Censorship in Video Games

Photo by  Mathew Rym  on  Unsplash

Everyone knows the game Mortal Kombat. Developed by Midway Games in 1992, the video game ended up being synonymous with violence. How many of you know of the other two video games that are responsible for bringing about the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)? Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, and Lethal Enforcers brought the early 90’s to a screeching halt and Senate hearing dates were put in place to talk about the issue of violence in gaming. People were scared, for their kids and for themselves.

Things were changing so fast: MTV was mainstream, rap and rock were popular and video games were evolving at an alarming rate.

The Parents Music Resource Center made a list of 15 songs they labelled as the Filthy Fifteen, demanding that these songs be banned from ever being played on radio. Television was walloped by parental groups, as well. While these forms of media were under fire by parents, so was the video game industry.

“Lacking its own ingenuity, the parasite fears the visionary. What it cannot plagiarize, it seeks to censor. What it cannot regulate, it seeks to ban." - Andrew Ryan

Because of all this scare and fear in the media in addition to the political aspect, people started to demand more information. The government gave the video game industry two choices: one was to create their own rating system, one that could inform parents and children just what kind of content was in the game. The other choice was to allow the government to set up a rating system of their own. Many people disliked the idea; people called it censorship, with few people believing that the industry was doing an effective job policing itself. Sadly, the other side of this debate was much louder — many wanted video game producers to quit making graphic video games.

This resulted in the formation of the ESRB, an independent organization. People on either side of the debate raised concerns that the standalone watchdog would start pushing to silence creators for their ideology or their inclusiveness, as Abdul R. Siddiqui points out in his own conversation of the censorship in video games.

For those who do not know the ratings of the ESRB, they are:
E - For everyone,
E10+ - For children above the age of 10,
T - For Teens,
M - for Mature (17+), and finally:
AO - Adult only.

Currently there are only 27 AO-rated games, and you cannot get them in any store. Most retailers will not sell games with an AO rating.

I am sure many of you are wondering why am I so fixated on the ESRB when there are other organizations like it around the world. Well, for me it's rather simple: where do we draw the line when we put an age restriction on art?

Owned by  Naughty Dog

Owned by Naughty Dog

Video games are an art form and there is a large movement to have the medium recognized as such. To a majority of gamers, these games force us to experience another person's life. Or a play that gamers can directly control. Or a symphony to inspire tears. Or a novel that can make you fall in love. Or cinematography that could rival the greatest of cinema. (And also — how great is this scene?!)

I can understand putting ratings on video games. You cannot expect a 10-year-old to go through the streets of Rapture in Bioshock and be able to pick up on Ayn Rand’s philosophies. You cannot expect a child to understand the connection of a father to a daughter like in The Last of Us. These games make gamers think, feel and experience something that they themselves can direct. How can we allow art to be held back from fully realizing itself? By censoring video games, by making it unprofitable to express a story to its full conclusion, is that not infringing upon freedom of speech?  

Art by my good friend,  Ari .

Art by my good friend, Ari.


Hello reader, this is Jacky, a long time gamer and an admirer of the written word. As an Algonquin student, I have learned much in this program, and I can't wait to learn more. Here is hoping that it does not blow up in our face! Watch the train wreck as it happens in slow-mo.

Can a Game Made to be a Movie Tie-in be Good?

A movie tie-in is any product that is made based off a movie and, from what I hear, they tend to suck. But why is that? I mean if they are bad ones then there must also be good ones, right? Well, that depends on who you ask. Many would just say no, but I’m the kind of guy that likes to say yes and no. I think that there are a few out there that are good. Sit back, relax, and prepare to rage – we’re going to get cinematic up in here.

I define a good game as something that you can eventually beat and as a game that you enjoy playing. I’m not saying that because a game is hard means it’s bad. Just look at Dark Souls for an example of a great game that’s also difficult.

Using this definition, many of these so-called “bad” games actually start looking like good ones. Most of them can be beaten if given the effort and time, not to mention a rage that equals an internet reviewer.  

As for enjoyment, I find the best way to enjoy something is by immersing yourself within its world. If I can do that and if the gameplay is smooth, I’m happy. But if it’s like driving a tank that can only move in reverse on a race track, forget about it. You might disagree! Gaming enjoyment is subjective and it’s not like I’m some kind of evil puppet master whose opinions you have to agree with. (Cue lightning.)

What I don’t enjoy is when someone releases a game that is unfinished. An example? Oh, I don’t know, maybe E.T.? But if you can find something fun about playing a game that is chock full of bugs, glitches, and has no ending, then you’re a much better person (or maybe just more patient) than I think I am.

That’s why I said yes and no in the beginning. What makes any kind of game good or bad depends on the person playing it. Anybody can have fun playing a bad game, just as they can have a bad experience playing a game that many consider to be good.

You all must know what’s coming now right? I mean, it is me, after all. So: what do you wish to add to this topic? You can write anything that you want — the comments are all yours, as always.

Okay, now that I’ve said my piece… This is my last blog, so I just wanted to say: thank you for reading these and every other blog you’ve read on Spine Online. Have yourselves a wonderful day!

