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Tuesday, Oct 28, 2014
by Erik Kersting
In games that feature perma death, by melding narrative consequence to mechanical consequence, a great deal of meaning is added to even the most routine of skirmishes. Death makes play matter.

We like consequences and death in art, they create tension and meaning in situations that might otherwise be devoid of them. This is a large reason why Game of Thrones is so massively popular. First, the permanence of character death is fully actualized multiple times in the series, meaning that from one season to the next there is change far greater than “he and she are now in a relationship” or “the detective’s investigation goes deeper.” Instead between seasons and episodes there is the backdrop of now missing characters, incomplete plot lines that may or may not be picked up as new goals and motivation for surviving characters. Second, a character’s permanent death in a series makes living characters’ lives uncertain. While watching the penultimate episode of this last season of Game of Thrones, I was earnestly worried that Jon Snow might not make it, regardless of whether this actually happens is informed by previous episodes in which major characters die and exit the series prematurely. Thus, there is tension not present in many other dramas too afraid to take out popular characters.

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Monday, Oct 27, 2014
In anticipation of Halloween, the Moving Pixels Podcast discusses a couple of indie horror games, The Cursed Forest and One Late Night.

October is the month that traditionally big publishers have attempted to get something horrific out on the shelves for gamers to play (see, for example, offerings like this year’s Alien: Isolation or The Evil Within.

This year in anticipation of Halloween, we decided to take a look at a few games that currently have no publishers attached to them that may have flown under your radar, The Cursed Forest and One Late Night.

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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Eversion's most unsettling moments are when it changes its rules and mechanics without telling you.

“I promise this isn’t a troll entry. But saying anything about this game borders on spoiling the experience. There is a free version available to try.”

That’s the review of Eversion by the Steam group “Rely on Horror” that intrigued me enough to buy and play the game. It’s an accurate review. You should play Eversion before reading further. It’s available via Steam for $5.00, or you can download it for free from the Zaratustra Productions website. It’s only 20 minutes long at most.

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Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
P.T. and The Shining engender obsession not by chance, not by contrivance, but by carefully and expertly placing the building blocks for our own self-constructed labyrinth, our playful search for meaning in art.

I love the scene in The Shining when Jack Torrance at his absolute craziest is outside the door where his wife and son are hiding. Right before he slams his axe into the door and before the iconic line “Here’s Johnny” is spoken, he plays the role of the Big Bad Wolf: “Little pigs, little pigs, let me come in. Not by the hair of your chinny-chin-chin? Well then I’ll huff and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow your house in.” He is about to murder his family in a terrible fashion, and his big terrifying taunt is a line from a classic children’s story. It’s a freakish manifestation of fatherly behavior, calling upon a classic bedtime story to chill you to the bone in a film drenched in father-son psychosis.

The Shining begs for this level of minute theorycrafting and analysis. It is packed to the brim with weird inconsistencies, impossible machinations, and bizarre references. At one point during the film, Jack reads a magazine in a hotel lobby, and if you look closely, it’s an issue of Playgirl, a pornographic magazine. Exploring the minutiae of the film and its various themes is like exploring the labyrinth of hedges just outside the Overlook Hotel. The search for meaning in art is itself engaging and inherently playful.

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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
by Marshall Sandoval
"Human nature might be augmented and highly channeled by technology, but human nature stays the same. And that tech might actually amplify all the worst things about us too."

Cyberpunk has seen a recent resurgence in video games. Seemingly every game developer working today has a William Gibson book tucked under their arm or follows @swiftonsecurity (a satirical Twitter account that imagines a Taylor Swift consumed with cyber security). Cyberpunk video games are pervasive, including cyberpunk game jam projects on, Twine games, indie titles, and major AAA releases. All of these projects embrace cyberpunk themes and aesthetics. Observers credit the current trend to a number of cyclical and cultural factors. After talking to the indie developers behind a number of exciting cyberpunk titles at the center of this resurgence, I believe that the creators of these games are overwhelmingly inspired by the headlines in today’s newspapers.

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