“Ubification” of Ubisoft Games

ubisoft_games_whatculture

Several popular Ubisoft game characters.  Image Source: WhatCulture

So, as I sit here waiting patiently to register for classes for the upcoming Summer and Fall terms, I find myself reflecting back on the game that I was playing over the Easter Holiday weekend, Ghost Recon: Wildlands (GRW).  Not really the most appropriate game for such a religious holiday, but I’m about half-way through it and I really want to finish it.  It is both fun and a slog.  How can that be, you might ask.  A game is either fun or it isn’t.  Well, it is much like Mass Effect Andromeda, fun in spurts, but far too long.

Jim Sterling on the “Ubification” of Games

Now, there is a video game personality, Jim Sterling, who talks about games and game companies’ practices on a regular basis.  He is something of a legend in the video game community, a pundit who is at times lauded and hated.  I don’t usually watch pundits, but every now and again, Jim calls out a segment of the video game industry that video game companies would prefer you not to notice.  Today, he chose to point out some of the things that Ubisoft is doing with their games, and since GRW is published by Ubisoft, I thought I’d watch.  Here’s the YouTube video if you’re interested–WARNING: NSFW (Harsh Language–unfortunately, Jim Sterling is in love with the F-Bomb and Crap word).

Now, Jim noticed this trend of Ubisoft’s games looking similar to one another with the release of Far Cry 5 last week, but as a player of quite a few of Ubisoft’s catalog (The Crew, all major in-line Assassin’s Creed releases, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and now Ghost Recon: Wildlands), I’ve been noticing that loop myself for a while.  Ubisoft actually has a gameplay mechanic that has been mocked and parodied in the gaming community for a while now– the unlocking of more of the game “map” by visiting some sort of “tower.”

Making it Relevant to Scholarship

One of the things that I’ve wanted to do for a while is to find a way to make what ever I’m currently playing relevant to scholarship.  While games, game theory, and video gaming is being studied in academia, it is still a very niche idea with too many scholars not understanding that many of the talented individuals who would be writing literature (books) or crafting cinema (movies) are actually working in the gaming arena.  What some scholars dismiss as mere “fluff” or have the idea that games that are not relevant to the greater society of the whole are missing a whole wider world in which subculture, especially gaming culture, is influencing and being influenced by the culture of gaming (don’t believe me–trace the backlash against Anita Sarkeesian and the GamerGate controversy with the backlash against Leslie Jones and the Ghostbusters (2016)–they are quite similar in reaction/rationale all happening “approximately” the same time).  My hope is that I can somehow use GRW to talk about video games in scholastic context.  I’m still formulating how I want to approach it (perhaps talking about Open World games in general).  We’ll see, but video game rhetoric is still such a new topic that the field is still fairly wide open as to what I can analyze, so there are many opportunities for scholarship from this one game.  I just need to figure out how to approach it.

Well, that’s it for now.  Have a great day!

Sidney



Advertisements

E3 and me: The Crew 2

ubisoftlogo_rayman-fanpagedotde

Image Source: Rayman-Fanpage.de

This time I want to talk about another racing game that’s caught my eye: The Crew 2 (TC2).  This game is a sequel to The Crew by Ubisoft.  The Crew’s claim to fame is that it offers an open world map of the United States for players to drive through.  Players can start in New York on the East Coast and drive seamlessly though the game’s roads, highways, or even off-road and travel to Los Angeles or San Fransisco on the West Coast.  Now, while the map is highly condensed, it can still take anywhere from 30 – 45 minutes to travel the length of the map and there are quite a few unique elements to the game that I really enjoyed such as road discovery, landmark discovery, modifying vehicles, and a mostly satisfying in-game soundtrack delivered via radio stations.  The Crew was denigrated for its story and many reviews thought that the game’s visual’s were not up to “next generation” standards (which the devs. addressed by “up-rezzing” the graphics as part of a later patch) and they supported the game rather well, I thought.

thecrew2_technobuffalo

Image Source: Techno Buffalo

TC2 seems to up the graphical fidelity even more and it looks like from the gameplay trailers that the map may be even larger than the previous game (and if not, it certainly looks more diverse).  It appears that they might be dropping the “story” mode to the game and going with more of a festival/win at all the various disciplines approach to the game.  Speaking of disciplines, the game is devoted into 4 main areas: Street Racing, Off-road racing, speed boat racing, and air racing.  It also looks like you can jump seamlessly between the various modes even in mid-race, although I’ll have to see how that plays in game to see if that is going to be as cool as it sounds.

The Crew’s large open world, its (in my opinion) inoffensive story, and its great game play made it a mainstay for me and helped me to keep my sanity during my second year of teaching middle school.  I’m hoping that The Crew 2 helps do much same now.  I’m cautiously optimistic about this game as well.

Here is the reveal trailer for The Crew 2.

Sidney