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by Rick Dakan

14 Apr 2011


Chapter 1 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 2 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 3 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 4 of Rage Quit is available in .pdf format here.

Randal had long ago pretty much given up on the whole going out to lunch in a big crowd thing. He still tagged along maybe once a week with the rest of his QA gang, especially if they were going to the Indian buffet place. The lunches were fun, he supposed. Lots of joking around and gossiping and griping about the game, and he thought it was important to keep in touch with all the various rumors and trends swirling around the company. But the whole rigmarole of choosing a place, deciding who was driving, and leaving at a time when everyone was ready got on his nerves. Most of the time he preferred to take his breaks when he pleased, often waiting until two or even three in the afternoon to have his lunch. That way it was sort of like having two lunches – he got the QA area to himself while the others went out, and then he could take some more time to himself when he grabbed a bite to eat.

The Fear and Loading cafeteria was on the ground floor along with QA, human resources, and marketing, and was actually a pretty comfortable space. It offered clean, round tables, comfortable brightly colored chairs, and a plasma screen TV where employees could play videos. It offered three microwaves, free soda, and coffee drinks from a Starbucks branded machine. The vending machines had a decent variety of snacks, including microwave-ready burritos and Hot Pockets. Some people were brave or confident enough to leave their lunches in the communal fridge, but Randal never had. Of course Randal never cooked anything at home, so it wasn’t like he had something to put in there anyway. He mostly subsisted on Hot Pockets and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Tuesdays were anime days on the plasma screen, with a larger than typical lunch crowd often ordering in pizza while watching some frenetic collection of big eyed, small mouthed characters cavorting excitedly across the screen. For a self-described geek, Randal had a very low anime tolerance, and it was in order to avoid that particular programming block that he first discovered the joys of the nice and quiet 2:30 lunch break. It was also how he met PB.

by G. Christopher Williams

13 Apr 2011


Designed by indie developer Anna Anthropy, Adult Swim’s latest flash game, Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars, is punishing.

The punitive nature of the game is derived from two sources, both of which appear to be clear inspirations for the game. The first influence is obviously a retro game aesthetic. Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars apes ‘80s arcade retro gaming in its low res graphics, simple gameplay, and even down to its pre-game splash screens that describe the point values of the slaves that you will be “reacquiring” throughout the game. And, oh yeah, it also borrows from the punishing difficulty of 1980s-style quarter eating masochism.

Which is all well and good, given that the other influence that the game is obviously borrowing heavily upon is a kind of 1970s exploitation theme, more specifically Lesbian Spider-Queens of Mars is more or less a “women in prison” movie ported to game form.

by Kris Ligman

12 Apr 2011


Image of boys playing video games from Inquiry

This past weekend I was given the honor to present a paper at Rutgers School of Communication’s inaugural games studies conference, The Game Behind the Video Game. The conference was broken down into business, law, and society tracks, with a fascinating spectrum of subjects across those subjects. My presentation, held on a society panel along with Ren Reynolds of The Virtual Policy Network and Burcu Bakioglu of the University of Indiana, focused on a particular prosumer subculture known as Let’s Play.

Let’s Play are multimedia videogame walkthroughs. While the Let’s Play community is just one of many out there who marry production of web assets with fan activity, they are an interesting case in their own right for testing the threshold of transformative works.

I find Let’s Plays worthy of talking about from an academic standpoint because they change the meaning of play. I’ve always believed the true proof of legitimacy with any fan practice is simply if people enjoy it. And since LPs are popular, something about them must strike a chord even among those who prefer to play and experience games on their own. What remains is coming up with a framework for the hows and whys of game watching, which is what this series will be doing.

by Aaron Poppleton

12 Apr 2011


A few years ago, a writer by the name of Christine Love released Digital: A Love Story quietly into the wilds of the internet.  Set in a idealized vision of late 1980s computer culture, it told the story of two people who meet on a BBS and fall in love—albeit with a few Gibsonian complications thrown in for good measure.  The story was well written, capturing the feel of not only the first stumbling steps into adolescent romance but also the contradictory connected isolation of the early internet.  The story on its own would have been interesting enough, but Love’s decision to present the story via an old looking interface added to the immersion of the story as well as pushed the right nostalgic buttons for some members of her audience while also evoking an idealized image of the past for others.  In short, Digital was a period piece, set during those infant days of networking when stealing long distance codes in order to connect to a remote BBS was done without a second thought (I suppose it goes without saying that it was also set during a time when long distance phone calls were actually a big deal—before cellular telephones made the concept archaic). 

Digital had its flaws, which are mostly courtesy of its occasionally clunky interface and a few design decisions that were symptomatic of Digital’s short development cycle, but the strength of the writing and the charm of its unique presentation were more than enough to make it something of a critical success.  Here was a solid example of what electronic literature could do, something which hadn’t really been in evidence since the days of Patchwork Girl or Twelve Blue—and Digital’s youth meant that it was better able to take advantage of the electronic format than its predecessors.  Thematically the narrative was exciting as well, as it provided an interesting, if idealized, view of the role of technology in forging new relationships and ways of relating to one another.  Setting it in the early days of the internet (back before it was the internet, really) better helped to highlight these themes by restricting the interaction to text on the computer screen—no pictures, no face to face conversation.

by Michelle Welch

11 Apr 2011


A recent visit to Jeff Goldblum’s Wikipedia entry unearthed what initially appeared to be vandalization of his page’s filmography: a dubious and conspicuously silly credit as the voice of Dracula in a 1996 video game titled Goosebumps: Escape From HorrorLand. I thought for sure that it was someone’s idea of a laugh and a successful one at that. Yes, in the 1990s, R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series spawned a commercial empire that branded every conceivable item that a child might demand from a parent, so a video game was certainly plausible. But with Jeff Goldblum? I smelled a Rickroll. Logic said that this Wikipedia claim couldn’t exist because if it did exist, there would be a wildly popular viral video in existence, making Count Goldblum synonymous with the word “slumming.” There was no way that something like this could escape the notice of the all-seeing, all-hearing, all-remembering Internet. 

Thus, videographic evidence was sought, and YouTube was consulted. If Jeff Goldblum had ever vanted to zuck yer blood, some enterprising audio/video packrat would have a sample of the game. A quick search of the terms “Goosebumps Goldblum” returned promising results. Scroll ahead to 6:05 in the clip below to see Goldblum do a whole lot more than just voice acting.

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