Goldeneye 64 is a classic. It’s a game that deserves a remake. It’s one you can’t go back to, yet nostalgia would drive many back to it. It’s easy to be cynical about Activision’s remake, especially since it’s so clearly made from the same template as Call of Duty, but developer Eurocom made an impressive effort to createa game that’s referential, reverential, yet capable of standing on its own. While they got a lot right, the updated story succeeds because of one decision: the decision to update the character of Bond along with the rest of the story because in many ways Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond is the perfect FPS protagonist, and that’s not a good thing.
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Harold Goldberg, author of a new history of video games called All Your Base Are Belong to Us, makes the claim that after spending 100 hours playing certain games, “you’ll almost feel as though you’ve read a great work of prose”, comparing games to novels. Salon, which ran an interview with Goldberg, seems to agree, announcing in its headline, “They’ve become sophisticated, beautiful – and as smart as literature.”
Anyone who make would such a bizarrely illiterate claim—be it the editors of Salon or Harold Goldberg—has all of his work in media studies ahead of him. Authors of such a statement would change their minds if they spent three weeks in a 111 course in communication theory.
Marshal McLuhan’s maxim, “the medium is the message”, is not merely some clever quip or cute exhibition of wordplay. It is a foundational principle for understanding media and technology.
Back in 2009, I joined 138,813 other people in hopping on the Humble Indie Bundle bandwagon. It was the perfect opportunity to justify the purchase of more games. I wasn’t just hoarding games and adding to my ever-expanding backlog; I was making a statement by supporting independent developers! I happily bought a collection of games I knew very little about. I had played (and loved) World of Goo but had never even seen screenshots of the the rest of the collection.
2011 rolled around, and I realized that I still hadn’t played any of the games for which I so righteously paid. For no reason in particular, I installed Lugaru HD and proceeded to experience something I hadn’t felt since I played my first video game on my Dad’s early-1980s Zenith computer: total ignorance. Aside from its title and its menu icon, I knew nothing about the game. This lack of knowledge drastically affected my response to every portion of Lugaru HD and prompted me to reexamine my approach to video game analysis as well as the pitfalls of knowing too much about a game before playing it.
Chapter 1 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 2 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 3 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 4 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 5 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 6 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 7 of Rage Quit is available in .pdf format here.
“Do you like it?” Lea asked through IM.
“I do,” he typed. And he did, which was scary. It was a bootleg CD recording of a Jonathan Coulton concert signed by Jonathan Coulton himself with the phrase “Pirates are WAY cooler than ninjas! - J. Coulton” It was from the last time Coulton had played San Francisco. Randal had been at that show and loved it (although his date had not, “I don’t get it, what’s a Code Monkey?” she’d complained). Whoever “Lea” was, she’d bought the CD with his PayPal account and paid for the expedited shipping, which was kind of ridiculous since the seller was in San Mateo. “Thank you,” he typed, not sure what else to write, but not wanting to upset whoever Lea really was.
“I knew you would.”
This discussion does contain spoilers for Portal 2
While the first Portal has certainly interested critics with its tendency to highlight gender dynamics, especially because it is one of the few games that puts women exclusively in its leading roles (in its case, featuring a female character in both the role of protagonist and antagonist), Portal 2 moves beyond simply considering the power relationships among women themselves to consider more broadly how gender plays a role in games of power.