‘The Parable of the Madman’ PLACE Lecture, by Dr. Julien

October 11th, 2017 – Students and Faculty alike packed into UC 217 to attend a PLACE lecture held by Dr. Doug Julien on Friedrich Nietzsche’s ‘The Parable of the Madman‘. As was written on the whiteboard and as Dr. Julien affirmed, “It’s a lot for 50 minutes.”

He wasn’t wrong. In that short timeframe, Dr. Julien guided the audience through this segment of Nietzsche’s The Gay Science, wherein a raving madman claims that ‘God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.’. Dr. Julien spoke of the piece as a thought experiment, centered around two questions: Did we kill God and, if so, how did we do it?

As this piece is considered a thought experiment, a large part of the lecture focused on a thought experiment all its own – Time, illustrated best by a simple question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Dr. Julien points out that on the one hand, at a point in our history when Religion was the driving force of society and not Science, this question would be simple to answer. In the mind of Religion, God created the chicken and thus the chicken created the egg. In more modern times, however, there is the scientific concept of mutation and the proto-chicken. In the mind of Science, then, the egg was created first through some mutation in the ‘proto-chicken’, creating the chicken.

This age-old question, which of the two came first, illustrates how Time is a subjective concept. Think of Past, Present and Future. The Present is the ‘now’, the Past is everything before ‘now’ and the Future is everything to come. The point being, our perception of the world around us is constantly changing – in particular, to Religion or Science. “We believe Science but we do not trust Science.” Dr. Julien argued. “When everyone both believes and trusts Science, change occurs.”

Back to those two questions: Did we kill God? How did we kill him? The truth, much like whether you believe the chicken or the egg came first, is largely up to the observer – the individual. Do you believe God is dead? If so, how do you believe we killed him?

It bears repeating – “It’s a lot for 50 minutes.” Every member of the audience, myself included, very well got something different out of Dr. Julien’s lecture. In talking to him afterward, I believe this was the point. “Everyone will arrive to their own, individual Truth – and this Truth will, by nature, be flawed. Only by talking with one another can we arrive at the same conclusion.”, he told me.

It’s a dialectic – an integral process of any proper discourse – that answers these questions. Perhaps whatever time Dr. Julien didn’t have for this discussion, we now have in spades.

Blade Runner 2049 Review: The Perfect Successor

Blade Runner 2049 has been rated R for Violence, some Sexuality, Nudity and Language.

Sitting in a theatre for an extended period to watch a film, no matter which it is, is becoming something of a miracle for me. Whether I’m excited for it or not, it just doesn’t seem to influence me buying the ticket, setting the time aside and going. Blade Runner 2049 started as that kind of movie – I was more aware of its lengthy runtime than I was its source material, more aware of the cost of the ticket than I was that Harrison Ford or Ryan Gosling starred in it. I was also aware of the praise being given to it and of a particular term – ‘The Perfect Sequel’. Happy as critics were to label 2049 as such, I don’t know if I could say the same. What I can tell you is that this movie is, in every sense, a must watch – Blade Runner 2049 an example of what a film can truly be when free of its obligations.

Yet let us not throw away the term of ‘Perfect Sequel’ too quickly, as I agree that on its face, once could see Blade Runner as such. One main reason for its labelling is that 2049 doesn’t attach itself to its official predecessor, the Final Cut of the original Blade Runner. Another is that 2049 does not franchise Blade Runner – over the course of its 2 hour, 40 minute runtime, 2049 tells its own, unique story. This is correct – there are no deliberate omissions of closure to help anticipation for another film. However, to say that 2049 lacks attachment to its predecessor is an understatement – frankly, 2049 acknowledges the age of its source material and almost expects you to have never watched the first film. In fact, 2049 is perhaps best viewed without a refresher of the original. What it does with that material works best when seen from the perspective of Ryan Gosling’s character, K. 2049‘s inciting action, a chance discovery of a secret long-buried, sets the Blade Runner on a journey to unravel a mystery of identity and a collision course with original Blade Runner protagonist Rick Deckard. Deckard’s inclusion in the film, along with any mention of prior events, are used as pieces of the puzzle as opposed to things you should’ve known prior to watching 2049. You’ll learn what you need to from them and move on.

