At Medium, Jay Allen deconstructs the demand for "objective game journalism" sometimes found among those uncomfortable with their hobby's growing status as an art form.
Reviews of art relate the experiences and opinions of the critic. As art is engaged emotionally and playing a video game is an experience unique to each person, that engagement is a one-off experience. Any attempt to describe that experience, no matter what the critic may intend, is deeply personal.
There are no objective metrics to describe this experience. With apologies to Terry Pratchett, there is no atom of emotion, or molecule of entertainment. While scores out of 10 or ratings out of five stars are popular in criticism of consumer art, they are arbitrary evaluations. Contrast this with the sort of benchmark testing Consumer Reports does on dishwashers, which are experiments measuring physical qualities under fixed conditions.
The belief that games (or movies, or books, or anything else) can be evaluated by objective criteria perhaps strikes you as laughable. If so, you might pause to remember that many people sincerely believe that only objectively-measurable things are worthy of reflection. To them, games may as well be dishwashers.
Bocce ball is my favorite game to play on a long summer evening. A simple lawn game that is at least 7,000 years old, bocce ball has no set up, takes a second to learn, and is a competitively addictive game. What I love most is that it gets my family/friends and me to enjoy fun time outdoors.
Here are the rules in a nutshell: The game traditionally comes with eight balls – four green and four red – as well as a much smaller white ball called the jack, or pallino. Someone tosses the jack across the lawn. Then players take turns bowling their ball towards the jack. Whoever gets closest to the jack scores a point. First person or team to score seven points wins the game. It’s that simple! But if you want a bit more detail on the rules, you’ll find them inside the game’s black bag, or you can check out this nicely illustrated WikiHow page.
Note: This particular brand offers a "standard set" (3.5" diameter poly-resin balls) and a "full size" set (3.93" diameter poly-resin balls), both which come in a black carrying case. I prefer the extra weight of the full size, which gives the balls a much better feel and roll, and they cost just a dollar more.
Love Letter is a game that can take you from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs and vice versa
Would you do anything for love? More importantly, would you do anything for power? Are you willing to betray your friends and family for the chance? Well, you probably shouldn’t. But, if your answers were yes, there’s a game made just for you. Love Letter is a deceptively simple card game. In fact, there are only 16 cards in the entire deck. The object of the game is to get a love letter to Princess Annette of the City-State Tempest. To do this, you must either either eliminate all of your opponents or have the highest card value at the end of the round.
Love Letter is a game that can take you from the lowest lows to the highest highs and vice versa. You can lose on the first turn of the round only to come back in the next round with a decisive victory. There’s no greater thrill than seeing your opponent’s shoulders sag with defeat.
This is a fast-paced, approachable card game that offers a surprising level of strategy for such a small deck. A game can be completed in five to ten minutes, making it the perfect game to take on the go or play in your break room. Each card has a nice illustration of the character and the overall design evokes a sense of Shakespearean drama. One thing to note is the cards are susceptible to damage over time. So, if they’re going to be used heavily, I would recommend getting card protectors for your set. – Agustin Guerrero
by Alderac Entertainment Group
Ages 8 and up, 2-4 players
$7 Buy one on Amazon
Let the games begin! The zany games, that is. You'll find it with Boochie. Boochie is similar to bocce, but has many interactive and challenging elements. Instead of just tossing a ball toward the target, players must throw items in a variety of ways, such as under their legs, with their eyes closed, or lying on their side. And, the challenge is determined via a cool “wrist tracker.”
The game includes four sets, a different color for each player. Each set consists of a hoop, ball and wrist tracker. The game also includes a 12-sided Boochie ball. To start, everyone tosses their hoop and ball toward the Boochie ball. The player with the closest object to the Boochie ball earns two points; whoever has the second closest object receives one point. But wait, there’s more! Players read the top of the Boochie ball to see if they’ve earned bonus points, such as for a hoop being farthest away. For every point, players move the dial on their wrist tracker a notch, and on their next turn, must toss accordingly. The challenge might be anything from throwing their items while standing backwards to shouting a sound effect while tossing their hoop. Whoever scores 11 points first wins!
