Wednesday, September 13, 2006


After a few months resting, here I come again. Blogging can be addictive, and sometimes you need to take a break. In my case, as I write five or six different blogs, I opt for stop adding posts in one of them from time to time. Those last months have been this blog turn. But now it's over. Back to job again.

Of course during those months I've not stop playing at all. In fact, those months have been a very active ones. I have played and replayed Resident Evil 4, Men of Valor, Brothers in Arms Earned in Blood (veteran level), Brothers in Arms Road to Hill 30 (authenticate level), Doom 3, Spartan, Legion Arena (demo), Warriors Kings, Shadow of Rome, Kingdom under Fire The Crusaders, America's Army, Medal of Honor Breakthrough, Call of Duty Finest Hour, Sniper Elite and Kuma War. So no time for boring over here.


During the next weeks I will post on these games. But today I want to introduce two of my current research areas, as an scholar.
The first area is related to track islamophobia in digital games. My starting point is that I realize that in some games islamic symbols or related patterns are shown as dangerous or suspicious. As a consequence people playing these games tend to associate islamic universe with terrorism. The example I always put is the role assigned to mosque towers in those games. Guess what? You're right it is the place where the bad guy is hidden, armed with an RPG, waiting to whack you. So if you are a newbie in games such as Full Spectrum Warrior, Kuma Wars or American Army, and you're in a MOUT scenario, as soon as you see a mosque, be prepared because from there will arrive the enemy fire.

So the association goes, mosque is a dangerous place, mosques must be destroyed. "Shot the Mosque first, then ask" it seems to be the undelying message. From here to the clash of civilizations there is less than one step forward. To understand the enormous implications of these association, may be we can image the other way around. We can imagine a game where churches, cathedrals, and other christian buildings are systematically the places where the bad guys attack. You may say, well let's take a look to Resident Evil 4, but is not the same case. The reason is that in Resident Evil 4 we assist to an endogenous clash between people from the same civilization (westerners, christians). On the contrary, in Islamophobic games, the conflict is an exogenous one (christians versus muslims, west vs south). Since you portray the enemies as something like aliens, they are not humans, so they do not deserve a human treatment, they can be wiped out without mercy.

Well, in this research I try to identify some others islamophobic signs in order to emphasize that digital games, because of their popular success as an entertainment tool, can be misused to disseminate racist and xenophobic messages. This also happens in television, radio and printed press, so it is not a digital games particularistic pattern. But if we, as players, want to avoid digital games stigma, we must be the first to warn about these dangers.

The second area of research is dedicated to Nam Wars. I will write on it in a next post.

Friday, March 17, 2006


A few days ago I finished the campaign option of one of the most commented digital games lately. I'm refering to Full Spectrum Warrior (FSW, from now on). When he broke up in 2004, the media impact was really important. The reason was, that FSW, is not exactly a game to have fun, but a game to think and to train, to simulate situations. The game was the outcome of a close partnership between private firms and the military, and in some way, like America's Army, is considered a kind of recruit strategy. In recent fairs and electronic expositions, the FSW booth is always a very remarkable one, in order to attract people.

The most notable thing that FSW has is that player do not shoot any time. Instead, he orders to fire to up to three squads. The key element is to advance towards the target, and at the same time to cover one squad with the other squad, in order not to be attacked by enemy fire. That implies a lot of tactics. Choosing the right place to attack an enemy that is firing in the opposite direction, surely trying to finnish our comrades from the other squad. As Charlie is stormed from the back, your victory do not last. Of course, smoke grenades are a key element to approach to Charlie without being shot (? symbol, inform us that Charlie can't attack). Once you are close enough, it's time for hand grenades and suppression fire. In most cases, the enemy die and you pass to next level. In fact, once you have get the tactics to attack is pretty easy to pass to next level. That was exactly what happened to me. From the beginning it was difficult to finnish the missions, but once yo got the tactics, the game is pretty easy.

Another innovation, in some sense, is the treatment of wounded comrades. The game follow strictly the order that "No one is leave behind" So if you fail to transport your comrade wounded to the nearest CASEVAC in time, he dies so you lose. Of course this can be considered a resource in order to build Comradeship among new recruits.

