Nerdual Reality – Demonstration Games

You’ve bought your VR system, set it up, maybe upgraded your computer, and now you’ve downloaded and played a lot of the free experiences that act as an introduction to VR. They’re quite fun, if a bit short, but now you face the question of what to do next. The answer is to invite round friends and family and show off those same introductory experiences to them as well. Because you’d told them that you bought a VR system, and now you have to prove that it wasn’t a huge waste of money.

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Nerdual Reality – Introduction

Welcome to the first of a series of articles about my travels throughout the wild landscape of VR. I have owned a VR headset since June last year and in that time I have amassed a library of dozens of games and played a hundred hours of some of the most unique gameplay you can have on the PC. Needless to say that these articles will reflect my own personal experiences with this technology, so if you feel I have disparaged your favourite game then feel free to call me an idiot in the comments. Without further ado, it’s time to jack in!

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The Only Winning Move

This article contains spoilers for Spec Ops: The Line and early spoilers for Undertale

In my previous article I compare the actions-with-consequences that are forced upon you by two games: the excellent Spec Ops: The Line and the amusing Accounting. These are actions that garner much criticism from the games’ characters but are outside the control of the player – they are the only options presented and the game doesn’t proceed until you take them. I tried to argue that being criticised for such forced decisions in Accounting is annoying but it is tolerable (and maybe laudable) in Spec Ops because it fully embraces this theme as a means to empathise with the protagonist. In Spec Ops you play the tunnel-visioned Captain Walker who sees no alternatives to his actions and stubbornly forges onward without considering the bigger picture. The game’s story introduces tragedies that are then the result of this obstinance and openly blames Captain Walker for them. Spec Ops then goes further by telling Walker (and perhaps also the player) that these hideous consequences could have been avoided if only he “just stopped”. But what does this mean in gameplay terms?

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Don’t Blame Me – I Had No Choice!

An irresponsible splurge recently had me picking up one of those HTC Vives and so I’ve been lost in a wonderland of Virtual Reality. I’ll write up an article some time about my experiences with VR but for now I’d like to write about one particular game, the recently-released Accounting by William Pugh (of Stanley Parable) and Justin Roiland (of Rick and Morty). Don’t consider this to be a review, but rather a jumping off point for a discussion about decision-making and player responsibility in games. Actually, no wait, I’ll give a short one-sentence review of Accounting right now. It’s very entertaining and terribly fun, but I don’t know if I would even call it a game.

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I Don’t Trust these Goddamn Guys

The game begins with your return to Dunwall and you are soon met by the ugliest man in the world. “Corvo, two days early,” he says in a weedy yet arrogant voice, “Full of surprises, as usual.” I wonder what the chances are of this man turning out to be a villain, and estimate it to be around one in one. Two minutes later he has guards arrest you next to the body of the slain Empress. I don’t think this is a spoiler, since it happens in the opening minutes and, really, is the premise that begins the game. This article will be full of other spoilers, though, so don’t read on if you plan to play Dishonored. It really is a truly excellent game. After you’ve played it, read on as I bitterly criticise it.

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The Language of Puzzles

Hello. This is my first post on the site and unlike other posts that are funny and readable and interesting, I’m going to write long-winded garbage that have titles like “The Language of Puzzles”. In fact, I’m unafraid to be so pretentious that I start this post with a quote from Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Godel Escher Bach, as follows:

Next, one opens the bottle and examines the marks on the paper. Perhaps they are in Japanese; this can be discovered without any of the inner message being understood – it merely comes from a recognition of the characters. The outer message can be stated as an English sentence: “I am in Japanese.” Once this has been discovered, then one can proceed to the inner message, which may be a call for help, a haiku poem, a lover’s lament…

What Hofstadter is saying is that every message is really two messages. The inner message has the content the writer was trying to convey, but then there is an outer message that tells the observer “Hey, there is a message here!”. That there is some meaningful information in the message, not just random noise. These marks on the wall was someone keeping a tally, not just scratchings. These modem signals serve a meaningful purpose, not just annoying screechings. Maybe you encounter a message and you can’t decipher what it means, but at the very least you are sure that it is, in fact, a message. Let’s make this post about games before I forget why I’m here and start reading Wikipedia articles about linguistics.

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