The Curious Gamer

The Curious Gamer

A radio show discussing the culture, design, and joy of video games. Hosted by Devin Polaski.

The Curious Gamer - 02 - Defining Games

The wait is over! Episode 2 of The Curious Gamer is finally here.

If someone were to ask you to “define what a videogame is,” what would you say? It’s a difficult question, much like being asked to define music or art. If we can define games, we might be able to better understand and discuss them, and to recognize how much they have evolved over the years.

(Note: If you’re viewing these notes from iTunes, the formatting will be strange. Please view the full credits and notes at www.thecuriousgamer.org)

-

TWITTER

Follow me on Twitter @CuriousGamerSho and Tweet me your gaming stories!

-

SUBSCRIBE

You can keep up with The Curious Gamer by subscribing to the Podcast on iTunes here, or by following me on SoundCloud here.

-

DOWNLOAD

You can download this full episode as an mp3 here. You can also download it as a Podcast from iTunes.

-

MUSIC

I composed all of the music in this episode (aside from the clips I used of video games). Much of this music can be downloaded from my music store here.

-

TRANSCRIPT

Read a full transcript of this episode here.

-

CREDITS

This episode was written, recorded, and produced by me. I do not own the rights to any of the audio clips from games and interviews used in this episode. These audio clips are utilized under the “Fair Use” doctrine, which stipulates that you may use copyrighted material without permission from the creators, provided that it is used for fact-based and research-oriented purposes, which is a format that The Curious Gamer abides by. See below for credits of what audio clips I used, and where they came from:

0:02 - This montage of sound combines various video game console startup noises. In this order, the sounds come from:

• Nintendo Gameboy
• Sega Genesis (Sonic the Hedgehog game startup)
• Nintendo Gamecube
• Sony Playstation 2
• Nintendo Gameboy Advance
• Sega Dreamcast
• Sony Playstation 3
• Microsoft Xbox 360

0:39 - An excerpt from the YouTube hit show, Game Grumps, where two friends play all kinds of video games for laughs.

0:43 - A brief run during the extremely popular yet short-lived mobile game, Flappy Bird.

1:52 - A series of interviewees named Zander, Amanda, Shawn, Mike, Jake, and Joe.

3:19 - Audio from Wii Sports Bowling.

3:37 - Audio from the Gameboy version of Tetris.

3:53 - A quote from the late, great film critic, Roger Ebert. He made some controversial statements about games, claiming they are not art. This quote specifically focuses on his point of games being “meant to be won.”

5:40 - The first of many sounds and songs in this episode from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, by the game company Bethesda. This sound effect occurs when your character “levels up.”

5:45 - The first of several sounds from the game Words With Friends by the game company Zynga. This sound is actually from a TV commercial for the board version of the game.

6:36 - Words With Friends: The “bubble-pop” sound effects when you pick up and place your letter squares.

6:45 - The first song in the episode that I did not compose. This song is from Skyrim, all of which was composed by the great Jeremy Soule. The title of this particular song is called “Masser.”

7:20 - Skyrim: The voice of one of Greybeards, as he welcomes your character to their domain.

7:37 - Skyrim: “A Winter’s Tale” - Jeremy Soule

8:29 - Skyrim: “A Winter’s Tale” - Jeremy Soule

8:56 - Skyrim: Audio of a jarl asking you to kill the first dragon you encounter in the game.

9:06 - Skyrim: Audio of Red Guard visitors to the town of Whiterun, asking you for information someone they’re hunting down.

10:28 - Words With Friends: More of the “bubble-pop” sound effects.

10:48 - Skyrim: “Far Horizons” - Jeremy Soule

13:23 - Skyrim: Sound effects as you explore the continent, specifically, the path from Riverwood to Whiterun.

13:59 - Skyrim: Sound of a dragon attacking Helgen at the very beginning of Skyrim.

14:10 - Skyrim: “Streets of Whiterun” - Jeremy Soule

15:34 - Audio of my friends Zander and Amanda (from above) reminiscing on Monopoly, and how “it teaches you to hate.” (a joke)

15:49 - A song from the Nintendo 64 version of Monopoly.