In watching the performances of the film’s main cast, it struck me that every character in some way felt important. 2049 is, much like its stance on the original material, not content to weigh itself down in traditional methods. Its runtime certainly lends itself to this – every character has ample time to sell their performances and be fleshed out. You come for Ryan Gosling’s K, you stay for Sylvia Hoeks’ Luv – a powerhouse in her own right, much like Harrison Ford and Jared Leto are. Considering Ryan Gosling’s ability as a silent actor and the brief screen time of Ford and Leto, it’s clear 2049 wanted to play as much with audience’s expectations of actors as possible – the result is tasteful and not necessarily disrespectful, although I would’ve loved for Leto’s character, Niander Wallace, to have been given more time to keep doing his thing.

Lending itself to the stellar performances is the visual treasure trove and cinematography. Everything in 2049, from sweeping cityscapes to intimate imagery can only be described as worthy of pause. More than once, or twice, or a dozen times even, 2049 tells a story and sells you a lifestyle on its imagery alone. The protein farm of Sapper Morton; the downpour of an overcrowded and despondent Los Angeles; the vibrant yet lifeless Las Vegas – each place speaks to a facet of this world never explicitly stated. It never needed to – director Denis Villeneuve shows incredible skill with the camera throughout, almost never using the same trick twice to keep the film as much about the film as possible.

Blade Runner 2049 is perhaps not the Perfect Sequel it is lauded as. 2049 doesn’t want to be held back by such terms. It would be accurate to call it the Perfect Successor to Blade Runner – it’s stood on its own two feet, unconcerned with merely elevating the original or placing the franchise on some pedestal for the future. It’s an investment for the present – no long-term contract required.

Destiny 2 Review: Apology Accepted

Between the pedigree of the studio and perceived change of allegiances from the home of their flagship franchise on Xbox consoles to Sony consoles, Bungie had probably set the bar high enough before pre-release footage and marketing was even factored in. September 9th, 2014, the next major Intellectual Property (IP) from Bungie, developer of the critically acclaimed Halo games, released. Titled Destiny, it was released worldwide with expectations best illustrated by the tagline of the series to this day: Become Legend.

It was spectacularly less than. Technically sound but rife with intrinsic issues Bungie would address over the next three years of their ’10 Year Plan’ for the franchise, Destiny was the game many loved but many, many more were left with a bad taste in their mouth from. Fast forward to September 5th, 2017 – the release of the official sequel, Destiny 2. I’ve returned to the game with each expansion for one reason or another but this was the one occasion where I put my foot down – if Destiny 2 wasn’t good enough to stand on its own, I wasn’t coming back. And so, I played – and if I had to leave you with two words from a less-than-pleased player of the original game that sums up my feelings of Destiny 2 – Apology Accepted.

Let me be more concrete. Destiny 2 is first-and-foremost a First-Person Shooter (FPS) game concerned with grounding its gameplay in Role Playing Game (RPG) elements. As in Destiny, players are a Guardian, one champion of many of a moon-like entity sat just above the Earth’s surface known as the Traveler. You, along with your fellow Guardians (be they players of in-game characters) have fought to protect the Traveler and the people of the Last City from a myriad of alien threats – the four-armed, scavengers called the Fallen; the Hive, necro-aliens infesting the Earth’s moon; machine-aliens named the Vex; and the imperialistic brutes of the Cabal. It is this fourth, last race that takes center stage in Destiny 2 – within ten minutes the Cabal have successfully invaded the Last City and sealed away the Traveler, depriving you of your Light – the source of power bestowed by the Traveler which grants you otherworldly abilities. Oh, and your immortality. That too.

You, the Traveler and the Cabal assaulting the Last City.

