Latest Blog Posts

by G. Christopher Williams

11 May 2016


This discussion contains spoilers for Hardcore Henry.

It may sound like quibbling, but describing the film Hardcore Henry as being like a First person shooter seems less accurate to me then describing it as a first person on rails shooter. The first person shooter is obviously the major influence on the style of the film. However, because of the nature of cinema, it ends up resembling an experience more akin to playing an on rails shooter. This distinction seems useful to me because I think that the latter observation about the film speaks to its thematic concerns more clearly than the former observation.

It is true that shooting a film from a first person perspective creates a kind of intimacy (and, perhaps sense of complicity) with the world and characters of a film that is similar to the intimacy and sense of complicity that seems similar to playing an FPS.

by G. Christopher Williams

9 May 2016


This week we return to a discussion we had several years ago while picking our personal favorites for the top five arcade games of all time.

In doing so, we look back to the arcade and the various spaces that game cabinets existed to occupy our time and extract our quarters. What is the place of the arcade machine in the history of a gamer culture, a culture that has largely moved towards home consoles rather than remained gaming in public spaces?

by Nick Dinicola

6 May 2016


Prism (or more specifically, _Prism, note the underscore, in case you want to search for it on Google or on the App Store) is an iOS puzzle game that’s pretty dang good, but the most impressive thing about it is its art. The simple idea of geometric shapes floating in space is used to convey a strong sense of progression, culminating in a truly clever climax that’s also an anti-climax. The game gets to have its cake and eat it too. It’s subversive and expected, climactic and anti-climactic, a clever trick and a thoughtful lesson.

by Jorge Albor

5 May 2016


My weapon was buffed, balls of energy were swirling around my head, and all my rings were in order. I was ready. My goal: to kill the host of embers in Anor Lando. I was invading in Dark Souls III.

While searching for my victim, I was joined by another ally, an Aldrich Faithful. We bowed and continued on toward the area just outside of the bonfire, where an open courtyard acts as the chosen battleground for PVP duels. There we found the host and their gold-tinged guardian, another player coming to their aid.

by Boen Wang

3 May 2016


My palms were soaked when I faced Hyper Light Drifter‘s final boss for the fourth or fifth time. I kept sending my player character—an unnamed, gender-ambiguous cloaked figure known only as the Drifter—to his/her death. The boss was similarly unnamed; it looked both synthetic and organic, emerging from a sickly pink core and emitting a robotic scream. I threw bombs. I blasted it with my shotgun. I reflected bullets with the slice of my sword. But no matter how many health packs I carried or how skillfully I dodged its attacks, I would die and retry and die again.

I’m certainly not the first person to observe that Hyper Light Drifter is a difficult game. On the game’s release date, John Walker of Rock Paper Shotgun wrote that the game’s first boss was so difficult that he had basically given up: “I know, I know very well, that others will breeze through it and be snarky and entirely without empathy for others who aren’t them, But there goes my time with Hyper Light Drifter, a completely gorgeous game I was utterly loving. It apparently doesn’t want me to play it any more” (“Impressions: Hyper Light Drifter”, Rock Paper Shotgun, 31 March 2016). Walker amended his review a week later when he realized that the player could tackle the bosses in any order, but his original point still stands. Where do we draw the line between challenging and punishing, and should games accommodate players who find an experience to be too difficult?

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Culture Belongs to the Alien in 'Spirits of Xanadu'

// Moving Pixels

"The symbols that the artifact in Spirits of Xanadu uses are esoteric -- at least for the average Western gamer. It is Chinese culture reflected back at us through the lens of alien understanding.

READ the article