16:34 - Gameplay audio from the iPad version of Monopoly.

17:10 - Another song from the N64 version of Monopoly.

20:04 - Skyrim: “Skyrim Atmospheres - Jeremy Soule. This is a 45+ minute song that contains a lot of ethereal musical textures from the game, combined with soothing sound design elements from nature.

21:28 - Dialogue from the game Last of Us, by the game company Naughty Dog. This is from the opening scene of the game where the protagonist, Joel, receives a birthday gift from his daughter. This is the night before the terrible events of the game transpire.

21:50 - Dialogue from Beyond: Two Souls, by the game company Quantic Dream. The character speaking here is the protagonist, Jodie, who is voiced by the famous Hollywood actress Ellen Paige.

22:16 - A voice-over from The Stanley Parable, created by Davey Wreden. In this game, everything you do is narrated, often to comedic effect, especially if you do the opposite of what the narrator suggests. Such is the case in this clip, where you visit a standard, corporate “break room,” and linger in it longer than the narrator thinks you should.

Thanks for listening. Please share with your fellow gamer and NON-gamer friends alike! Happy listening, and game on.

-D

Housekeeping + “Developing Taste in Games” (my editorial for DestroyTheCyb.org)

Before I share my latest editorial about games, there’s some housekeeping I need to attend to.

It’s almost been a half a year since the pilot for this show was released! Since then I’ve gotten a lot of amazing responses from listeners. Avid gamers have told me the show managed to capture and inspire what they had always felt about games but never knew how to express. And non-gamers told me they were now totally curious about checking out interesting games they didn’t realize existed.

In other words, this is EXACTLY what I was going for! It was very gratifying to get this feedback. But I know what many of you are thinking: where’s the next episode?

Episode 2 has been tricky due to the broad nature of Episode 1. With the pilot, I wanted to have a gentle, big-picture overview of games and my ideas for the show. But before I can get into very specific examples of game concepts, I needed to craft an episode that bridges specifics with broad ideas.

But rest assured: I’m pleased to say that I have finally settled on the content for the next episode, wrote the script, recorded interviews, and am well on my way into production. It won’t be long now until Episode 2 is finally released into the wild.

Moving on, I’d like to talk about my new editorial. I have a group of talented friends who maintain a site called “DestroyTheCyborg,” which is a comic book / videogame / overall-geek site with great reviews and other content.

I recently began contributing videogame-focused content to the site, and I’d like to share my first piece with you. It’s called “Developing Taste in Games,” and it discusses how gamers acquire high taste in the medium over a long period of time. I liken this to how wine-tasters, art museum-goers, and music-lovers acquire tastes in their chosen interest by seeking out as many experiences in that given field as they can.

Check out the article at this link and let me know what you think. And stay tuned for Episode 2 of TCG! I promise you it will be completed before the month’s end.

Take care, and happy gaming.
-D

The Curious Gamer - 01 - Why Play Games?

In this pilot episode I illustrate why games are my favorite form of art and entertainment, and why I feel the world would be a better place if we were all gamers. If you’re a gamer, you’re going to love how this show explores why the medium is so fantastic. If you’re not already a gamer, you might find yourself wanting to be one after listening.

(Note: If you’re viewing this from iTunes, the description below will look kind of strange, and the links won’t work. Please visit TheCuriousGamer.org to see the full show notes and access to the other great content from this episode. If you’re already here, read on!)

TWITTER: Follow me on Twitter @CuriousGamerSho and Tweet me your gaming stories!

SUBSCRIBE: You can keep up with The Curious Gamer by subscribing to the Podcast on iTunes here, or by following me on SoundCloud here.

DOWNLOAD: You can download this full episode as an mp3 here. You can also download it as a Podcast from iTunes.

MUSIC: I composed all of the music in this episode (aside from the clips I used of video games). Much of this music can be downloaded from my music store here.

TRANSCRIPT: Read a full transcript of this episode here.

