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One of the highest anticipated games of the year was released at the beginning of March and has convinced gamers from all over the world that it was well worth the wait.

Horizon Zero Dawn

There are a number of ways in which this game is so precious:

  • The graphics are visually beautiful. The world you explore has been well planned out making for a realistic experience.
  • The concept is genius. Having a variety of human tribes living in a world no one would have ever considered being a possibility in the future.
  • The robots are badass! It’s scary how terrifying they can actually be!

But there’s one aspect about the game that truly completes it and that’s Aloy: our main protagonist.

Why is Aloy so awesome?!

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Aloy is at the centre of Horizon Zero Dawn; all eyes are on her. That’s what can make this game so enjoyable.

For starters, she is a walking death machine with bow and arrow in hand.

Not only that, she has a number of lethal weapons, which she upgrades herself along the way including an upgrade she uses to take control of the rogue robots.

Players have the opportunity to upgrade her abilities to make her the ultimate rebel. Slow down as she aims while falling from heights, obtain incredible invasive techniques and more.

Why else is she awesome?

As it turns out, barely any of the characters in Horizon Zero Dawn like her at the start for reasons unknown to her. You see many scenes of cruel bullies throughout her childhood.

But this does not bring her down.

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This only makes her want to become stronger in order to gain recognition from her tribe. No matter what was thrown at her, it couldn’t bring her down.

Another reason we love her is because she uses technology to her advantage.

This game is set in the era where you don’t see everyone looking down at their phone. In fact, technology is almost frowned upon with Aloy’s tribe.

Yet she uses it to find weaknesses in beasts, track down missing tribesmen and learn secrets about the past.

Having all these amazing abilities (which you can probably find in other games aswell), what makes Horizon Zero Dawn so great?

What’s so special about a female protagonist?

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Before we start, I think we need a little bit of back story about me first.

I’ve never been society’s idea of a normal girl. Never have I felt the need to wear makeup nor worry about whether my outfit is out of date. Okay, this might be a bit stereotypical but you get my point.

However,

I’ve always enjoyed playing games. Always.

And when looking for inspiration as to who I wanted to be when I grew up, my role models were mostly males: I wanted every assassin’s agility, I wanted kindness and bravery like Ratchet and quick-thinking and intelligence like Clank.

Finally, one day, a game was released with the most awesome, smart and respected female protagonist who I could really look up to. Aloy is my version of a “Disney Princess”!

Aloy shows women that there is absolutely no reason to be holding yourself back and achieving greatness. She isn’t bothered about growing muscles too big that would look “too masculine”.

Her actions have been animated similar to that of other, powerful protagonists and I honestly love it! No one has toned down her weapons or made her outfit more skimpy – she fits in with all the other warriors.

She doesn’t wear clothes to impress people, Aloy chooses her outfits to compete and fight in.

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Despite the powerful vibe she uses to intimidate everything around, her bow and arrow, which requires so much skill allows her to maintain elegance and technique in her fighting scenes.

Also, Aloy has the ability to forest for useful items in the wild which is a skill any good adventurer should have but certainly not a skill typically associated to men.

She proves that she can compete along other men and women in order to prove herself. Not only that, but no one questions it either. Other characters in the game aren’t concerned about her gender, rather that she’s an outcast (but you’ve got to play the game to find out more about that!).

I know, I myself, am not the only female to go against her stereotype and it would be awesome to see younger girls, who are like me when I was younger be more inspired by Guerilla Games’ creation.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those people who believes that “Women are better! Men are inferior”. That’s not the case.

It’s just nice to see that women are slowly making their way into bigger roles in popular video games.

Aloy isn’t the only butt-kicking, female protagonist.

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I’d be naive to say that Aloy is the first of her kind. There was certainly one female role-model during my childhood:

Laura Croft. 

Unsurprisingly, Tomb Raider was introduced to me by my male peers and their weird obsession with her triangle chest. Okay, yes, I thought they were funny too but that didn’t stop me from loving her.

Publishers have been releasing Tomb Raider games since 1996 and continue to do so as the franchise grows and grows.

Movies have also been released and have seen a great reception globally.

Laura Croft was who I wanted to be when I grew up: a ninja with awesome weapons who had a huge mansion equipped with a training course and still looked absolutely beautiful while in major boss-battling mode!

I still have an outfit that I refer to as my ‘Tomb Raiding’ outfit.

Here’s another game that shows a female character, not necessarily the protagonist but certainly a very important part in the game.

The Last of Us

The only world Ellie ever knew was one that was infected as she grew up in an oppressive military Quarantine Zone. Being only 13 in the first game, she is subjected to harsh realities no child should ever witness.

However, she takes these difficulties in her stride and continues to support other characters in the game. She still finds time to insert her humour into life while also being able to take matters seriously.

Being so young and vulnerable, every player feels sympathy for her situation and longs for her safety.

So it’s great to see a new female role-model join the line of other popular female characters.

Guerilla Games have done a superb job of creating a character so passionate and strong, I hope she inspires other young girls to become strong-willed like her.

Have any favourite female protagonist? Leave your comments below!

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When I mention the word “School”, I’m certain a whole load of emotions and memories suddenly come flooding back, some may be positive and some negative.

For me, while I enjoyed school, I certainly feel that there are a number of ways in which educators could capture the attention and interest of their students more.

One way in which schools want to spice up their curriculum is to add aspects of Gaming into the timetable and I think this is an awesome idea.

That’s why we are going to discuss:

Gaming in Education

The only kind of computer game I could remember from my time is this one annoying yet hilarious typing game where it teaches you how to properly use a keyboard. The game was lead by a funky, scouse goat and you meet a load of kinky animals along the way.

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However,

That was it! The rest was left to the traditional book and paper.

I’m not trying to say that there is anything wrong the traditional way of learning, I believe we need to move with the times and accept that we are well into the 21st Century now.

The children of today have a lot more technology around them than any other generation have ever had and they probably use it more than us! So why not incorporate something that they use everyday into their education.

Teach them how to utilise the technology they need to understand in order to advance in the future.

There are a number of ways in which educators have begun planning – and in some cases, implementing – the integration of gaming and education:

Virtual Reality

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VR has the potential to reshape our lives in a number of areas. One of those is education.

Imagine, one minute you’re sitting in a classroom, the next you’re at the top of a volcano that’s about to explode molten lava everywhere!

And with a tap of a button, you can be transported from the boiling hit pit to outer space overlooking our mighty planet.

Fed up of modern day? How’s about you take the class to the 14th Century to witness the Bubonic Plague first hand.

There are an unlimited amount of places you can transport a classroom of children with VR! Do you think the school would ever accept a school trip to the top of an active volcano? I don’t think so, Ofsted would have a field day!

However, with a load of virtual reality headsets, pupils can experience great wonders of the Earth without having to put them in danger, without having to spend money on travel, without the worry of “What if something goes wrong when we get there?”.

If a child is scared, all they have to do is take the headset off. The teacher doesn’t have to carry them back down the Volcano.

Virtual Reality can transport students to places a school could never dream of taking their pupils. Having such a new and realistic experience, the children can feel more inspired to learn more about the subject.

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Queen Mary, University of London students have already begun to plan ways VR can be applied to schools and colleges.

They became European champions in Reply’s Student Technology Clash against other universities from Germany and Italy for their ideas with adapting the curriculum.

Adnan Salehin, University Student stated that their team won as their idea was the most “achievable and doable in their lifetimes”. Other teams had constructed ideas that were “a bit less practical or less necessary”. Gaming in education has the potential to make a massive difference.

VR in Education is achievable, executable, revolutionary in terms of changing the way we learn and extremely useful

Virtual Reality in the classroom could be a fantastic solution for Visual Learners.

Visual Learners are more likely to remember things they’ve seen rather than things they’ve heard. For example, they will remember facts more easily if they read them and/ or write them down rather than someone telling them.

So, for some Children, listening to a teacher isn’t enough.

By using Virtual Reality and the visual learners seeing the reality of outer space before their eyes, they’re much more likely to remember what they’ve learnt.

