Video Games: An Historical Timeline

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Epilogue – to one person’s attempt at a compilation of unique and historically significant video games

By the turn of the 21st Century the internet was well established in the home and Game Maker software, in its various forms, had become an accessible tool for budding game designers.  Even colleges and vocational programs began offering formal courses in Game Development and, coinciding with the ultimate distribution platform that is the internet the independent game development scene began to emerge in unprecedented waves.  It didn’t take long for a strong community to develop and organize around toolkits, coding forums and ‘game jams’ such as Ludum Dare and the like.  In the period roughly book-ended by 2005 to 2008 experimental game design had reached a critical mass on par with the adoption of gaming as an increasingly mainstream hobby.  With guarded acceptance of independent game channels by those in control of traditionally closed ecosystems, and growing recognition among both traditional and casual gamers (helped in no small part by the rapid adoption of tablet computing) the sea of innovation and sheer number of titles emerging from the indie scene has reached nearly epic proportions.

For any historian or cultural anthropologist to keep pace, without specializing (or having other interests in life) rapidly approaches impossible.  I should like to comment at this point that keeping any hobby in its place, and focusing always foremost on the important things in life, is a far better way to live.

The inevitable conclusion to this new paradigm is that even the most dedicated chronicle of gaming innovation must acknowledge that they can only parse out bits and pieces, smaller currents reflecting changes to the landscape and, with careful observation, a few or more emerging trends.  With considerable attention one might keep his or her finger on the pulse of the game industry, but no more, and by no means in the way of being able to experience personally every new innovative title to come down the line.

For those with an interest in history and the evolution of game design from the dawn of the home console I leave my own* nearly half-a-lifetime of experience as a roadmap, with many paths that may branch and extend away from it.  But from this moment in history it is my view that to really see how things evolve from here, the astute observer, the passionate gamer and would-be historian, would be better served to pay attention not only to credible curators (1) (2), but also to the output from the handful of established coding events of the Ludum Dare variety.  It is these that feed into the many Independent titles that feed ever again, although not always, into the larger production houses that, true-to-form, co-opt ideas into one or more key game mechanics of their big-budget would-be blockbuster titles.

*Those with ‘completionist’ tendencies (you know who you are) should by no means attempt an endeavor of this sort.  You’ll be much more content teasing out every nook and cranny from a small handful of carefully chosen titles.  I sincerely believe one could choose that style of play, or broader study… but not both.

It’s not the end.  Video games are still a part of my life… until they fade away.  This has happened with other interests and I find it more pleasant to allow these changes to occur naturally.  I’ll still maintain the Most Memorable Games list so long as I continue to maintain this blog.  I’m glad to say, even at this stage of my life, that I’ve not lost the passion for discovering and enjoying a well-crafted video game, especially if it’s fresh and innovative.  But I also realize that it’s more enjoyable to occasionally delve at length into a single game, rather than splitting my limited attention merely for the sake of conquering an impossible task.

If one were to take the time to study it they might find this timeline speaks about many different things.  Whether or not it continues to expand it will always be a pleasure to be able to step back every now and then to observe the shape of the journey.

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From the homepage of this blog the timeline can always be found to the right (→) under the Single Page Lists category behind the simple heading “Video Games.”

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Published in: on February 9, 2014 at 5:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cross-Platform and DRM free

An exposition on emerging trends in the early 21st Century, and the encouraging counter-culture to encroaching DRM schemes.

Around about 2008 indie game developers and the players that formed a growing fan base began putting stock into the idea of seeing games made available for the three major desktop Operating Systems, and at the same time, eschewing any form of DRM.  This movement brought back to life a trend not widely seen since the mid 1980s, when popular commercial releases were ported to the likes of Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari ST, MS-DOS and sometimes even the lesser OSes of the day.  But in the context of modern Operating Systems, where desktop competes with mobile, the concept of cross-platform has shifted.  Factor in vicariously restrictive digital distribution platforms (such as Steam, Desura, and Impulse) and things start to get a bit murky.  To put it simply the term “Cross-Platform” can mean many things with differing implications.  But from among the variations emerges a special, almost pure iteration of cross-platform in which a game is ported to run natively on Windows, Linux and Mac and does so without deploying restrictive DRM.  We’ve begun to see this form, even in cases where the game is concurrently available on one or multiple closed platforms (Steam, Android, iOS to name a few).  That unique, principled combination highlights a category of non-platform-restrictive games with a focus on trust between developer and his or her audience.  This level of dedication to openness deserves special recognition and warrants a category more meaningful than the term “cross-platform” can offer.  When you browse through my own list of Most Memorable Video Games, you’ll see that some of the titles have been given the designation of “CP-noDRM” to mean Cross-Platform and DRM free.  More specifically, it means that the game:

Runs natively on all three major desktop OSes (Windows, Mac, and Linux) with no DRM… and may also be available on smart devices, but this is not a requirement.