CREDITS: This episode was written, recorded, and produced by me. I do not own the rights to any of the audio clips from games and interviews used in this episode. These audio clips are utilized under the “Fair Use” doctrine, which stipulates that you may use copyrighted material without permission from the creators, provided that it is used for fact-based and research-oriented purposes, which is a format that The Curious Gamer abides by. See below for credits of what audio clips I used, and where they came from:

0:21 - This montage of sound combines various video game console startup noises. In this order, the sounds come from:

  • Nintendo Gameboy
  • Sega Genesis (Sonic the Hedgehog game startup)
  • Nintendo Gamecube
  • Sony Playstation 2
  • Nintendo Gameboy Advance
  • Sega Dreamcast
  • Sony Playstation 3
  • Microsoft Xbox 360

2:26-4:59 - These are excerpts from videos of Jane McGonigal; a video game researcher, game designer, and all-around game evangelist. The first video is from a YouTube channel called BigThink, and the second is from her game “SuperBetter” on it’s promotional website.

8:24-8:27 - The famous “Dodge This” line from The Matrix.

8:36-8:39 - A line from Citizen Kane, where Kane begins his power trip.

8:50-8:57 - From Pixar’s Wall-E movie; his adorable first attempt at pronouncing his own name. 

9:09-9:13 - A not-so-adorable quote from Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode II - Attack of the Clones.

12:27-13:16 - A collection of quotes from the documentary Indie Game: The Movie, featuring influential independent game designers, such as Phil Fish, creator of the charming game Fez.

14:30-14:43 - A messy, trigger-happy sound clip from a trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

14:45-14:55 - A soothing sound clip from the game Flower by a game company called…oh, thatgamecompany.

15:23-15:40 - Sound clip from the game Journey, also from thatgamecompany.

15:45-16:15 - The epic, gothic-choir main theme song to the game Skyrim (aka The Elder Scrolls V).

16:22-16:42 - A clip from a competitive match of the extremely popular and competitive strategy game, Starcraft 2, which is casted by a popular SC2 caster Day9.

16:55-17:24 - A collection of clips from the hit Disney/Final Fantasy crossover game, Kingdom Hearts.

Thanks for listening, and don’t forget to subscribe to this show and share it with your friends and family! I can’t wait to show you what’s to come.

-D

Why I’m a Curious Gamer

Video Games: a polarizing topic, if there ever was one.

Some people love them, some people hate them. But no matter a person’s stance on the medium, it’s generally not taken seriously enough. It’s not thought of as more than a geeky pastime or a simple time-killer. 

I aim to change that.

I’ve been gaming since I was 5 years old. As I grew up, I became more attached to the medium; always discovering new genres, ways to play, and ways to share it with others. I made a lot of memories and friends through games. I developed a strong interest in technology because of them. A lot of my creative inspiration came from them. These aren’t trivial byproducts of a silly hobby; these are life-shaping qualities from a powerful medium.

In short, I’m convinced that games mean something more.

I’ll tell anyone what game I’m currently fascinated by. I’ll gladly display my 3DS on a downtown sidewalk. I’ll proudly share a movie I made using Minecraft. I’ll excitedly proclaim my pre-order purchase of the latest Pokemon title.

Why not hide this? After all, society usually frowns on adults playing games. While it may be acceptable to enjoy a few mobile games, or maybe a first-person shooter or sports game, most video games are considered a waste of time, or not productive enough, by most adults.

I just can’t agree to this notion. I can’t just shun a form of art and entertainment that I’ve grown up with and held dear to me my entire life. I’ve realized that not only should I continue my hobby with an unforgiving passion, but also recognize that it’s influence over me is something worth thinking about. Something worth exploring. Something worth sharing with the world, via this radio show.

I’m convinced games will always make me happy, and help me grow. I’m also convinced that the medium itself will continue to evolve in fascinating ways, as it always has. And I’m convinced that, someday, not only will games be experienced by people of all ages and backgrounds, but that we’ll collectively realize the unique power they have, and push it to the next level. 

With “The Curious Gamer,” I’ll explore how games will improve humanity, and I’d love for you to join me. Let the games begin!

-D