We love teaching this game to guests at our outdoor parties, and it’s always fun to not only play, but to watch everyone twist and turn, jump and, invariably, giggle. – Mia Geiger
Ages 8 and up, 2-4 players
$30 Buy one on Amazon
Approximate translation: "It's the Family Computer's Dream Adventure Game, "Super Mario Bros."! With a mysterious power, he gains a great transformation! Explore the earth, underground, the sea, the sky, and much more to see in this complete world." Read the rest
Read the rest
Imaginary Friends is a series of interactive books for kids that involves online and real-world puzzles that parents set up. I just got a sample from the creator, and the art and stories looks excellent. I am looking forward to trying it out. Check out the video for the Kickstarter.
Sign up for a free 2-chapter trial.
And here are some Father's Day cards you can print at home.
Isaac Cohen's interactive storybook follows the journey of a strange creature. Read the rest
Read the rest
My daughter, her friend, and I had fun taking this non-scientific color brightness vision test. You have to identify the one square that has a different brightness level within a grid of similarly colored squares. It gets harder as you progress. It took me a few tries, but I finally received the "hawk" badge, with a score of 25.
Amazing gameplay footage: Minecraft through the Hololens. The VR demo from Microsoft executive Sax Persson today at the annual E3 games convention completely transforms the experience of Minecraft.
Microsoft acquired Minecraft Maker Mojang for $2.5 billion last year.
“This is a live demo, with real working code,” Persson said, before donning the HoloLens and projecting a Minecraft map onto a wall, and then a table onstage. Microsoft announced Minecraft would be a main attraction of the HoloLens earlier in the year, but this is the first working demo the company has shown to the public.
Viewers were able to see Persson’s augmented reality through a “special camera” outfitted to show the HoloLens display in real time, as he played the game on the wall with an Xbox controller.
Persson then walked over to the table, said, “create world,” and watched as the Minecraft world poured onto the table. This was met with perhaps the loudest applause of Microsoft’s presentation, as he continued to use voice commands and gestures to manipulate the world. The virtual projection constrained itself to the edges of the table well, and the camera was able to look inside of structures by moving through the virtual walls.
No HoloLens release date yet.
More at Boing Boing's OFFWORLD:
“The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event”
The Cthulhu Mythos is turned into a game of dice in Steve Jackson's Cthulhu Dice. The demonically beating heart of the game is a large, beautiful, and gem-like 12-sided die covered in Cthulhu-related runes. Each rune has a different effect in making one person or another go insane (or taking some of their insanity away from them). Players take turns choosing someone to curse and then casting the die against them. Every player has a stash of Sanity Tokens (little glass disks), a.k.a. “marbles,” and when you've lost all of your marbles, you go insane. But this is a game from the world of H.P. Lovecraft, so you're still not out of the game. Insane players continue to play just to try and drive other players mad. The goal of the game is to be the last sane Cthulhu Cultist standing. If everyone goes rubber room bonkers, Cthulhu wins.
Cthulhu Dice is very easy to learn and especially fun to play in situations where you want the social interaction of gaming, but don't want to play a long game, or you don't want to be tremendously engaged in the game you're playing. People always talk about “beer and pretzels” games, well this is a game you could actually play in a boisterous bar or as a sort of palate cleaner between main attraction games at a gaming night.
Steve Jackson Games
Ages 10 and up, 2-6 players
$7 Buy one on Amazon
Spot It! is a fun matching game that anyone can enjoy. It’s easy to play – just flip over a card and start spotting. Find the matching picture between your card and the card in the middle – there’s always a match. Whoever spots a matching picture first wins the card. When the deck is gone, count your cards to see who has the most. The spotter with the most cards wins. Fun, right?! And that’s just one of the many ways to play. I love how this game sharpens your sense and reflexes. Spot It is a favorite in our family, especially on road trips – it keeps everyone entertained! – Alyse Thompson
Ages 7 and up, 2-8 players
$10 Buy one on Amazon