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by G. Christopher Williams

8 Dec 2010

Didn’t video games used to be about saving the world or at least a princess or something?

I ask this question as I consider the sorts of games that I have been playing lately.  Sure, Fable III, Fallout: New Vegas, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood all contain elements that concern a civilization on the brink of disaster and the player’s role in providing a solution to that threat to the world or region or city-state.  However, I have been noticing a tendency on my part when playing these games (especially Fable III and Brotherhood) to get much more involved in the economics of these games and my own investment in them than in paying attention to the noble goal (the common good) of the main plot.

by Kris Ligman

7 Dec 2010

Note: this article deals specifically with elements of Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer that involve torture and sexual assault. It may be troubling for some readers.

Today marks my third and final article on Beautiful Escape: Dungeoneer, the controversial independent game released earlier this year by psychotherapist Nicolau Chaud. I tend not to spend more than a couple weeks devoted to any one subject, but the swirling back-and-forth discussion surrounding the game in recent weeks has been exciting, thoughtful, and highly rewarding if you wish to read more about it. The designer himself has compiled a roundup of his favorite reviews, interviews and in-depth articles over at the game’s main site, which I would recommend.

In the course of writing about the game, I’ve refrained from lingering too much on my personal feelings regarding it—with the exception of remarks that I’ve made about the quality of the writing, but I attribute that not so much to the gamer side of my personality as it is that parasitic twin in the back of my mind who never got to be an English major. As a calculated metatextual counterpoint, it’s become quite effective. No one could argue that. But interpersonally, when friends and colleagues ask me about the game, my final line of the game comes down to something like this: “Don’t play it. Really. It’s not worth your time. I wish I’d never played it.”

by G. Christopher Williams

6 Dec 2010

As you may have noticed in the last few weeks of November, nearly every writer at the Moving Pixels blog has had something to say about Fable III (and if you don’t know this, feel free to check out the links below).

From the game’s whimsical aesthetic to its politics to its possibly unfulfilled promises (within the game itself and from Lionhead about what the game offers as an experience), we all have some opinion on this newest iteration of the saga of the hero of Albion.

by Nick Dinicola

3 Dec 2010

I’ve always preferred arcade racing games over racing sims. I can’t bring myself to care about Gran Turismo 5; no matter how many assists it might add for beginners. The subtitle “The Real Driving Simulator” will always be a turn off. The same goes for Forza, Need for Speed: Shift, and Grid. Thankfully, this year saw the release of three high profile arcade racers back-to-back-to-back: Split/Second, Blur, and Mod Nation Racers.  While I admit that I haven’t yet played Mod Nation Racers, when I played the other two games I was so disheartened that I went crawling back to a perennial classic in a desperate attempt to reignite my love of the genre. I bought Burnout: Revenge, and was instantly hooked. Replaying it now, it’s obvious what sets Criterion’s masterpiece (personally I’m not a fan of the open world in Paradise) apart from its competitors. It’s a single and perfectly implemented mechanic: the ability to ram cars.

by Scott Juster

2 Dec 2010

Perhaps I’ve been playing too many games or maybe I haven’t been getting enough sleep, but I find myself increasingly under the impression that some games are trying to send me hidden signals.  Even some of the most straight-faced, large-budget, mass-appeal titles seem to be winking at me through a crack in the fourth wall.

Some games don’t bother to mask their self awareness. MadWorld takes a gleeful delight in forsaking any attempt to seriously justify extreme violence and instead makes a joke about the simple, lowbrow appeal of a brawler.  DeathSpank is unabashedly comedic in its approach, and plays its very existence as a game for laughs.  Traditional features that would usually sit “above” the game’s world like the quest log, inventory system, and mission structure are explicitly referenced, making it so that both the players and the characters are aware of them.  Although the Metal Gear Solid series generally takes itself more seriously than the previous two examples, those games are legendary for their fourth-wall-breaking antics. Continuing with the metaphor of mischievous non-verbal body language, explicitly referencing the game’s CD case or discussing the console hardware within a serious story about war, technology, and morality is more akin to mooning the player than it is winking at them. While such shenanigans are entertaining, I’d like to take a closer look at some titles whose nods to the player are more subtle.

//Mixed media