Image by  EuropaCorp

Image by EuropaCorp

Image owned by  ATARI

Image owned by ATARI


Jesse Hill

Jesse Hill is a second year student in the professional writing program at Algonquin College. He wishes to be a novelist.

The Tragic Tale of Telltale: Part II

Be sure to check out Part I here

Most everyone was taken aback when Telltale Games announced they would be closing their doors for good. People were even more surprised when it became apparent that it was a toxic work environment and questionable management that led to their downfall. How could such a thing take place in such a large and successful company? As it turns out, neither of those things are uncommon in the video game industry.



“Crunch Time” is a concept credited to Electronic Arts which refers to the period of time just before a video games intended release date, where developers and other staff are expected to work up to 100-hour weeks to ensure the game is fit and finished. On top of being expected to essentially live and work at the studio, crunch time workers seldom receive overtime-pay, instead being asked to work for “perks”, or even no extra incentives.

The practice was first exposed in an anonymous blog post by a user with the screen name “EA_Spouse”. The poster would later be identified as Erin Hoffman, whose husband was a game developer for EA. Soon after being hired, he found himself being stuck with eight-hour days, six days a week; that was later increased to twelve-hour days. The blog brought up California Senate Bill 88, which exempts businesses from having to pay “specialty” employees overtime. However, that bill also does not apply to the entertainment industry, specifically television, motion picture, and theatre companies. It can be argued that video games should be grouped in with those, with only outdated legislation preventing it.   

A survey by Venture Beat in 2017 found that 76-percent of game industry professionals had been forced to work weeks periodically exceeding 40 hours a week, with 65-percent indicating their job involved crunch time. 89-percent of those surveyed did not receive paid overtime. Incredibly, those numbers actually represent a decrease since Venture Beat started conducting surveys in 2004.



For example, in the lead-up to the highly anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar Games opted to add content to their cinematic cutscenes. Despite the game being in development for over eight years, that decision wasn’t made until the weeks before the game was released. Those seemingly simple additions created extra days and weekends of work, and with the studio unwilling to push back the release date, that meant the developers had to add that additional workload into their regular work weeks.  

While most like to think of the video game industry as progressive, the truth remains that it is still very much in its infancy and has a long way to go. The developers and staff that are responsible for creating the games still face unethical work environments, and the examples given are from some of the largest companies in the industry that know they will have eyes on their practices; smaller companies are more likely to test the limits.

Alex Lough


Once described as “The perfect amount of straight forward”, Alex is a 2nd-year student in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program, with hopes of becoming a screenwriter in the future.

Custom Gaming PC VS Console. Which One Should You Buy?

Photo by kilovega on  deviantart

Photo by kilovega on deviantart

So, you have some cash and are ready to get a new state of the art console or build your own custom personal gaming computer. Which one do you go with? I am not going to tell you whether to buy an Xbox One X, PS4 Pro or the Nintendo Switch, but I will use the PS4 Pro in comparison to building a custom gaming computer.

First off, you need to look at pricing. The cost of a PS4 Pro before buying games is $500 plus tax, which comes to about $565. This is just for the console with no games and extra accessories. Also, the assumption is you already own a TV. The cost of a game will be about $30 to $80, so let’s round the starting cost of buying a console to $600. Next, let’s look at the price of a custom gaming computer and why you should choose individual parts rather than buying a pre-made assembled computer.

Building a custom machine vs a pre-built requires you to have knowledge of what parts to pick out and how to assemble the computer. For inexperienced people it involves research and tutorials, but this process can save you a couple hundred dollars. Typically the cost will be at least $1,200, (though you can spend a lot more,) and this does not include the cost of a monitor, mouse, and keyboard. But let’s assume you already own these components. (If you don’t, you will have to spend several hundred dollars more.) The entry cost for a gaming machine is about double the cost of a console, but there are other pros and cons.

credit to sony interactive entertainment

credit to sony interactive entertainment

The more money that is put into a custom gaming computer, the more superior it will be to a console. This is mainly due to the graphics card you buy. You can spend anywhere from $200 to $1,000 on a graphics card alone. Comparing a PS4 Pro to a custom gaming computer in terms of bang for buck, the PS4 Pro wins for sure. But if you have a lot of cash, you can well surpass the PS4 Pro in graphics quality.

You’re not spending all this money just to look at an expensive machine. You want games! What platform is better for games, factoring in cost and exclusivity? Console games generally cost a lot more money to buy than buying PC games online. The price of console games goes down a lot slower than on PC, and this is mainly due to the PC gaming platform Steam.

Steam is a gamer’s paradise.

They always have games on sale to buy digitally, and they have huge deals. At certain times of the year, most games are on sale. If you have the patience to wait for better prices and choose to buy games that are on sale, you can typically get them for up to 75 per cent off. Steam has almost every game that has been released in the PC platform. When there is a big sale, you can buy games cheap and stockpile them to play later. It is by far the cheapest place to buy games.