This special designation (CP-noDRM) is meant to say, ‘This is a developer that is most deserving of our support’ because they have empowered players to choose their Operating System (Windows, Linux or Mac) without forcing allegiance to a platform and, on top of that grand gesture, chosen not to cripple the game with messy DRM.  As more developers who take this path are supported by the gaming community we can all expect greater protection for innovation and, not ironically, more freedom and compatibility for the end user.

But before you go out and begin making purchases…

Please Note: Proper support for CP-noDRM games usually involves purchasing direct from the developer.  Visit the game’s official homepage and be willing to pay a few dollars more for the CP-noDRM version over any port that may exist on a closed platform.  Good Old Games (GOG.com) deserves recognition for bringing traditionally closed games closer to the DRM-free ethos.  The more this happens the greater the likelihood we’ll see future games released in this form.  And perhaps we can all agree that this is a far better trend than the days when closed platforms and all manner of DRM were creeping over the landscape.

And one final thought.

I do hope that Valve (and others) will continue to recognize the significance of ensuring that any single-player game in its catalog function properly in some or other form of ‘Offline’ mode.

Published in: on February 2, 2014 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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DRM and Microtransactions

Up until recently M-Rated games and MMOs were the only broad classifications that I’ve deliberately excluded from my list of Most Memorable Video Games, which aspires to be an historical journey of discovery along the timeline of the medium.  This hasn’t been terribly heart-breaking as only a handful of truly notable titles from those two categories have been pushed aside.  But the past several years have seen another shift in the way video games are being packaged and distributed.

According to Wikipedia the sale of Virtual Goods began appearing in online game worlds, right around the early part of the 21st Century.  Initially, an informal economy of trade and bartering of virtual goods for real-world currency grew out of the player communities of several online worlds.  Later, game developers and publishers tapped into the concept and found ways of monetizing these ‘microtransactions’ as part of a business model built into the games themselves.  A variation on this theme is today called In-App Purchasing.  For a time, it seemed that this trend was limited to MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) which have a natural pre-disposition to this model…and casual (especially Social) games due to their mass appeal by less discerning gamers.

I believe another shift is now taking place – where this model is spreading from the outer reaches of MMO and casual spheres, closer to the center, where we’re beginning to see it used in more traditional video games.  The thing that I find distasteful about virtual goods is that they create an incentive to adjust, if not model outright, gameplay around this single mechanic.  So what you end up with is a game designed in a way where the greatest goal isn’t to complete the game, or achieve mastery over it, but to perpetuate a cycle of perceived advancement or dominance through limitless additional micropayments.  And since we already know that video games can be addicting unto themselves, this introduces a kind of lever attached to that potential addictiveness that I believe degrades the spirit of the medium.  A game should be addicting because it happens to be fun, not because it was designed to slowly siphon away discretionary income.

Ok.  Let’s move on to the issue of DRM.

More specifically, the type of DRM I have in mind is the sort variously referred to as Persistent online authentication.  I believe examples of this are SecuROM and TAGES, though I may be wrong and the goal here isn’t to address any specific mechanism that may have, or may in the future be used to achieve this particular level of DRM.  The idea of DRM (in-and-of itself) is understandable, and the merits and effectiveness of it have been debated extensively.  Rather than assuming an intractable position I’d rather state plainly where I [currently] draw the line.  If a game requires any form of persistent connection to a server, regardless of platform, I won’t support or publicly endorse it.  It’s that simple.  It doesn’t matter to me the developer’s or publisher’s position on DRM, or their stated reasons for implementing whatever kind of DRM they feel a game needs.  If a game cannot be played without an internet connection or without having to phone in to a server each time it launches, the publisher has crossed over a line with respect to my rights (or at least what I feel my rights as a consumer should be).

In short, there are now two additional characteristics that will almost immediately remove a game from consideration: Those that employ Microtransactions in Virtual Goods and/or Persistent online authentication of any kind.  The most unfortunate thing about this is that, unlike the vast majority of M-Rated games, there is a greater potential that truly noteworthy titles will be tarnished by the presence of one of these measures.