The Limitations with Virtual Reality

One thing that educators need to consider before implementing virtual reality into classrooms is:

How will teachers maintain control while the children use the headsets?

Being fully immersed in VR means that their hearing and sight will be compromised. In other words, it will be as if the teacher isn’t there.

One idea they could consider is designing a specialised app for the children to use and for the teacher to control. This way, once the teacher is satisfied that the pupils have seen enough, they can direct a message onto everyone’s screen for them to take the headsets off.

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Another thing to consider:

How will the children learn anything while using the headset?

The pupils won’t be able to hear the teacher while using it so how can they make the experience educational?

With a specialised app for schools, it could be designed in a way that when children look at certain objects, facts can pop up on the screen for them to read. If the school possess more advanced technology, the children could walk to the object, pick it up and even physically manipulate it.

To confirm that the children have learnt something, there could be a quiz afterwards to test their memory.

The final limitation:

How will schools afford it?

As you may be aware, VR isn’t cheap. School’s could start with cardboard headsets to open up the children to VR but for a more realistic experience, a higher end headset would be needed.

This is not something with an easy fix seeing as the government sets aside less and less money for education.

Virtual Reality won’t be the only way to influence school kids.

Minecraft: Education Edition

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Teachers have already begun to use Minecraft with children.

Minecraft: Education Edition is one of the first ways schools have embraced for the impact of 21st Century Children.

Fact: Kids Love Minecraft! I do too! The amount of creativity it permits us to unleash is phenomenal. That’s why teachers love it.

School Children are handed an empty canvas and are told to construct things in the world of minecraft. Work can then be assessed with screenshots of their creation as well as hand drawn plans.

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This can teach Children a whole number of skills:

  • Planning – Children learn to design their sculpture before building in order to understand the importance of designs, planning, and self-written instructions.
  • Creativity – Seeing as Minecraft doesn’t exactly hold to the laws of physics, these Children won’t walk out of the classroom as fully fledged Structural Engineers. However, it can teach the fun of building and inspire Children to want to follow that path in the future. They learn the importance of scale and ratio as well as the productivity of each material they use.
  • Computer Skills – they learn to control the world of minecraft as well as simple functions like print screening and sending submissions.
  • Assessment – Teachers can easily assess the progress of each child through written questions based on the task in the game, drawings of their creation as well as the creation itself.

The Limitations of Minecraft

While Minecraft is one of the best things to make its way into the classroom, it still has its downsides:

Cost

Each child would need an up to date PC in order to play the game with a licence to play the game and a PC per student definitely won’t prove cheap.

Saying this, schools usually provide some sort of IT services but if these computers had Minecraft, how would schools limit the amount of time students play Minecraft for in breaks when other students may require the computer?

Loss of Attention

Minecraft is an Empty canvas. So what is to stop the child messing about on the game doing what they want? Of course, they could be punished and not allowed to use the game.

But there is also the problem of the teacher maintaining the child’s attention while they are playing the game. If I was in that classroom, I would find it fairly difficult to stop playing and listen to the teacher.

Maybe if teachers had a main computer that could lock everyone else’s computer so they could get everyone’s attention, they wouldn’t have a problem.

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Training

Obviously the teacher will need to know how to use Minecraft in order to teach which will mean more training for staff will be needed.

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After discussing only two ways in which we can reshape our current education system, we have already been shown multiple positives and negatives for this.

Here is an awesome infographic which lists all positives and negatives of Gaming in Education as well as ways it has already been implemented:

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Especially after seeing this graphic, it would be awesome for gaming to make its way in class to

  • Spark Interest
  • Increase Engagement
  • Improve learning styles

Do you know of any ways for games to make it into the curriculum? Let us know!

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Something that is repeated over and over again is that gaming is perfect for escapism. As soon as you load your game, you can be transported to a whole other dimension.

A certain characteristic that aids with escapism is the story in the game. So many brilliant stories have been created by the smallest of studios.

That’s why today, we are going to be exploring:

Indie Games with the Best Stories

We will explore:

  • What story makes a successful game
  • Which games have the best stories
  • Why they are so engaging

In order to discuss this topic, we will first have to pick apart all the key elements that constructs an engaging story.

What is it that makes us desperate to engross ourselves in the lives of the main characters?

There are four integral points that make us want to play as these characters and learn how the journey unfolds:

 Plot

What is a story without a plot? How would we possibly want to spend time learning and playing as these characters if there is no plot to follow?

This, I feel is the backbone of a story. It describes the main events about to happen before us that will shape the decisions in the future; it is what made us want to buy the game in the first place! Without this, there is no story.

Equally, the plot has to be unique and unpredictable. I know I certainly wouldn’t bother following a character if I could keep guessing what was going to happen to them.

Characters

Characters are free to the imagination of the developers. They can make them as relatable to the player as possible in order to feel more linked to the story that is being portrayed in the game. Equally they can be as distant from you as possible creating the ability to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”. You can live as if you are somebody completely new.

For instance, Battlefield lets you follow the stories of soldiers in World War One while Grand Theft Auto lets you live the life of American Gangsters: something you never saw happening before.

As the character has more personality – maybe some traits you can relate to, you’re more likely to grow attached to their story and what to seem them through till the end.

Goals

If a character’s goal was to finish his Maths homework, I don’t think this target would motivate anyone to follow his story. However, if the goal was to discover the reason for the disappearance of the human race, we are certainly more likely to want to complete that goal.

The targets that the main characters have to reach are what motivate us to play the game in the first place. While we’ll have a bigger sense of achievement for completing a more dramatic goal, we’ll also find ourselves engaging with a more dramatic story.

Setting

Where the game is set is equally as important as it can control the emotions we feel in a certain point in the game. Dark, dreary rooms can easily make us feel more anxious and scared while lighter settings can relax our emotions.

Taking this into consideration, here are examples of games that have mastered all the areas that make or break a story.

The First game that deserves a mention is Abi.

Abi

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This is the sweet mobile game developed by Lilith Games.

“The world was once a place brimming with life, a place full of people. Now, the last of humanity has mysteriously disappeared in pursuit of perfection and immortality, transforming themselves into machines. Then they vanished altogether. The only beings left are the robots who were once servants to humanity.”

The story unfolds as you follow two deserted robots, travelling the world trying to discover what happened to the human race.

Each character has quirky designs and is full of personality – something you wouldn’t expect a robot to pursue. This trait alone adds to the attraction of the story as the players feel empathy for the robots making them want to follow their story.

As for the setting, we see the game unfold on a dust ridden planet that was once our home. The relatability of this – telling the players that this was once our home – definitely adds to emotions it brings as the story unfolds.

The game has us view what are distant memories for the robots making us feel even more sorry for them! All the flashbacks that include the humans of the future make the players ask the question “Is that really what we are going to be like in the future? Are we really going to be that naive?” Seeing more hidden factors about our future reveal in the game makes our curiosity grow more and more.

I had the chance to speak to the developers behind the game and the key to the unpredictable story was “Keep asking ourselves “what if” What if most of the science fiction stories are true, that the robots walk the earth in the end?

Next, we lead to our next question: where happened to the humans? Were they wiped out by evil robots, or did they find the earth was no longer ideal for living so they just took a ship and left? Or something else? 

After some discussions, we realized that this could be the question for the players as well. After we had decided the answer to the question, we started to plant the clues (in both the main and the branch storylines) throughout the whole game.”

The topic of mystery and discovery reminded me of another game:

Unravel

Certainly a story to pull on your heart strings, Unravel was created with exactly that in mind.

You play as “Yarny”, the curious character made solely out of  yarn who unravels the further he travels to reconnect the lost memories of a lonely, old woman. He journeys through the recognisable surroundings of a traditional back garden as well as other settings more challenging for our protagonist.

The main goal is such a deep and meaningful one never truly approached by developers before that it instantly wants I see to help Yarny help the old lady reconnect with her past.

With the majority of us having the older generation close to us in one way or another, this can become quite a personal experience.

And with the character being so fragile and innocent yet so selfless and determined to complete his journey, the players are continuously routing for him to succeed.

