Moving Pixels

Wednesday, July 30 2014

The Assassins’ Propaganda

Black Flag isn’t interested in breaking the world into two opposing ideologies. It’s interested in how those ideologies sell themselves to a broken world.


Thursday, June 26 2014

Fleeing the Familiar, Embracing the Abject in ‘Beyond Two Souls’

Within the spaces of darkness or the unknown, Beyond Two Souls asserts that we can exist without being shaped, manipulated, or brutalized by outside forces.


Tuesday, May 27 2014

Puzzling Personas: Puzzles as Character Development in ‘The Raven’

The type of puzzle you specialize in solving says a lot about you as a person.


Wednesday, April 23 2014

The New Puritanism, or, Some Troubling Tendencies in Video Game Criticism

Is the role of the video game critic to protect us from that which we may find offensive?


Wednesday, March 26 2014

There Are No Villains, Only Victims with Power

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream argues that there's no such thing as a true villain, just people who have been wronged and have the power to exact revenge.


Wednesday, February 19 2014

Tick, Tick, Tick: The Temporal Cost of Free-to-Play Gaming

Free-to-play game developers are playing a game of their own. The object of that game is to gain ownership of your time.


Monday, January 27 2014

The (Mis)Education of the Player

Players can approach a game however they wish, but a developer has a responsibility to provide some sort of guidance through their virtual world.


Tuesday, January 7 2014

We’re Not Computers, We’re Physical

The Room understands that we are gamers, geeks who like to look at a thing, take it apart, and figure out how it works. We aren't mere computers.


Tuesday, November 19 2013

‘Arkham Origins’ Constantly Rigs the Odds Against Batman

This game revels in watching Batman struggle, throwing villain after villain and crime after crime in his way, trying to overwhelm him, trying to break him -- and it almost does.


Wednesday, October 16 2013

‘Grand Theft Auto’: The Game with Plenty to Say

If Grand Theft Auto has nothing to say, as the participants of Slate's recent Culture Gabfest purport, then they must be playing with the sound turned down.


Thursday, September 19 2013

The Video Game Trilogy Deathmatch

Which has the better ending? Assassin’s Creed 3 vs. Gears of War 3 vs. God of War 3 vs. Halo 3 vs. Mass Effect 3 vs. Modern Warfare 3.


Thursday, August 22 2013

Fountains of Youth and the Undying Baby Boomers

"I expected a monster to greet me at the dias; a foe of unimaginable strength. But when I entered the castle and saw my father -- the king -- sitting atop the dias with goblet in hand, I knew all was lost. He would never die... and I would never be heir."


Tuesday, July 30 2013

The Problem with Emergent Stories in Video Games

Emergent stories are missing the key component of any good story. They’re not about anything.


Thursday, June 20 2013

Danger, Romance, Adventure and the Health Bar, or How I Learned to Love the HUD

In the game world, we can't feel the pain of taking a bullet or check our wallet to see what's in it. There just isn't a button for that.


Monday, May 27 2013

The Sword Is Mightier Than the Gun

In gaming, there’s a story within a sword fight that’s missing from the kind of story told by a gunfight.


Tuesday, April 23 2013

Playing to Suffer, Suffering to Play

I have found myself struck with admiration recently by games that I have played that have put me in less than empowering positions, games that celebrate difficulty and hardship, struggling and deprivation, rather than empowerment and excess.


Monday, April 1 2013

We’re More Than Our Job: The Characters of ‘Little Inferno’

Even voiceless and often invisible, the characters of Little Inferno manage to ooze more personality than most video game characters.


Sunday, February 24 2013

Forgive Me, Father, for I Have Simmed

I feel guilty for things that I have done in God of War. Pushing that caged man over a bed of flames to solve that block puzzle? Still not over that.


Monday, February 11 2013

The Assassins’ Failure

The last four games in the series have criticized totalitarianism by showing us what would happen if the “select few” in charge didn’t care about the people, but Assassin’s Creed III argues that if the “select few” in charge really do care about those beneath them, then society might flourish.


Monday, January 28 2013

Is Catherine the Last of the Manic Pixie Dream Girls?

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl not only teaches men how “to embrace life and its infinite mysteries” but also to violate taboos, the mundane, and all that which represents the prison of order and responsibility.


Sunday, November 25 2012

Of Assholes and Antiheroes: Morality in ‘Borderlands 2’

Modern video games feature a plethora of antiheroes. But there are times when this archetype is taken too far, when the antihero becomes just an asshole.


Monday, October 15 2012

Paying Too Often for Sex in Video Games

In film, the salacious is something to see. In video games, however, the salacious needs to be something to do.


Thursday, September 27 2012

God Is My Employee: The Theology of ‘Asura’s Wrath’

When members of humankind pray, they pray not out of worship, but because they understand that their help is needed to protect the world.


Thursday, August 16 2012

The Pleasures of Playing in an Economy of Pain

The greater the failure of the video game player, the greater the financial reward of the video game machine’s owner. More frustration, more 'death', used to mean more quarters per hour. These days, it means something else, entirely.


