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Scariness in videogames

Can videogames produce scares as effectively as movies? When did scariness become a viable element of game design? Is scariness in videogames relative? What are the scariest videogames ever made? What makes them scary? How does scariness interact with gameplay?

Crysis demo impressions, performance preview

The Crysis single-player demo is finally upon us, and with the game just weeks away we're finally starting to see what nearly two years of hype is leading up to.

Reviewing the reviewers part 2: Fairness

I couldn't help but notice that with the release of Orange Box, critics have been going pretty easy on Half-Life 2: Episode 2. According to MetaCritic, it's averaging a 91%, which is pretty darn exceptional. But it's not the score that bugs me.

Reflections on The King of Kong

I finally got around to watching The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters at the local theater pub. The movie is a documentary about the efforts of a man named Steve Wiebe to break the decades-old world record on Donkey Kong. Seeing King of Kong was particularly meaningful for me because, in addition to being an avid videogame player, I have been extensively involved in competitive arcade gaming.

The future of conversation in videogames

A recent article in the journal Computers in Human Behavior describes a study in which a group of college students chatted with a conversation bot (i.e., a computer program capable of engaging in a conversation). Even though the students knew they were talking to a computer, they actually showed general agreement in their perception of the bots personality traits (e.g., friendliness, thoughtfulness, neuroticism, etc.).

What do gamers and lab rats have in common?

It seems that an increasing number of videogames these days are using one or more forms of operant conditioning, and in particular positive reinforcement. Although reward systems have long been a mainstay of the role-playing game genre, their use has been gradually spreading. Why might that be?

Could a videogame help kids fight cancer?

The September issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health unveils the results of a large research study on the effects of playing Re-Mission, a third-person shooter designed to help young cancer patients improve their knowledge of cancer and boost their confidence in managing the disease. Now that the results are in, how does Re-Mission fare?

The New York Times deems Halo 3 "Arts" worthy… sort of

Halo 3 Screenshot

With all the recent debate about whether or not videogames should be consider (good or bad) art, would it not be of cultural significance and a sign of the times (no pun intended) if the venerable news institution declared that videogames was indeed worthy of being covered alongside the paintings by artist Willem de Kooning, the singing of soprano Natalie Dessay or comedic "genius" of Dane Cook in Good Luck Chuck?

The theory of videogame relativity

Compared to the more beautiful and elaborate next-generation experiences currently available, most of the games I loved as a kid (Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, etc.) seem like mere trifles by comparison. In absolute terms, BioShock is certainly a much better game than Wolfenstein 3D (one of the earliest first-person shooters). Does it follow then that modern gamers get more enjoyment from their videogames than gamers of previous generations did from theirs?

Viva Pinata: Party Animals demo on Xbox Live impressions

Pinata

If it accomplishes nothing else, Viva Pinata: Party Animals shows that someone, somewhere in the hierarchy at Microsoft understands the importance of attempting to expand their user base.

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