I suppose the only promising developments, at present and on the horizon, are a possible shift away from intrusive DRM alongside the ongoing contributions of so many talented independent game designers,who’ve done an admirable job of filling in the gaps.

Published in: on October 2, 2012 at 11:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Musings on Childhood, and One Passion In Particular That Grew From It

When I was a small child friends came over…or I went over to a friend’s house, and we played together.  The concept of a “Play Date” did not exist.  We invented games and activities, and used our imaginations.  Home consoles hadn’t yet arrived; we were actively encouraged by our parents to play outside and “be creative.”  When television was allowed I recall fondly watching Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and Saturday Morning cartoons.  Muppet Babies was one of my favorites.  I know what Pokemon is, but have never played a Pokemon game.  We collected baseball cards.  I grew up playing video games during the first Golden Age of home consoles, just as Atari and Colecovision were giving way to the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis.  We rented games from the local video store (along with movies on VHS cassette).  One of the most exciting things as a child was going into the local arcade to watch the older kids or, when I could scrounge a wayward quarter from a coin return slot, to actually play a game.  Sometimes I had enough quarters to Continue.  Arcade machines seemed so amazing and intimidating then, with spectacular sounds and graphics unlike anything the home consoles of the day could offer.  Pinball Machines, in their own way, were even more amazing.  I grew up believing that ‘Computer Games’ were the best, and most sophisticated…because you had to own an expensive computer just to run them.  In many ways – in those days – this was true.  It wasn’t until my twenties that I finally bought my first computer; we never had one in the family.  This opened up a new world, an enormous virtual library of games, and I dove in, exploring, searching and discovering new genres along the way.  From a gaming standpoint I thought I had ‘arrived.’  A few years later it occurred to me that you can’t really judge a game by its platform (or its graphics, or the year in which it was released).  I realized that a game is good simply because it is…and the trick is only to find a way to play it, and then learn how to play it.  Video games are a huge part of my life, but (as with all hobbies) there is so much more to life than video games can ever offer.  I have made it one of my casual goals in life to play (to experience) every worthwhile game that doesn’t resort to excessive violence, bloodletting, profanity, nudity or depravity to sell itself… regardless of platform, or the year in which it was released.  Someday, I’ll make a list of these titles and post them here.

EDIT (Update):  And here it is.

Published in: on April 12, 2011 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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To Be a “Gamer”

There was a time when those who played video games could more or less be safely labeled and stereotyped.  These were, by and large, the so-called “nerds” and “geeks” who helped usher in the dawning of the Computer Age.  One could conjure up an image, probably a fairly accurate image, of the kinds of games these folks were playing and possibly even the sort of work and lifestyle they led.  Theirs was a definable sub-culture unto itself.

But now, decades later, the label of “Gamer” just doesn’t mean much anymore.  Even concepts like “nerd” and “geek” have become increasingly blurry, especially as they relate to video games.  In the present day the majority of the developed world plays video games of one kind or another, regardless of individualistic categories such as gender, nationality, profession, degree of affluence and so on.  The reason?  There are so many types of games (genres, cross-genres) and so many mediums (computers, consoles, browsers, smart phones, handhelds) that there’s likely to be at least one video game (or type of video game) out there that even the most ardent, self-proclaimed ‘non-gamer’ can appreciate – even enjoy.  The new reality is based more on whether a person has discovered that game, or genre, and whether they have the time and means to engage it.

So what then does it mean to be a Gamer?  Is this a label best reserved for young people?  Perhaps.  Ardent players who spend little time doing other things?  Maybe.  Or, maybe the word itself has lost its meaning.  It was once possible to meet someone, discover that they play video games, and immediately feel a certain sense of camaraderie.  No longer is this the case, for it is the next part of the conversation that matters, the part where you talk about what kinds of games you and the other person play.

Does he or she play Strategy Games (Real Time or Turn Based?), First Person Shooters, RPGs…what about Adventure Games, Puzzle Games, Casual Browser games…Do they play fast-paced Action Platformers, or maybe they prefer a Simulation or ‘Sandbox’ game that lets them create and be creative.  Someone with enough experience probably enjoys multiple genres.  It could be that one person is only familiar with a few genres while the other has been playing games their entire life.  He or she probably has – not just favorite genres – but a slew of favorite and beloved games stretching well into their past.

Then there are those who have become firmly dedicated, not to a particular genre or style, but to a single game.  In this case they most likely are part of a game community that plays, talks about and enjoys one, and only one particular game (or game franchise).  An MMO would be just one example.  Consider the rather enormous community of World of Warcraft gamers.  Even if you play another MMO (same genre) the two of you may actually have little in common since your game might take place in a futuristic science fiction world, whereas the World of Warcraft player is only concerned with the goings on of Azeroth.

