Tag Archives: disneyland

Disneyvania

The release and my playthrough of The Witness happened to coincide with a ramp-up in my video game podcast consumption. (Maybe not so much a coincidence than a subconscious attempt to glean a hints from podcasters.) Through this, I came across a couple of keen observations of the game’s design that I had not considered:

Idle Thumbs, ep 248, 14:55:

Jake Rodkin: It uses so many rules of Disneyland-esque design and video game level design to make it easy to navigate, but it’s not built assuming there’s that huge framework of video game messaging beneath it.

Chris Remo: That Disneyland thing is a good comparison. Video game designers have often—for good reason—and accurately pointed to Disneyland as a really useful design touchstone. Not for the experience of the rides themselves, but for the design of the actual park.

JR: Disneyland is the closest we have in real life to a constructed open-world level.

CR: Areas are connected where there’s an intuitive sense of structure, but when you’re in any given place, it feels like it’s entirely enveloping you.

JR: Until you come around a corner and then the foliage and architecture perfectly frames on a sightline – spire that is in a waypoint to a different land of the park.

CR: And The Witness is totally like that.

I completely agree. The Idle Thumbs crew may also have unraveled a core reason why I loved Myst so much. And quite possibly why I love Disneyland so much.

Jared Petty on IGN’s Game Scoop!, ep 376, 3:27:

This is a secret Metroidvania game. In a Metroid game, you get to an area. You can’t get far. You go off to a different area. You find a power-up. (In this case, the power-ups are not items you find in the game. It’s the knowledge that you gain through working out a different set of puzzles.) You get frustrated. You go off to a different area. You learn something. You come back. Boom! You get through.

Sometimes you can “bomb-jump” your way around it by figuring out something by being clever that you got a little ahead of. Or a little more doggedness or experimentation. It’s a neat game.

A very neat game.

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If not Disneyland or Nintendo…

Jordan Shapiro, Forbes:

Disney characters are not as familiar to my kids as they were to me when I was their age. Perhaps it is because they have tablets, gaming consoles, and laptops. Their pop culture universe is dominated by Minecraft, Mario, Clash of Clans, and Pokemon. YouTube gamers are celebrities to them. While they (and I) enjoy those new Mickey Mouse shorts on the Disney Channel, we rarely set out to watch something because of the Disney brand.

I love Disneyland. Probably more than most. So much so that my NaNoWriMo novel took place within the gates if the Magic Kingdom. I have long dreamt of becoming a Walt Disney Imagineer; brainstorming, collaborating, and bringing to life grand new experiences for park guests. The idea of immersing myself in work that turned imagination into reality (even if it meant laying the brick myself!) always sounded… right.

However, I had an eerily similar thought last night. After setting down my copy of Console Wars by Blake J. Harris, I asked myself if I’d rather work for Disney or Nintendo?

Nintendo is full of characters I grew up, full of characters I love. Being born in 1985, the year the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was brought to North America, Mario, Mega Man (Capcom aside), and Link (rather, the name I chose) were the characters that ushered me into the world, and I them. These characters had no personality, just a mission and they need me to achieve it. They required immersion and connection.

Being raised in a world where the participatory nature of video games was quickly becoming the norm, I’m not sure how much observing a character or watching the moral to a story unfold actually affected me. I was obsessed the Aladdin’s Genie because he made me laugh, but until I really understood the nuances of storytelling and scope of reality (probably somewhere in mid-high school), I’m not sure I really identified with any Disney character. I just knew I wanted to be the good guy.

After spending the weekend enjoying Mario Kart 8 with my fiancée, I thought about how much joy the characters of the Mushroom Kingdom brought me; I thought about how excited I was for Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, or how I would jump at the opportunity to buy the next Luigi’s Mansion installment, or how I wish Nintendo would launch a Princess Peach and Daisy centric title.

Don’t get me wrong, working as a Walt Disney Imagineer or in Nintendo’s Treehouse sounds like more than any fan could ever ask for. But given an equal opportunity at both, I’m not sure which I would choose. I don’t think I’m the only one from my generation who sits on this fence.

In a connected society full of massive, customizable, open worlds and bite-sized mobile games, will post-millennials fantasize about either? If we live in a perpetually fantastic world, does reality become the new fantasy?

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