -and- Follow-phobic, as my blog does not have any actual follows through these things, meaning those who do read the blog either follow my twitter links or go out of their way to type the address into the bar. These same people also don’t comment. I consider this a good and a bad thing. It’s bad because I would love my reader’s input into what I cover or if they think I’m crazy, but it’s good in a no trolls on my blog way. Perhaps no news is good news.

This project also made me realize the international application of the internet. Most of this class was spent focusing on American usage and ideas, with the potential for these ideas to go across the board. I’ve had many hits from across Europe. The U.S. is certainly my prime audience right now with a majority of my hits coming from within the U.S., but I have readers in Finland, Hungary, Denmark. Unfortunately, I can’t tell if I have multiple readers in these areas or if it’s just one, but I now have to keep an international base in mind since video game releases vary. This isn’t much of a problem with modern video games, as most developers prefer to release world wide on or around the same day, but they might not have access to all the online games I do.

This blog has also made me consider what is a game. Recently, I decided to do a post on flash games, with the flash games all being on one particular site that I frequent. Hopefully, I can gage the response from that so I know how soon and if my audience wants to talk about those type of games or if they are of a more “hardcore” sector.

One of the last things I noticed as a trend was that my literary posts tended to get more traffic than my historical posts. My post on Bioshock (second post) garnered more hits than my post on Fallout 3 (first post), which could be handwaved by saying it was order. But my post on Silent Hill (fourth post) garnered more hits than either Metal Gear Solid (third post) or Assassin’s Creed (fifth post). What this tells me is that while my audience is interested in the historical aspect (they still read those posts) they prefer looking at the literary aspect, the story aspect. I find all this to be an interesting look into the current gamers’ mind, but can in no way call this conclusive. I will maintain the project in the future, as this topic still remains in my interest and I feel like I can’t let my readers down now.

1066, or A War of Insults

1066 is a rather interesting flash game. It’s crafted really well and it’s not bad for a flash game, but it’s not the greatest either. From a gaming standpoint, it’s very pretty to look at, but the controls were a little off. You have three types of units, each capable of attacking and forming groups when in the right formation. Each unit is given three options: Move, Taunt, or Fortify, with the exception of Archers who can fire. Personally I never used the fortify option as the one time I did it didn’t see much of a difference and the game went faster if I moved the units into an attacking position. Units automatically attack when next to an enemy unit, capable of charging if you move them in a straight line from a distance. There are a great many options for strategies, including just having the computer randomize how many of each unit you have, and you quickly figuring out if your strategy is working.

However, the battle system is a little too easy to figure out. Here’s my strategy for winning: 1) get 1 or 2 groups of attacking units have them move together 2) have the rest of the attacking/soldier units go charging at the enemies individual units 3) line up archers with as many of the enemy as possible or their leader depending on situation 4) have your leader taunt. I didn’t have much time to experiment with other strategies, but usually it all boiled down to this. By the end of the battle, most of my soldiers were dead, I still had my archer and my leader and I won by calling them silly names. Every time, the battle fell into a fight of calling each other silly names and I won because I managed to keep my moral higher.

The battle system also has little mini games which while interesting for variety, weren’t always as well implemented. Taunting required you to do some fast typing, fighting requires you to hit the arrow keys at a specific time a la DDR, charging requires pressing the space bar really fast (more fun than it sounds), and archery makes you choose an angle and a firing strength very quickly. The archery was the worst in my opinion as you have no idea which angle is correct until you fire and if you accidentally select an angle that you didn’t want you can’t fix it. The others were really fun, though sometimes I suspected that the fighting mini-game was a little off on timing.

From a historical standpoint, the game is very interesting. You play through three battles that occurred in 1066. You get all your quick historical exposition in lovely cutscenes, and each army has different units to add to the flavor, i.e. only the Normans have knights on horseback. Each army also has customized taunts, the English being fond of ones involving poop and the Vikings calling you a troll. You get to play all three armies, and are on the historically winning side for each battle. This works great for those trying to learn a little about 1066, as then you are required to win to find out more. This bothered me because I didn’t get invested in any side and already knew that whenever the Normans showed up they would win. If each army had a campaign I felt I would have learned more and had more opportunity to learn tactics for each side (this is not overly complicated for flash games, as some are very in depth).

While the history set up the idea for the game, while playing the game I felt it could be any two armies, and 1066 was just the flavor chosen. This is a problem known as gameplay and story segregation. This comes in degrees, and for this game it wasn’t horrible, but it was noticeable. I felt no difference between the Vikings and English, and did absolutely nothing to change my strategy. The Normans I felt a noticeable difference as they had knights which just murdered everything. History can work as a setting for a game, it’s just that it needs to be more than a flavor, it needs to be visible in all aspects of the game.

Project Started!

Hey guys!

Here is the link to my video game blog :

The first post is about Fallout 3 for those interested in the Fallout-verse, but knowledge of the game is not entirely necessary.