We find ourselves then in a new paradigm.  There’s little meaning in pointing to someone to say, that person is a “gamer,” or even to self-identify as a one.  It would be like trying to classify people as “internet users,” as if to suggest it had some significant social meaning.  Not really.  Now it’s about discovering what sorts of games other people grew up playing, enjoying the bond of shared memories (when they arise), and finding out where each of us has settled on the vast video game landscape of today.

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See also: My personal list of Most Memorable Video Games

Published in: on August 18, 2010 at 8:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review Criteria

The search for high quality Free video games is somewhat like hunting for treasure among the vast wreckage of a sunken ship.  There are so many places to explore, curious objects to sift through, even dangers to watch out for.  And yet, every so often one may just discover a rare hidden gem.  For many, the freeware treasure hunt is a burden.  For me, it’s one of the small pleasures of PC gaming.   And thanks to the dedication of talented, independent game designers quality free games really do exist.  Over the years I’ve probably playtested dozens of titles and among those I’ve tried some have earned a permanent place in my personal collection.  And that’s really what this folder is about, highlighting some of my personal favorites based on a very selective [and demanding] criteria.  You’ll probably notice as you browse through the collection that I tend to prefer games with an original idea or good gameplay versus those that rely on big explosions or fancy graphics. I’ve had a lot of fun discovering and playing these (and hope to maintain this collection indefinitely).  Hopefully you’ll enjoy discovering some of these gems for the first time.  Scroll down if you’d like to skip straight to the games; otherwise keep reading to learn more about the selection process.

Selection Criteria: Each consideration must…
1.  Be 100% Free.  No Shareware, Trials, Demos or Mods.
2.  Be compatible with Linux, WINE, ReactOS or Windows XP
3.  Be hosted at a site with a gray or better WOT rating.
4.  Have a focus on Single Player experience.  Online multiplayer games are the rare exception.
5.  Have Family Friendly Content (in-game and at the homepage).
6.  Be relatively easy to obtain and install (100 MB or smaller download) and not requiring an emulator to play.  Although for many of these you will need to be comfortable working with compressed files. 7-Zip is a great utility for this.
7.  Provide English language support.
8.  Be free of in-game advertising or microtransactions (IAP)
9.  Be a truly quality title, the best (or nearly best) in its class.
10.  Be a game I’ve actually played and…I Like It.

Concerning browser games of the Flash/HTML5 variety – these browser technologies are a legitimate gaming platform, but the problem with so many of these types of games is they are all too often front-loaded with (and otherwise surrounded by) advertising.  This doesn’t fit well with the ethos of truly free games where players are given the option to support a developer, usually in the form of direct donations.  In order for a “Free” browser-based game to pass criteria it must be hosted at a dedicated homepage by the developer and for that specific game.  Ideally, there should also be a downloadable stand-alone version, although this is more a preference than a strict requirement.

Guiding Influences: My lack of fondness for wanton violence, juvenile humor, M-rated content, anime, puzzle games, card games, fighting games, escape the room games, scrolling shooters, keyboard controlled platfomers and the majority of flash-based casual games.  My love for depth, originality, solid gameplay, engaging art and sound design, simulation & strategy games, classic retro titles and all around great presentation, whatever the genre – especially if it comes in a small package.

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Concerning Adventure Games
You might notice there is a conspicuous lack of Adventure Games in this collection.  That’s because I tend to regard these titles separately from all other game types.  From this point on I’ll be maintaining a separate page, created specifically to feature my favorite Adventure Games, free or otherwise.
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Note: Featured titles are listed in no particular order.  In other words, a game’s placement in the list should not be construed as a ranking.  They’re all favorites…

If you don’t see the games below click HERE.

UPDATE:  As it turns out it isn’t practical for me to do a full review on every outstanding free game that I play.  This is why the reviews will appear to have dropped off.  But I do still playtest the occasional discovery, and those finds (when they happen along) will be added to the Free Video Game list, maintained separately from this folder.  For an even larger selection visit the Honorable Mentions list.  Both are static pages (located in the right column there) that may even receive an update now and then.

Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 11:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Globetrotter XL

Geography games have been on the internet for some time now, but none that I’ve encountered thus far achieve the level of presentation as Globetrotter XL.  The approach is fast-paced & challenging, and makes for one of the best casual Coffee Break games imaginable.  Why?  Because even passersby seem to get drawn into the challenge.  In fact, it’s even more fun when a small group of ‘experts’ gather round the screen.  And what a fine way to brush up on this oft neglected subject area than with a quick little five minute browser game.