While we can imagine, what would seem to him as huge obstacles, it still quite difficult to predict what will happen in the end. Will he unravel just as he finds all the memories?

Will he be destroyed before he gets there? I’m left with so many questions that I have to play the game!

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Creative Director, Martin Sahlin communicated why meaningful stories behind a game are important to him:

“The way I see it, games are really powerful. They reach so many people, and they have the ability to truly captivate the audience in a way that few other art forms can. As a game maker, that makes me feel a certain responsibility.

I don’t want to make games that are just distractions. Time is worth more than that. I want to give players more meaningful experiences instead. Unravel™ was created in that spirit. I wanted to make something more personal, something with more impact.”

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While having a sweet back story, Unravel still offers a wonderful problem solving game that will have you playing it for ages.

Firewatch

If any quote promotes the story in a game, it’s this one:

If there can be such a thing as a page-turner in video games, this is one.

– polygon

Similar to Abi, this game is a mystery game where you play as a lone man who wanders the wilderness keeping lookout for fires with specialist tools and a walkie talkie. The person on the other side of the line is your only contact while on the job – they are your only emotional lifeline.

As you continue your job in the Wyoming outdoors, you uncover more about the character you play and the messy life he left behind as well as the area you live in.

This game differs from the ones mentioned above as the character you play as is just an ordinary guy named Henry in 1989; he’s not an Alien or Robot. As he is just a normal human being, hearing his story can really make you feel for him.

As for the setting, while it might not be one we are all used to, it can be somewhat recognisable to a wider range of players than other settings.

This idea of a (quite literally) down to Earth game offers a more real experience rather than offering a story that you know is imaginary.

What’s special about the goals and objectives in this game as this they are more hidden than they seem. While he continues his job in the outdoors, the hidden goal is more between Henry and his colleague on the handheld radio.

Here’s an example of stories with plots and characters we are less likely to be able to relate to:

Never Alone

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Another game that approaches a story from a complete new angle is Never Alone.

To develop this game, Upper One Games had the help of just under 40 native Alaskan people to help with the authenticity of the game. Thanks to this, it makes the plot, goals, setting, and characters more unique and realistic than any other game on the market.

The game was inspired by the Native Art and stories – the foundations of Alaska’s history.

“Play as a young Iñupiat girl and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard which threatens the survival of everything they have ever known.”

You play as two characters: Nuna, the young girl and the fox, each with their own unique personality and skills to complete different tasks.

The setting communicates the harshness of Arctic Winter – something only few of us can genuinely say we’ve experienced. With the character belonging to a complete new culture, we don’t find ourselves relating to her any where near as much as with the characters in other games.

However, as this game allows us to step into somebody’s shoes, someone we never thought about, the games creates a completely unique and educational experience.

And with goal of hushing the vast winds that play havoc in her village, we want to help her, and the fox, complete it seeing how selfless she is being.

What have we learnt?

Certain trends in all of these games and their stories have definitely showed themselves:

  • Relatability – the more we connect with the characters and/ or their story, the more we want to complete their story and help them complete their objectives.
  • Mystery – plots that involve us uncovering more clues in order to complete a mystery have certainly contributed to creating an interesting story.
  • Uniqueness – the more original (and sometimes imaginative) the story is, the more it draws us to the game. Everyone has played a first person shooter or a fantasy role playing game. However, these games with the great stories are the ones that win our hearts.
  • Emotional Empathy – Seeing how vulnerable and yet determined the character is, you want to help them out more and more.

So, if you’re a developer, here is a useful tip to help create the most attractive game: focus on that story!

And if you’re a game enthusiast, try uncover indie games that aren’t as popular as the ones everyone plays. The hidden indie games can include some of the most captivating adventures.

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Isn’t it frustrating when you try to play on your favourite console and your game has a tonne of updates to perform! Or remembering that you can only play all your games in HD and not in 4K (unless you updated your system to the PS4 Pro/ Xbox 1S).

Life is hard for a gamer. 

But I think it’s time to look back at our console and realise things could be much, MUCH harder! The only way we can do this is by comparing our home entertainment systems with the consoles that allowed the gaming world to blossom.

Retro Consoles Vs Modern Consoles

1977 was the year that pioneered the idea of “gaming at home”. No longer did you have to go outside to arcades. Instead, you could try all your favourites in the comfort of your living room.

The one console that truly made this a possibility is the Atari 2600.

Atari were the founders of modern console gaming; they frequently bragged on posters that “there’s no comparing it with any other video game”.

This was, however, until the company suffered the video gaming crash of 1983 *cough* ET.

With 2kB Ram (impressive, right?), CPU speed of 1.79 MHz and GPU speed of 5.32 MHz, it had the highest specs on the market.

Since then, video gaming has been redefined by a number of consoles with revolutionizing features. They evolved from miniature arcade machines to vast home entertainment systems.

To make a fair comparison of old and new, we will analyze each aspect of what the consoles and the companies had to offer:

  • Games
  • Technology
  • Music
  • Promotion
  • Style

Games

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A significant and obvious change has been made in games over the past 30 years; the main difference being lack of depth in the games in the past.

You’ll play these games and believe that they could only take a minimal amount of time to develop and design. That’s of course if we compare it to the size and depth of the games today.

The simplicity of Atari and Nintendo games were all due to the main focus of the consoles – they were designed to bring arcade games into the comfort of your own home and arcade games didn’t have the most complex stories – if they did no one would ever get a turn!

Therefore, the games followed basic yet somehow challenging objectives, limited backstory of the characters, certainly no cutscenes and a small amount of levels.

Something else that easily proves the distance gaming has come is the graphics.

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Not having the resources back then, the CPUs could only process a byte of data at a time (or as it’s more commonly known, 8 bits). This means that Today CPUs in modern consoles can process 64 bit strings of data and therefore support a lot more detailed games.

One argument that says Retro Games were better is that style of graphics were popular in the 80s. No one was desperate to see detailed graphics as they simply didn’t fit in with the time.

The style of gaming was a fashion in the 80s. Are modern style may not have fit in so well.

The final difference in between the two eras were the possibilities within the game.

When I say this, I refer to the number of options a player has, the amount of commands they can make.

A lot of games in the past involved run, jump, duck and attack. Today, there is a whole variety of ways in which a players can interact with the game.

Not only that, but today there are so many more places you can explore. Games in the 80s saw 2D platformers and limited levels. Now there are whole worlds to explore. Take GTA V for example. You have the whole city in the palm of your hand!

Having such a variety of games on the market today and the quality of them, modern games have to take the lead.

Technology

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Without a doubt, the technology today is much MUCH more advanced.

One thing that needs pointing out is the amount of things modern consoles can do. Back in the past, consoles were for games and games only. But today, they have evolved into home entertainment systems.

What I mean by this is that you can play movies, you can connect with friends and play online, you can catch up on TV, you can buy games in the comfort of your own home, you can listen to music and so much more.

Did this bother the gamers of the past?

No.

First of all, they didn’t know what they were missing out on. Secondly, they were happy by the fact they could play their favourite arcade games at home. They didn’t need to the console for watching TV and listening to music as they already had devices for it.

Considering the technology they had at the time, Retro consoles were the bomb!

Another significant difference is the size of technology.

Ok, the size of the consoles hasn’t dramatically changed. If anything, they’re still the same size.

However, one holds a lot more data and advanced technology than the other. Having more uses and playing higher quality games but still in the same size shell, retro consoles don’t compare to modern ones.

But if we look at cartridge based games, there is a massive difference! Take for example the size of a NES cartridge, they’re like a huge version of GameBoy cartridges and I mean huge!

Now we have the ones PS Vita’s use cards smaller than most memory cards and almost half the size of a DS game!

Therefore, Modern Consoles have to take a win for this.

Music

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For a musician, this is one of the most noticeable changes. Having inferior CPUs, old consoles couldn’t possibly handle full orchestras and a wide variety of sound effects.

However, this never stopped any game developer in making effective games.

Having 8 Bit processors, the game would play everyone’s favourite 8 bit music. Recognisable, bouncy tunes that could easily determine the mood of the scene without complex instruments.