The game’s plot centers around this premise – having been led via a vision to a shard of your god and regaining the power to fight back, you must retake the Last City, free the Traveler, defeat the Cabal’s Red Legion and take down their leader, Ghaul. The game’s campaign, taking place over roughly ten to fifteen hours, is extremely simple, devoid of depth and poorly paced, having you move very quickly in later portions of the game through planets which otherwise have a wealth of content to explore. Yet, despite such grievous issues, it is far more filling than the campaign of the original Destiny, in large part because despite all its flaws, Destiny 2 conveys what’s being done as opposed to its predecessor, where you’re presented the things your character is doing. In particular the game’s lore on various locations, characters and events, present in its predecessor almost only through Grimoire Cards accessible via a companion app has now been corrected in the second game, with the lore being present as fleshed-out dialogue during missions (which changes depending on the race of your character and whether you’re a returning player) and scannable items in the in-game world. This is much more accessible and personal, something that consistently grabs the players attention as they stumble upon previously unknown information which might embellish a known topic, answer a lingering question or, as is often the case in the Destiny games’ storytelling, pose entirely new ones.

What’s always been a solid delivery for the Destiny series is the gameplay itself. Players choose from one of three classes – the headstrong Titan, the cunning Hunter or the empowered Warlock. From there, you have access to three subclasses, which change the class’ primary element (Void, Solar or Arc) and shake up the gameplay through a unique super move and various perks or changes to the core concept. While players may find one play style to their liking above all others, each class and subclass feels distinct and rewarding to play. As this game is primarily a shooter, you’ll use many, many guns – mostly of varying types separated into Kinetic, Energy (which are the same type of guns as Kinetic Weapons but with an elemental modifier) and Power (separate in type and application – big weapons for big threats) Weapons. Finding a load-out you like and sticking to it is made difficult by the game’s system of progression, wherein the average strength of all equipped gear will decide the power of gear acquired later. Without proper foresight and planning, you can easily lock yourself into a high-powered gun or armor piece of the wrong type, which delays progression in the game until you happen to get the things you need and work your way back up again.

What’s worth noting however is that even in these instances where you’re artificially given a hurdle to climb, there’s such a wealth of content to undertake whether by type or place that you’ll likely never burn out on anything as you play. Within any of the four planets that serve as the games’ settings, you have your main campaign missions chronicling the Red War, supplementary Adventures and post-game Quests – additionally, there are Public Events which appear at set intervals within the game world as freeform goals to complete, Regional Chests to find and collect and Lost Sectors to explore and clear. In addition, there’s Player Versus Player (PVP) game modes, Strike missions (undertaken by a team of three players), the weekly Nightfall Strike (one of the Strikes within the game set on a timer, with modifiers to gain back time and change gameplay) and the six player Raid, a multi-stage trial requiring geared, capable players to complete various complex tasks to progress. The sheer enormity of ways to progress in the game means that at any stage of play, you’re acquiring valuable loot for your adventures such as the highly sought after Exotics, weapons and armor with unique perks that can drastically alter styles of play. Such a large amount of content – none of which feels overly repetitive or specifically there as padding – means that no two players will gear the same and should you ever get bored with how you’re playing the game, you can change things up and still feel as rewarded there as you were before.

As a long-time player of the series, having seem the ups and downs of the Destiny series, Destiny 2 represents a fresh start and the best foot forward for the franchise. It’s not perfect but it isn’t built on fundamentally broken components like its predecessor was, and as it grows and develops in the coming years, Destiny 2 will remain a heartfelt apology to fans of the series and an example of how Bungie has learned from the experience and wishes to move forward – with purpose and clarity. And, well, you know my thoughts on that already. If there were ever a time to say this, it’s now, at such a crucial time for the series:

Become Legend.

Destiny 2 Begins First Wave of Releases

The highly anticipated sequel to the Action Shooter series released on September 9th, 2014 and helmed by original Halo developer Bungie Studios, Destiny 2 has released worldwide (September 6th) to PS4 and Xbox One consoles and will release on PC October 24th.

Continuing a three-year long series set in a not-so-distant future wherein humans have accelerated their civilization’s expansion with the aid of an otherworldly planet-size being known as the Traveler, players take on the role of a Guardian, champion of the Traveler and all civilization within its Light. After an attack on the Traveler and the last bastions of humanity by the Cabal, hostile alien occupants of Mars, players must defeat the Cabal army now occupying Earth, freeing the Traveler and taking back their home.