Consoles will have exclusive games, though, but at a higher cost of purchase. The PS4 Pro has exclusive games that are top notch AAA games that are worth playing (like the new God of War or Uncharted 4.) You can’t get these games on Steam, and if they ever do end up on Steam it’ll take a long time to happen. Another point of comparison is the cost to play online. PlayStation Plus costs $70 a year to play games online. Playing a Steam game online is free unless you are paying a direct subscription to an MMO like World of Warcraft.

The PS4 Pro and other consoles win when it comes to entry cost and having decent graphics at an affordable price. But the best bang-for-buck when buying games is definitely purchasing through Steam on PC and, if you have the money and are willing, you can spend the savings to have a higher-end machine. This makes it a better option than owning a console.

Click here to see an awesome beginners guide on building a custom PC.

Click here to see the awesomeness of Steam.


Evan McKinley

Evan McKinley is a 2nd year professional writing student that aspires to be a novel writer in the genre of fantasy. Favorite books and movies include The Lord of The Rings, Neverwhere and The Alchemist.

Here We Go!

Image by Niap3d

Image by Niap3d

Mario Kart: why the heck do people love it so much? Is it just because it’s a Mario game? Or does it go a bit deeper then that? Well, as someone who has played it once or twice and watched it online many times more, I believe that I am qualified enough to try and answer this question.

So first off, the fact that Mario Kart is a part of the Mario franchise of video games means that it is always going to be at least somewhat popular. The loyalty of its fanbase and possibly because of how mainstream the Mario series is contribute to its longevity. There is, however, a plausible gameplay reason for why it’s so popular; namely, it is a highly competitive racing game – especially if played with friends. This is also aided by the fact that a decent amount of people are naturally competitive, adding more fuel to the fire.

But my last and, in my mind, the best reason behind why this is the case might just be because of how engaging and fun the series’ gameplay is. Just look it up online if you don’t understand what I’m talking about. I had a lot of fun just watching it. Imagine how much fun it is to actually play it in real life. From what I experienced and saw, it looks and feels like you’re driving in real life. I don’t know about you folks but I would be first in line to play something like that.

So that is what I thought to be the best possible reasons for why the Mario Kart video game series is so popular. Now I’m not saying that any of this is correct. I don’t have any fancy PhDs or anything better than a high school diploma. This is my opinion, which will probably be different than yours. But for the most part, I think I have all my bases covered here. Though I would like to know what you, the readers, have to say on this matter. So if you would be so kind, I ask you to answer: why do you think that the Mario Kart Series is so popular? Why do you like it? Or, why don’t you like it?


Jesse Hill

Jesse Hill is a second year student in the professional writing program at Algonquin College. He wishes to be a novelist.

The Tragic Tale of Telltale: Part I

For a while, they seemed unstoppable. The small indie company that could, formed from the ashes of LucasArts downsizing in their gaming department. Telltale Games and their familiar episodic platform were some of the most popular games on the market, relying on storytelling and big-name licenses to push them to the top. Then, on a cool September night, 90 per cent of the developing staff found themselves locked out of the studio without so much as a warning and Telltale Games announced they soon would be closing their doors for good.

So how did we get here? And what does it mean for the gaming industry as a whole?

Ironically, the founders of telltale now rely on actual poker games for funding // All rights reserved to telltale GameS

Ironically, the founders of telltale now rely on actual poker games for funding // All rights reserved to telltale GameS

First, some backstory. As said, Telltale Games was started by a team of developers led by Kevin Bruner, Dan Connors, and Troy Molander, who found themselves without work following LucasArts’ 2004 downsizing. They quickly agreed to a licensing deal with Jeff Smith’s Bone comic book series, and used the proceeds from their first release, 2005’s Telltale Texas Hold’em, to fund Bone: Out of Boneville—developed almost entirely to test out their idea of creating episodic video games. Not long afterwards, Steve Purcell offered the company the rights to his Sam & Max characters, of which the head developers at Telltale had become familiar with during their time at LucasArts. Sam & Max: Season One was the first example of an episodic game being a success, and gave credence to the idea that a company rooted in such games could be a realization.

They garnered so much success that Ubisoft recruited Telltale to co-develop their CSI properties, which at the time was one of the most popular series on television. That series ran for 4 games which, while developed using the episodic blueprint, were released as single collective games. This was the start of what would become a trademark for Telltale: buying up as many properties as they could get their hands on, and using that pre-existing fame to piggyback to prosperity.

Bigby and Colin are currently available for birthday parties and bar mitzvahs // all rights reserved to telltale games

Bigby and Colin are currently available for birthday parties and bar mitzvahs // all rights reserved to telltale games

Telltale soon found themselves with other major acquisitions, including Back to the Future and Jurassic Park as their 2007 acquisitions. In particular, Back to the Future: The Game was such a rousing triumph that the company was able to expand its staff from 90 to 140. With a larger roster on hand, Telltale wasted no time garnering even more franchises, from comic book series in The Walking Dead and Batman to fellow gaming titles Borderlands and Minecraft, and even coming into possession of the uber-popular Game of Thrones franchise. It was the Walking Dead titles that pushed Telltale from a small company into one of the most noteworthy developing companies; the first game, published in 2011, sold one million copies in only 20 days on its way to winning Spike’s 2012 Video Game of the Year award. The follow-up hit A Wolf Among Us (based on characters from the Fables comic book series) solidified the company’s place as a video game powerhouse.

