Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014
by Brian Crecente / Tribune News Service (TNS)
If the Xbox One’s launch were a movie, it would fit very neatly into a three-act structure, and we would be witnessing right now the console’s final, biggest moment of crisis.

The video game industry’s most exciting story this generation can’t be found in the likes of The Last of Us, Halo 5 or the latest Call of Duty.


The most compelling narrative to arise out of this new crop of consoles isn’t coming from any video game, it’s the Xbox One’s Miltonian fall from grace and its attempt at redemption.


If the Xbox One’s launch were a movie, it would fit very neatly into a three-act structure, and we would be witnessing right now the console’s final, biggest moment of crisis. What happens next in the launch’s third act seems to rest entirely with the new(ish) head of Xbox, Phil Spencer.


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Tuesday, Nov 18, 2014
by Marshall Sandoval
There were 145 entries in the 7DFS game jam this year, and I played a lot of them. Here’s a list of a few great prototypes that were created during this jam that are worth your time.

For a game jam in just its third year, 7DFPS has drawn some big names. The game jam began as a throwaway comment made by Jan Willem Nijman. He tweeted, “FPSes are a horribly oversaturated genre, indies can easily do amazing new stuff. Who’s up for it?”. Now, he organizes the game jam with fellow independent developers Sos Sosowski and Sven Bergstrom. The seven day challenge has drawn big name participants like Notch, and in recent years, led to full length projects like Superhot. This year’s stylish keynote address is available on Youtube and includes insights from Steve Gaynor, Lisa Brown, and others.


There were 145 entries this year, and I played a lot of them. There’s a lot great prototypes that are worth your time on the 7DFPS itch.io this year, but these are my five favorites, which I selected to give you a sense of the breadth of prototypes produced for this year’s jam.


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Friday, Nov 14, 2014
No one really likes being scared. The fun of being scared never comes from the actual act of being scared. This pleasure comes afterwards when we can look back and laugh.

A few weeks ago, Scott Juster asked why it’s so hard to find fear in video games. It’s a question that immediately struck me as odd because I’ve never had a problem finding fear in video games, but while reading his post, it became clear why our experiences with horror have been so different. The post also highlights one of the most difficult paradoxes facing the horror genre and gaming especially: the problem of audience participation.


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Thursday, Nov 13, 2014
The thing that attracts me to Bayonetta 2 is that it’s the closest thing to a Beyoncé concert that I’ve ever played.

Bayonetta is certainly one of the most discussed, most controversial video game characters of recent years and perhaps of all time. A search for her name on the Critical Distance web site yields thousands of words dedicated to analyzing her. Exploited sex object or sex-positive icon? Object of the male gaze or independant dominatrix? I get the sense that a person’s opinion of Bayonetta says more about them than it does her.  She is a litmus test for how someone thinks about sex and gender.


Assuming that’s the case, I’ll open myself up for a little public psychoanalysis. As a fan of games that emphasize dexterity and tactical execution, Bayonetta 2 had me hooked. It’s a great brawler whose challenge scales based on how much you’re willing to learn about the fighting systems. Brawlers are relatively common though; I could play Devil May Cry or God of War to scratch the same itch. The thing that attracts me to Bayonetta 2 is that it’s the closest thing to a Beyoncé concert that I’ve ever played.


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Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014
Moonkid is a story about not saving the world. That is, it is a story more universal, perhaps, than those more often told by most video games.

Save the world. Save the princess. Save yourself. Moonkid is a video game about what you can’t do. It isn’t a power fantasy. It’s a fantasy of powerlessness.


It’s appropriate that the titular character, Moonkid, is the role that the player takes on in a story about not saving the world. After all, a child represents the opposite of what most video game characters normally do. Children are vulnerable, often incapable, lacking in skills and abilities that we think are requisite to accomplishing “important” tasks. Instead, children bear witness to the world.


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