Losing what has been home for fans of Destiny is not lost on them and is a deliberate choice for Bungie – while the games predecessor had a historically rocky launch and post game history, in effect restructuring what in the game’s early years was called a ’10 year plan’, Destiny 2 aims to expand on the goals of the original. It’s packing more story, content and gear than the first game at launch and to continue delivering enjoyable, cooperative content for players for many years to come.

Players can progress through the games campaign alone or with two friends, take part in instanced Strike content and partake in overworld content in the games new Patrol areas in areas such as the European Dead Zone (EDZ) of Earth and Titan, a moon of Saturn. Participating in any of this content, as well as the game’s player versus player (PVP) game types, awards the player gear such as weapons and armor, any of which can be unique Exotic items carrying unique perks. As before, players accumulate stronger gear and weaponry for harder content in the game’s endgame, such as the six player Raid or upcoming DLC content such as the upcoming Curse of Osiris expansion.

Early impressions and in-progress reviews of the game show a favorable reception, with commentary that the time Bungie put into this sequel to the original was not in vain – the experience feels fresh and wholly rewarding. However, time will tell if the appeal holds as it should into the many, many months ahead for fans of the series.

Destiny 2 is out now on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles for $59.99, will be available on PC on October 24th and is available at any major retailer or online through the consoles’ respective digital marketplaces.

Ratchet & Clank: Kicking Asteroid on a PS4 Near You

Aaron Caraway

April 12th, 2016 saw the release of Ratchet & Clank on PS4, part of a now 14-year old video game franchise held exclusively on Playstation consoles.

The latest installment in the Ratchet & Clank series is a video game adaptation of the animated movie of the same name, which is an alternative re-telling of the original 2002 title on Playstation 2, conveniently also titled Ratchet & Clank. “The Game based on the Movie based on the Game”, as developer Insomniac Games describes it.

Ratchet & Clank (2016) tells the story of Ratchets joining the Galactic Rangers and saving the galaxy from evil Chairman Drek with a small robot named Clank, originally a warbot in Dreks army but much smaller and less intimidating than intended thanks to some defect. Players explore several alien worlds in their quest to defeat the Blarg (ruled by Chairman Drek of Drek Industries), using various (one such example being the Groovitron, which forces any enemy in the area to dance – another is the Pixelizer, a shotgun which transforms enemies into low-resolution retro versions of themselves) to progress.

Much of the game hearkens back to the original 2002 release, although Insomniac Games does take the opportunity to call attention to other titles in the franchise through popular guns and artwork in the extras menu. The game also uses some scenes directly from the upcoming film.

Ratchet & Clank (2016) is available at any major electronics retailer for 40 dollars exclusively on Playstation 4 consoles. The Ratchet & Clank movie opens in theaters April 29th.

Dark Souls III Review: Prepare to Die, One Last Time

Aaron Caraway

“YOU DIED.” The phrase is boldface, red text, center screen and demands attention. This is the tagline of the Soulsborne series – spanning five separate entries and an updated re-release of one – and has been since 2009 for good reason. Following the success of series progenitor Demons Souls, the first entry in the Dark Souls trilogy released in 2011, and I’ve followed the train of death and despair ever since. There’s a reason this series has such a loyal following, and developer From Software proved you could summarize the reason in two words only – “YOU DIED.”

If that describes the sort of experience that will have you beating your head against a wall in frustration to you, you’re not far off. Recently released Dark Souls III represents the challenges awaiting series newcomers and series veterans alike – you are Unkindled, and tasked with ushering the Lords of Cinder back to their thrones so that you might fuel the First Flame once again before the Age of Dark begins. Much like other games in the Soulsborne series, this is about all the context you get for your adventure – more on that later. I bring this up to highlight that it is the gameplay, not the narrative, that takes center stage.