I chose Blogger as it is part of Google and links up to a bunch of other services. Blogger also gave me a bunch of tools to put on my blog, as in links to Twitter and Facebook, putting my own Twitter on the site, a page view tracker, an RSS button for subscribers and more! There’s even an option for Ad Sense, which I opted out of. Blogger also has a variety of templates and great customization. I wasn’t feeling to creative, so I just tweaked one of the basic ones. It was super easy to set up and get started. Blogger also has a button at the top for “Next Blog” so if you’re feeling random it takes you to another blog, thus potentially increasing my traffic. The only trouble I has was hyperlinks. Oh, they work and it’s fairly intuitive to get them in there, it’s just the field won’t let you copy the link in so you have to type it yourself. There is a “test the link” feature so you know if you typed it in right, but it’s still mildly annoying.

It’s a little early to tell how successful this will be, but I have hope. I didn’t realize Blogger has so many features when I signed up so that was a pleasant surprise. Anyway, check it out and leave comments telling me what you think, either here or at the blog itself.


So now I have two posts up. The second is on Bioshock. So far, I haven’t gotten any comments, but I have gotten plenty of views. For the rest of the process for the project time limit, I do have the list of games I want to speak about. I do plan to keep the alternating schedule of history week vs lit week.

However, I do desire comments as I want this blog to be an interactive experience. I want people to leave suggestions and give me ideas. I’m hoping that I can encourage people to leave a comment and this is just new blog jitters or something like that. I also recently redesigned by template to look a little more classy and the background isn’t so distracting.

I’m also having trouble deciding format. I’m thinking my blog looks a little bland because the it doesn’t have pictures. However, I’m afraid that putting too many pictures would disrupt the flow. Right now I have hyperlinks for aspects of the game which are important. What’s the best way to go about the picture issue?

Digital Project Proposal: A New Video Game Blog

For my digital project, I would like to do a video game blog. This video game blog would have a focus of games in the liberal arts, specifically in history and literature where I have the most experience. Each game is a product of the times, so I would like to analyze what part of the culture the game was created in response to and/or what are the literary aspects in the game, depending on the topic at hand, i.e. whether I’m looking at a game like Metal Gear Solid versus a game like Bioshock. While it is possible to cover both for certain games, each post would focus on one or the other to keep it concise.

My project would be aimed toward the young adult audience, 18-25, and at gamers. Gamers would get a better reading experience and a further understanding of how large a piece games are in our culture. They would understand the blog posts better as well. I am open to the idea that there would be older readers, but I do not believe younger readers would appreciate all that the blog posts have to offer, though I would not mind being proven wrong.

While there are many gaming blogs and sites on the internet, I had difficulty finding many that were like mine. Many of the popular gaming sites, like The Escapist Magazine and Kotaku, focus primarily on reviews, which I want to avoid. Play the Past does cover history, but it is mostly history within video games from what I saw. I also could not find many sites which analyze the literary mechanics in games, although the video series Extra Credits covers them occasionally, they approach it from a design standpoint and cannot afford to go into too much detail. My project is similar to the Game Overthinker, another video series, but mine would be much more focused, as the Game Overthinker uses whatever topic he desires and uses tangents.

For a work plan, I would start either the week of March 13 or March 20 and make weekly blog posts. I would post most likely on the weekend. I would prefer to use Blogger, as that is free, has a good aesthetic feel and range of themes, can link from other blogs on the site, and many of the blogs I read, including such as Atop the Fourth Wall (a known comic reviewing show) and Game Overthinker, are on Blogger therefore I am familiar with the layout. Blogger is also integrates well with other types of social media, which I would investigate further i.e. having a Twitter button, has openID commenting options, etc. I would focus on a different game/series of games each week, unless it is a large topic. I would not be opposed to going back and discussing games I’ve already covered at a later date and be open to suggestions from comments. I also plan on using my personal Twitter account to link to new blog posts, as many of my followers share my interest in video games.

Success would be an average of 5 comments per blog. I believe having that many comments would translate into at least twice as many hits per post. I plan on having 6-7 blog posts done by the end of the academic year. Personal success would also be avoiding a schedule slip.

What can Brown do for us?

Communicating Design by Dan M. Brown is best summed up by its title: it teaches you how to communicate the design of your website. The book carries through the ten deliverables and how each applies to a website, with everything from a simple flowchart to usability tests. Each deliverable gets explanations of its uses, when they are necessary, and every chapter has plenty of visuals to show you different types of each deliverable (definitely useful in the chapters dealing with charts). The book spells out its desires in simple English and even tells you how to deal with those pesky naysayers at meetings.

The book was created for people in the industry of making webpages, usually for companies. The book does not go over all the coding and such that goes into web design, though it does mention a couple tool for making some of the deliverables. Most of the deliverables are for when you are making a website from scratch.

So since most of our class is probably not currently designing their own webpage, what can we pull from this book? Many of us will most likely use services that have websites already preconfigured, with limited options for how we can personalize. However, I’m certain at least two of the deliverables can be useful. Creating personas will be useful for keeping a website focused on the target audience. Competitive analysis keeps in mind what other sites have done, not only in terms of design, but also in content, so you can make sure you take what is good and keep your site original.

Personally, I found the book very interesting. As someone who spends far, far too much time on the internet, I enjoyed learning what went into all the sites I look at every day. While I probably will not make my own website anytime in the near future, I can appreciate the work that goes into making each site useable.