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by G. Christopher Williams

22 Aug 2016

While the mania has begun to ebb in the remaining days of summer, Pokemon Go was the biggest gaming event of the last two months, both a cultural and cross cultural phenomenon.

While our own experiences of the game are localized, this week we discuss our own experiences with Pokemon Go and how they may reflect on the larger phenomenon surrounding its release.

by PopMatters Staff

22 Aug 2016

PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as a bridge between academia and popular culture. Thus, our articles are written in an engaging style that is both entertaining and erudite, yet free of stiff and cloistered academic language, and of course, far removed from the novice, the hype and the naiveté that crowds online media.

PopMatters articles appeal to cultural omnivores, historians, pop culture enthusiasts and intellectuals and geeks of many stripes. Our essayists approach their subjects with a strong respect for and knowledge of history—and with an eye toward where they think we may be heading next.

Feature essays are a minimum of 1,200 words, and there is no maximum limit, so long as the essay warrants the length. You may pitch a single essay, or a series of articles. We’d love to hear your ideas.

by Nick Dinicola

19 Aug 2016

One of the biggest innovations of the Souls games (including Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne) is their online component. Not the competitive online part that has us invading other players’ games, or even the cooperative part that has us summoning other players into our game to help with bosses and tough enemies. The real innovation is the passive interaction that we have with the unknown multitudes of players online—the notes we can leave for strangers, telling them about secrets, about treasure, about traps, or just tricking them into jumping off of a cliff with the promise of something great below. We could have all those interactions without seeing another player. We only ever saw their past—the bloodstains where they died, their messages, their ghosts—evidence of another life that made the world feel more friendly for the help and more harsh because of the obvious end of that other life.

DarkMaus is an indie game made by one guy, Daniel Wright. It’s a “Souls-like”, a game clearly inspired by Dark Souls that mimics the same pacing and difficulty and many of the same mechanics, but with a few important and truly clever tweaks to the formula.

by Erik Kersting

18 Aug 2016

For better or for worse, No Man’s Sky will be one of the most divisive games of this year. A look at early reviews shows some lofty praise, like this twinfinite review saying the game is “no doubt a feat in magnificent game development”, followed by a lot criticism calling it “boring.” No Man’s Sky doesn’t have to be liked by every journalist. After all, the beauty of critical analysis is that different people can reach different conclusions, but the way that critics and laymen are choosing to attack No Man’s Sky displays many of the problems that plague gaming criticism and journalism, specifically hype and anti-hype, price obsession, and the amount of “time” that one can spend in a game as indicators of “quality”.  The problem with putting the focus on these shallow characteristics of a game is that it doesn’t reveal to us anything about the game itself, only the situation surrounding the game.

The hype around No Man’s Sky has been tremendous, and so has the backlash. A quick read of many popular gaming journalism sites has reviewers commenting at length about the hype surrounding No Man’s Sky and whether or not the game “lives up to it”. Without a doubt, many people were excited for No Man’s Sky. They imagined themselves exploring a vast and wild universe where they would never see the same thing twice. They envisioned themselves as explorers of the cosmos. The game has clearly disappointed some people, and many reviewers and commentators aren’t talking about the game in front of them, but rather the ghost of the game that they desired.

by G. Christopher Williams

17 Aug 2016

One of the central conceits of the Batman mythos is the idea that fear can be a powerfully useful tool for justice. This idea emerges as a conclusion drawn by Bruce Wayne when he first decides to take on the mantle of the Batman. Additionally, this conclusion becomes the motivating factor for taking on a particular identity in order to wreak vengeance on criminality, as he observes in Detective Comics #33: “[C]riminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror in their hearts.”

This same conceit has also been central to Rocksteady Studios’s design philosophy for their Batman: Arkham series. Rocksteady’s success has been in creating a game that evokes a fairly authentic feeling of “being the Batman,” which is related to a host of well implemented design decisions, both in terms of how the character of Batman is not merely portrayed in their games, but in how Batman is “played” in these games. One of their best gameplay systems that supports this sense of being Batman is their “stealth-combat” room sequences.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

In Defense of the Infinite Universe in 'No Man's Sky'

// Moving Pixels

"The common cries of disappointment that surround No Man’s Sky stem from the exciting idea of an infinite universe clashing with the harsh reality of an infinite universe.

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