[The following text is part of my upcoming master's thesis on the use of game mechanics in therapy games for children.]
FarmVille by Zynga is probably one of the best known Facebook games to date, both because of players that cannot seem to quit the game and their Facebook friends that are annoyed by the game's ceaseless stream of pleas for help, designed to suck in even more players. FarmVille 2 has several tightly interwoven game mechanics that manage to keep the player glued to the game. The most important among them are the tight feedback loops, where finishing one task has an immediate effect on the next task at hand; a constant stream of quests that provide temporary "winning" conditions in an otherwise endless game; the possibility of self-expression through decoration, even if severely limited and finally the integration of Facebook friends that "ask for help", cleverly exploiting social norms that result in players returning to the game again and again.
If it weren't for developers like [Defiant Development], you'd easily believe that creativity in the games industry is nearly extinct.
But those guys actually manage to take a really old and tired concept – i.e. a first person shooter – and spin it in order to make something else entirely:
A first person shooter.
Seriously. Hear me out.
Warco is a first-person game where players shoot footage instead of a gun. A work in progress at Brisbane, Australia-based studio Defiant Development, the game is a collaboration of sorts; Defiant is working with both a journalist and a filmmaker to create a game that puts you in the role of a journalist embedded in a warzone.
The game itself — the title of which is actually short for “war correspondent” — follows the story of journalist Jesse DeMarco. Players will experience the process of filming conflicts, going into dangerous situations armed with nothing but a camera. They will then edit the footage into a compelling news story. The scenarios range from intense bursts of action to quieter moments as you discuss the events of the day with fellow journalists in a hotel. Though the main mechanic will be filming the action, Warco is also very much about choice.
Well, this is how [WIRED] puts it, anyway. The developers obviously make it [sound a bit more dramatic]:
WARCO lets players shoot and record what they see ‘through the lens’ – framing shots, panning and zooming, grabbing powerful images of combatants and civilians caught up in war. They’ve got AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades – you’ve got a flak jacket, a video camera, and a burning desire to get the story.
I'm pretty sure I stumbled over this story before, but this is a longer article about the scientist that tried to weight the human soul:
That the human body should be home to a physical soul which survived death was at one time rarely questioned. Then came the advent of scientific disciplines such as anatomy, chemistry and physics, whose probing and measuring raised awkward questions about where in the body a soul could live and what physical form it could take. With no medical proof being forthcoming, in 1854 the German anatomist Rudolph Wagner suggested that there must be a “special soul substance” in the body, evidence of which should be sought out by experimentation. Wagner was much ridiculed for his beliefs, and some years later his rival Ernst Haeckel mocked that at the moment of death it might be possible to liquefy the soul by freezing it and then “exhibit it in a bottle as immortal fluid”.
The nature of a human soul was a much-discussed topic within Victorian psychical research communities, many of whose members were also eminent scientists. Different philosophical conclusions were reached, but none was based on empirical evidence, it being deemed too difficult to measure any of the soul’s presumed physical properties. However, not everyone was prepared to accept this, and in the winter of 1896 Dr Duncan MacDougall, a Massachusetts-based surgeon, came up with a novel idea.