Nowadays, we find ourselves treated with the melodic sounds of strings, drums, basses and more to creating the gaming mood. Many have demonstrated phenomenally composed pieces that have even made it on to classical charts, an example being Battlefield 1!

Having to pick a favourite, my heart has to say that retro consoles had the best music!

Even being a huge classical fan, the white noise and pixelated sounds have won many decision for one reason:

8 bit music from games are memorable.

If I asked you to recreate the sounds of Mario, I’m sure you could do it. For Zelda, for Pokemon, they don’t prove a challenge.

As for other games, the soundtracks don’t come as naturally. I understand you may be able to remember the theme of the loading screen or a memorable battle scene but otherwise, it’s not tunes you would happily recreate with your friends.

It’s as if the older games had their own theme tunes that we so dearly loved and still love today.

Promotion

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Our lives are riddled with adverts we see them on TV, all over the internet, and even when we leave the house on billboards and posters.

Plenty of the adverts are gaming related: games, consoles and more.

This was the same in the past when gaming came into fashion. Well, there weren’t adverts on the internet because there was no internet but you get my drift.

However,

They are another thing that has changed dramatically.

The most noticeable thing is the tone that the adverts give. Gaming in the past was about time to share with family and friends. You can all play competitive games together in a light manner.

Many adverts featured wacky colours, smiley faces and why their console is the greatest thing. They specifically like to promote the together time.

And the TV Adverts, oh boy the TV adverts. I knew it was the 80s but I wasn’t expecting this!

Of course, we have to remember that the quality of the adverts are a lot worse than what they are now however, no one had the TV sets at home to be watching HD Video. These adverts were big productions back then.

Today, it’s a different story.

For many mainstream games, It’s all about being the best player possible; play online and be better than everyone else. This could be linked to games become more immersive and realistic.

Games offer the opportunity to become the soldier you ever thought you could or travel to the depths of space. It showing players that not all experiences might be sunshine and rainbows and the only way is to show it with darker adverts provoking more feeling inside.

Take Halo 5 for example:

Not only is it more dramatic, fast paced, it’s obvious how much video production has advanced.

I’m not saying there aren’t games today promoting family time. Gaming doesn’t have family time as its first priority, let’s be honest. It’s more centered towards gamers looking for the most immersive experience.

Modern games have the benefit of modern advertising.

Using the internet and vast variety of TV Channels as well as popular areas in cities to promote, this has definitely benefited them greatly. Take these for example:

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Rockstar Games effectively using the London Underground to display a full sized poster.

Another example:

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Bungie stretching the definition of a full size poster at Time Square.

Promotion for 80s games looked a bit more like this:

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So these games might not seem so cool to you now, especially given their posters but they were awesome in the past!

The wacky drawings, variety of colours very much fit in with the style of the time.

It seems harsh to pick a winner of better advertisement given the technology available in the past. However, modern adverts are a lot more dramatic and therefore, inviting. As they show off the power of video games, modern console take the win.

Style

Modern Gaming attracts so many audiences that it almost doesn’t fit in with any kind of modern style. You have the most realstic RPGs, real life simulators, the wackiest of fantasies, educational games, brain training games, quirky indie games and so much more.

80s Gaming knew exactly where it was.

It followed the style that decade so famously had: jazzy colours, geometric shapes etc.

All the games fit together as well. Not only did they appeal to everyone but they had similar playing modes, objectives and more. As well as this, the games also managed to be unique to one another with their characters are worlds.

Games created in this era are now embedded into things we think about when looking at the 80s. We think about shoulder pads, jazzy colours, arcades, funky music videos and overly dramatic music.

When was the greatest time to be a Gamer?

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To answer this question, you have to ask yourself: “What would you rather experience: the technology or the style?”

Today we have 4k graphics with surround sound audio and an unlimited amount of experiences all thanks to advancement in technology.

Before, we had the true beginning of console gaming; retro games and console selling for £1000+ that our founding fathers continue to discuss, the brilliant 8 bit music and quirky designs that perfectly fit into the age.

To many this sounds like no argument but we also need to discuss something else.

Despite arguments proving the greatness of modern gaming, Nintendo managed to sell 61.91 Million Nintendo Entertainment Systems since 1983 while 40 Million PS4s have been sold.

Okay so Nintendo has had 30 more years to push their pioneering console but that doesn’t change the fact that the console was incredibly popular.

There is one argument that can decide our winner:

Retro gaming consoles are the reason why we were able to create modern consoles.

Without our Atari 2600 or NES, where would we be now? Would gaming still be a thing or would it have died quickly and quietly?

For that exact reason, retro gaming is the bomb.

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The one thing that can truly makes Minecraft unique is the amount of personalisation that can be done.

Changing how our character looks really means that we can be thrown right into the game. Using Minecraft Skins is the ultimate personalisation method!

And what better way to celebrate the festive season than to dress up our characters in The Best Christmas Minecraft Skins!

So in this article, we will discover

  • The Best Christmas Skins
  • What makes them so festive
  • Where to find them

To start us off:

Gingerbread Man

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This little guy is one of the many treats we get to enjoy throughout winter so, to celebrate the joy he brings, we can wear our very own Gingerbread skin.

Equipped with realistic Icing and gumdrop buttons, he’s perfect for making you look forward to the big day!

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Christmas Steve

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The most basic way to show your love for Christmas, this Christmas Steve Skin is awesome for subtle personalisation.

Sporting a cute christmas hat, play as Minecraft’s most recongisable character.

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Reindeer Boy

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This skin reminds me of every Christmas School Play I had to participate in, this skin is truly the most adorable on this list.

We can only hope that Santa will have reindeers as cute as this but, for now, let’s enjoy having him fly around our Christmas maps.

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Christmas Girl

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Why is it only guys that dress up as Santa? This girl very much shows that they can do it incredibly well!

This cute Mrs Claus is available for all the girl gamers out there feeling festive.

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Christmas Giraffe

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This one made it on to my list because, well, why not?! I can’t be the only one that absolutely adores Giraffes!

This cute skin is ideal for the quirky Minecrafters who love Christmas and, of course, love giraffes.

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Husky

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Maybe not as festive as the other skins on show but absolutely one of the cutest! A very snowy character that lots of players can love, this skin is a must have!

Plus, if you fall in love with this skin as much as I have, you can use it all year round.

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Christmas Boy

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Now we’ve had cute skins for the girls, how’s about one for the guys. This skin portrays a boy fully wrapped up for the cold weather with a cute Santa’s hat.

If you want a skin to look more like you, this might be the one…

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Snowman

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How more Christmas-y could you get with this Snowman Skin. Perfectly designed to remind anyone of the cold.

And there’s certainly no hiding what you’re dressed as with this budding outfit.

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Santa’s Elf

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An integral part of making Christmas a success, this is a great skin for those who value the work of Santa’s Elves.

Incredibly realistic and rather adorable too, this is one of the Best Christmas Minecraft Skins out there!

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Santa

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The man who brings children joy and gives elves jobs: Santa Claus! This awesome skin is the one to be using over winter.

His festive colours and awesome lifelike detail will make an excellent touch to your Christmas adventures.

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Have some of your own Christmas Skins under your sleeve?

Let us know and leave them in the comments below! They might feature somewhere within DoubleUpGaming…

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Call of duty is one of the largest and most successful franchises and is dying, rapidly.

(disclaimer: opinion article)

During their reign as creators of the franchise Call of Duty, Infinity Ward have managed to create the world’s fastest selling game (MW3) and have enticed over 100 million players into playing their games.

Given this success, one would believe the popularity of the games would only be forever increasing.

Sadly not.

The new installment Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare just came out and usually I would be excited since I am a huge CoD fan. Well, I am afraid to say, I am not as hyped.

I, and many others, have to come to realise that Call Of Duty is really going downhill.

The mission is failing.

And our greatest evidence to support this: less and less people are buying their games. MW3 saw 29.74 Million units sold but Infinity Ward have never been able to achieve sales like this ever since.

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As seen by the graph, the growth in the series’ popularity is all thanks to Modern Warfare 2, an incredibly popular game, and for good reason.

