Latest Blog Posts

by Erik Kersting

12 Aug 2015


Twisted Fate from League of Legends

Chance has had its place in gaming since its beginnings. Board and card games either rely on it partially or entirely for their gameplay. Luck can be so fundamental that in games like poker, a player’s real skill comes in making deductions about chance, not in the actual “gameplay”. Even in pre-video game narrative games like Dungeons and Dragons, luck plays a huge role in what happens, determining the results of nearly everything that the player does. Today luck plays a part in many video games, from narrative-based games to competitive ones, but is that a good thing?

Roguelikes are a great example of “chance” based video games. While player skill still influences the outcome, in most roguelikes luck can change the amount of skill needed to win. As this very long video shows, even a very skilled player can have trouble completing every run of The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. In the run, NorthernLion, perhaps the most famous Isaac player, had a string of very bad luck, and while he made it very far into the labyrinth before he died, even his immense skill and knowledge could not save him from a doomed run.

by Eric Swain

11 Aug 2015


The Fall is about an AI on a mission to save her pilot, a pilot who is currently not responding after falling from space. I should note that I used the feminine pronoun to describe the AI because it is voiced in the game by a woman. It, of course, is a machine and has no gender other than that which we ascribe to it through our own conceptual understanding of gender. We see a figure, witness a behavior, or hear a voice and categorize what we perceive according to our understanding and experience, regardless if that categorization is correct.

I only bring this up because it is the easiest example of our own behavior towards others that I can point out. We self reflectively conceptualize others all the time and in multitudinous ways. For the most part, this skill serves us well in converting the billions upon billions of bits of constant data being taken in by our senses into a manageable, actionable understanding of our world around us. On the other hand, this behavior fails us when confronted with something alien to our understanding of the world and our response defies rational explanation—in other words, when we encounter something alien, like the artificial intelligence of a machine.

by Sean Miller

10 Aug 2015


Luxuria Superbia (Tale of Tales, 2013)

Art is hard. It’s hard to do. And when it’s done right, it’s hard to fully appreciate. You have to work at it. Most original art is initially met with indifference, if not revilement. Of the two, indifference is the most common reaction and the hardest to stomach. At least scorn is a reaction, however nerve-rattling it might be. It’s something to work from, to work against.

One lament about indifference is that it leaves the feedback circuit between audience and artist untriggered. Being ignored gets the artist no closer to knowing whether the art fails to connect because it’s too “out there” or merely because it sucks.

by Nick Dinicola

7 Aug 2015


I remember when any system of progression (leveling up, gaining new abilities, stat points, etc) was referred to as an “RPG element” because those systems primarily existed in RPGs. Now, every game has a progression system. Such systems have become so common that we’ve stopped calling them “RPG elements,” which is for the best. It’s not hard to see why these systems have become so prevalent in video games. They play into our desire for growth. We learn more, and we get stronger. These metrics of self-improvement are considered inherently good, things worth striving for.

But the downside to this obsessive self-improvement is that it makes us arrogant and selfish. After all, if some NPC isn’t going to give me a quest, why should I bother talking to him?

by Scott Juster

6 Aug 2015


Her Story makes use of well known storytelling tool. It uses a representation of its own medium to construct a narrative. Like a play within a play or a movie about a movie, Her Story is a computer program in which you navigate a facsimile of an old research operating system and research data base in the hopes of solving a mystery. The computer imagery is very strong, right down to the color palette and arcane noises made by the simulated machine. In fact, it’s so strong that it creates dissonance between the way a real computer would work and the way the game needs it to work.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Double Take: The African Queen (1951)

// Short Ends and Leader

"What a time they had, Charlie and Rosie. They'll never lack for stories to tell their grandchildren. And what a time we had at Double Take discussing the spiritual and romantic journey of the African Queen.

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