Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014
by Brian Crecente
This is Chess 2, a chess variant created by MIT grad and famed game designer David Sirlin and given computer game life by developer Zac Burns, to correct what Sirlin views as major design flaws in the original board game.

The weekend’s chess matches with my father ended as they always do, but with a twist.


I lost, mostly, but it wasn’t to a checkmate. Instead it happened four times when he managed to get both of his warrior kings across the board’s midline. That last midline crossing happened despite my defensive line of elephants, wild horse and pawns.


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Friday, Aug 8, 2014
Tower of Fortune has been an enlightening reminder of what “random chance” really means.

Tower of Fortune is an iOS RPG that has you climbing the titular tower to rescue your daughter. It’s a stripped down experience, perfect for mobile platforms: You only have to manage a few stats, and you only have one attack. You eventually earn new swords and equipment that make you stronger, but in truth, there’s very little tactical depth to the game. Everything from combat to fun times at the pub—actually, that’s kind of all you can do. That’s the totality of Tower of Fortune, fighting and drinking—all of which is determined by random chance. And this is not a bad thing.


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Thursday, Aug 7, 2014
I now realize that basically everything Nintendo makes is meant to be portable.

Last weekend I did quite a bit of portable gaming, but it wasn’t the handheld variety. Instead of pocketing a DS or Vita, I packed up my Wii U and headed over to Jorge Albor’s place to play Mario Kart and invent new curse words. The process of bundling up my normally sedentary console made me realize that every Nintendo console that I’ve ever owned has had at least some component of mobility thanks either to the marquee games or novel hardware.


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Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014
Travel in and the exploration of the game world in Sepulchre is neither linear, nor multilinear. It is nonlinear.

This discussion contains spoilers for Sepulchre, a 20 minute long free point-and-click adventure. So, feel free to download and play it at Owl Cave Games web site before reading on.


A train might seem like the worst metaphor possible for a video game. We are often reminded (or at least often hope) that what makes video games different from other artistic mediums, like novels, films, or music, is their ability to tell a different kind of story. We talk a great deal about player choice, divergent paths as a result, and the possibilities of a multilinear experience. Quite the opposite of a train (or most novels, films, and music), the video game affords the opportunity for branching paths and different resulting conclusions. Indeed, if a game is “on rails,” this usually isn’t considered a positive—at least from the perspective of narrative progression.


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Monday, Aug 4, 2014
This week we discuss "In Harm's Way," the middle episode of The Walking Dead game.

While Telltale Games released the fourth episode of the second season of The Walking Dead a couple of weeks ago, we want to spare you spoilers for the most recent episode. Instead, we’re talking about the middle episode “In Harm’s Way” this week.


So, take a look back with us at Clementine’s confrontation with the villainous Carver and his totalitarian approach to the zombie apocalypse.


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