But the graph shows as if they hit their peak in 2011 with the release of MW3 and that sales have gradually decreased ever since.

Of course, the graph also shows an increase in demand for Black Ops 3. This is not a surprise given the success of the previous Black Ops games.

To understand the nature of the graph, we need to go right back to the beginning

Every November, a brand new Call Of Duty game is released. Back in 2003, Infinity Ward released the very first Call Of Duty. It wasn’t a huge game to begin with and it was very underrated.

The game as a whole was very basic, but extremely enjoyable. It was well designed and had great, intense, single and multiplayer modes. As you can see, the Call Of Duty franchise is a first-person shooter, in which I enjoy a lot.

In 2005, the highly awaited Call Of Duty 2 was released and at this point it was still a minor franchise.

Set in WW2, you get to experience the life of a soldier overcoming the odds. You can play as 3 different soldiers in the Soviet, British, and American Campaign.

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However, Call Of Duty started getting a lot more noticed and gaining more fans as new games were released.

  • Call Of Duty 3 –  (2006)
  • Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – (2007)
  • Call Of Duty: World At War – (2008)
  • Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – (2009)
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops – (2010)
  • Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – (2011)
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 – (2012)
  • Call Of Duty: Ghosts  – (2013)
  • Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare – (2014)
  • Call Of Duty: Black ops 3 – (2015)
  • Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare – (2016)

Modern Warfare 2 was one of the best selling Call Of Duty’s, and fans still love playing it to this very day.

Why?

Because it’s one of the most well designed games in the franchise. The campaign was incredible, giving you an intense experience.

For example the mission, “No Russian”, is bone chilling. This mission requires you to shoot your way through Moscow airport with Makarov.

This particular mission shows true fear as you learn it’s all for nothing. You then go to see that he discovers your true identity resulting in shooting you on your way out.

Since the Call of Duty’s multiplayer has vastly evolved over the years, Modern Warfare 2 shines bright as its multiplayer is perfectly balanced.

A significant part of the online play is the ability to counter most of the killstreaks by taking cover inside; this can be seen in the pure excellence of Infinity Ward’s design for the maps.

The weapons used in this game were amongst the best ever seen. For example, the sniper rifles like the Barrett .50cal or the intervention, Assault rifles such as the M4A1 or the Ak-47 and submachine guns like the MP5K or the P90.

My all time favourite thing? Using the map Rust to solve arguments with friends. It was so small, there was nowhere to hide…

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Personally, my favourite Call of Duty was Black ops 2 and overall, I played around 700 hours of that game. It’s actually crazy.

To me, the multiplayer was almost perfect and I loved zombies (mainly the town map).

So what actually happened to Call of Duty?

Well, in one’s own view, the downfall was Call of Duty: Ghosts.

The campaign? It was average. Nothing special. Not much of a storyline to be honest. Even though I did spend about 7 hours completing the campaign. Non stop!

The multiplayer? I guess that was the only part I enjoyed, until I ended up losing interest and went back to playing Black Ops 2.

But the maps were just exceptionally large. For instance, Stonehaven was enormous. Unless you had a sniper on that map, you were basically screwed for getting killstreaks.

The zombies? Wait… there wasn’t zombies? Well, that is one clear example that this game was THE WORST in the franchise. Zombies just got replaced with extinction. Which makes me wonder… WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING INFINITY WARD?!

Many players lacked enjoyment in the game due to the bleak colours throughout and boring kill streaks – one of the things that truly makes these game worth while.

Then, in an attempt to fix everything, November 4th 2014 came around and Infinity ward decided to release a brand new Call of Duty, created in a different light by adding futuristic features such as exo suits and guns of the future.

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare was very innovative. But this is when Call of Duty was evolving, into something us fans particularly don’t want to play.

The game developers must have experienced a lot of negativity after Ghosts, therefore they revolutionized the gaming experience with advanced designs.

I must say, in the first month of playing Advanced Warfare I did enjoy it to an extent. Infected was one of my favourite multiplayer game modes as I had such great hiding spots in every map.

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I did love exo zombies too. It was different and a lot more challenging. But that’s what a great game requires: Challenges.

But this game displayed the worst sales in Modern Warfare 2! Why?

To put it straight, everyone hated the multiplayer functions. The way in which the game decided ‘who shot who’ is terrible. Give a guy 5 bullets to the chest, he’ll give you 2 back and you’ll be the one that ends up dead!

November 6th 2015 rolled around and Black ops 3 was released.

Each and every CoD fan was excited for this release as Black ops 2 was such an amazing and innovative experience.

But yet again, another futuristic Call of Duty was placed on the market. Not as bad as Advanced Warfare in my opinion, it had some good traits. However the thrusters/ exo suits were back and made everyone too overpowered and easy to escape gunfire.

The zombies? I loved it. The maps were huge, I loved all the easter eggs in The Giant and it had an exceptional storyline.

Adding the Margwa in zombies made it more challenging, and that is an aspect I enjoyed greatly as well as the additional weaponry. For example, having to craft the bow in der eisendrache made it more than just ‘Run around, shoot zombies and don’t die’.

After Black ops 3, we waited, and anticipated the next Call of Duty game.

  • Modern Warfare 4?
  • Ghosts 2?
  • A ‘brand new’ futuristic Call of Duty that nobody wanted?

Well, we guessed right.

Infinite Warfare.

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Probably the most futuristic it could possibly get. Set in space? Really Infinity Ward?

Did you know the pre-order sales from Black ops 3 to Infinite warfare dropped by 90%?

As of May 16th 2015 Call of Duty Black ops 3 had 300,000 pre-orders. Since May 14th 2016 Infinite Warfare has just over 30,000 pre-orders. The Infinite Warfare pre-orders are the worst in the franchise history!

I just really don’t understand why the game developers won’t listen to the players. You could say that they half listened since they are brought out Call of Duty Modern Warfare Re-Mastered, but they out smarted us.

Currently you are only able to purchase Modern Warfare Re-Mastered as a bundle with Infinite Warfare.

That truly sucks.

All I know right now is that the war between Battlefield and Call of Duty has a clear winner this year.

Overall the Battlefield 1 reveal trailer has received over 49 million views, over 2 million likes and 39,000 dislikes. Call of Duty Infinite Warfare on the other hand has received over 35 million views and 555,000 likes.

However,

They have a whopping 3.3 million dislikes, making it the largest like to dislike ratio on YouTube, ever!

Plus, the whole game style with Battlefield 1 was completely unique. Having discussed this with friends, we decided that the game was more of an interestingly educational history lesson about the dark battles fought during the Great War.

It was the first game where I struggled to shoot the other team knowing the truth of World War One.

battlefield-gun

Therefore Battlefield 1 gets my vote, along with millions of other players.

At least Battlefield listens to the players and delivers what they want.

The Call of Duty developers are going to have to step up their game otherwise it will be a dead franchise in years to come.

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This time of year can be the most joyous and equally most stressful.

While we have the pleasure of rejoicing with our family and friends with filling roast dinners and thoughtful presents, our bank accounts don’t seem to thank us for it.

But with the month of November, and Christmas soon in sight, comes the most frustrating thing of all to twist our minds into a mess:

What presents do I buy for people?

This situation is not helped when the future receiver of your gift has given you zero hints as to what they would actually like.

But people, I am here to unravel your confused brains with some great suggestions for prezzies.

Specifically, presents for gamers. 

Today you will discover:

  • Great Games for Various Consoles
  • Quirky Stocking fillers
  • The Weirdest and most Wonderful presents of 2016

To get us started, let’s take a look at the Games recently released in time for the big day:

Video Games

These are always a great gift idea for gamers because this is what they live for: games! With the price being fairly high for each title, make sure you know that the receiver will definitely appreciate the gift before you commit to giving it to them! (Or, keep the receipt and gamble).

Here are the most anticipated games to be released this winter season.

Pokemon Sun and Moon

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Yes, another Pokemon Game!

But don’t be fooled. Rather than have you challenge a number of gyms across the region, you are sent on multiple scavenger hunts and given quizzes to solve in order to cross the area.

It stills follows the basics of most Pokemon Adventure games but holds new, unique ways of advancing.

