Lost my­self

Vir­tual re­al­ity con­cerns me. Yes, it’s tech­no­log­i­cally amaz­ing. And of course it’s go­ing to be im­mer­sive and cre­ate in­cred­i­ble at­mos­phere in our games. But I’m gen­uinely wor­ried about the so­cial im­pli­ca­tions were it to be­come the stan­dard for games. I worry that with not just an im­mer­sive world on a TV but one lit­er­ally en­clos­ing your head from the out­side world, gamers are putting bar­ri­ers up with oth­ers.

I en­joy play­ing through games (even sin­gle­player ti­tles) with my girl­friend, with both of us help­ing to solve puz­zles and en­joy­ing the story. And I adore lo­cal com­pet­i­tive mul­ti­player – the bril­liant in­ten­sity that comes from a close match of Street Fighter with a friend over some beer and a good laugh to­gether. Vir­tual re­al­ity will be two folk with chunky eye­glasses sit­ting on the couch not even able to hear each other, los­ing track of time and prob­a­bly ba­sic eat­ing re­quire­ments due to the sen­sory de­pri­va­tion ef­fects. Even play­ing a game with some­one else in VR looks likely to be a case of stylised avatars, so you can no longer even see what your friend looks like.

Not to men­tion the im­pact this will have on the way gam­ing is viewed by ev­ery­one else, just as games start to get recog­nised by the main­stream as film-ri­valling en­ter­tain­ment. You only have to look at the un­for­tu­nately hi­lar­i­ous im­age of Palmer Luckey on the front of Time Mag­a­zine to get an idea of how this looks to the out­side world. It’s not that the tech isn’t go­ing to be great fun to use, I’m just wor­ried about the way it could change us, not only as gamers, but as peo­ple as well. Mark Blain

“Vir­tual re­al­ity will be two folk sit­ting on the couch not even able to hear each other”

It’s only a slight twist on the av­er­age WOW player’s ex­pe­ri­ence, isn’t it? In se­ri­ous­ness, it surely won’t be long be­fore the im­age of a per­son wear­ing a VR head­set sheds its dork­i­ness. And many VR ini­tia­tives seem more con­cerned with con­nect­ing users across large dis­tances than it does iso­lat­ing them from their im­me­di­ate sur­round­ings. We’ll be look­ing deeper into VR next is­sue.

Happy again

I’m look­ing for­ward to Vane – it may be just the aes­thetic ex­pe­ri­ence I’m seek­ing at the mo­ment. Let me ex­plain.

Con­va­lesc­ing in the coun­try re­cently, I was look­ing for a gam­ing mo­ment to com­ple­ment gen­tle walks and early snow­drops af­ter a busy, gam­ing-free year. My first thought was to re­in­stall Civ­i­liza­tion V, and a few long nights of 4Xing cap­tured the melan­choly, de­lib­er­ate mood of get­ting well slowly. In its way this is a per­fect game, but it wasn’t ex­actly the mo­ment I was inch­ing to­wards.

So I looked else­where, and briefly toyed with the des­o­la­tion of Fall­out. But then the ideal mo­ment came, one evening, in the middle of nowhere in Elite Dan­ger­ous. I was dip­ping in and out of plan­e­tary rings for no good rea­son, far from civil­i­sa­tion, lack­ing money and pur­pose, ex­pect­ing very lit­tle of my ca­reer as an ex­plorer. And sud­denly, some­where in the aim­less­ness of this un­pres­sured wan­der­ing, was the essence of a line of Leonard Co­hen at his most con­tem­pla­tive. This cultish, good-but-not-tran­scen­dent space game had brought Fa­mous Blue Rain­coat to the far Welsh Marches.

All art forms prom­ise th­ese per­fect mo­ments when the stars align and bring mood, ex­pe­ri­ence and cir­cum­stance to­gether. There won’t be snow­drops out when Vane is re­leased, I imag­ine, but from what I gather the game is a good bet for sim­i­larly evoca­tive mo­ments in 2016. And I’ll take those over the up­com­ing Doom re­boot any day.

Neil Rut­ter

Let’s make this let­ter some kind of record of that mo­ment. There’s noth­ing wrong with los­ing your­self in the art­ful dis­mem­ber­ment of demons, but it seems like you might pre­fer the pace of a spot of fish­ing in

An­i­mal Cross­ing for your new 3DS.

On & on

Piracy is as old as time, but the re­cent rev­e­la­tions from Chi­nese crack­ing group 3DM that Denuvo’s anti-piracy mea­sures might even­tu­ally prove un­hack­able def­i­nitely raises some in­ter­est­ing ques­tions.

The ‘lost sales’ the­ory has been pro­posed by many of piracy’s op­po­nents as a fac­tor in pre­vent­ing hard-work­ing de­vel­op­ers from get­ting fairly re­warded. Dig­i­tal Rights Man­age­ment is a rel­a­tively re­cent phe­nom­e­non that has re­sulted in pro­pri­etary sys­tems fail­ing, caused knock-on ef­fects with per­for­mance and mem­ory us­age, and ar­guably pre­vented le­git­i­mate cus­tomers from fully en­joy­ing games they’ve paid for.