Tuesday, July 17 2012

‘Fez’ Argues for the Artistry of Play

Fez may argue that games are just meant to be played, but it makes that argument with such impressive thematic consistency that it also makes an argument for the artistry of play.


Sunday, June 17 2012

E3 2012: The Crowd, the Blood, The Screen

Pay attention to the rumblings of E3 2012 and you'll hear what may be a series of forthcoming storms.


Sunday, May 20 2012

To Build a World or to Tell a Story?

Plot just provides us with a win condition, it is not necessary for the act of play. I can enjoy a game without plot, but I can’t enjoy a game without world building because that is a game without rules.


Sunday, April 22 2012

A Love Letter to ‘Ms. Pac-Man’

Ms. Pac-Man speaks to the most essential nature of what a video game is, clarifying what makes a video game a video game and not any other type of game.


Thursday, March 22 2012

The Method to the Madness of ‘Modern Warfare’

In a series in which World War III is just a subplot, it’s clear that Infinity Ward is more concerned with character resolution than it is with plot resolution.


Wednesday, February 29 2012

Labyrinths of Childhood: Exploring ‘The Path’

Herman Kern says that “a certain level of maturity is required to understand the shape of as well as to make the decision to venture into, a labyrinth." The girl who enters Grandmother’s house in the labyrinthian game, The Path, has just what it takes.


Wednesday, January 25 2012

Batman Is Boring in ‘Arkham City’

Batman is a bit player in his own story, and I think a lot of that stems from his desire to save everyone.


Tuesday, January 3 2012

The Best Flash Games of 2011

These games taught me: the danger of following the rules; the pleasing presence of unexpected personalities; the pleasures of a well paced and meditative process; the joys of a frantic and chaotic twitch-fest and; the satisfaction derived from a game that brings out my inner masochist.


Thursday, November 17 2011

If You Can’t Help Me, Just Die: Survival in ‘Dead Island’

Dead Island is old-school survival-horror game, a subgenre that seems to have largely disappeared from the medium with the ascension of the action-horror game.


Monday, October 24 2011

Other Princesses, Other Castles: The Problem with Playing Romantically in Video Games

The insensibly repetitious nature of romance present in both video game plots and in their mechanics leads to all too familiar storytelling.


Sunday, September 25 2011

The End of the World Makes Sense in ‘Bastion’

The multiple endings in Bastion all feel like natural conclusions to the story.


Monday, August 22 2011

Why Video Games Might Not Be Art

Roger Ebert might have a point when he claims that 'games can never be art'. At least, Aristotle and T.S. Eliot would have agreed.


Wednesday, July 20 2011

Death Is Boring: Immortality as Character Development in Video Games

The infinite lives of video game characters present an interesting narrative conundrum: how does a writer create tension when the hero is essentially immortal?


Thursday, June 23 2011

Boys Get Naked Better than Girls

In games like Kabod Online, male characters expose themselves to an audience. This makes them look stronger, more powerful, more manly than they do with their clothes on.


Wednesday, May 18 2011

The Narrative Pastiche of Games

Beyond the cinematic presentation of many games, their pacing and storytelling has more in common with novels and television than with film.


Thursday, April 28 2011

Rewind to Advance: Jordan Mechner’s Games with Time

Games feature the ability to constantly challenge the forward momentum of time, rewinding (as it were) to reconsider the best route to reach a more optimal solution, challenging what we know about time and how we consider consequence.


Monday, March 28 2011

The Assassins’ Politics

Through a series of puzzles Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood paints a picture of corruption and conspiracy throughout the US government from the 1700s to the present.


Thursday, February 24 2011

Horror in Video Games: There’s Seeing—and Then There’s Realizing What You’re Seeing

My wife is right. The Necromorph known as a Slasher is extremely gross. But even though I played Dead Space for hours, I never noticed it.


Thursday, January 20 2011

Civil Violence in the Old West: ‘Red Dead Redemption’

Red Dead Redemption shows us over and over again that the bonds of society do little to quell man’s violent nature. Rather, man’s violent nature shapes the civilizations that we live in, creating a world of constant conflict on a personal and national level.


Sunday, November 28 2010

The Best Flash Games of 2010

This has been an incredibly fruitful year for independent game design, featuring games that are beautiful to look at, funny as hell, and even a few that provoke pleasure even as they make us more than a little uncomfortable.


Sunday, November 7 2010

How Can I Be Me?: The Gamer’s Role in Interactive Fiction

As an interactive medium, the roles that we play in video games are just as dependent on how we approach a game as they are up to the developer. Neither side has total control over the experience, so there’s a constant tug-of-war between authority and autonomy.


Sunday, October 3 2010

Shattered Horrors: Fragmented Perspectives in ‘Fatal Frame 2’

Leaving the dark unspeakable evil unexplained is best because the moment that you reduce such horror to words or images, the player’s imagination no longer feeds it.


Monday, August 16 2010

Mountains of Men: The Mythology of the Male Body in Video Games

People like to talk about the changing dimensions of Lara Croft's chest over the course of years, but have you noticed the upper arm development of Ryu over just four Street Fighter games?


