As is the case with the disease itself, it’s hard to know how to talk about That Dragon, Cancer. Everyone deals with such challenges in a different way, and words that are meant to be brave or comforting often end up sounding like generic platitudes. Ryan and Amy Green made a game about their son Joel’s struggle with cancer. There’s some happy parts and some sad parts in it, but all of them feel honest and even practical at points. It’s something that I admire about the game. It feels authentic because they’re tackling multiple aspects of the disease, which makes it easier for other people to relate to and to even share their own personal experiences with cancer.
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On January 6th, Louis Vuitton premiered a Spring-Summer collection called Series 4: The Heroine, designed by Nicolas Ghesquière. In the lead up to the event, the famous fashion house released a video featuring Ghesquière’s clothes modeled by a virtual heroine, Lightning of Final Fantasy XIII.
This episode we discuss, well, our picks for the best games of 2015.
There was a whole lot to love in 2015 from both the big publishers and from the indie scene. From iOS sims to big budget action games to narrative driven adventure games, we have a little something for everyone on our list.
Some people really loved Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. I didn’t, and a lot of my dislike stemmed from what I saw as bad design. This is a game that does everything it can to hinder your consumption of its story, even though its story was the only thing of interest to its players. As a first-person walker, Rapture is a story-driven game in a story-driven genre that fumbles every aspect of storytelling. I hated playing it so much that I think that hate has seeped into my interpretation of its themes. It’s a game that is stuck in my mind not because it’s so good, but because it seems, to me, to be one of the most cynical and nihilistic games ever made, one that embraces the awfulness of humanity and celebrates our untimely end.
I had a short twitter conversation with a former colleague of mine today about the potential benefits of virtual reality for creating and amplifying empathy. The ability to transport a player in a first-person perspective into a wholly alien experience is certainly an excellent opportunity to engage them in empathy building. Last year, Josh Constantine of Tech Crunch went so far as to call virtual reality an “Empathy Machine”, and designers in the social impact and journalism space are already playing around with a variety of game concepts. The Space quoted Amnesty International Innovation’s Manager Reuven Steains describing virtual reality as “a portal from the streets of London to the streets of Aleppo.” There is a unique opportunity for fostering compassion in VR.
On the other hand, I find myself cautious when it comes to the design of embodiment in virtual space. When you slip on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, who do you become? What affordances do these experiences signal to you as to how to behave as this virtual being? What does it mean to be brown or a woman in virtual reality? What does it mean to be brown?