CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 29 Jan / 12 Feb]

 
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Thursday, Jan 29, 2015
Largely due to its small size and independence from the primary game, First Light is simply better than Second Son, even while it owes its existence to it.

Last week here on PopMatters, Scott Juster described Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker as a “micro-machine”, one of those curious little dioramas that seemed popular when he and I were kids. It is precisely the minute scale but high-quality systems of the game that lets us toss it into the category of games we recently called “Big Small games”. While Captain Toad is a great game, perhaps inFamous First Light is a better example of the experimental value of these impressive, albeit smaller, diversions from the triple A game space.


Like Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, inFamous First Light is also an offshoot of a traditional full title. First Light, technically, is actually a piece of DLC for 2014’s inFamous Second Son. However, the game is also a completely stand-alone experience. Players do not need to own or have played the first game to dive into the experience. In this way, First Light is an interesting consumer product. Generally, I always consider DLC as a way for developers to incentivize newcomers and keep devotees busy playing a core game experience. The ultimate goal is to prevent people from selling your game back to Gamestop and into the hands of other players without ever receiving a cut of the profit. Our brave new world of “games as a service” seems built as a futile salvo against the used game market.


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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015
Differentiating yourself from other gamers on the basis of a few primary colors may indicate some powerful symbolic and identificatory impulses.

You see that little car up there on the Monopoly board? Yeah, that’s me.


That car has always been me for as long as I can remember. I have played my fair share of games of Monopoly, and I honestly don’t believe that I have ever played the game as anything other than the car. All of which is kind of weird when you come to think about it, since Monopoly has so much more variety in its playing pieces than many other classic family board games. There’s a car, a thimble, an iron, a little dog, a man on horseback, etc. A much different quality than, say, merely picking from the traditional red, blue, yellow, and green pieces that usually all look the same in most other games. Wouldn’t it then be neat to play as something different once in awhile?


Well, obviously for me the answer is “no” because any time a box of Monopoly has been opened in my presence, I immediately either reach for the car or simply declare, “I’m the car.” Somehow the car has become my identity within the context of a game of Monopoly.


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Friday, Jan 23, 2015
Far Cry 4 looks and plays like a shooter, but it doesn't feel like a shooter. It is really about my quest for collectibles and the chaos that erupts along the way.

Far Cry 4 is ostensibly a shooter, but I find that I spend more time looking at and searching for things while I play it than I do shooting things. I still shoot things of course, but that’s not the point of the game. The point of the game is everything that precedes the shooting: walking, running, driving, crawling, scouting, marking targets, listening, watching, planning, hunting—my trek through the world. Even when combat explodes around me, the shooting is ancillary—just a thing to do to keep me alive, not the reason to stay alive. Far Cry 4 is an adventure game, not a shooting game, and I mean that in the classic sense of the word, not as it normally applies to video games.


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Thursday, Jan 22, 2015
Mario’s out exploring the galaxy, but Captain Toad is about examining the most minute details.

When I was a kid, I had a bunch of Micro Machines Star Wars toys. Alright, “kid” is probably a generous term, but I defy anyone to question how cool those things were.


I especially enjoyed the ones that started off as statuettes and unfolded to reveal a meticulously constructed diorama. They were more than dioramas though, since they all had some sort of mechanical trick. Poke around and you’ll find that the Rancor’s cage door moves and that Greedo can be launched out of his Mos Eisley seat after taking a shot from a miniature Han. Something that initially looked simple was actually a collection of intricate details meticulously designed to make the small environment a densely packed one.


Nintendo taps into the same feeling with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.


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Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015
South Park: The Stick of Truth reveals the strange and ambiguous quality of entertainment rating systems.

I performed an abortion to save the world. Actually, it was one of three abortions that I performed, two of which were performed on men. I also dodged my father’s scrotum while battling an underpants gnome. He, of course, (the gnome) was crushed by one of my mother’s big, swinging breasts. I climbed up a man’s rectum, farted on a man’s balls, and I also witnessed several anal probings by aliens.


What I am trying to say is that I recently have been playing the Mature rated game, South Park: The Stick of Truth.


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