Thursday, November 11, 2004

Halo: THE game for cyborgs

BBC NEWS | Technology | Halo fans' hope for sequel:

As a cyborg researcher, I am embarrassed to admit I've never even heard of this amazing Xbox video game, which purportedly has sold 5 million copies. Surely this BBC news article is a bit of hype, but perhaps I'll have to go out and buy an Xbox in order to conduct in-depth studies.
"Halo is considered by many video game pundits to be one of the finest examples of interactive entertainment ever produced and more than 1.5 million people worldwide have pre-ordered the sequel.

A science fiction epic, Halo centred the action on a human cyborg, controlled by the player, who had to save his crew from an alien horde after a crash landing on a strange and exotic world contained on the interior surface of a giant ring in space.

Remembrance of Things Past it was not - but as a slice of schlock science fiction inspired by works such as Larry Niven's Ringworld and the film Starship Troopers, it fit the bill perfectly."

4 Comments:

Blogger Dustin said...

Check this out

http://money.cnn.com/2004/11/08/commentary/game_over/column_gaming/index.htm

I don't have a game console, but that's pretty impressive. Apparently the launch of Halo 2 is bigger than the launches of many blockbuster films.

The company that created Halo was an independant, self-publishing PC/Mac software company before they were bought out by Microsoft. One cool thing though is that they have continued to create original brand names, rather than basing every single product they make on a movie, like so many banal games companies do because they publishers that own them are too uninspired and banal to take any risks.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Meshon said...

Every Thursday night I join up with a half-dozen other wannabe cyborgs to play Halo, and now Halo 2, and I think in these games the cyborg angle exists to aid in the suspension of disbelief. However, Bungie has a long association with cyborgs. Back when they were producing for Mac only (ironically they are now owned by Microsoft), Bungie released the Marathon trilogy, a first-person sci-fi game starring a cynical cyborg and an insane Artificial Intelligence named Durandal. The humans were called BOBs (I think it meant Basic Ordinary Biologicals) and there were many tongue-in-cheek references to the their expendability, mostly the AI's perspective. These earlier games had a surprising depth of philosophy and mythic resonance mixed in with the battle for survival. Sadly, in Halo much of that is gone, and the interesting themes are less obvious and less developed. One theme remains constant though; the cyborg is a machine of war. He is even kept in suspended animation until humanity needs his help to save it from destruction.

And as far as saving his crew... the BOBs and the Marines are always completely expendable.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Allison Muri said...

so : questions about these games from the perspective of a non-gamer: are they a narrative? do they rely on old literary techniques? are they a new form of story arising from a new technology, or an old form of story simply reshaped & reborn from a new technology? Do gamers (and is that even the right term for people who play this game?) have new and unique identities wrought from their violent e-experiences (I confess I have my doubts) or are they finding new ways to express all the old mythic themes? --as we know, these games can be addictive, but then so can "natural" substances such as drugs, alcohol, food, sex... are cyborgs any different from all the natural fools from which we descended?

10:29 PM  
Blogger Allison Muri said...

Red vs. BlueThe NY Times has an article today about online comedy series called Red vs. Blue. Interestingly, in this instance at least the video game inspires creativity, narrative, and comedy. These short films, which depict fictional events in the world of Halo, have storylines and characters that are blocked out, recorded in a series of takes, edited, and dubbed. Burnie Burns, the originator of the idea and creator of the first films, explains, "One player in a game is literally a cameraman; you're recording through that character's eyes. It looks like animation, but it's really a lot like live action....Machinima kind of starts when you stop playing. Halo is a virtual world; a character's programmed to talk or shoot when a player enters the room, but what happens right after the player leaves? He's still in there."

New episodes are downloaded at a rate of over 900,000 per week. Why does Microsoft let Red vs. Blue go on? Burns says, "They still could [stop it]. But the guys from Bungie contacted us right away - they saw it starting at Episode 1 or 2 - and said they liked it a lot and wanted to make sure we were protected. Everyone's got this need to tell a story, and I think more of these big companies recognize that."

7:17 AM  

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