Dark Souls III‘s gameplay format, like entries before it, is of a “level-boss” format – players will explore area after area, conquering enemies and traps to reach the end. Should you fall at any point in this journey, well, “YOU DIED.” That statement takes all the more meaning when you realize that your souls – the all-encompassing resource for game progression, from leveling your characters stats to upgrading their weapons and purchasing new gear – are no longer on your person, instead left at the spot of your demise. Fail to reclaim them before you fall again, and they – along with whatever progress you made since leveling or upgrading weaponry – will be gone forever. The only things left will be your will to continue forward after such a frustrating setback, and your experience with the game and its obstacles that you have already acquired. This is what has separated the newcomer from the veteran since the release of Dark Souls II – once you’re used to the tricks up From Softwares sleeve, you’re far less likely to fall victim to them. The same holds true for Dark Souls III – I found myself having little trouble with the areas themselves and more with the clash in gameplay mechanics – again, more on that later.

What never quite translates from gameplay in one entry to another is the boss encounters, and Dark Souls III shines just as brightly here as its predecessors. At the end of each area of enemies, traps and moody atmospheres lies a boss that will not hesitate to put you in the ground every single time. What further elevates them past the likes of their predecessors is that now, every boss has two phases, sometimes beginning partway through their health bar or at the depletion of their first one. The level of depth it adds to these encounters is enthralling – managing your supply of Estus Flasks, the main and oftentimes only source of healing in the game, becomes crucial. The more you can save in Phase 1, the better your chances of skating through by the skin of your teeth during Phase 2.

It deserves mention, of course, that you need not face these dangers alone. You’re free to call allies to aid you and with the inclusion of a password system first introduced in Bloodborne, these can now be your friends! Their supply of Estus may be limited and their health scaled down, but the extra pair of hands can mean the difference between life and death for many. Of course, this is not without its drawbacks – more people fighting a boss means its health increases to match, so one unlucky hit and a player may find himself fighting a battle alone meant for two. In addition, to send for such aid, you must be Embered, a state in Dark Souls III that considerably boosts your HP but opens you up to invasions by other players, regardless of it you have souls in the level or if there is anyone available to help you through the world. Believe me, they could care less.

The character you play can also mean as much as who you play with. To begin, the potential for building a play style you enjoy is vast – you can wield heavy weapons, armor and shields, go lightweight with quick-hitting weapons, cast spells of various types such as Sorceries, Miracles and Pyromancies or, if you choose, some combination of these aspects. You are only limited by your progression through the game, and what stats you level – do I get the stats to wield the shield along side my great sword, or the stats to cast that powerful spell I found? The choice is yours, and it means far more than it should, by Dark Souls standards. Released before Dark Souls III, Bloodborne was a spiritual successor to the series – welcomed by the Soulsborne community, it favored fast-paced, skill-based gameplay in a Lovecraftian setting, in contrast to the patience driven fantasy world of the Dark Souls games. Dark Souls III attempted to merge the two styles, with little success. The game is highly enjoyable, sure, but also unreasonably frustrating at times, when the game pits the standard style of play of patience and learning for your survival against the high-speed encounters of Bloodborne. Time and time again, I found myself frustrated with certain bosses and encounters simply because I couldn’t keep up. Although the ability to respect your character can be unlocked early on, it can’t get you back the materials you used to upgrade your weapons of choice, and feeling that spending unnecessary time farming these items and the souls to level was actually a viable course of action spoke to me, as I know from past experience with the Dark Souls games that no such changes could actually improve my performance within the game.

The payoff for clearing these encounters, however, was something that the Soulsborne series strives to do – highlight achievement, and produce a strong catharsis from clearing such a mighty hurdle, no matter its validity. It’s a drug present in both gameplay and narrative, where the distinct lack of direct storytelling has fostered an entire community of players pouring through item descriptions, exploring areas, taking notes and comparing them with fellow lore-seekers, ultimately to themselves paint the world they play in. It is a process of finding oneself, through challenge after challenge, that ultimately shaped the franchise to its current state.This, I find, is the greatest thing about Dark Souls III. It is a sterling example of the creative process, one that pushes players to improve and developers to improve right along side them. It will be flawed, whether inherently or inconsequentially, but it has never stopped, and will never stop, keeping players coming back for more. In the all-too-grim words of Dark Souls III NPC Eygon, “Enough death to leave you broken, time after time.”

Broken in, sure, but who’s counting?