From that point on, Telltale sat comfortably on top of the video game world…until 2016. It was then that rumours first started on the internet. Some said that the amount of capital that Telltale had to put down upfront in acquiring their licenses had handcuffed the company, and what they thought would be a sure fire hit in Batman: The Telltale Series was such a colossal flop that the developers were forced to work in “crunch time”— essentially overtime without all the perks — on all the other upcoming titles to push them out sooner and make up for the loss.

actual photo of a telltale developer’s reaction when asked to work 100-hour weeks for no extra benefits // all rights reserved to telltale games

actual photo of a telltale developer’s reaction when asked to work 100-hour weeks for no extra benefits // all rights reserved to telltale games

In November 2017, the company laid off 90 of its 250 employees due to what they labelled as “mismanagement issues.” More reports would come out in early 2018 that some of the lead developers in the company grew tired of what they deemed a toxic work environment and announced their resignation. The effects of those walkouts—and the truth of the work environment—wouldn’t be known until September 21st, just under 14 years after the company started. It was then we learned the fate of Telltale: the last of their investors had pulled out and they are now facing a class-action lawsuit in regards to breaking labor laws, something the company founders have yet to address as they have gone on a total media blackout. All future projects, including the highly anticipated sequels to The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, have been cancelled, with a skeleton crew of 25 staff sticking around to finish a Minecraft project for Netflix before the company closes its doors for good.

Some may scoff at the claims and point to the fall of Telltale as a one-off, an isolated incident in an otherwise booming industry. But the truth is that the things that led to the debacle at Telltale, from the work environment to their business practices, are much more common than you would think.


 Alex Lough

Once described as “The perfect amount of straight forward”, Alex is a 2nd-year student in Algonquin College’s Professional Writing program, with hopes of becoming a screenwriter in the future.

Halloween Special, Horror Game Lineup

Good evening, boils and ghouls, to a beautiful and chilly October. How many of you have rituals for this hallowed autumn? With tomorrow being Halloween, some people like to carve a pumpkin and toast some seeds, while others want to turn on a horror movie to get the spooks going.

Like many of you, I love being scared. There have been some studies as to why humans enjoy the thrills and chills, chemicals bouncing around in our brains to the point where we want to laugh and scream. Margee Kerr Ph.D. studies the science behind fear and how it gets us going.

I am not going to talk about science. No, I am here to talk about the video games that give me the creepy heebeegeebees. These are the games that I replay through the years without a doubt, and still get the same feeling of fear now as when I first played them.

In the order, here are my ‘Top Seven Horror Games.’ Do keep in mind that these are my personal preferences - and everyone has their own ideas of what scares them.

property of  ea

property of ea

#7 Alice: Madness Returns.

Everyone has heard of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll, but how many of you have ever seen McGee’s take on the classic tale? Back in the 2000s, McGee came out with a macabre video game version of the children's book where the players follow Alice through ‘Wonderland’ while she tries to get over the loss of her family and her sanity.

In Madness Returns, Alice believes she was the one that accidentally set the house on fire and killed her family. Throughout her travels, something tries to stop her from uncovering the truth. It's up to Alice, and the player, to discover what really happened that night, and maybe find justice for her lost family. The scares in Alice: Madness Returns lie more with Alice trying to figure out what is real and what is madness. As she goes through Wonderland, she finds that it has been tampered with from an outside force. The game demonstrates what lengths people will go to in order to hide their true colours.

What I cherish most about this game is the atmosphere and art. The graphics are phenomenal and well stylized. The mood of the game, the battle for truth, and the fear of the living is what always draws me to replay the game over and over again.

Property of Koei Tecmo and  nintendo

Property of Koei Tecmo and nintendo

#6 Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly

Crimson Butterfly is a stand alone from previous Fatal Frame games. Two sisters, Mio and Mayu, want to visit their childhood get-away before new construction destroys the place.

The pair get lost and end up on the outskirts of the what they believe to be ‘The Forgotten Village.’ The twins must find a way to escape before they are made to repeat history. With only a camera as a defence, the game puts you on the edge with how powerless you are in the face of the dead.

The frights in Crimson Butterfly are intense, the atmosphere and the looming sense of dread hang over the whole game. As you and your sister wonder through the village, made to bear witness to how the town became lost in the first place.

The game is dripping with cultural heritage from Japan. Not only does it scream at the top of the hills about its love and respect for the afterlife, but the mastery of suspense and beautifully crafted jump-scares are phenomenal. If anyone has an enjoyment for Asian horror, this is the game for you.

Owned by  XSEED Games

Owned by XSEED Games

#5 Corpse Party

Oh, Corpse Party, a game that is steeped in Japanese horror; it borders on stereotypical and yet is original and innovative. Don’t bother with the anime; after watching the first episode I could tell it was not going to hold a candle to the game. (Sadly, that is not news when it comes to video game adaptations.)

