Latest Blog Posts

by Mantas Krisciunas

17 Nov 2016


I am one of those people who will plot petty revenge on anyone claiming that video games are merely “a waste of time”. This medium has worked hard at being taken seriously, and by this point, you’d have had to be living under one big rock to still think of it as merely a silly pastime. However, there’s one part of gaming that still makes it hard to decidedly consign that embarrassing label to the history books. The repetitious grind still remains at the core of modern game design.

by G. Christopher Williams

16 Nov 2016


I beat Zero Time Dilemma, a 20+ hour game, in five minutes.

This actually wasn’t hard to accomplish. Zero Time Dilemma‘s narrative structure is based on a series of branching storylines, the root of which is a choice determined by a coin flip. I won that coin flip. The nine potential victims of the maniacal Zero were saved from having to experience his series of puzzles and death traps as the result of my lucky guess. The credits rolled.

by G. Christopher Williams

14 Nov 2016


Following up on our discussion from last week of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, this week we discuss that game’s follow up A Machine for Pigs.

Machine for Pigs was handed off from Frictional Games to The Chinese Room. As a result, we consider how the new developer handles a classic property and reconsiders what kind of horror the Amnesia franchise can offer.

by Nick Dinicola

11 Nov 2016


Amnesia: The Dark Descent is still a good horror game. Playing it for the first time six years after its initial release, it does feel a little dated, and it certainly doesn’t live up to it’s reputation as a horror masterpiece. However, it still largely succeeds in what it sets out to do. Even by today’s standards it’s an ambitious game, evoking psychological horror through a Lovecraftian story and mechanics of insanity, while also evoking physical horror through the threat of otherworldly monsters and limited survival resources. It wants to make you fear for your life and fear for your soul. It succeeds on both fronts, but ironically those success actually undermine the game as a whole.

by Kym Buchanan

10 Nov 2016


Losing XP for dying is wrong. Game design is often a matter of style and taste. However, this is one area where I see a categorical error, as a gamer and as a psychologist. To share my thinking, I’ll unpack dying in games, describe a human capacity called resilience, and describe the problem with losing experience points (XP).

Dying in games is weird. On the one hand, in many games the death of non-player characters (NPCs) is a near-constant event, including both enemies and computer-controlled allies. This is especially true in hack-n-slash and shooter games that feature the wholesale slaughter of NPCs, such as Diablo 3, Castle Crashers, or Serious Sam. On the other hand, in many games the player-character rarely or never dies. Player-characters are often distinguished in a game world by their extraordinary abilities, including their ability to take damage and rebound from it. Even when my player character does die, I can usually resurrect on the spot or nearby, resurrect back at a recent checkpoint, or reload a recent save. Resurrection or reloading may happen so seamlessly that we could be forgiven for thinking of dying in games as something different than dying in real life.

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