If the vir­tual elim­i­na­tion of game piracy is achieved, then the po­ten­tial con­se­quences are fas­ci­nat­ing. Will sales in­crease to re­place those ‘lost’ through piracy? Will the games in­dus­try be harmed by re­duced free­dom and there­fore ex­po­sure?

The ef­fects of this will no doubt per­me­ate through­out the game in­dus­try, pri­mar­ily on the PC, but are also likely to af­fect con­soles and pos­si­bly all other forms dig­i­tal me­dia.

I just hope it doesn’t dis­cour­age DRMfree mer­chants, and that there’s still a place for games with and with­out DRM, with con­sumer choice hope­fully be­ing the pos­i­tive even­tual out­come.

Ahmed Wobi

Will any tech­nol­ogy, no mat­ter how ad­vanced, ever put an end to piracy? In­deed, the sug­ges­tion that such a de­vel­op­ment might come to pass pushed 3DM leader Bird Sis­ter (not her real name, we’re will­ing to wa­ger) to an­nounce that the group’s mem­bers have re­newed ef­forts to crack Denuvo’s tech­nol­ogy, the scamps.


I’m cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing plans to move abroad, and as part of a con­certed ef­fort to shed some of the flab of life’s pos­ses­sions (and force my­self out­doors into my new en­vi­rons), I have sold my Wii U and PlayS­ta­tion 4. For the first time in 25 years I won’t have a games con­sole in my flat, though an over­seas

Edge sub­scrip­tion is still on the shop­ping list – I’m not go­ing com­pletely cold turkey.

I don’t see get­ting rid of my con­soles as some dra­matic or wor­thy achieve­ment, as it was done largely for prac­ti­cal rea­sons. How­ever, I felt a pal­pa­ble sense of re­lief when the con­soles were out of my grasp, and it got me to think­ing about the role that games play in my life.

Th­ese days, with work and gen­eral ex­is­tence to deal with, gam­ing is a hobby to fit in when­ever I can and tends to be lim­ited in terms of time. When I spot a win­dow, it be­comes my fo­cus, and any im­ped­i­ment to my gam­ing at the ex­pected time is an ir­ri­ta­tion. On top of this, I be­come over­in­vested in the hype of up­com­ing or newly re­leased games and inevitably have an in­sur­mount­able back­log. Any game which lacks a pal­pa­ble sense of pro­gres­sion to­wards a con­clu­sion, even if en­joy­able, there­fore be­comes a stum­bling block on the way to the next game. In short, I have re­alised that gam­ing has be­come a bit too much of a grind rather than a gen­uinely fun pas­time. I have ab­so­lutely no idea how this hap­pened. I am now back to square one. I fin­ished

Blood­borne and sold the rest of the back­log, and it feels ex­tremely lib­er­at­ing. At some point in 2016 I will jump back on the band­wagon, and who knows what it will en­tail – per­haps PlayS­ta­tion VR, or NX? Maybe The Last Guardian, or Zelda?

My plan is to re­turn to the days when I care­fully con­sid­ered each pur­chase, owned and played one game at a time, and ap­pre­ci­ated each ex­pe­ri­ence to the full with­out dis­trac­tion.

To any­one else who has got lost in the gen­eral chaos of the mod­ern games in­dus­try hype train, I urge you to give it a go. Dark

Souls III will prob­a­bly just wreck ev­ery­thing and ex­pose my weak­ness, but where’s the harm in try­ing?

Iain Cri­tien Let’s burn it all! Crack out the Snakes & Lad­ders! Move into a hole in the ground! Well, at least un­til The Last Guardian fi­nally emerges from its hi­ber­na­tion, as you say.

She said

I’ve only just got­ten around to play­ing

Her Story. Late as I am to the party, the ex­pe­ri­ence was rev­e­la­tory. I’ve al­ways had a soft spot for LA Noire, de­spite its bro­ken fa­cial ex­pres­sions and hand-hold­ing yel­low ev­i­dence mark­ers, and I re­ally en­joyed The

Van­ish­ing Of Ethan Carter, too – at least un­til they gave up on mak­ing puz­zles and just lined up all the clues for the later mur­ders.

Both of those games scratched an itch within me to re­ally in­ter­ro­gate – in ev­ery sense – game worlds. But my aware­ness of the ar­ti­fice with which their mys­ter­ies were con­structed was al­ways a nag­ging pres­ence at the back of my mind, and one that sub­tly un­der­mined my en­joy­ment. They felt like frus­trat­ingly clipped glimpses into a fu­ture where worlds are truly in­ter­ac­tive and re­spon­sive, adapt­ing to the player’s pres­ence in ways that aren’t just a change of script.

Now, I know Her Story is far from the ar­rival of that fu­ture, but within the nar­rower def­i­ni­tion of a truly in­ter­ro­gable world, it feels like a huge bound to­wards it. Be­ing given free rein to ask what­ever I wanted, and fol­low any line of en­quiry that I came up with, was lib­er­at­ing in a way I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore. And I can’t wait for this coura­geous, and gen­er­ous, ap­proach to game de­sign to be­come more wide­spread.

James Harper

Well, Sam Bar­low’s hard at work on his next pro­ject, and pre­sum­ably it’ll re­tain many of Her Story’s unique qual­i­ties. For now, how about giv­ing The Wit­ness a whirl?

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