The game starts with a group of high school students telling ghost stories in their homeroom after dark, when an earthquake transforms the school into an old, decrepit place. Playing as each of the people trapped in this school you, the player, must choose how to get out. Can you save these kids from a fate worse than death?

Corpse Party is a unique game than from what other people are used to. It was originally made from the ‘RPG Maker software,’ a tool used for anyone to create a story for the public. Because of RPG Maker, a lot of indie titles have been made and each of them bringing their own unique take on horror.

Scares in Corpse Party lean towards the gory and unsightly, so those with weak stomachs should maybe look elsewhere for their scare enjoyment. The easiest way to tell if you will like Corpse Party is if you can watch the ‘Saw’ movies. With a profound mystery under it and the need to survive, each choice you make could greatly affect the outcome. Each time you play it feels like an exciting new playthrough.



#4 Silent Hill 2

A man receives a letter from his departed wife, telling him that she is waiting in the town of ‘Silent Hill.’ What else is there to do but to go and investigate? James Sunderland is on a quest to find his wife, Mary. Only to meet with strange characters in a town filled with feminine monsters... all but one monster, that is.

To tell you more about the story would be a disservice to the game. The scares in Silent Hill are a beautiful combination of psychological horror, mood, and story that turns the side characters into fully fleshed-out people. Everyone in this game is human, and because of this, the game has something no other Silent Hill has been able to do. When it comes to the game, it's all about symbolism; everything the game shows you has a reason for being there, and as you go through the game, all the puzzle pieces come together.

Some warnings for those faint of heart, Silent Hill 2 touches on some deep and dark subjects, such as: murder, lust, child molestation, rape, neglect, guilt, torture, and despair. The creators of the game went under the skin to give everyone a perspective on these weighty subjects, and this is one of the main reasons why I love the game so much.

Many people love Silent Hill 2, and call it a masterpiece. Others call it a perfect representation of clinical depression. The game always feels like it's going down deeper, and deeper into the darkness of humanity. It's one of those dark loving creations in the horror game genre that I can’t help but lose my mind over.

Property of  KOuri

Property of KOuri

#3 Ib

Ever wanted to go to an art museum? After this game, tell me if you still want to go. In this RPG Maker game, you follow a girl named Ib. Her parents have taken her to ‘Guertena Weiss' art museum. Here, Ib can look around at some of the masterworks of the late Guertena Weiss. As she goes around, people suddenly disappear and Ib is transported from the museum into a world filled with murderous art.

Ib, and two others you come across in this madhouse, try to figure out how they came to be here and how to find a way out. Dark, surreal, creepy, and minimalistic in its way, a lot of players relate Ib with another RPG Maker game, Witches House. Like few RPG Maker games, they don’t try to jump scare you, they don’t try to outright frighten you. They work to haunt you, to make you remember them later, to come back again, and again, to go through the feelings these games can give you.

As you go deeper into the unknown, the museum twists and turns around you, changing its form into something surreal, beckoning you deeper to uncover more. Paintings change and talk, inanimate statues move and hunt after you, puzzles that are sometimes timed, and endless corridors, to get lost in. The game is a wonderful place to explore and immerse yourself fully within the dark setting.

The setting opens you up to let your curiosity run, all while the game is playful and tries to be unique in its own way. You never honestly feel safe, but the game shows so much colour and creativity that I can’t help but fall in love with the game and play it again.

Property of  atlus

Property of atlus

#2 Catherine

While we are on the subject of creative games, here is one I am pretty sure none of you would ever think would be scary. In your dreams, you are put into a puzzle game where you try to reach the top of a block grid. Easy, right? It does not sound that scary, does it? What if I told you that if you don’t reach the top before the last block falls, you die in real life?

This is the horror that our main character, Vincent, must go through. With hints of a curse, death, and commitment issues in his relationship, Vincent has to navigate through challenging times between his long-standing girlfriend, his friends, and another woman. The game itself is not what people would expect from a horror game, but while I was playing through it, I saw it as such.

The real horror is behind the pink-coloured story of lust, and love. Men affected by a curse, known as the “The Woman's Wrath“ we the players get to see how it changes them and how you can see it visibly warp them. That is the real horror of the game: scared people trying to survive are willing to do monstrous things. If you are looking for a mind-bending fright Catherine is your best bet.

Like with many other games on this list, I love this game for its creativity, stylized animation, its masterful use of music, and the subject matter. When I first got this game, I thought nothing about it other than the colour looked nice, and that it was on sale. Now, it has an honoured spot alongside games that I will always love and hold dear.

Property of  World of Darkness

Property of World of Darkness

#1 Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines

If you have gotten this far, that means you have passed a mountain of text to get to my number one pick. This game that I want to talk about is one I swore I would write about in this blog somewhere and somehow, and now I can.

Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines came out when true RPG’s were hitting their stride. Fallout was making big splashes in the gaming community, as well as hitting new levels of popularity.

Vampire the Masquerade (or VTM, as it is well known,) had its problems with the creation of the game. Rushed programming, a deadline far too close to have it correctly set up, and terrible work conditions, that killed Troika Games.

Now I am sure many of you are asking “why are you talking about a failed game?”