These games also introduce the new idea of Pokemon having exclusive appearances only available to the Alola Region called “Alola Form”. It’s great way of incorporating the original, well loved pokemon into a new game.

It makes us want to catch ’em all that little bit more.

This will make the perfect present for any Pokemon Fan with a 3DS by their side.

Watch Dogs 2

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Set in the City of San Francisco, you play as Marcus Holloway, a hacker and “Modern day magician”. A Central Operating system has recently been installed around the city and, having discovered that it’s harming innocent civilians, you have teamed up with the hacking group DedSec to bring it down.

A great action adventure game for the dedicated gamer, this can make an excellent present.

The latest version of the game allows you access to a variety of tools to complete your missions as well more freedom as to how you want to use them!

This is available for PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Dishonoured 2

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Dishonoured 2 has been designed for the lovers of stealth. However, it’s still pretty awesome for the players who love to run in and attack people as they please.

The new assassin game has taken the game industry by storm winning multiple awards.

The main reason people absolutely adore Dishonoured 2 is the way that the story mode is unique to every player! Many players can have very different experiences with the game.

This all based on how people approach the game; completing tasks etc.

In fact, storylines can be so exclusive for players that the estimated time to play this game is between 12 and 16 hours. 4 Hours is quite a big uncertainty.

This game is also available for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Super Mario Maker

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A nintendo game we have all been dying to play in years, Super Mario Maker.

You can now become the evil mastermind behind those impossible levels we use to rage quit over and over again.

While you may feel like it can be a whole lot of effort laying each and every brick, this is not the case for this game. You can draw out your levels as if you are using a pen and paper!

This is my favourite bit:

You can play in 4 different ages of Mario.

So if you want to create a retro Mario level, you go ahead and create a retro mario level. If you want to make a more modern level you can do that!

And if don’t really want to make the courses, thats cool, you can play hundreds of levels generated by nintendo and created by other users around the world.

This game is available on Wii U and 3DS.

Assassin’s Creed: Ezio Collection

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A Collection of the original Assassin’s creed games is now available in one box set and it sounds awesome. Each game follows the original Assassin, Ezio Auditore da Firenze as he seeks vengeance for his family in 15th Century Italy and 16th Century Constantinople.

The box set includes:

  • Assassin’s Creed II
  • Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
  • Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

Each copy includes the original story from the games as well as new bonus single player material.

An awesome present for any fan wanting to relive the fun with enhanced graphics as well as for those who never got to experience it first hand.

The Ezio Trilogy will be available on PS4 and Xbox One.

The Last Guardian

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The Last Guardian is the equivalent of Avatar in the gaming world. First talks of this game was back in 2007 and has been in the making ever since.

The game follows a young boy and a mythical creature and a unique land creating a bond to overcome obstacles and to be honest, that’s all we really know!

The developers, Team ICO, haven’t released many, if any, spoilers for this well anticipated game other than cute screenshots and faced paced scenes of the misfit duo.

What we do know is that the game includes an exclusive storyline with two loveable characters with many secrets to discover…

A quicker reminder, if you’re planning on buying your friend, significant other, etc. a game, remind them not to buy any before christmas!

If of course, they were too eager and went and bought the game anyway, here’s some more ideas for you

Stocking Fillers

Little presents with a lot of meaning that come at a low cost. These can be great for a huge variety of people and are a guaranteed win. The fun and quirky while also telling the receiver that you know them too well.

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For any hardcore Fallout 4 fan, this present is ideal. It is easily accessible from a number of online retailers for a low price.

A great gift that can be discrete or for show, it makes a wonderful accessory for any gamer.

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A cute gift for a girlfriend, friend that is a girl etc. who is very much into the Portal franchise.

This is a fantastic, inexpensive present for someone who expressively shares their passion for this game. It is also a discrete way they can share with others that portal 2 is their life.

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Now, this present obviously isn’t designed for anyone under 18 (Or 21, sorry America).

Party in style with these beautiful Assassin’s Creed Shot Glasses. Make a drinking game with them. For example, take a shot every time something glitches in Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

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We’ve included a gift for the adults so how’s about an awesome gift for the younger generations.

This wall sticker makes it look as if a creeper is coming is out of your wall! A great gift idea for a boy or girl wanting to spice up the bedroom a bit with their favourite game.

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I personally wanted to include this on the list as it’s perfect for any gamer that brags about them playing PC and how it’s “so much better than console”.

I know a few people I would give this mug to.

Now we’ve had some great ideas for gifts, but it’s time for:

The Most Awesome (and probably the most expensive) Presents of the Year!

These gifts are the true the definition of “Where would you even buy that?!” and “Wow! How could I ever repay you?!”. Be prepared for the weird and wonderful.

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“Why is this necessary?” Who knows. However, what we do know is that it’s pretty awesome!

Technically this gift would be a replica of the world’s largest arcade machine but, nevertheless, it’s still pretty big.

It includes over 250 of your favourite arcade games as well as a built in PC to play all your Steam games to your hearts content.

This monster stands out 14.5′ tall and weighs 1,200lbs!

The one downside, its $99,000. So whoever you buy it for, if you have the spare cash, must be pretty close to you.

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Bringing back the past to modern technology, this will convert your over-used smartphone into an even more over-used smartphone.

Enjoy your favourite GameBoy games on your phone with the smartphone gameboy adapter.

It works the exact same as the old one where you plug your cartridges in and you’re ready to go! (Of course you need a phone.)

Coming in at a price of $60, this gift is definitely more affordable than the World’s Largest Arcade Machine.

One thing to note, this gameboy adapter is only compatible with androids and not iphones!

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This is the perfect present idea for the retro gamer parents who want to show of their video gaming history.

Coming in at a high price, it offers a unique solution to carrying your little bundle of joy.

This could be a potential present for a spouse given it’s price tag…

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For any Pokemon fan, just the sight of this jumper will make memories come flooding back. The hoodie has you cosplay as one of your favourite legendary Pokemon and it’s awesome!

But, before we celebrate too quickly, it is quite expensive at £139!

However, if you’re feeling generous, you might make someone very happy this year…

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Okay, I’m not gonna lie, I want this.

A brilliant present for any Playstation follower, this “ugly Christmas jumper” (definitely not ugly) is great for those to get them into the spirit of the season.

The price tag, for a Christmas jumper, might be fairly high but definitely worth it.

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Nintendo are finally releasing a modern version of their original NES system previously released in Europe back in 1986.

All you have to do is plug this baby into your TV and you can enjoy all your favourite NES games.

This is a fantastic present for any retro gamer wanting to relive the past! For the price of £50, I don’t think that’s too bad for what comes in the box.

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portal

I know great present for a diehard portal 2 fan. Impress every gamers you know with this replica portal gun, equipped with red and orange LED lights to make even more realistic.

The only downside, it doesn’t actually create portals. What a bummer.

And it comes at a price of +$450. Maybe a little bit out of your price range but still pretty cool.

At the end of this article comes the reflection period; the time to realise, you’re not as screwed as you originally thought you were as you now, have some brilliantly unique ideas for gifts that you can amaze all your family and friends with.

If you know some folks who are stuck with the same problem of buying gifts, share this article to inspire some more. If you have any more gift ideas for gamers, leave them in the comments below.

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I recently set myself the challenge of discovering a few games that make the gaming industry the glorious piece of art that it is and this was the first to come to my mind.

LittleBigPlanet.

I have been a follower of the LittleBigPlanet Franchise since they released their first installment in 2008. As a 9 year old, I proudly portered my PSP everywhere with my exclusive copy of LBP and drew all the characters I discovered.

littlebigplanet

Ever since then, each new release has brought more and more surprises to its fans.

Wanting to unearth more about its developers, Media Molecule, I uncovered a game so brilliantly animated, I HAD to find out more.

While LittleBigPlanet portrayed many beautiful designs and concepts, there’s another game they developed that truly deserves the mention:

Tearaway: Unfolded

This game displays a quirky paper craft world being shadowed by evil and you, a small messenger, are set the task of bringing back the colour.

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When I say a papercraft world, I mean it!

