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by G. Christopher Williams

6 Oct 2010

The product that this review is based on was provided by Nintendo of America.

The experience of playing a Professor Layton game reminds me of the experience of playing Diablo.


by Kris Ligman

5 Oct 2010

I still can’t decide if I like SEGA’s Valkyria Chronicles series, which is potentially a problem considering I’ve invested over a hundred hours in both the PS3 original and its PSP sequel by this point. Were I still a teenager, this wouldn’t be so much of an issue. I can remember being in high school and sinking whole months into games I found absolutely irredeemable just out of a conviction that I had to finish whatever I started. It was only later in life that I realized I could actually stop if I disliked something and it wasn’t a sign of poor character.

Yet I haven’t stopped playing the Valkyria series. The games occupy this strange place in which I don’t necessarily know if it’s time well-spent, but it keeps pulling me back in anyway. On the one hand, Valkyria is a generally fun turn-based strategy game with memorable characters. On the other, it’s a trite anime-styled melodrama about nuclear weapons and the Holocaust. Nukes I’ve come to expect out of Japanese fantasy, but racism—even race awareness—is a rare bird in a Japananese RPG and possibly the aspect of the series that never ceases to intrigue me.

by L.B. Jeffries

5 Oct 2010


For the past several months I’ve been writing about virtual space and how meaning is created in that sort of medium. One of the core principles of space is that your actions partially define its meaning and vice versa. For that reason I think a good capstone to this work would be a discussion of the dynamic of meaning creation through space in a setting that’s familiar for many: your own house.

There’s a great TED talk given by David Byrne on the relationship between architecture and music venues (“David Byrne: How Architecture Helped Music Evolve”, TED, June 2010). The way people would engage and listen to music has an intrinsic relationship with the space they’re in. It wasn’t until 1872 that the concept of not being drunk and jabbering while someone was playing music became popular. This was mostly because of the changing design of opera houses such as Wagner’s Bayreuth Festspielhaus or Carnegie Hall. A quiet audience means that you can have more nuanced and complex music that will actually be heard, the singer does not have to scream. This dynamic exists with technology as well. A small club, before the advent of microphones, meant that you had to play loud and heavy music to be heard. Once the microphone was invented, crooning and much quieter songs became an option. Music in a giant arena typically has to take the form of a ballad to be coherently understood by the audience. An Ipod, on the other hand, allows for extremely nuanced and complicated music but has to always be at a certain volume, or you’ll make the listener go deaf. Since so much of music is defined by the space that it is being performed in, Byrne comments, “The passion is always there, but the vessel is what is created first.”

by G. Christopher Williams

4 Oct 2010

Hitler served as the final boss in World War II and also in Castle Wolfenstein, which is weird, right?

This week we consider a number of real life bad guys from the Nazis to the Mafia and the potential consequences of attempting to simulate such real life villainy in video games.

by Nick Dinicola

1 Oct 2010

This post contains spoilers for Alan Wake.

Events in The Signal take place right after the end of Alan Wake. Wake finds himself in a nightmarish world, a place “familiar, but wrong, somehow,” and an image of Thomas Zane in a bathroom mirror explains that Wake himself is “the one making all this happen.” That’s an interesting line because it implies that Wake is creating the world around him, not the Dark Presence. Throughout the DLC we see Wake on television screens, lying on the floor of the cabin’s attic where his typewriter is, rambling what seems like nonsense. Zane explains that this is the real Alan Wake, a claim that’s proven when the ramblings come true.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article