FSW is a good game for people with iron nerves... Recently I have also played a demo version of next FSW installment: FSW Ten Hammers, and the progression is a good one. Congratulations!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Yesterday I went to the theatre to watch this video-game based movie. And I have to admit that most of the reviews I've read previously were right. This movie is not a very good one. Of course, special effects are OK, but the argument is horrible, and people like The Rock sucks. If I have to save something from it is the most video-game related part: these four o five minutes recorded in First Person view, when Reaper character kill all the zombies and beasts he finds on his way. I have played Xbox demo version of the game, and the atmosphere is similar. But, as a matter of fact, that's really poor.
May be critics that say that video-games and movies don't match, are happy now. But I think there is still room to find a connexion. Probably we must wait until Halo movie will be finished in 2007 to realize if at last it really exists.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


A few days ago I finished the campaign option from Killzone game. I must admit that this game attracted me even before he reached the stands. I first hear about it when I saw Edge front cover issue displaying some (or may just one, I don't remember exactly) Helgash soldiers.Of course I have had a lot of fun, playing it. But my evaluation is not completely good. When he first appeared, it was said that was Sony's try to neutralize Microsoft's Halo blockbuster. Of course, he failed. But nevertheless, I think he has some strong points, even stronger than his competitor.
First, there is a team. Four people, each one has his own personality: Templar, Luger, Rico and Hakha. You can choose which one use in every mission. As you play you learn about them.You learn, for example, that Luger is not strong, but her attack is lethal. On the contrary, Rico is like a rock, but you spend a lot of ammunition to achieve modest results. Templar is the chief, and Hakha, well you know, there is always a shadow about his fidelity to the team. As a consequence, there is complexity, contrary to Halo, where there is simplicity (I mean, good boy against bad aliens). Second, I think that in Killzone there is a true effort to produce not only a game, but also art. There is a story, but also drawings are good, so I realize that creators want to produce a piece of art.

On the other hand, from my point of view, playability is a little boring. You don’t need to use strategy, you only need to have enough balls to attack the enemies and kill them before they kill you. There is a clear parallellism with Call of Duty tactics: team doesn’t attack until you attack first. By the way, Helgash people are often like dummies they don’t reply your shots so it’s too easy to finish them. Even in the harder mode, Killzone is relatively easy to play, and this is frustrating. Of course, you can use Luger, the weakest character, but even in this case, sooner or later, you win. I have played other games where victory is tougher. As an example, it is three months since i’m trying to finnish Men of Valor, the Vietnam FPS game, and i can’t.

Well i don’t know if there will be a second installment of Killzone, it’s a pretty game, and i think it can be useful to those who start to play games. An advice to creators: do not abandon the story included in the game, but try to sophisticated it. I will appreciate also to include a mission in an open combat field with trenches and a lot of characters in the screen, with close combat techniques. Yeah, the one that make your nerves explode. I liked very much the mission where Templar has to defend a semi-destroyed position from the combined attack of Helgash infantry and armoured vehicles.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


If the answer is a big YES, just play the Barcelona Shipyard battle map at 1936 game, a mod from MOH Breakthrough. This map remembers the battle fought during July 18 and 19, 1936, by catalan workers organisations and democratic political parties members against the spanish army and fascists elements raised to eliminate the republican regime. This battle was won by the workers-republican side. Attached to this post you can see some screenshots from the game, that reproduce some of the most known monuments and buildings from Drassanes (Shipyard) area in Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. You can see the Christopher Columbus monument, who, by the way, it is not clear that was from italian origin. Recent studies show that he was probably from, guess where... catalan origin, of course.
Unfortunately, as a Mac gamer, it is impossible to me to play it :-(

Friday, September 16, 2005


Since my last post I have suffered two serious casualities in my game stuff. First, Alex, the iMac G5, 1,8 ghz I used at my office was stolen. Damn bandits! It has been replaced by an eMac G4 700Mhz, that from the gamer point of view is not the same at all. Fortunately, I don't play at the office.

