Selecting Okami

For Digital Game-Based Learning, we all selected one off the shelf video game to play. The goal is to see, from a gamer and an educational perspective, what can we learn from the game to make us better game designers.

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Okami is an action game where you play as a reincarnated small goddess in ancient Japan, with all your powers gone. The goal is to combat the forces of evil that have arisen again, and to restore peace to the land. While this seems to be like an ordinary action game, there’s two big aspects of the game that are eye openers.

A screen shot from Okami from http://blogs.the217.com/anothercastle/files/2008/08/okami-002.jpg

The first is the detail to graphics, all cel-shaded, giving a watercolor appearance. The graphics help bring the feeling of feudal Japan to the gamer. Not only is it artistic and refreshing to see a game made in cel-shaded art, but also gives a whimsical feeling, as though you’re playing through an old painting, giving a different sense of presence in the game. Immersion is one of those more loaded concepts that part of “feeling there”, as though you were in a fantasy world, which helps in making the user become more engaged in the world.

The second component that makes this an interesting game to play is their sketch-based mechanic as part of interacting with the world. Using PS2 joysticks, users can perform different sketches to cut up trees or enemies, make items appear in the world, and in general learn sketches to help progress through the game. This mechanic maybe relevant not only as a different way to interact with a game, shy of button presses, but also to how to teach others in learning Japanese or other sketch-based domains.

Posted in Digital Game-Based Learning, Gameplay Reflections

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