Edited by David Seelow, PhD©
This is the second part of a two-part blog on games students in my online ARG course Secrets: A Cyberculture Mystery play and why they play them, Hopefully, these direct comments from nontraditional students 25-60 will provide some direction to how this older student population thinks about games. It is a largely unexplored and untapped educational game audience.
Games Selected this week are: LARPS, Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy VII, and Bioshock
Top of Form
Live Action Role Play is a game I have participated in. Three of the four systems I have done are referred to as “Boffer” groups, due to the use of foam padded weaponry. I have participated in SCA, Darkon, Belegarthand, Amtgard combat systems. To sum it up in a nutshell you build medieval looking weapons out of foam and other non-metallic items (schedule 80 PVC, carbon graphite kite spar, fiberglass rod to name a few) it gets inspected and passed or failed based on established safety rules. You then divide into team for a scenario such as capture the flag, blood bowl, attack/defend, or just sparring. Referees take the field and yell “Lay on” and you proceed to try and strike your opponent from the neck down. Head shots are not allowed for safety reasons. Strikes to the arms result in not being able to use that appendage. A strike to a leg usually means you are fighting on your knees. Lose two appendages or a strike to your torso and you are “dead” you hold your weapon over your head and leave the field. The reeves (referees) are there to make judgment calls and observe safety. Violators are quickly warned and repeat violators are punished in accordance with the established rules. When a winner is declared, the groups go to the sideline and get water, check equipment, talk, boast about their good hits and battle strategy, and plan for the next event.
I enjoy this type of club, it allows me to associate with those who, like me, enjoy medieval, and fantasy. I also enjoy the physical aspect, a couple hours of high intensity combat in medieval style armor is a good workout. It challenges my creativity, both in the fashioning of my arms and armor, and battle strategy. Each fight is different so you prepare and react differently each time. I enjoy the fact that there are established and tested safety rules. I also like that everyone is welcome, your uniqueness is an asset in this realm. So, strap your shield, grab the haft of your sword, ready your spells and charms, and take the field. Glory awaits!
My primary choice of games are sandbox games, like Minecraft or Just Cause, but if I had to pick one that’s an outlet for all sorts of mental release it would have to be Grand Theft Auto (I’ve been playing 5 a lot lately). If you’ve ever played the series, you’ll know that there aren’t really any rules – it’s a free-for-all world. What draws me into it is the randomness you encounter. I spend my work days dealing with all kinds of rules, orders, and repetitiveness. Playing a game like GTA introduces chaos, which my brain enjoys. You can do literally anything. You can “mod” the game to add new characters, cars, weapons, storylines, etc. You can play online with others.
It’s not for everyone though. It’s violent, graphic, and there’s a lot of explicit language throughout the game. You can peacefully cruise around the map, start a gang war, drive around as a cab driver/EMT/firefighter, or catch purse thieves. It’s pure entertainment. Additionally, if you live in an area with horrible drivers (*cough* Oklahoma), you can act out your road rage for other drivers in a safe manner.
The game is what you want it to be.
I am huge fan of anything Final Fantasy! I must admit though, I mainly prefer the older ones, before it became a MMORPG. My absolute all-time favorite is Final Fantasy VII with Final Fantasy Tactics as a close second. The Final Fantasy series is a group of role-playing games. The player takes control of one (or more) characters, that roam the world on marvelous journeys. Most of the games have a strategic element to them that make me think. I liken Final Fantasy Tactics to an advanced chess game. (I play chess too). I find playing these games relaxing, while at the same time keep me more engaged than just sitting and watching TV. I like to face the challenges that the game presents and figure out how to overcome them. In addition to strategy, the story lines of Final Fantasy games are always in-depth and enthralling. Each game features places to explore and new tactics to learn. There is always an abundance of characters to interact with and funny conversations.
One game that I still play is Bioshock on Xbox 360. It is one of my all-time favorite games. It is a first-person shooter with an action-adventure-horror theme. In the game, you explore an underwater dystopia, Rapture, which is filled with mutated citizens that try to kill you, little sisters (genetically altered young girls), and Big Daddy’s (protectors of the little sisters). You are also essentially thrown into the middle of a war between the founder of Rapture and a man who was against it, the mutated citizens, Little Sisters, and Big Daddy’s. Your goal is to survive, complete missions, and return to the surface. Throughout the game you modify weapons and your body with shots known as Plasmids.
I think one of the main reason I play this game is because it’s a nice outlet when I’m upset or aggravated since I can shoot things; it gives me an outlet to clear my mind and focus on something else. Plus, I’m horror nerd and this game it just awesome.