Second, my PS2 had a domestic accident when my son and his buddy were playing Medal of Honor: Rising Sun. The console fell from 50 cm., and when we set up again it, the disk reader failed. So, I have to buy a new console. Since September is not the right time to buy, I will await until October. May be I will acquire the Silver PS2 model.

More stuff
Previously to the domestic accident, I bought Panzer Front Ausf. B. I know it is not a top game. Game reviewers considered it rubbish. But from a point of view it has something, say, romantic.
Tanks models are not big guys (like Tiger), but small or medium ones, and this, I think, offers a special dimension to the game, more traditional oriented. You have to work hard to win. On the other hand, I agree that it is hard to keep tension, and after a while playing may be you quit in search of more action.

Lately I have downloaded three games. The first one is the Mac version of Return to Castle of Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. I've just played once because my home Mac do not work fast enough and it is very depressive being killed one thousand times. I'm not a masochist at all! May be when I get a faster machine I will come back to pay all the debts (I warn you, guys!). The second is America's Army. Special Forces. I have played the night mission, but I failed, so I have to train more in order to succeed.

Finally, yesterday I downloaded Digi Pool, a mix of Billiards and Mini Golf arcade game. Pretty nice. Cool. I played the demo version, but may be i will buy the game. It’s relax.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


I know it. This game is an old one. And i know it is not a very dynamic one. Yes. I accept that.

But I love it so much. And now 1 love it even more. Why? Because the other day, after two years (since July 2003) I won it. Two years of frustration ended suddenly when i read in the middle of the screen YOU ARE VICTORIOUS. Damn Good!


This day and the next days, the World seemed beautiful, people were happier, and I realized that everything was possible.

I am talking about Legion, the Ancient Europe based strategy game.

The match was though. I was the Maetae tribe, at Pacifying the North screen, and after a serie of easy victories against my neighbours I faced a few, but terrible defeats, that put me in serious troubles. The situation went to worse when a southern tribe started a strong offensive and defeated the rest of tribes, except me. I was the next one.

In order to prevent my destruction, I rearranged all my cities. Those cities in the rearguard were assigned to develop economic activities (farms, ore and wood). Those cities in the frontguard were considered military centers in charge to protect the border and, if possible, to conquer new cities.


This strategy fullfiled, and turn after turn i was able to stop the enemy offensive and to develop counterattacks, occupying new cities and gaining more resources. It was fucking epic. And then when I was ready to storm with more than ten large armies two key cities, the computer told me I was the winner. Good, but…

Two considerations. First, I like Legion probably because I’m a History Graduate. But I also realize that this kind of strategy games, are not very popular between gameplayers. Sometimes they are boried and they need planification and patience. May be they are more adult games.

The second consideration i want to rise is more political or ethical oriented. During the match when i was short of some element (i.e. wood), I sent to a suicide battle some units of archers or javalinemen, wood consumers both, in order to decrease my need of such element. Once my units defeated, the wood display turned to positive sign. I guess, and that is the point, if this way of acting is also possible in the real world. In other words, is it possible that economic considerations make leaders to sacrify troops ? i think that the answer is a strong YES, adding that not only economic considerations are possible, but also other extramilitary considerations, such as ethnic or religious ones. For example, there are a large number of examples of military units composed by a national group that is sent to a suicide attack by the Supreme HQ, whose members belong to another national group. Examples: during the First World War, the French generals sent to death many military units formed exclusively by non french speaking soldiers, such as the “Catalan” 53rd Infantry Regiment, that took part in some of the bloodiest battles in the war. Of course the number of casualities were among the highest, provoking the loss of a whole male generation in the territory they belong to.


Well, may be i think too much. But that is an example of “Entertaiment without Responsibility” , a feature that some analysts have associated to digital games. It is true, but i think it can be avoided: for example, you can prevent generals to send his troops to suicidal battles if after a series of defeats, the moral of the rest of troops is low or there are signs of discontent and mutinity. If this is the case, generals (i.e. the player) will think twice before acting.