Monday, July 26 2010

Morality in Mystery Dungeon: ‘Shiren the Wanderer’

The moral of Shiren the Wanderer is one of the few that only a game can truly teach; aspects of the story, new locations, items, and characters all have far more emotional resonance if we have to struggle for them.


Sunday, June 20 2010

Father’s Day Is Over, But Daddy Issues Remain in ‘Bioshock 2’ and ‘Red Dead Redemption’

Baby Boomer films such as Star Wars taught us about the corruptible and corrupting influence of an authoritarian father; now games like Bioshock 2 and Red Dead Redemption explore Generation X's “daddy issues”.


Monday, May 31 2010

My Own Private Architecture

When you get to know those hallways during your game experience, when you think of them as hubs wherein change occurs rather than mere passageways, that’s when the transition from a designed space to a personalized space begins.


Thursday, May 6 2010

Google Image Search: A Map of America

Do a Google Image search on virtually any American subject and you’ll get a whole lot of superheroes and villains.


Monday, April 5 2010

The Mass Appeal of Farmville

By integrating itself into Facebook’s social network, Farmville magnifies a sense of accomplishment because the challenges come from the way that you are perceived by a community, rather than on the whims of an unknown developer.


Monday, February 15 2010

Is Suda 51 the Alfred Hitchcock of Video Games?

While Suda 51's public persona is one manufactured within the kind of punk sensibility of a Johnny Rotten, it's still as carefully crafted as the celebrity auteurship of Alfred Hitchcock.


Monday, February 1 2010

The Art of Place in Hitman: Blood Money

A game isn’t just its content or game design alone, but rather, the space created when all these pieces come together.


Wednesday, January 13 2010

The ‘Assassins’ Religion

The Assassin's Creed games are interested in presenting a secular form of faith, suggesting that rationalism and faith can coexist despite their seemingly and sometimes contradictory elements.


Sunday, December 6 2009

Philip K. Dick’s Defense of Video Games

Philip K. Dick’s fiction is a defense of the validity of video games because despite the fact that they are not real, his stories argue that there is still something valid in the artificial.


Thursday, November 5 2009

Parent-Child Bonding: Video Games that Bridge the Generation Gap

Can Gen X parents bond with the newest generation of gamers given the ways that cooperative gameplay has changed over the years?


Monday, October 5 2009

Tools for the Job: Asserting Femininity in Super Metroid

Super Metroid is unique in that it is the only game in the series that addresses something distinctly female about Samus besides her looks: motherhood.


Wednesday, September 16 2009

The Art of Atmosphere: From Bioshock to Wolfenstein

Williams considers how the release of Bioshock has affected the way that apprehension and terror are evoked through the little details in video games.


Monday, August 10 2009

TIE Fighter: A Post 9/11 Parable

As the only Star Wars game that has you serving under the Empire without remorse, TIE Fighter lets you experience being a servant to a massive government just after a terrorist attack.


Thursday, July 9 2009

The Mask of the Deviant: Understanding Our Role in Killer 7

Williams considers the often strange roles that masks serve in Suda51's games and how they implicate us as players of video games.


Wednesday, May 27 2009

King’s Quest VI

Sixteen years after its release, King's Quest VI it is still one of the high water marks of the adventure game genre.


Thursday, April 30 2009

Like Movies—with Buttons

Like Edwin S. Porter realizing that a series of shots was how you structured a film, games have to abandon the presumption that they need to obey a linear narrative or controlled message and just let the player loose.


Wednesday, April 1 2009

Far Cry 2: The Heart of Darkness Game

This is a game that is incessantly hostile. It is constantly pushing the player to become more efficient at destruction.


Wednesday, March 4 2009

Half Life 2:  Giant Ants, Head Crabs and Barnacle Creatures

The world of Half-Life 2 depicts the aliens, most of them still unintelligent, overtaking our planet and destroying the norms of civilization.


Wednesday, December 10 2008

The Campbellian Myth of Monkey Island

The Secret of Monkey Island is one of the '90s' best examples of interactive fiction, and it accomplishes this by using a variety of narrative and game design techniques to deliver a Joseph Campbell experience.


Monday, November 10 2008

Retro-ing Games

The disparity in the approaches Capcom took to Mega Man 9 and Bionic Commando beg the question: what do we want out of a "retro" experience?


Tuesday, September 16 2008

But Where is the Art?

They might make you think, they might make you cringe, they might inspire revulsion or admiration, but are they "art"? A look at some borderline videogames.


Tuesday, July 8 2008

Just as Fun to Watch

L.B. Jeffries talks to "Boner", a gamer who has managed to build a following simply by allowing an internet audience to watch him play.


Monday, June 2 2008

Zarathustra-speak

Let's set aside judging a game purely by the game play or plot, and analyze the actual experience of the game, instead.


Wednesday, April 30 2008

The Game World / Real World Interface

"Interfacing" is Moving Pixels' way of taking a look at the tenuous relationship between the gaming world and the real world, and the awkwardness and enlightenment that the intersections between the two can achieve.


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