This blog was not created so that I could write for writing’s sake. It’s true that it is in part a regular exercise just to keep me writing regulary, but I want to provide some sort of content. Unfortunately, since I’m largely a consumer of series, games, and books, I’m not always ready to say something. So let me share with you what I’m currently working my way through
My wife and I stated the new Veronica Mars series on Hulu. I discovered the original series about halfway through its second season and pretty much immediately fell in love. When I met my wife, I got her into the series. We contributed to the film’s Kickstarter campaign. Now we’re watching the series together and enjoying it. But, if I’m being completely honest, there’s something about it that seems off. Part of what made the first two seasons work so well for me was the fact that she was a high school student who had to have a foot in the world of her innocent childhood and another foot in the dark, seedy world of the adults. Veronica Mars in her 30’s loses a bit of that magic for me. Now it’s just a mystery show featuring characters with whom we already have a mystery.
When the Spider-Man PS4 game went on sale for $20, it was pretty much an immediate purchase for me. This game was pretty much the reason I wanted a PS4 — which I was already graciously gifted by friends. What the game has going for it is an intriguing story, fantastic characterizations, and web-swinging that just feels right. (Don’t ask me how it compares to the Spider-Man 2 game. I never played it and never had any interest in doing so.) The most unfortunate thing about the game is the fact that so much of it is spent in combat. There are a number of combat options thanks to gadgets and some environmental features, but each encounter ultimately feels very much the same and decreasingly interesting. Occasionally you fight a boss, which breaks up the monotony with specific patterns or environmental hazards or boons but also tries to weave in quicktime events. I thought those were a thing of the past. They should have remained there.
Lastly, I’m reading What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy. This is an exploration of video games by a linguist and educator, and it shows. At about halfway through the book, I can’t help but recommend it to anyone who wants another way to approach the problem of sharing the virtues of games with people. James Paul Gee may have come into gaming late in his life, but he has clearly spent time with games to really understand them. He is also very much a proponent of informal learning over the frustrating model our schools are currently locked into today. We can all appreciate a man who essentially says that what we’re doing today isn’t the best approach and games encourage a more natural path.