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BioShock

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Most months, "We Are Data" would have produced a resigned nod and shake of the head, but people visiting it now have fresh reason to feel like their data is being weaponized against them. PRISM and other revelations weren’t just about what was seen — they were about the fact that when confronted with the leaks, the administration drove home how little it thought of public outrage. Watch Dogs promises a solution — but so far, it’s one that occupies an uncomfortable place between commentary and escapism.

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As game designers we want to give players agency, but we also have to decide what players can't do. How can we position the experience of passivity--of non-agency--in a way that adds to a game instead of subtracting from it?

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An anonymous reader writes "Game designer Tadhg Kelly has an article discussing the direction the games industry has taken over the past several years. Gaming has become more of a business, and in doing so, become more of a science as well. When maximizing revenue is a primary concern, development studios try to reduce successful game designs to individual elements, then naively seek to add those elements to whatever game they're working on, like throwing spices into a stew. Kelly points out that indie developers who are willing to experiment often succeed because they understand something more fundamental about games: fun. Quoting: 'The guy who invented Minecraft (Markus "Notch" Persson) didn't just create a giant virtual world in which you could make stuff, he made it challenging. When Will Wright created the Sims, he didn't just make a game about living in a virtual house. He made it difficult to live successfully. That's why both of those franchises have sold millions of copies. The fun factor is about more than making a game is amusing or full of pretty rewards. If your game is a dynamic system to be mastered and won, then you can go nuts. If you can give the player real fun then you can afford to break some of those format rules, and that's how you get to lead rather than follow the market. If not then be prepared to pay through the nose to acquire and retain players.'"

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Bioshock Rapture

Music can be an incredibly important part of a video game, and a new feature over at 1up looks at some of the best uses of diegetic music — that is, music that's actually a part of the game world. From the haunting sounds of "Beyond the Sea" while you explore the underwater city of Rapture in Bioshock to the ever-present radio stations of the Grand Theft Auto games to the famous opera scene from Final Fantasy VI, there are plenty of solid choices. The piece is a great way to reminisce about those gaming moments where the music is arguably the most important part, and if you're looking for even more game music reading, be sure to check out 1up's entire week-long series on the topic.

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Although stories have been used in games in one form or another since the 1970s, it wasn't until the increased memory storage of CDs in the '90s that full-fledged narratives, replete with character arcs and thematic motifs and burnished with voice acting and full orchestral scores became a de facto element of nearly every title. So much ground has been covered since then that providing a fuller, richer storytelling experience -- decorating the rooms of ...

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