Developer: From Software

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, PS4

Release Date: April 12th, 2016

You Are What You Think

Aaron Caraway

Altrusa International of Texarkana, TX held a dinner symposium at Wesley Hall in Williams Memorial Tuesday evening March 8th, at the beginning of this week’s large rainfall occurring throughout the ArkLaTex. Amidst this hostile weather, conditions proved favorable enough for the attendees to safely reach the event.

The symposium was the subject of a Living WELL Aware conference, featuring Dr. Patricia J. Sulak. Dr. Sulak founded Living WELL Aware to promote healthy lifestyles, with conferences held nationwide to offer “not only the latest published information in […] leading medical journals, but the skills […] to get attendees to a greater physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.” (“About Us”)

Dr. Sulak’s 90-minute lecture covered her Eleven Essential Elements to Health and Happiness, including a focus on attaining normal health numbers and seeking support from friends and family, which helped her achieve optimal health. She has spoken nationwide to businesses, organizations, and communities about them.

Altrusa International of Texarkana, TX – part of an international effort by business professionals to offer their abilities their communities – held this event with coöperation from Williams Memorial, donating the proceeds to:

  • CASA for Children, which “promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the United States [is] safe, [has] a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive.” (“Organizational”), and
  • Domestic Violence Prevention, Inc. – providing 24/7 services to sexual assault and domestic violence victims through a cooperative effort between its staff and communities.

Longhorn Steakhouse provided the food for the event, served by volunteers from our Texas A&M – Texarkana campus. Altrusa derives its namesake from the word altruism, meaning “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others” (“Altruism”). Considering the harsh weather rolling through the ArkLaTex this week, the Texarkana, Texas chapter made every effort to live up to it.

For more information on Altrusa International, Living WELL Aware or the events beneficiaries, consult the links below:

Altrusa International / Living WELL Aware / CASA For Children / Domestic Violence Prevention

Works Cited:

  • “About Us.” Living Well Aware. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  • “Atruism Definition.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  • “Altrusa International, Inc. – Leading To a Better Community.” Altrusa International, Inc. – Leading To a Better Community. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.
  •  “Organizational Profile.” – National CASA. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

Video Games: All-Purpose Entertainment

Aaron Caraway

About 16 years of experience playing video games has impressed upon me that there is always an elephant in the room –  video games are often not the preferred entertainment medium among the groups of people I have grown up alongside and interacted with my whole life. To many, gaming is simply a flash game on a school computer or the next big mobile game on smartphones (titles previously the preferred mobile game were Flappy Bird and Angry Birds). However, video games exist to scratch an itch that no other medium – not books, comic books or movies or TV — can ever treat. Video games, through their union of graphics and narrative, and their myriad gameplay styles which impact our perception of genres of mainstream entertainment, are truly the only all-purpose entertainment medium.

Video games have held my interest not necessarily from a historical standpoint but for how that can potentially reach any extreme in an entertainment spectrum between graphics and narrative, two pivotal elements of almost any work of art. Every mainstream work of entertainment exists somewhere along this spectrum: comic books are a marriage of the two, using descriptive artwork alongside dialogue and monologue to convey the characters and scenarios depicted on the page. Books, obviously, lie on the extreme narrative end of this spectrum, conveying every aspect of the work through careful use of words. They aim to not only present the conversations between characters but the actions between characters and their surroundings, giving the reader a mental picture of what is going on in any particular scene without any visual reference. Movies and TV shows can reach a middle ground between graphics and narrative but tend to appeal to the graphics end of the spectrum through film and editing techniques – the intention is often to elevate the narrative beyond what is said or seen onscreen.

Where video games fall on this spectrum depends largely on the developer, but like comic books, each title is a marriage of these two factors. The unique part, however, is that video games are meant to be interacted with by a person, called the ‘player’. Indeed, video games enter a realm untouched by any other medium by virtue of being something the person experiencing it can touch and often times affect. Because of this, neither aspect can dominate the other – the most captivating narratives in video games take place within a world the player can explore and come to understand outside of the exposition and plot points. Likewise, while a game can offer a rich, vibrant world to explore, there is still a narrative – a ‘point’, if you will – to the world around you.

