Games Without Combat: Must They Suck?

Games Without Combat: Must They Suck? (photo)

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Aside from boasting cute, easy-to-follow illustrations, this video presentation from The Escapist Magazine dares to ask a question tantamount to blasphemy in the more traditional corridors of the gaming business:

“Why are almost all of the games this industry has ever produced combat-based?”

The video goes on to make a valiant case for designers using some of the same methods and mechanics that make fighting games possible and incorporating them into games where conflict is resolved through, say, rhetoric or persuasion — conversation.

“Imagine playing Anthony or Brutus in the forum, swaying the populace, and deciding the fate of Rome after Caesar’s death? Is that really any less exciting or engaging than your standard, meaningless combat sequence?”

I’m pretty sure I know how the average, jacked-in gamer with “Black Ops” on the brain would answer that question, but I take the narrator’s point. Remember the first time you played Katamari? It’s refreshing to find yourself immersed in gameplay not centered around shoot/melee/crouch.

Still, I wonder whether the folks at the Escapist are vastly underestimating the simple, broad functionality of violence: Who hit who first and who hit hardest? It’s easy to determine whether the player is winning or losing in a combat simulation. Conversation, persuasion — these things, on the other hand, are naturally more nuanced, so gauging success becomes more difficult. Yet, if you apply a hardcore set of parameters, well, then it just doesn’t feel real.

Jackie That 70s Show

Jackie Oh!

15 That ’70s Show Quotes to Help You Unleash Your Inner Jackie

Catch That '70s Show Mondays and Tuesdays from 6-10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Carsey-Werner Company

When life gets you down, just ask yourself: what would Jackie do? (But don’t ask her, because she doesn’t care about your stupid problems.) Before you catch That ’70s Show on IFC, take a look at some quotes that will help you be the best Jackie you can be.

15. She knows her strengths.

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14. She doesn’t let a little thing like emotions get in the way.

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13. She’s her own best friend.

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12. She has big plans for her future.

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11. She keeps her ego in check.

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10. She can really put things in perspective.

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9. She’s a lover…

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8. But she knows not to just throw her love around.

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7. She’s proud of her accomplishments.

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6. She knows her place in the world.

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5. She asks herself the hard questions.

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4. She takes care of herself.

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3. She’s deep.

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2. She’s a problem solver.

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1. And she’s always modest.

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Comparing Fact and Fiction in “The Fighter”

Comparing Fact and Fiction in “The Fighter” (photo)

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A few weeks ago, we pointed you to “High on Crack Street”, the real documentary we watch being shot in director David O. Russell’s film “The Fighter.” Today over at Fandor, critic Kevin B. Lee posted “Micky Versus Marky — The Same Fight Twice,” a superb video essay that goes deeper into the gulf between fact and fiction in the film. It compares the original fight between boxers Micky Ward and Shea Neary with the fictionalized version that serves as the climax of “The Fighter.”

That comparison is important because Russell and producer/star Mark Wahlberg’s visual approach to the boxing matches in “The Fighter” is to mimic reality: to approximate the look and feel of televised boxing matches. That choice, in turn, suits the entire film, which gets deep into the gritty realities of working-class Lowell, Massachusetts and crack addiction.

To shoot his fights, Russell used the same equipment and crew that HBO uses in their boxing telecasts; he even got Jim Lampley, George Foreman, and Larry Merchant, the analysts for the real Ward/Neary fight, to recreate their original comments, often word for word. But despite all those attempts at fidelity, Russell still couldn’t or didn’t resist the urge to fictionalize some elements of the fight for dramatic effect, particularly Neary’s knockdown of Ward just before Ward’s big comeback. Even “realistic” boxing, it seems, needs a storybook ending.

Here’s Lee’s video:

100 More Great Movie Insults

100 More Great Movie Insults (photo)

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A new year, a new video on Pajiba from editor Harry Hanrahan. Last year, he made The 100 Greatest Movie Insults but clearly 100 wasn’t nearly enough. Now Hanrahan’s got “The Other 100 Greatest Movie Insults” — but clearly this is not a montage of 100 runners-up. Plenty of the insults in this highlight reel are major league digs, including some that were surprising omissions the first time (“Get your paws of me you stinking damn dirty ape!” from “Planet of the Apes” finally gets its due).

Also if Peter Lorre’s insults to Sydney Greenstreet from “The Maltese Falcon” sound kinda familiar, they should: that’s the line that helped inspire the abusive relationship between those lovable cartoon loons Ren and Stimpy (you eeeediot). Oh, and, yes, there’s some foul language in this video, so a NSFW warning is in effect for the next ten and a half minutes.

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