In response to "Back to Basics" from The Escapist Forum: This article was great in many ways. Very interesting and quite poignant. However, there was one point I have to disagree with strongly.
Games are NOT older than novels. They are older than film in the non-computer sense. If you allow a regression from your subject of computer gaming to just gaming, then you have to regress on film and novels too. In that case, novels are the oldest, because their ancient form, the verbal saga, is far older. I'm talking thousands of years older, here.
It just seemed unfair to regress one medium and not the others, wording it in that way. But I liked the enthusiasm.
Good article. Good ideas in it. Still, we've never had this problem in our course. The whole class was split into groups of two or three and tasked to create 3 levels in the Quark toolset for Quake II. My level wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. My other two members though did a fantastic job. Excellent lighting, perfect map layout. I was team leader of the project and I must say I definately learned from my team what makes a good map (the map also had to be the general shape of the first letter of our name).
In saying that, perhaps it was the way the class was taught what makes a good map during class? Could also be the toolset you used in modding Counter-Strike?
In response to "Don't Knock the Aztecs" from The Escapist Forum: One weird thing about Civ IV that never sat right with me was the inclusion of tribal villages, which were little more than random resource acquisition points. On one hand, a game that presumes to teach history is technically correct in rendering these 'non-cultures' as targets for assimilation and conversion into assets, since that's what often happened. On the other hand, the way tribal villages are represented reveals an inherent Westernized perspective on development and colonization. The player doesn't even have the choice to leave these villages alone (they are automatically negated and converted into resources once your sphere of influence reaches and encompasses them). Specifically European advancements and achievements are also given a rather weighty presence and value.
I hate politically-correct indignation as much as the next guy, but even 'learning' games like Civilization are wide open for these kind of critiques. The good news? At least they get people thinking and talking. Open dialog is better than glossing over colonial history.