Latest Blog Posts

by G. Christopher Williams

14 Mar 2011

This week the Moving Pixels podcast considers the ballet of blood choreographed by People Can Fly in their new game, Bulletstorm.

Is the game a perfect storm of masculinity and mayhem or just more boys and their bullets?

by Nick Dinicola

11 Mar 2011

A good menu can set the tone for the rest of the game to come, or when done poorly, it can be a nuisance that players try to skip as fast as possible every time that they boot up a game. Since the last time I wrote about some innovative menus, three more games have come out that I feel deserve special mention for how handle this normally bland part of a game.

by Scott Juster

10 Mar 2011

Stacking is a lighthearted, approachable game, but it takes one thing very seriously: layers. Rather than aim to please a certain type of player, Stacking‘s rule systems and challenges are structured to allow players to burrow down into their preferred level of engagement.  In addition to being a fresh and innovative take on the adventure genre, the game’s storytelling occupies a rare niche. It’s a game whose story and humor appeal to a wide variety of audiences.  Like the Muppets, Stacking’s storytelling, and especially its humor, is crafted in such a way to please youngsters (along with the juvenile impulses in adults) while also containing jokes that older folks can appreciate. Buried amongst Stacking‘s satire and cultural allusions is an even more specific layer that winks at folks who closely follow the medium. Any game about Russian nesting dolls solving mysteries and thwarting evil capitalists in a Gilded Age environment is automatically unique, but Stacking turns a creative concept into a coherent mechanical and thematic ideology.

by G. Christopher Williams

9 Mar 2011

Tell Me a Story by

It has become a kind of self deprecatory mantra of the games criticism community: video games generally don’t tell very good stories.  Which is true.  And we need to stop saying it.

Heard of that medium called the movies?  Yeah, most of them are terrible. 

Heard of film critics?  Those guys know that movies are generally pretty lousy, but they don’t talk about it all the time, nor do they apologize for it.

by Kris Ligman

8 Mar 2011

I would love to know what’s going on over at Namco. It’s bad enough that they’ve released three titles with astonishingly similar gameplay in the last few months—Enslaved, Majin, and now Knights Contract—but the shameless way in which two of those three pay homage to classic literature has me questioning the taste level of its developers.

Both Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Knights Contract make deliberate allusions to classic fiction, the Chinese novel Journey to the West and German poet Goethe’s epic Faust respectively. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom, while not appearing to be based on any specific story, also alludes to the mythic traditions of several South American cultures. The way that these story elements get worked into the game differs from title to title but there is a remarkable continuity among the three in which an AI-managed tagalong character is in essence the center of the game’s narrative thrust, while the player character is merely his or her protector or harbinger. This serves the function of deemphasizing the player-character as a source of agency while emphasizing their role as enactor, much like the situation that Janet Murray presaged with her Tinkerbell scenario in Hamlet on the Holodeck (“Immersion”, pp.100-125. MIT Press, 1997).

//Mixed media

Players Lose Control in ‘Tales from the Borderlands’

// Moving Pixels

"This is an interactive story in which players don’t craft the characters, we just control them.

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