Well dear friends, this game, much like a vampire itself, gained a second life.

The fans, programmers, artist, and people who just love the game and lore, poured their efforts together to create patches (in-game fixes) that update even to this month. People working together to fix bugs, and bring content back to full potential. VTM is a game that, once mentioned, someone reinstalls it.

This game brings the horrors of vampires to life, as the undead, among other supernatural beings, run wild. Everyone has problems that you are made to fix, and everyone has secrets that they don’t want to let out. It’s a balance of survival, between elder vampires that seem to hold sway over whether or not you live or die that night. Being everyone's stooge, you are thrown into one mystery after another. Supernatural hijinks, and a horror level that even won acclaim from IGN for ‘Level of the Year.’ I can’t help but love this game, through all of its bugs and problems. There is a rich, and welcoming community that lets this undead video game to keep marching forward.

Art by my good friend,  Ari .

Art by my good friend, Ari.


Hello reader, this is Jacky, a long time gamer and an admirer of the written word. As an Algonquin student, I have learned much in this program, and I can't wait to learn more. Here is hoping that it does not blow up in our face! Watch the train wreck as it happens in slowmo.

Five Video Games That Will Forever Hold A Place in The Hearts of Many

All rights reserved to   seis_z     on  picdeer.com.

All rights reserved to seis_z on picdeer.com.

As a gamer, you will always have games that you look back on with childhood joy, enthusiasm and immense nostalgia. It’s like looking into a portal and seeing the happier, carefree times of your younger self.

Every person is different, but in my mind, there are five games that most, if not all gamers played at some point during their youth (whether they owned them or their family/friends did); games that will stick with many of us forever.

These blockbusters include (in no particular order): Halo, GTA, Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, and RuneScape. There are definitely games, for some, that I have left off this list, but in my younger life, these were the games that I, and most kids I knew played, and were around the most.  

Halo: Combat Evolved was the sole reason I asked for an original Xbox during the holidays, after I had spent months binge playing it at my buddy’s house. I lied a little when I said that my list was in no particular order, there’s a reason I’m starting with Halo; the first trilogy will forever be my number one overall pick, my nostalgic pot of gold.

GTA is the opposite in a way. My parents didn’t let me play them when I was younger for obvious reasons, but there wasn’t a game I wanted more when I was a kid. I still managed to play San Andreas and Vice City when I was fortunate enough to be at the right kid’s house, getting my short opportunities to revel in the glory of crime.

All rights Reserved to  Microsoft

All rights Reserved to Microsoft

During family gatherings at my cousins’ house, we would play Super Smash Brothers on their Nintendo-whichever-one-it-was, and then on their Gamecube. Hours were spent sitting on the floor in front of their television, as we fought to be the last team standing; it was the original Battle Royale.

We also played Mario Kart sometimes because they had that too, but for the most part, I played it with people at my own house when I had gotten a little older, and my parents had grabbed a WII. I don’t think there’s a racing game that is more iconic or has been played by more people than Mario Kart. It’s easier than most racing games, but still amusing and full of excitement; especially with the abilities you attain mid-race, the diverse set of interesting characters, and the wacky, vibrant maps.

It’s like looking into a portal and seeing the happier, carefree times of your younger self.

RuneScape, though slightly different from the other games on my list, only trails Halo regarding the feelings it induces for me. I remember when I first started playing this game, everyone I knew was as well. A few were playing World of Warcraft, but for most of us, the membership for RuneScape was cheaper than WoW and easier to grasp as a game.

I used to wake up as early as I could on the weekends, in hopes of beating my sister to the only computer in our house so that I could play it; she was trying to get on Webkinz and I couldn’t let our computer be subjected to a torture of that magnitude. It was the first game to immerse me in the MMORPG experience, and I’m eternally grateful.

In this day and age, infatuating video games will come and go quickly, just like albums from great musicians or novels from incredible writers. Some of these franchises are still in the hunt today, as developers continue to make better and better additions every few years. But the joyful memories that come from the classics can stick with you for a lifetime, and you can always go back and play them again and again. Even if you only do it once a year for an hour, it’ll still be worth it, I promise.


Nick Airey

Nick is a second-year Professional Writing student at Algonquin College. He’s originally from Kingston and doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life yet.

Why World of Warcraft is so Re-playable and Addictive

Art by Fearpredator ON  DEVIANTaRT

Art by Fearpredator ON DEVIANTaRT

World of Warcraft has been in business since 2004. The number of people that still play is a testament to how well it’s made, how much content there is and how addictive it can be. Millions of people have played the game over the years, and Blizzard’s WoW has been “a license to print money.”

There is so much replayability, and the amount of content is huge. There have been seven major expansions with each adding a higher level cap, new classes and new zones to explore. There are so many zones and classes to explore and level up, that people can put all of their free time into WoW. The amount of time to get a character to max level can takes weeks or months depending on the commitment of the player. After the max level, the endgame starts where there are even more massive amounts of content where people guild up and spend huge amounts of time getting better gear and making attempts to overcome and defeat the end game dungeons.