Much as in any other medium, video games are often classified by genre, but unlike any other medium, as these games are meant to be interacted with by a player, the style of gameplay is another classification of the video game medium. Action Adventure, Horror, Comedy, Drama, Mystery – these words alone could describe any piece within a given medium. Just as The Boy is a horror movie, the Resident Evil series (a zombie-apocalypse style tale depicting the outbreak of a virus which heavily mutates the affected population) are all horror games. The Avengers series of movies and the Uncharted series (depicting treasure hunter Nathan Drake on his quests to pursue ancient legends, such as the Lost City of El Dorado) could both be described as Action.

With video games, however, the type of gameplay affects the player’s perception of that genre greatly. A couple of prominent examples of gameplay types are the Fighting Game, the Shooter, and the RPG. Let’s examine these through the lens of the horror genre: A fighting game typically pits two players against each other, or a player against a bot. The Mortal Kombat series (depicting to-the-death struggles between various worlds) could be considered a Horror Fighting Game – the playable characters often look suitably gruesome and scary, using attacks that would be gory in nature like ripping limbs off or incinerating their opponent.

Shooter gameplay can come in two forms – First Person Shooter (FPS) or Third Person Shooter (TPS.) A ‘Horror’ FPS (such as the Left 4 Dead games, which follows a group of 4 characters as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse) would convey to the player, by virtue of the camera being where the characters’ head should be, that they are for all intents and purposes the character. Because of this, particularly scary segments solicit a much stronger response emotionally – when a monster jumps out to attack, they appear to be attacking you – as if they invaded your physical space. A Horror TPS (such as the Resident Evil series), however, would not solicit anywhere near as strong a response. In a TPS, the camera is placed behind your character, usually to either side. That same monster that jumped out to attack you before now appears to be attacking your character, and while the sense of urgency to defeat this creature may remain, you are confident that you are not in danger.

Finally, a RPG – or Role Playing Game – has the potential to offer the most freeform gameplay of all styles. The idea behind these types of games is that at least partially, the character you play is one of your own design – RPGs attempt, in various ways, to make the experience as freeform as possible, allowing you to create your character’s appearance, personality and skill set with your weapons of choice, which may also have been made or customized by you. In a ‘Horror’ RPG such as Bloodborne (an eerily Lovecraftian tale of a nameless persons struggle to cure themselves of a disease plaguing the now-overrun city of Yharnam), and in this same situation where a monster jumps out to attack you, the player would have various methods of dealing with this monster. They may prefer to be up close and personal, carrying the biggest instruments of destruction at their disposal. They may choose to be highly defensive and outlast this monster. They may choose to lure it into a trap, or deal with it from range. Should the opportunity present itself, particularly clever players may find ways to avoid this monster entirely. If the distinction between genres of entertainment due to various gameplay styles is understood from these examples alone, then consider that this is only from one genre and three of the most mainstream gameplay styles used today – taking into account the other genres of entertainment and the myriad of gameplay styles not covered in this piece (and especially taking into account the developers’ takes on these genres, birthing what could be considered a new form of previously understood styles of gameplay), the possibilities are almost endless.

If my decade-and a half interest with video games has taught me anything, it’s that while they are often not the source of entertainment for the public as they are for me, video games afford me the pleasure of visiting worlds and engaging in them in such a way that is impossible in reality. Many may call this ‘escapism’ – this notion that I, and by extension all gamers, choose to play these games and visit these worlds in an effort to leave our own. To those people, I say this: If only it were that simple. If only I simply wished to go to these incredible worlds people dared to create, and leave this one behind. The truth is, however, that I fancy the thought of being a traveler of sorts far more than having travelled – my love for this all-purpose entertainment medium, that which can not be measured simply by graphics and narrative or quantified by their gameplay styles, means that I cannot simply go to some new world and leave well enough alone. I’ve spent 16 years happily exploring works of fiction that we’ll never see happen in reality quite the same way, and that means that I’ve got many stories to tell. For those of you not convinced, enjoy your time on this earth, with people you love and things you like. I’ll be exploring Fallout 4’s Commonwealth, or preparing for my journey into Dark Souls III’s Lothric. If I’ve been able to pique your interest any, feel free to join me.