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Thursday, Sep 25, 2014
Between the four of us shooting into the mouth of this cave there is an unspoken agreement.

I’m shooting fish in a barrel with total strangers. We are on the outskirts of fallen Russia in Destiny, just outside Skywatch, facing a cave off in the distance. Every five seconds or so a group of Hive enemies spawn inside and quickly get mowed down by our weapons as they stream outside. We are exploiting the loot and spawn systems in Destiny to level quickly and collect all the tasty engrams that give our characters rare weapons and armor.


I am trying to understand why in Destiny, a shooter from one of the most prestigious studios in the world, this group of players choose to spend their time harvesting digital goods instead of playing the game “proper.” Since players found the exploit a week or two ago, you can consistently find people alternating gunfire and picking up loot. They are practicing the mundane art of the grind in the most efficient way possible—not exactly the most thrilling experience you could imagine.


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Wednesday, Sep 24, 2014
In the images of its aftermath, the act of violence is celebrated as an act of spectacular physical prowess and moral potency.

It’s one of the more exciting gunfight sequences in recent cinema. Having just witnessed the death of his mentor, Django Freeman, a former slave and a man searching for his wife and revenge against her captors, takes on all comers in a gun battle on the first floor of a plantation house.


It’s a sequence that is defined by Quentin Tarantino’s love for blaxploitation cinema, a genre interested in representing empowerment and justice through spectacles of violence. In this scene in Django Unchained, Django proves his worth and even the just nature of his cause in his proficiency in exacting revenge against his oppressors. Cowboys die in droves, blood splatters the walls, and his killing spree is only halted by a threat of violence against his wife, the woman he loves and his chief motivation for action throughout the movie.


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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
In this case, cheating isn’t just an admission of defeat to the game, it’s an admission of defeat for the characters as well. And I can’t bring myself to make them lose.

Blackbar is an iOS puzzle game about bypassing totalitarian censors. You are Vi Channi, a common citizen of a totalitarian government who lives in a “Neighborhood” outside the big city. Your friend, Kentery Jo Loaz, has just moved to the big city where she’s set to start work as an employee of the Department of Communication. Your letters back and forth are monitored by the Department, and words that are deemed “inappropriate” are redacted. Your job as a player is to deduce what those redacted words are based on the context of the sentence and the length of the black censor bar. It’s reading comprehension as a puzzle.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
The types of decisions I made at the end of season two were heartfelt ones, but they’re not practical and they’re not the kinds of decisions that keep people alive.

The Walking Dead is deviously good at at playing on your sense of hope. Perhaps there is some way to make it out of this catastrophe if I say the right thing, act quickly enough, or maybe with just a bit of luck, I’ll somehow outrun these zombies, rehabilitate these broken people, and live out my days as a contented subsistence farmer.


This will never happen, and I try to direct the characters in The Walking Dead accordingly. People need to be responsible for their own actions, they need to be responsible for how their actions impact their group, and they need to be held accountable for the decisions they make. These principles are what caused me in season 1\one to give up on Ben and leave him behind. They’re what drove Lee to strike out on his own after screwing up and being bitten. They’re what drove Lee to be caring, but firm, with Clementine so that she was ready to act and make her own decisions.


All this means that for me, both Lee and Clementine come across as utilitarian. If someone is dragging the group down, and they don’t want or cannot benefit from help, it’s time to say goodbye, even though it might be a sad goodbye. With season two’s introduction of AJ, an infant who is instantly orphaned, my resolve (and therefore Clem’s) was shaken. Wanting to care for a defenseless baby is tempting and socially compelling, but it’s the baby’s symbolism as a turning point in the larger world that makes it even more tragic.


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Monday, Sep 15, 2014
This week we discuss three indie releases that are available for free on PC, including Serena, Glitchhikers, and A Dark Room.

As we are wont to do on occasion on the podcast, we decided to play through a few little indie titles that are available for free online, which you can find through the following links: Serena, Glitchhikers, and A Dark Room.


Not everything free is good, of course, but at least one of these titles may be a game of the year contender.


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