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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
In this case, cheating isn’t just an admission of defeat to the game, it’s an admission of defeat for the characters as well. And I can’t bring myself to make them lose.

Blackbar is an iOS puzzle game about bypassing totalitarian censors. You are Vi Channi, a common citizen of a totalitarian government who lives in a “Neighborhood” outside the big city. Your friend, Kentery Jo Loaz, has just moved to the big city where she’s set to start work as an employee of the Department of Communication. Your letters back and forth are monitored by the Department, and words that are deemed “inappropriate” are redacted. Your job as a player is to deduce what those redacted words are based on the context of the sentence and the length of the black censor bar. It’s reading comprehension as a puzzle.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
The types of decisions I made at the end of season two were heartfelt ones, but they’re not practical and they’re not the kinds of decisions that keep people alive.

The Walking Dead is deviously good at at playing on your sense of hope. Perhaps there is some way to make it out of this catastrophe if I say the right thing, act quickly enough, or maybe with just a bit of luck, I’ll somehow outrun these zombies, rehabilitate these broken people, and live out my days as a contented subsistence farmer.


This will never happen, and I try to direct the characters in The Walking Dead accordingly. People need to be responsible for their own actions, they need to be responsible for how their actions impact their group, and they need to be held accountable for the decisions they make. These principles are what caused me in season 1\one to give up on Ben and leave him behind. They’re what drove Lee to strike out on his own after screwing up and being bitten. They’re what drove Lee to be caring, but firm, with Clementine so that she was ready to act and make her own decisions.


All this means that for me, both Lee and Clementine come across as utilitarian. If someone is dragging the group down, and they don’t want or cannot benefit from help, it’s time to say goodbye, even though it might be a sad goodbye. With season two’s introduction of AJ, an infant who is instantly orphaned, my resolve (and therefore Clem’s) was shaken. Wanting to care for a defenseless baby is tempting and socially compelling, but it’s the baby’s symbolism as a turning point in the larger world that makes it even more tragic.


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Monday, Sep 15, 2014
This week we discuss three indie releases that are available for free on PC, including Serena, Glitchhikers, and A Dark Room.

As we are wont to do on occasion on the podcast, we decided to play through a few little indie titles that are available for free online, which you can find through the following links: Serena, Glitchhikers, and A Dark Room.


Not everything free is good, of course, but at least one of these titles may be a game of the year contender.


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Friday, Sep 12, 2014
Year Walk tells a story that comes alive in its telling, that grows up around the player, out of its display box, and into a forest.

When I was a kid, my mother had me take a wooden mask that we owned outside to destroy it with a hatchet. She said it had haunted her dreams. It was a strange precaution to take in retrospect, but at the time, it made sense. As a child, the dark holds all sorts of ghosts and terrors, and the superstitions and beliefs passed on in family stories become fact when the sun sets.


I can tell you some of the stories I grew up with now—about a pile of cursed clothing or my curandera aunt who could reliably free a house of evil spirits—but they would lose their vigor in the telling. There is a difference between a story about folklore and a folklore story.


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Wednesday, Sep 10, 2014
Time and efficiency are most often the factor that creates tension in a zombie story, which is about when you will be overwhelmed and then if you have enough time to prepare to do something about it. So where is the source of tension in Dead Rising 3?

It’s always a comfort to me after the advent of a zombie apocalypse to know that I can make a quick stop off at home to pick up a fiery scythe or a sawed off shotgun with a machete mounted on it (or both for that matter) to fend off the undead hordes.


Certainly any game that features the ability to light a scythe on fire or strap a light machine gun to a teddy bear to create a cute, portable gun turret is, of course, not one committed in any way to some form of grim and gritty realism. The Dead Rising games do not share the serious tone of another zombie-infused series like The Walking Dead, in which the need for a survivalist philosophy in the face of an overwhelming threat leads to players making difficult moral and sociopolitical decisions. The only “tough” decisions that you will have to make in Dead Rising 3 are things like whether to use that stoplight that you jury rigged to shoot arcs of electricity to destroy the shambling monstrosities that surround you or to instead use the other similarly jury rigged stoplight that you seem to carry around in your back pocket that belches fire—at least this time out.


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