Latest Blog Posts

by Erik Kersting

18 Aug 2016


For better or for worse, No Man’s Sky will be one of the most divisive games of this year. A look at early reviews shows some lofty praise, like this twinfinite review saying the game is “no doubt a feat in magnificent game development”, followed by a lot criticism calling it “boring.” No Man’s Sky doesn’t have to be liked by every journalist. After all, the beauty of critical analysis is that different people can reach different conclusions, but the way that critics and laymen are choosing to attack No Man’s Sky displays many of the problems that plague gaming criticism and journalism, specifically hype and anti-hype, price obsession, and the amount of “time” that one can spend in a game as indicators of “quality”.  The problem with putting the focus on these shallow characteristics of a game is that it doesn’t reveal to us anything about the game itself, only the situation surrounding the game.

The hype around No Man’s Sky has been tremendous, and so has the backlash. A quick read of many popular gaming journalism sites has reviewers commenting at length about the hype surrounding No Man’s Sky and whether or not the game “lives up to it”. Without a doubt, many people were excited for No Man’s Sky. They imagined themselves exploring a vast and wild universe where they would never see the same thing twice. They envisioned themselves as explorers of the cosmos. The game has clearly disappointed some people, and many reviewers and commentators aren’t talking about the game in front of them, but rather the ghost of the game that they desired.

by G. Christopher Williams

17 Aug 2016


The Scarecrow in Arkham Knight

One of the central conceits of the Batman mythos is the idea that fear can be a powerfully useful tool for justice. This idea emerges as a conclusion drawn by Bruce Wayne when he first decides to take on the mantle of the Batman. Additionally, this conclusion becomes the motivating factor for taking on a particular identity in order to wreak vengeance on criminality, as he observes in Detective Comics #33: “[C]riminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. So my disguise must be able to strike terror in their hearts.”

This same conceit has also been central to Rocksteady Studios’s design philosophy for their Batman: Arkham series. Rocksteady’s success has been in creating a game that evokes a fairly authentic feeling of “being the Batman,” which is related to a host of well implemented design decisions, both in terms of how the character of Batman is not merely portrayed in their games, but in how Batman is “played” in these games. One of their best gameplay systems that supports this sense of being Batman is their “stealth-combat” room sequences.

by G. Christopher Williams

16 Aug 2016


As noted yesterday, in anticipation of our forthcoming discussion in early September of Kentucky Route Zero, Act IV, we are featuring our previous discussions of the game.

Today, we continue our discussion of the early episodes of Kentucky Route Zero by focusing on its second act.

by G. Christopher Williams

15 Aug 2016


In a few weeks, we will be discussing the most recent fourth act of cult hit Kentucky Route Zero. In anticipation of that discussion, we return this week to our initial reaction to one of the strangest and beautifully crafted games of this decade.

by Nick Dinicola

12 Aug 2016


I wrote this about the difference between exploration and wandering some time ago:

Exploration is not an aimless activity. It’s a very goal-driven activity. We might not know what our goal is initially, we might not know what we’re looking for, but we know we’re looking for something. It’s the knowledge (or assumption) of that “something” that drives us to look closely at the world, to explore it. Without that “something” to tempt us, our movement ceases to be exploration and becomes wandering. The former has a purpose (we move with the intention of learning), but the latter has no purpose. That’s why Skyrim gives us a compass to point us in the direction of interesting discoveries. Bethesda understood that without some sort of goal in mind, players can only wander, and wandering is boring.

I think the distinction still holds true. There’s a fine line between exploration and wandering, between something fun and something frustrating. The Elder Scrolls and Fallout games have achieved immense popularity because they expertly straddle that line. Surprisingly, so too does Pokemon Go.

 

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Saul Williams Commands Attention at Summerstage (Photos + Video)

// Notes from the Road

"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.

READ the article