More Pablo

Posts tagged video games

Why I Play StarCraft

:: video games, essay

Last year my cousin Diego posted a Facebook status along the lines of “dude… I’m actually liking Chipotle! What’s happening to me?” to which I responded “Diego, my love for Chipotle has lasted longer than all my relationships combined. Get with the program.”

Yesterday, Blizzard’s StarCraft Facebook page shared this video with the heading “Why do YOU play StarCraft?”:

And, well, I’ve been playing StarCraft for well over 3 years now, and streaming for almost that long. Here’s an old vintage clip from at least two years ago, and a more recent one from last week. I’ve visibly aged between the two clips; I’ve also gotten much better at StarCraft.

Blizzard’s post got me wondering — why do I play StarCraft? Why have I stuck with it for this long?

I think the embedded video above is a bit more romantic, but I have some ideas.

The Smash Brothers

:: culture, video games, pablolife

While I play a ton of StarCraft, one of the games closest to my heart is Super Smash Bros. Melee. I probably played that game more than any other in high school, and only as I was having to focus on my senior year and a major production did I discover that there was a high-level scene, where people (about my age, often younger) from disparate cities would drive up and down coasts to play and learn from each other.

A member of the community made a fantastic documentary on the game and its most influential players. If you ever played the game, at any level, there’s a good chance you’ll love checking it out. Even if you’ve never played it, it’s a very entertaining story.

First part embedded below:

Excellent read on Gone Home

:: culture, video games

Ian Bogost just published my favorite piece written about Gone Home so far. An excerpt:

There is an idea among the game-playing and development communities that games can be stories with interactivity, and that such new types of stories are going to “broaden the audience” for games. But this is a flawed idea, because a broadened audience would mean an audience amenable to such new material in the context of their existing tastes. If that gap is not acknowledged and addressed, then we end up with games as bad television shows and novels; bad television shows and novels with button pressing.

Then again, what if Gone Home teaches us that videogames need only grow up enough to meet the expectations other narrative media have reset in the meantime? After all, we’re living in an age in which the literary mainstream is dominated by young adult fiction anyway. Adults read series like Harry Potter and Twilight and The Hunger Games with unabashed glee. Comic book film adaptations have overtaken the cinema. What if games haven’t failed to mature so much as all other media have degenerated, such that the model of the young adult novel is really the highest (and most commercially viable) success one can achieve in narrative?

As the designer Merritt Kopas said of Gone Home, “This is a videogame. About girls in love. That shouldn’t be exceptional in and of itself, but it is.” And there’s the rub. Because Kopas is right: the fact of the game’s very existence becomes more important than its aesthetic ambitions. Such is the remaining not-so-hidden secret of Gone Home, a game about not-so-hidden secrets: that media must struggle against increasingly strong rhetorical currents to have even a chance at spawning a modicum of expression before dying off.

Good ole 14/14

:: pablolife, video games

My buddy Warren and I had a Twitter conversation about learning Zerg in the lower levels of Starcraft 2, and asked what a good beginner build would be for a low-level player trying to get the basics.

Luckily, such a build exists! The “14/14” is a single build you can use in any matchup that leaves you (relatively) safe from cheese and (relatively) set for a decent economy. It’s a very old build that’s been around since the release, and I got to Diamond using only this for my ZvZ’s.