Everything, literally, everything is made from paper folding.

In fact, not only is everything in the game made this way, the developers used 280,918 sheets of paper in the game to make Tearaway and needed 647,708 folds! Thanks to using this method to design the game, everything you see in the game can be made in real life.

With such a unique way of creating it, I believe this game holds the perfect opportunity to inspire a future generation of game developers wanting to let their imaginations run wild.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rex Crowle, Lead Creator at Media Molecule on how he and his team approached constructing an award winning game.

The following article contains the interview between DoubleUpGaming and Media Molecule:

What sources of inspiration have made an impact on key design choices within your games?

“A lot of inspiration I think comes from childhood; it certainly does for me. That might be the things we liked to play with, or the TV shows we watched. Most of these old shows tended to be presented by wonky puppets, or were about crafting your own wonky puppets.

So being shown how to build things, and then bringing them to life by playing with them was a big part of these formative years.”tearaway_unfolded-ps4-screenshot-05

“But, we’re not kids anymore, we’ve all grown up with influences from university, art-college or from travelling and living life. We’ve expanded the team with new friends from around the world that have brought their influences.

So while all the Mm games are built from materials we all played with at any early age, they’re filled with the ideas and influences we’ve absorbed ever since.

On LittleBigPlanet, we were influenced by the different cultures and traditions from around the world, so the game had a lot more variety than a journey through a craft store.”

got2-01“We were aiming to show players just how imaginative and creative the world’s cultures have been.

Which in turn makes it more interesting for us to develop, and ultimately we’d hope these influences inspire players to join in and make their own creations, based on their own particular backgrounds, stories and ideas.

The same went for Tearaway: we built the whole world from paper, and completely geeked-out on making it the perfect simulation of a paper-constructed world, but we didn’t want to it feel like the inside of a stationery shop.

It needed to have depth and atmosphere, and for that we took inspiration from folk-tales. The kind of old stories that never get properly written down, but passed on from one generation to the next.”

How does Media Molecule approach the task of designing such unique characters and worlds?

“I think a lot of that just comes from being a small studio, with a diverse team, where everyone gets to speak-up and contribute. So some of the more unusual ideas can come to the surface and be included in a game.”

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“Although we develop games in an iterative, experimental way anyway, we sometimes take some time-out to really jam together on a problem. These periods really free everyone up to think about a problem from a different angle.

The design of iota and atoi in Tearaway came from a jamming session, where everyone on the art-team experimented with paper, and how it moves and what would make a character different from a regular character made of skin and bone.

These experiments ranged from sketches and 3D-renders, to making paper-prototypes and puppets.”

papermenu-01“The same process also influenced the world of Tearaway, where we all experimented together on ways to interact with a world that felt like you were “holding it in your hands”.

And the combination of those experiments, combined with the folklore influences and paper-craft construction, made a world that’s like no other!”

How long does it take to design such characters and levels for your games?

“It’s very hard to say, as the process has a lot of iteration. Characters may be created and recreated dozens of times until they fulfil that need to combine the right personality with the set of abilities and skills they need to have in the game.”

characte2r-01“The same goes for a level, often they are built in small sections we call “motifs”. These are little moments of game play or interaction, which we can put into a kind of library to use when building a level.

They are then laid out into a sequence by a designer, while the art-team are creating mood-boards of inspiration or making small scenes that represent the final atmosphere.

And then from that moment forward is a huge amount of iteration, as art, design, audio, programming, and QA all work together to improve the level with their own area of expertise.

And the production team do the impossible task of making this happen smoothly and making sure that everyone knows what everyone else is doing!”

How far does the art style go to influence and affect the users’ perception of a game?

“That’s down to each individual player and what attracts them really. But I think it’s very important that there is a strong link between the art style of a game and how you interact with that game.

In other words; the art isn’t just a “skin” that could be easily replaced with a different style, and it’s really integrated with the way you play it. For example, we could have made Tearaway out of paper for no reason other than it looked different.”

tearaway-unfolded-atoi-hero-pose

“We could have kept all the gameplay like a standard platformer: jump over the spike-pits, run through the lava level, throw grenades at the bad guys. But that wouldn’t have unified the art and the gameplay.

Paper spikes aren’t going to hurt anyone, and paper lava doesn’t make a lot of sense – it would just be a pile of ash!

So we used the opportunity to think differently about how we could build a game with paper, and used pop-up books as inspiration to build an environment that you could unfold, peel open, or tear up.

And hopefully that more unified approach makes the game more interesting to all players, so they can just lose themselves in an imaginative but cohesive experience, rather than just looking specifically at the art.”

Despite making it look as so easy, it seems there’s a lot more steps in the process of creating a game.

Before conducting my interview, I believed, to come up with a best selling game, you just needed one guy with an extraordinary imagination.

But there’s a whole lot more to it.

Their most beneficial asset was obviously having a small but communicative team at hand to help everyone cross hurdles and design new parts of the game.

Having a group to brainstorm with rather than creating designs solo has lead to the birth of imaginative protagonists unique to the game.

Having everyone’s inspirations clash together into one game has added to the possibility of a stand out game that hasn’t been approached before. Thanks to a diverse team, influences have been added across the globe and have given it such a huge personality; that’s not something many games can say they had!

Media Molecule have been a prominent Game Developer with fantastic examples of creating quirky and exclusive games.

If you are a developer looking for new ways to approach designing and making your games, these guys are your ideal inspiration.

To find more games displaying great examples of awesome artwork and creativity, check out our previous article: Tramadol Ohne Rezept Online.

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The modern age of gaming is starting to bring more than entertainment into our lives. New forms of Game artwork are gracing our screens and blessing our lives with colour and imagination.

Of course, I’m referring to our golden age of Indie Games that aren’t £50 a game; the ones that don’t worry about following the common trend of their competitors today.

They don’t need to involve guns or wars into their main stories but can face real life issues as well as completely imaginary ones.

And they represent these unique kinds of games with the best of artwork

A common tendency in popular games is to create characters that resemble humans in the most lifelike way. For example: FIFA17 is using head tracking technology on actors so that games can look even more realistic.

But I say, why worry?

Gaming is the most perfect way of escapism so lets use this to our advantage.

There are developers out there who think like me: they extend their imagination to the outer edges of their minds. They truly test how far the human brain can go.

The drawings that they’d go onto create would bring our favourite characters to life, fill our bedroom walls, become our desktop wallpapers, and be our inspiration for new kind of art.

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night-in-the-woods

When discovering more details about this game, it wasn’t the trailer that first impressed me, it was their website!

Displaying excellent examples of the creative characters as well as the popular colour scheme that is involved with the game, I immediately wanted to find out more.

You are faced with quirky characters that you would assume were part of a children’s cartoon but will be surprised to hear how the story unfolds:

“College dropout Mae Borowski returns home to the crumbling former mining town of Possum Springs seeking to resume her aimless former life and reconnect with the friends she left behind. But things aren’t the same.

Home seems different now and her friends have grown and changed. Leaves are falling and the wind is growing colder. Strange things are happening as the light fades…”

Even with an unusual looking set of characters, this game is facing real life problems for that of an adult!

While allowing players to relate to problems they may be experiencing at the moment, the game artwork also allows the seriousness of the game to be toned down.

People aren’t reminded of their problems but rather find a subtle way to approach the matter.

Having the main character as a cat in an animated world rather than a realistic human in recognisable surroundings allows the idea of escapism.

Night In The Woods is due a release soon but if you want to see an example of their work, you can download a separate mini game they have developed including the same characters.

Longest Night is a tester game built in a week as a starter project that lets you match up constellations as the gang sit around a camp fire.

0r69ars

It shows a brilliant insight into what to expect in the final piece: the fantastic characters, the entertaining sense of humour and the impressive animations.

It was the smaller things that really drew me to the game; the way the text would have their own tiny animations when being spoken just adds to the game artwork.

Especially with this mini game, despite not having a whole expansive story included (what do you expect? It’s a mini game!) it still had a whole load of cute things to discover.

When you hover over a star, each one makes a unique sound and when you discover a new constellation, you would receive a funny explanation along with it aswell.

