Video Games to Celebrate Halloween With

As I said a few months ago with “Games that to Celebrate the 4th of July with”, if video games mirror aspects of society, then it’s only natural that they celebrate our customs and holidays.  With Halloween only a few days a way, here are some spooktacularly fun games to celebrate Halloween with:

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Now there’s plenty of games gamers may go to for their Halloween gaming, specifically horror and survival games like Resident Evil, Deadspace, or Silent Hill. While these types of games are all great choices to play on Halloween, I’ll be focusing on games that actually celebrate Halloween…I’m talking Pumpkins, costumes, and, of course, trick and or treating. Here we go.

Animal Crossing Series (Nintendo)

I mentioned the Animal Crossing series in my 4th of July piece, but it works for pretty much all holidays and occasions. With Animal Crossing’s internal calendar and clock it celebrates holidays in real time. For Halloween the game has a reoccurring character that only appears in your town on October 31st. Jack, the pumpkin wearing character, appears in your town each Halloween starting all sorts of Halloween festivities and havoc upon your town. Jack is kind of a jerk, asking you to do all sorts of strange things and, to be honest, he’s a little too obsessed with Halloween for his own good. One must ask: what does he do with the rest of the year? The other villagers will get into the spirit by dressing up like Jack, offering candy, and giving out Halloween specific items. So if you haven’t checked your town in a few months (Sorry Isabelle and Nook, Pokemon took your place in my 3ds) perhaps it’s time to check in with your town and enjoy some of the Halloween fun this Thursday.

Costume Quest (PSN/XBLA/Steam 2013)

Honestly, this one I have not played but may give it a shot this Halloween. I have heard great things and it’s from trusted developer Doublefine, makers of  the hilarious and great games Psychonauts and Brutal Legend. Anyways, what better game to play on Halloween than a game set on Halloween. The game places you in the role of one of two siblings as they seek out their sibling after they are kidnapped by a giant monster with a sweet tooth while trick-or-treating on Halloween. The game is a mix of adventure and RPG aspects, with the player being able to switch their attack styles by switching different costumes. For those of us too old to go trick-or-treating, why not go in the virtual world with this game. All in all, it’s  supposed to be a really fun game with a Halloween backdrop that’s fun for all ages. Sounds perfect, eh.

Team Fortress 2 (Valve)

This one is moreso for the people  who have already played Team Fortress 2, as you’re probably not going to enjoy it too much if you’re only going in for the Halloween fun because you will get massacred and cry . For the last couple of years, Team Fortress 2 has updated the game with Halloween specific skins and festivities each year. Many developers had little fun Halloween skins and other fun things each year (Ex: Minecraft, Uncharted 3, etc) but Valve really has been known to out do other developers when it comes to Halloween. So if you’re a Team Fortress fan, take some time and playing TF2 this Halloween.

Jersey Devil (PS1 1997)

For those craving something a little older than those titles already mentioned, why not give Jersey Devil a try. The game puts you in the role of the infamous Jersey devil as he makes his way through levels filled with skeletons, pumpkins, and other Halloween related goods. The game may not be as favorably remembered as other PS1 classics like Crash Bandicoot or Spyro the Dragon, but it was a decent platformer for the time. Plus, it’s the only game to feature the elusive Jersey Devil, whom isn’t nearly as popular as the yeti or the eskimo.  That said, if you can find this game in a bargain bin it’s worth a try.

Kingdom Hearts Series (Square-Enix)

Last but not least is the Kingdom Hearts series. This one if more a guilty addition, as I they’re some of my favorite games. Many of the games in the franchise feature worlds based on the Tim Burton classic “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, which is  the perfect setting for any Halloween Video Gaming. Granted, there’s a debate whether the film is more of a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, and Kingdom Hearts 2 definitely deals with more of the Christmas side of the film, but regardless Halloweentown is certainly applicable and fun to play on Halloween. It’s also a great game with a great remake that was just released on the PS3, so it’s worth a play anytime of the year.

So there you have it, some games to spend you last night of October with. Let me know what game you plan on enjoying this Halloween?

Research Claims There’s A Connection Between Sexist Video Games and Rape

Research Claims There’s A Connection Between Sexist Video Games and Rape

A recent study coming out of Stanford is claiming that there’s a scientific connection between sexist video games and rape. Honestly, the study is more about a connection between video games and self-objectification, but we’ll go with that they’re claiming for right now.