Here’s how it works.  Each level starts out with a point threshold and set number of cities on which you’ll be quizzed.  You’re then presented with a blank map of the world and nothing more than country borders to guide you.  A city name pops up and your job is to place the flag marker as close to the spot you think that city is located.  The closer you get the more points you earn toward beating the level.  Conversely, the further away you place the flag the less points you earn, and so on.  After using up the allocated number of cities your points are tallied up to determine whether you’ve earned enough to move on to the next level.  Everything I’ve just described is presented in a pleasant graphical format (in the form of progress bars) that’s easy to follow.  It’ll make more sense after playing once or twice. Once you progress to the next level more points are going to be required and you’ll be given more cities (chosen at random) to tackle.

Don’t be fooled by the simplistic presentation of this game as most first timers won’t find it a pushover.  You’d be hard pressed to make it to level three in the first several plays.  Personally, I’ve only really gotten anywhere from playing enough times to start remembering cities that have come up in previous attempts.  So be warned: You will learn something from playing this game.  I’m sorry.  It’s inevitable.  With a limited amount of time (about 13 seconds) to pick a spot the pacing is fast…too fast to cheat using an Atlas – not that the idea crossed anyone’s mind right?

I’ve said it before, I’m not a huge fan of Casual games in general; but it seems there’s an increasing number of stellar Casual titles coming out these days.  Globetrotter XL is yet another fine example of this trend.

Designer: Manfred Weber (dschini.org)
Type: Original
Genre: Casual
Format: Browser (Flash) Game, Portable Exe
File Size: 6.2 MB
Control Scheme: Mouse
Portable: Yes
Version Played: 1.0

Visit the Official Homepage

Published in: on April 9, 2009 at 8:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Orisinal Flowers

flowers-orisinalFerry Halim is someone who seems to have found his niche in the world.  As a talented Flash designer he’s crafted over the years a superb website that allows visitors to just come in, sit down and relax.  The focus of his site are simple (yet irresistibly charming) Flash games, easy to pick up and play for even the most casual gamer.  But there’s more to the site as well.  You can also just sit and listen to the soothing sounds of music as you watch rain drops.  Or, send someone a bouquet of freshly picked flowers.  In this case they’re digital flowers, but using Ferry’s web tool you can create a custom arrangement – so that your bouquet is unique and special.  When it’s ready to go add a small note and send it off.  The recipient receives a simple post card, along with your note and bouquet of hand picked flowers.  It’s a nice way to brighten someone’s day.

Published in: on February 20, 2009 at 9:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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More Free Favorites

The games featured here in the “Game Reviews” folder represent merely a handful of my personal favorites, discovered during a brief period when I had the time give a proper write-up.  For a much larger selection of favorites visit my Free Video Games list.

But of course, in order to discover all those favorites I had to play a lot of other games…and it turns out there are many others just as noteworthy for good design, artwork, sound and presentation.  These Honorable Mentions are all standout titles deserving a look and could easily become one of your favorites.

Published in: on January 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm  Leave a Comment  
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What’s the deal with this Morrowind Game?

Newcomers to Fessic’s Blog, especially those unfamiliar with video games and computer Role Playing Games, may look around for a bit and find themselves wondering…

Just what is it about this Morrowind game anyway.  My favorite game of all time perhaps?  Was I once affiliated with the developer or the publisher?  None of these actually.  Maybe we should start with the basics to give you a better idea of what it’s all about…

Back in 2002 Bethesda Softworks released the third installment in a series – The Elder Scrolls, called Morrowind.  It’s a fantasy themed Role-Playing Game which came out for the PC (then later for the XBox).  In or around 2005 I discovered this game and was immediately hooked.  Now, if you don’t already know I’m an avid ‘gamer’ who grew up playing, and still very much enjoy playing video games. And as you’ll easily discover I enjoy quite a wide range of games.  But there was something about this particular game that had great appeal for me.  Actually, it was two things.  First, Morrowind was designed as an open-ended world meant to give the Player Character virtually unlimited freedom to explore, engage NPCs (Non-Player Characters) and follow (or not follow) the main storyline.  Furthermore, the game world is populated with a broad range of factions, each with their own agendas.  The disposition of faction members shifts relative to your character’s relationship with each guild – and it isn’t always obvious to which faction a given NPC belongs…which makes for an interesting dynamic.  The second, and probably most significant thing about Morrowind is that the creators included a built-in Construction Set, enabling players to create their own content for the game.  It was around this feature that a vibrant and active community quickly evolved into something quite remarkable.  Modders, as they were called, were able to upload their creations to a central repository where they would remain freely available to other players – who could then download and add the new content to their own game.  This model opened up immense possibilities for virtually limitless variations (and expansion) of the already expansive core game.  Given the previously mentioned non-linear way in which your character is engaged with the game world this made for an amazing degree of potential customization.  And that, for me, was the true appeal of the game.