Some people have spent years playing in a dedicated manner to this game to max level a character of every class and explore the different zones in WoW. Others come back every time there is a new expansion to try the new classes and explore the new zones. I think what is appealing to players is the range of different zones, each one being unique in its own sense of style and art.

Credit to Blizzard Entertainment

Credit to Blizzard Entertainment

The mass amounts of content ties into the addiction side of the game. A lot of players feel like they are never done. They get so into WoW (whether it’s long-term or signing up for a new expansion) that they procrastinate with exiting the game and going to sleep or taking care of other things in their lives. WoW addiction is a real thing. People have actually died while endlessly binging on WoW. I’ve known people who have stayed up for two or three days at a time, playing. WoW addiction can be really unhealthy. It’s not Blizzard’s fault though: they made a great game that people get excited about. You can’t blame a liquor manufacturer for producing the whiskey that an alcoholic drinks. WoW is good in moderation.

Other elements tie into the addiction of WoW players. One is that people put in so much time into their characters that they feel attached to those characters. Part of this is that those characters are part of a guild. People don’t just get addicted to WoW to play; they get addicted to coming online and chatting with their guildmates. These people could be friends in the area the players live in and also anywhere in North America. People get attached to talking to others that they have never actually met in person. To top it off, the guilds schedule end-game dungeon runs that players have to be committed to. It’s like having a part-time job. I think that introverts just feel safe and accepted in this guild environment without having the discomfort and worry of going out into the real world.

To top everything off, I think the icing on the cake is how much people love the style of the graphics. Playing WoW really feels like you’re going on an adventure. WoW is good fun, but players need to know when to call it quits and deal with real life. It can easily be a way to escape from the outside world. Escaping for a couple hours here and there is all good, but I wouldn’t escape life every chance I get to log on.

Check out Blizzard’s newest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, by review with IGN.


Evan McKinley

Evan McKinley is a 2nd year professional writing student that aspires to be a novel writer in the genre of fantasy. Favorite books and movies include The Lord of The Rings, Neverwhere and The Alchemist.

Why Are YouTube Walkthroughs and Let’s Plays So Entertaining?

Icon Property of  YouTube

Icon Property of YouTube

So, I have a question: Do you watch YouTube? Now, many of you may have answered yes to this, so my next question is do you watch video-game walkthroughs/playthroughs as well, and if so, why? Why is it that many of us, myself included, find Youtubers that do this kind of content for the respective channels entertaining to watch? The first logical explanation might be that we simply just have too much time on our hands, or that we are just bored or don’t care about what we are watching. But these seem to me as being the coward’s way out and that just won’t do.

I think that a big reason for why we find this kind of content so entertaining, might be do to the fact that we don’t just watch the game but the gamers as well. I think it is because of them that we are so entertained. Many of the more popular Youtubers that do video game walkthroughs and playthroughs usually have unique personalities. Some are funny while also having a deep respect for their fan-base, and may or may not have an odd hatred of chairs, but I digress. 

Some even try to get their viewers involved as much as possible in their content, but no matter what they display themselves as doesn’t matter so much because they do so in an entertaining manner or that’s just who they are inside.

Either way, that is what keeps us coming back for more. Another reason for this style being more entertaining is kind of easy when you really think about it; I mean who would you rather watch, a person who never talks? Or someone that talks all the time about various things in an attempt to keep we the viewers amused in some way.

Also, I don’t know about you folks, but the whole silent player routine really makes this kind of content seem kind of eerie to me. I mean, if you are not going to talk then why even go through the trouble and risks involved with uploading video games onto the site? Wouldn’t it be less risky to talk? Just saying it beats the heck out of me.

Now, there are probably a million other reasons why we watch these kinds of YouTube videos, and I would be quite interested to read about what you, the readers, can come up with in the comments section.


Jesse Hill

Jesse Hill is a second year student in the professional writing program at Algonquin College. He wishes to be a novelist.

Nostalgia: Growing Up Gaming in the 90s

Art credit to  Pixabay

Art credit to Pixabay

I was born in 1988. Video games were always a part of my life starting with the original Nintendo system (that was released in 1985) with games like Super Mario 3, Zelda 2 and Mega Man 3.

Through the 90’s, I, like many other millennials, played the first Nintendo, Super Nintendo, the first Gameboy, Nintendo 64, PlayStation one and games on PC in the late 90’s. I was fortunate enough that over time, my dad bought all the systems but we only had one TV, so I and my 3 siblings had to share.

During the 90’s, there was no sense that the graphics were simple and primitive. There was no thought of comparison to modern times. Did those early games shape and contribute to our personalities and character? Did they affect what we liked and didn’t like as games evolved? It may have even affected what we grew to like for movies and books. I wonder what my life would be like now if I grew up without any video games. Would I be a different person now?

Playing these games as a child made me determined to explore and be adventurous. Video games made it so that I could experience things outside of the real world, that I could visit imaginations of the mind that I delighted in.

Why is it that when I see Mario, I think of Super Mario 64? Why does thinking about Mario bring forth feelings of fun and comfort? Mario 64 must have made me feel pretty good as a kid and somehow some of those feelings are still inside me decades later.

