Latest Blog Posts

by Scott Juster

17 Nov 2011


The following post contains plot spoilers for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception dispels any doubt regarding the series’ aspirations.  Uncharted strives to step into the void left by Indiana Jones as popular culture’s premiere pulp-adventure series.  It’s an impressive effort. Nathan Drake is a roguish charmer with the capacity for sentimentality and violence.  He’s surrounded by memorable sidekicks, villains, and love interests.  The game’s plot darts about the globe, giving players an opportunity to virtually explore exotic lands and defy death in spectacular action sequences.  From tonal, thematic, and artistic perspectives, Uncharted is a welcome experience for those of us who have been waiting for another Indiana Jones since 1989 (like any rational person, I disavow The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s existence).

Unfortunately, the series’s very existence as a video game often proves to be its greatest undoing.  For years now, I’ve argued that Uncharted‘s dual existence as a cinematic adventure is at odds with its devotion to the structure of a rigorous action game.  Uncharted 3 is the clearest example of this conflict.  Difficulty spikes and repetition clash with the story’s breezy cadence.  At around eight to ten hours, Uncharted 3‘s campaign overstays its welcome, mostly thanks to its gameplay.

by G. Christopher Williams

16 Nov 2011


If video games often tell the story of the boy saving the girl (from another castle, from a very large ape, or whatever) by allowing the player to take on that gendered role of hero and protagonist, it does raise the question of what the end goal of a player taking on the role of the girl in this oft told scenario should be.

And, of course, it might also imply that the role of the girl in this scenario is to be taken.

by Mattie Brice

15 Nov 2011


Fang and Vanille in Final Fantasy XIII (Square Enix, 2010)

Voice acting has become a staple in gaming that helps flesh out characters and setting. Abandoning the text-box provided a more intimate way for the game to connect to the player by expressing emotion and ideas in a way that they are more familiar with. The quality of voice acting in games is, of course, an area of contention, but when done properly, it adds brushstrokes to the aesthetics of the game. This is especially true for settings that benefit from characters having accents to imply nationality. The cultural politics that voice acting implies, however, often escape analysis. The default English accent is General American and deviations from this tap into a subtext that assumes an American player. How accents communicate information to the player exposes the subliminal effects of American ethnocentrism.

by G. Christopher Williams

14 Nov 2011


The cutscene in games has arguably taken many forms, from the simple and minimal narrative vignettes of Ms. Pac-Man to the lushly animated FMVs that were once one of the prime selling points of the Final Fantasy series.  Many now view these experiences as intrusive moments in a game world that disrupt visual consistency or serve as storytelling short cuts that don’t do the medium justice.

This week the Moving Pixels podcast crew discuss the history of the cutscene in video games, what they may or may not have evolved into, and whether or not they still have a place in video game storytelling.

by Nick Dinicola

11 Nov 2011


Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare did a lot of things right, and many of those things have gone on to become staples of the military shooter genre. One such staple is “the AC-130 level” or some equivalent, a level that places you high in the air, above the action, away from danger, and enables you to rain down detached and impersonal destruction on your enemies. It was a wonderfully innovative level when it was first done and innovation can’t be copied, though many have tried. Most recently, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and Battlefield 3 both tried their hand at this kind of level. One of them succeeds because it knows imitation can only take you so far, the other one fails because it copies all of the aesthetics but none of the substance from Call of Duty 4.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Trickle Down Corruption in 'This Is the Police'

// Moving Pixels

"In a world of hitmen, snitches, mobsters, murderers, terrorists, rapists, rioters, bombers, thieves, and serial killers, your greatest enemy is your boss.

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