In a way it became a kind of exercise in crafting (through the work of so many talented modders) my own idealized version of what the Morrowind world should be; the result being a near fully realized virtual fantasy world.  As it turned out I spent far more time browsing through, downloading and testing user-created mods than actually playing the game.  All along the way I kept thinking that once I’d assembled just the right combination of mods the game would be ‘complete’ and I could finally embark upon the main quest.  But in reality it was the process itself that held the greatest appeal.

And so my own version of the game continued taking shape.  Along the way I had spent many enjoyable hours cataloging various well made user-created mods, quests and other custom content that I soon felt compelled to share it with others.   The “Morrowind” folders you see here are the fruits of that energy – and hopefully a small but worthwhile contribution to the community spirit of fellow gamers who have enjoyed the same fascinating game world.

While it may seem so when you first arrive at this blog Morrowind isn’t actually my favorite game – or a significant part of my life. In fact, I haven’t played it in some time and probably wouldn’t even recommend it for most gamers.  But it was, for its part, a special game that for a brief period became a whole hobby unto itself, and one example of what makes video games such an enjoyable pastime for those wishing to escape to another world (for a time).

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A Special Note to Parents and Casual Gamers:

While Morrowind does, in my view, deserve a place among the more innovative titles in video game history I am reluctant to recommend it to newcomers for the following reasons.

1) The game is technically challenging, even for those accustomed to tweaking a computer game installation.  For this reason many have recommended the Xbox version of the game, but for me this defeats the purpose entirely as it is the player-created content of the PC version that so sets this game apart.  By ‘technically challenging’ I mean that to play a fairly stable version of the game requires much more than the usual download > patch > play routine of most modern PC games.  And to get the user mods working properly and in relative harmony requires a great deal of study, trial & error (something best left to the geekiest RPG aficionados among us – yours truly included)

2) Morrowind bears a “Teen” ESRB rating for mild violence, a common aspect of Fantasy Adventure games.  The manner in which it’s implemented is acceptable (in my opinion) for sufficiently mature gamers.  What I would draw your attention to are some other aspects of the game that I personally try to avoid.  These include things like deliberately pursuing a path of evil or engaging in vampirism (which was introduced in the Bloodmoon expansion).  Being a fan of Fantasy Fiction it can sometimes be difficult to discern the point at which a game, novel or movie crosses over a certain line in terms of content or emphasis.  In these cases I’m usually left to follow my gut.  With Morrowind, it comes down the core of the game itself.  Being ‘open-ended’ means a player can choose how to engage this fictional world given certain constraints, and opportunities…as in real life.  With the Moral Imperative shifted to the player one must then try to discern the intent of the game’s producers, to see if they have focused primarily on elements that are ‘fantasy by nature’ or whether they’ve chosen to promote things that are morally objectionable such as obscenity, extreme violence or occultism.  In my view Morrowind passes this test.  Though sadly, one can still find plenty of this with some of the user-created mods out there.  Cautious parents needn’t be shy about passing on Morrowind, if only to avoid some of the third-party content floating around – or even the game’s core content if it doesn’t pass muster.

3) In reference to the above mentioned rating for Morrowind, Bethesda made the unfortunate decision to release the sequel (Oblivion) with content that earned it an “M” rating for heavy violence and hidden nudity.  Given that I do not believe any game ever needs to contain M-rated content, I cannot endorse The Elder Scrolls canon beyond the specific installment that is Morrowind – and only then for experienced and mature gamers.  Consequently, if your kids are playing any M-rated games (Bioshock, Mass Effect, Bully, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Fallout 3, Fable II, Metal Gear Solid 4, Gears of War) they really shouldn’t be.  And you might consider paying closer attention to their hobby.

I hope this post answers the question about this Morrowind game (and why it occupies such a large space on this blog).  If you have further questions or comments please don’t hesitate to post them below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Published in: on December 31, 2008 at 11:35 am  Comments (1)  
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