I thought about collecting the old game consoles and some of the best games associated with those consoles. I am not alone on this. I (like others) am willing to spend money to bring back the good feelings of the old days and relive some of my childhood. I don’t have those old consoles anymore. I suppose that I got to a point in life where I didn’t feel like I would play those old games anymore.

Now I feel like I should have those games and consoles around like someone holding on to a toy that they had when they were a child. I now realize that people are willing to pay for things that bring them good feelings about their childhood.

Looking back, one can think of how the old games evolved over time to the games of 2018. The worlds in modern games can be massive. Modern games are so much more complex like in leveling your character and selecting abilities to use. Back in the 90’s, they depended so much on the style of the game, and by this I mean it more as an art form and having characters that you got attached to. Story had to be good back then. Today many games just focus on the gameplay and the combat. They can more easily get away with not having original characters and great stories. Not all modern games are like this but a lot are.

What kids are growing up with today is very different than in the 90’s. Are modern games better in some ways? Yes they are. I however wouldn’t trade my childhood experience for modern games because I loved the originality of those games that I grew up with.

Here are a couple links to the games that started the industry. Super Mario 3 & Final Fantasy 7.


Evan McKinley

Evan McKinley is a 2nd year professional writing student that aspires to be a novel writer in the genre of fantasy. Favorite books and movies include The Lord of The Rings, Neverwhere and The Alchemist.

Toxicity, The Basics of Massive Multiplayer Team Games.

For those of you who have never picked up a Massive Multiplayer Game, you have been saved from ever having to deal with what the gaming community calls ‘Toxic Players.’ Toxic players tend to be people playing the game that grow frustrated or mad when their team is losing.

This frustration is then used to lash out on their teammates, sometimes even rattling their confidence to the point where they start to play worse than before, then in turn, the discouraged players turn ‘toxic’ themselves. This ends up becoming a vicious cycle that ruins the game for all involved.

The types of games I will be focusing on here are games that put you in teams with random players from all over. Games like Overwatchand League of Legends especially. These players are in every MMO, in regular play and in every ranked match. There is no escape even if you are in the top player listing of game mode. This article will talk about how to identify these players, and how best to work with them in hopes to win and enjoy the game.

Games that require teamwork are where you may have the best results in turning your game around, from ‘confidence destroying’ into a ‘win.’ The player that the gaming community calls ‘Toxic’, and they are the ones that talk a lot in-game, mostly about how great they are at the game and how you, personally, suck. A lot of the time they will use strong language to get you riled up. It is these types of players you, unfortunately, have to swallow your pride for.

There is no way to convince them that they are the player in the wrong, so you have to use reverse psychology on them. Tell them that, they are in fact a good player, appeal to their ego and ask them for tips. You should try to get on their good side in order to get them working with the team once more. Once you have that, the team will be back to full power and you can try again.

The one I want to address before I close this topic, is a more specific type of ‘Toxic’ player, one that I have personally encountered in my experience in gaming online. They tend to affect only half of the gaming community, and I come across them almost daily. These are the ‘toxic’ gamer that have an issue with women playing in their team or game.

These types of players will be very disruptive the moment it is even hinted, be it from your username or if the game allows it - your voice. They will latch onto the fact that the player is female and try to destroy the confidence of the whole team, or that one particular female player. They tend to overreact when it’s confirmed that you are female.

If they lose a game, the ‘toxic gamer boy’ will state that you don’t know what you are doing and use all the misogynistic insults in his arsenal. One of their more favored tends to be, ‘go back to the kitchen’, followed by their choice of profanity that relates to the fact that you are a woman.

For those who have never been on the receiving end, you can watch a lot of YouTube videos’ about it.

These are the worst-case-scenario incidents in multiplayer team games. If this teammate is not communicating with the team, or not playing properly with the team, it is much like a child having a temper tantrum. The best thing you can do against these players is to follow the previous steps, or find a new team. In games where you don’t get to pick your teammates you could also try taking a gender-neutral username, and if the game allows voice chat, use only text-based communication, it is true that this is horrible.

The idea that women sometimes need to take such steps in order to make the game pleasant for them. While you are playing the game pay attention to how your teammates talk to each other, you will be able to spot a ‘Toxic’ player within the first five minutes of game-play. If the game is going well, and the team is communicating properly, you then should have no issue joining the conversation in voice chat. This is not a proven method, but it’s one that I personally use to some success.

Have fun out on the battlefield my lovely gamers’, and don’t let the toxicity and the salt bring your games down.

Art by my good friend,  Ari .

Art by my good friend, Ari.


Hello reader, this is Jacky, a long time gamer and an admirer of the written word. As an Algonquin student, I have learned much in this program, and I can't wait to learn more. Here is hoping that it does not blow up in our face! Watch the train wreck as it happens in slow-mo.

Plug in to Left, Right, A, B

Have you ever considered video games an art form? Have you ever had to deal with online trolls? Have you ever wondered what videogames started the industry?

From 8-bit to 4K, the power of cheat codes to the growing industry itself, we’ve got you covered for all your favourite videogame needs.

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