A sample of the sexualized avatars used in the study

The study evaluates shifts in perspectives on rape culture and physical embodiment after playing with sexualized in-game avatars. The research group went about examining these shifts by having groups of female gamers play with highly sexualized avatars and then having them answer questions regarding views on rape and sexism. A control group of female gamers playing with non-sexualized avatars were used in comparrison to those with the sexualized avatars. The study found two things: The first, that gamers who were playing with sexualized avatars were more likely to give into myths about victim-base rape culture and that, two,  when the groups were playing with characters that mirrored themselves (including having their real life faces posted on the characters bodies) the proponents were  even more likely to give into victim-blamed myths about rape.  What the research contends is that gamers embody characteristics of their avatars, which alter their real-world perspectives as players with more sexualized avatars were reported as having much more body related thoughts than those without sexualized avatars. This would contend that sexualized avatars create more self-objectification than non-sexualized avatars.

What’s this mean? It would suggest that sexist female avatars and characters have negative effect on female gamers. Beyond the consequences of being more susceptible to myth about rape, which is what the study focuses on, the research seems to suggest that inaccurate representation of females in games have harmful effects on how female gamers are viewing themselves and females in general. While the study doesn’t go into the effects that sexist video game characters have on men, it does provide evidence that sexism in video games has effects on how gamers view women, which is certainly a great issue.  With a lack of accurate a fair female representations in the gaming world, the surplus of sexist and inaccurate video game females is showing to have more and more effect on female and male gamers alike.

 

I’m not really doing the research justice, so please go check out the link to the research study’s paper that was published in Computers in Human Behavior

IGN Has Created an Interactive Mario Museum Online

Online Video Game Museums: Mario

This is just more of a fun link than anything else, but IGN has created an interactive online museum for the Mario Bros. franchise. Granted, it’s not as complete as many fans would wish it to be, but it’s a fun little time waster. With Video Games making their lasting mark on contemporary culture, museums and preservation of video game history and video game past will become important as the old hardware begins to time out (which is currently happening to many video games). Without proper preservation video game history may be lacking in the future. Digital or non-digital, video game preservation is an important issue in the video game community.

But for now, check out the online museum and play around with them bros.

Research Suggest Some Video Game Promote Unhealthy Foods

Research Suggest Some Video Game Promote Unhealthy Foods

After being gone for an extended time, the Sociology of Video Games is back!

We’re coming back today with….A research study that suggest some video games promote unhealthy food.

Don’t eat that, that’s cat food!

A Michigan State University Research team conducted a study on “Advergames” and their prevalence in the video game world. An Advergame, for those of us who don’t inherently know made up words, is defined as an online game that specifically promotes a product, service, or company.  This isn’t surprising, as marketing teams have realized the obvious connection between kids playing games and kids getting their parents to buy them things. Of course, such games have been around, even before the advent of online video games. Let’s take a quick look at some of those great titles!

McKids (1992)

McKids was the fine product of copying Mario Brothers and McDonalds. Players got the chance to play around the magical Mcdonald world of talking food products, creepy clowns, Hamburger thievery, and whatever Grimace is. If you’re up for the challenge, you may even get your hands on Ronald’s Magic Bag! Oh boy!

 

 

 

Chex Quest (1996)

 Chex Quest was the best cereal based first person shooter of all time. Taking control of The Chex Warrior, players battled their way through levels fending off Chex hating aliens. The game was released as a free-in-cereal-box title for those who bought Chex cereal. Just beware, the game will make your computer smell like Chex!

 

Playstation All-Stars Island-Sponsored by Coke Zero (2013)

One of the more recent offenders comes to us from Coke and Sony. Playstation All-Stars come together for IOS minigames and promotion of coke! All proceeds go to Coke, Sony, and having no respect.

But we have to ask: is this a concern for video game players or advertisers? These games are going to made regardless of players consuming them or not. Similarly, it begs to reason that if a company (like coke or Mcdonalds) is big enough to be able to create an entire game based around their product it’s probably not the best product in the world.

“One of the things we were concerned about was that the majority of foods that received the most interest were those that tended to be energy dense — high in calories — and not high in nutrients,” said Lorraine Weatherspoon, a co-director of the project and an associate professor of food science and human nutrition. “These foods typically included high-sugar snacks and cereals as well as instant or canned soups, sugar-sweetened beverages and several types of candy products.”

Well..yeah, that’s because those companies that are big enough and well known enough for these types of marketing stunts to actually work are products that kids and consumers already know about.

So what’s to be done? Should Video Games cut ties to big corporation and marketing stunts all together? No, because that’s not something that can  realistically happen. Corporations are going to make games to market their products just like anyone can make a video game to push whatever strange idea or thought they have. If anything we shouldn’t be surprised that corporations are using video games to promote their unhealthy products.