Showing such unique designs in their games, I asked Scott Benson, co-creator of the game, on his thoughts on game artstyle and he gave a compelling argument:

“Photorealism, even if it’s somewhat stylized, is just considered a goal. No one asks why The Witcher has really nice grass and horses. But that kind of thing I think can, in aggregate over game after game after game, create an environment where games that don’t go for that are suspect in some fashion.

‘Why isn’t this game chasing that same thing? This isn’t why I bought this expensive hardware! What are you trying to pull?’

Once you get away from how something is ‘supposed’ to look is where things get interesting, and interesting is memorable. I want to know what an artist’s trees look like when they can’t make them look like photographs of trees.

That choice alone puts such a fingerprint down, and tells you so much about the artist and the game itself.”

There’s a lot I will be looking out for in the future from these guys.

Fortunately for some developers with great ideas, they have the backings of big companies.

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tearaway-unfolded

Run by Media Molecule, the great minds behind Little Big Planet, TearAway is one of the many fantastic examples of imagination being let free in game developing.

The game artwork presented in this game is so good, it has won a BAFTA for Artistic Achievement

And this wasn’t the only award it has received…

Playing as a paper folded courier, your mission is to journey across a paper world to deliver a message.

In order to do so, you, the player, can:

  • Create vast winds to move threatening obstructions
  • Shine the way when the path is dark
  • Draw on the TouchPad to create items in the game
  • Receive items from the game, through the TV and into your controller .

atoi_thrownforth

This game is the ultimate 4th wall breaker as you, not just your character, are the hero defeating the darkness. Without you and your dualshock controller, the paper world would perish due to the scraps taking over.

If that’s not good enough, you can unlock a variety of protagonists to print out and fold yourself; our collection at the DUG office is growing quickly!

The diverse imagination released into this game is one of the best examples of developers releasing their full creativity and imagination on a game that has evidently had alot of love and care put into it.

With a game as detailed and coloured as Tearaway: Unfolded, where would you start in creating it?

We asked Rex Crowle, Lead Creator of Tearaway: Unfolded for his thoughts:

He explained “a lot of inspiration comes from childhood.  That might be the things we liked to play with, or the TV shows we watched.

But, we’re not kids anymore, we’ve all grown up with influences from university, art-college or from travelling and living life. We’ve expanded the team with new friends from around the world that have brought their influences.

So while all the Mm games are built from materials we all played with at any early age, they’re filled with the ideas and influences we’ve absorbed ever since.

rexxxx

When it came to actually designing the characters, Rex praised having a small team on the job as everyone’s opinion could be heard; the most unusual of ideas could flower and be experimented on.

But don’t think that Media Molecule got the characters they dreamed of instantly, “characters may be created and recreated dozens of times until they fulfil that need to combine the right personality with the set of abilities and skills they need to have in the game.”

To hear more from Rex and how they successfully designed their games, you can read the whole interview between DoubleUpGaming and Media Molecule Tramadol To Buy Cheap.

Limbo

Not all of these games follow a colourful world with a variety of interesting characters to meet. There’s another game we need to consider:

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This particular is available across PC, Console & Mobile’s and is one of the creepiest games I have ever played.

Whilst being a 2D Platformer, it is nothing like the typical retro games that are usually made for that format.

Playing as a young boy running through the depths of a dark forest, the world around you is displayed as silhouettes. You have to figure your way to the end before succumbing to gruesome deaths including being impaled by giant spiders and crushed by bear traps.

You could have guessed by now that this game isn’t for the faint hearted. I too struggled with some of these deaths; once I knew I was to be decapitated by giant, hidden spikes, I’d have to cower away from the screen.

The game artwork differs greatly from the others but that doesn’t make it any less imaginative.

This game has no colour and in fact, barely any light.

It isn’t necessarily the colourful artworks that designers use but the originality of what they have designed.

The drawings behind this game perfectly portray just how scared someone should be when in that situation.

I never thought that the subtle artwork, film grain and complete darkness would be able to create such an atmosphere that could get completely under my skin.

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growup_screenshot_06_251673

This game takes a sharp turn from their more popular titles including Tom Clancy’s: The Division and For Honour. However, that doesn’t make the game any less amazing!

You are a cute robot, Bud, who has crashed his ship on an unknown planet and are trying to piece your ship back together. On the way, you gain new functions including jet packs and growing indigenous plants to help you cross this unknown world.

Parts of this game remind me of OctoDad thanks to the mis-balance of your character as well as some controls. (If you don’t know what octodad is, you’ve got to check it out!)

The art of this game opens you to a 3D alien planet that truly makes you want to discover the world you’ve landed in; I felt no rush to fix my ship when playing this game.

And the excellent physics complements the brilliant design of the character, it makes you feel like you’re a robot who has never had the need to step out of his ship before.

I think what made me want to include this game in the article is just how cute this little robot is! Just by looking at the poster, you can immediately understand how vulnerable this little guy must be!

Not to mention, the quirky, retro music in the background and the cute beeping sounds that Bud makes; it truly remind of you of a sci-fi robot.

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lumino-city

This particular example is more than a game; it’s more than a piece of art; it’s the first of it’s kind and also a winner of a BAFTA for artistic achievement.

In this particular city, you are Lumi, a small girl you has taken on the journey to find her recently kidnapped Grandpa. She must cross the city by completing puzzles in order to find him. Along the way, you might discover more about him that you never would have guessed…

But here’s the bit that makes this game so captivating:

The city you live in is filmed entirely with a motion control camera.

This means that using paper, miniature lights and a lot of patience, the developers decided to create the world in which your characters explore. It’s the one game that required architects to build it!

The 10 ft tall city took 3 years to create and it was totally worth it.

The model is full of mini motors to move some of the various puzzles and decorations you’ll see spotted around when playing the game.

lumino-making

Now, you may feel that this is an awful amount of effort but Luke Whittaker, Co-founder and Lead Editor at State Of Play Games, explained that this was the easiest way for them to create the game.

They wanted to create the most realistic feel to the city and the only way to truly achieve this would be to use real materials. Using digital technology would involve a lot more precision to create the look they wanted:

You’d be having to throw shaders and all sorts at it and even then it wouldn’t look quite the same

In terms of actually creating parts of the game and filming the shots they wanted, they wouldn’t always know how they were going to do it:

We enjoyed that process of working on the edges of our ability and having to hack things.

You get a massive reward when you turn up in the morning you don’t know how you’re gonna finish a scene and you crack it by mid afternoon, and you’re like ‘this is amazing!’. It’s kinda what you do it all for.

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slide2

This particular companies strong points is its graphic designs and animations.

Not only have they looked into designing games but they have also created short films and even toys!

Despite not having released the game yet, I still feel they are the perfect example of what designers should be looking for in regards to make quirky game characters.

They display an excellent way of creating human beings without actually creating human beings.

The dimensions don’t have to be perfect. They can have thick necks and no shoulders and yet, we would still know exactly who they are supposed to be.

That is your main way of drawing characters that you want to stand out from other games: you need to adapt some of their unique features so that they can be easily related to a  certain game.

This is exactly what Yum Yum London have achieved.

yumyumlondon

So, what did all these games have in common?

The key thing that has lead all these the games to be successful is not because they are the most colourful or most well drawn. It’s the sheer uniqueness that defines the game.

You’ll realise that not one of these games has the same story. In fact, they have a story that has never been touched in this light before.

And the characters?

They are something easily recognized to be a part of a certain game. A lot of the time, if I showed you an image of a character made to look as life like as possible, you wouldn’t be able to pinpoint a specific game that it was related to.

However,

If I showed you an image of one of these characters, you could tell me exactly what game it was from.

Or,

You would want to find out more about them.

The best thing about these games in my opinion?

Do you notice any similarities in the trailers?

The developers didn’t need to animate cut scenes for their advert; none of them said at the bottom “Not real gameplay” because all of it is included in the game!

They don’t need to worry about attracting people to the game because the game artwork already is attracting! So all they have to show is real shots from the game.

Do you have any other game art on your wall right now? Tell us which game has your favourite designs.