Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

28 Oct 2011


Betas have become a popular marketing tool in recent years. It’s odd when you think about it. We praise “polished” games but jump through marketing hoops to play an unfinished one. Personally, I think it’s the industry’s insane demand for the new, New, NEW that drives us to consume that NEW thing even through it’s not actually complete. But that’s a discussion for another blog. For now, I’m more interested in what happens when this marketing train flies off the tracks.

This year we’ve had four major betas: Gears of War 3, Uncharted 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and Battlefield 3, the latter of which has become a cautionary tale of how not to do a beta.

by Jorge Albor

27 Oct 2011


Did you see the recent Harrison Ford advertisement? (And if you haven’t, you can check it out below.). Apparently Indiana Jones loves Uncharted 3. Dr. Henry Jones is retired of course (and who wouldn’t after that whole crystal skull fiasco?), but surely his opinion is still valid. After all, Jones is a cultural icon, a swashbuckling hero that we all admire, a perfect representative of what the medium stands for. Yet finding our games media spokesperson is not so easy. Just last week, my PopMatters compatriot Scott Juster wrote about a subway commercial that offers a different perspective on video games. G. Christopher Williams also wrote about a television commercial for the PS3 with its own reflection on games and gamers. This selection of divergent and even contradictory advertisements reflects the inconsistent place that games still hold within popular culture.

Although Sony’s latest pitch for Uncharted 3 was targeted towards Japanese consumers, the Western press picked it up and gamers responded positively to video of Harrison Ford playing Naughty Dog’s forthcoming title. Even though we all know that Ford is a paid actor, his reactions to the game appear both genuine and charming. Considering his age, it feels a bit like watching your grandpa play a video game and finding that he actually likes it. His face contorts during action scenes, and he seems genuinely strained when fighting off enemies. Ford even recognizes the artificial situation and still appears to thoroughly enjoy the experience of playing Uncharted 3. “If there wasn’t a bunch of people around it would be even more exciting,” he says.

by G. Christopher Williams

26 Oct 2011


Returning to a bloodstain, a virtual scar marking the world of Dark Souls is a common enough occurrence.  The game’s box announces to the player, “Prepare to Die!”, after all.

Dying is an essential experience in Dark Souls, as it seemingly is in most video games, where an understanding of extra lives and of health bars are an essential part of living in virtual worlds.

by Mark Filipowich

25 Oct 2011


According to the romantics, imagination is the means of crossing into the spiritual and returning with a message of Truth.  The poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley writes that: “Reason is to Imagination as the instrument to the agent . . . the shadow to the substance.” For the romantics, poetry (defined usually as expressive language and including prose and music) reveals eternal truths whereas other disciplines only measure finite and temporary facts. Poetry was a looking glass for the soul and held messages from the divine. However out of vogue that thinking is now, in the Dragon Age universe, it seems that this sense of romanticism holds considerable weight and that the two poet figures, Leliana and Verric (figured here as as bards), are elevated to a romantic status.

Whatever is going on in Dragon Age, be it racial tension, religious corruption, or class warfare, the figure of the poet remains untouched. Just as the romantics and their descendents argued, Dragon Age portrays a world in which poets have privileged knowledge, an almost prophetic understanding of their world and societies. They feel more deeply and are more in tune with a power that supposedly everyone has access to.

by G. Christopher Williams

24 Oct 2011


So, as my colleague in podcasting, Rick Dakan, observed, this week’s episode is a little self indulgent (but that’s okay, I guess, as I just wrote a little about the relationship between self indulgence and gaming last week).

We have been wanting to discuss a bit about how it is that “the gamer” identity is formed, so we spent some time chatting a bit about our own relationship to games and gaming and how we came to play the ways that we do.  We consider our relationship to chess, sports, board games, and RPGs and what these things might have to do with who we are.  Confessional as some of this discussion might be, there are some interesting similarities that emerge between our experience of growing up as gamers.

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