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Text:AAA
Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014
Does the museum environment persuade developers to display games that would feel out of place and alienated in another setting?

I sometimes wonder if it is form that dictates content or the content that dictates form. We have conventions and genres that sign post certain content and indicate whether the content of a game will meet our expectations. Computers, lasers, and space means sci-fi and all the connotations that go along with that genre. Alternatively, fantasy immediately dictates a mental image of a feudal medieval Europe with swords and sorcery. Do these tropes comes arise from the content of a fictional work or does certain content mean that we automatically shift into telling a story a certain way? It’s an eternal back and forth in all things, not just art. It could also be true of venues.


The broad variety offered by IndieCade East would be unimaginable at a trade show like E3 and is pretty much absent from a fan convention like PAX as well. Does the museum environment persuade developers to display games that would feel out of place and alienated in another setting? Or does a commitment to the games that you wouldn’t find elsewhere lead to the adoption of the museum setting in order to comfortably contextualize this particular set of avant-garde gaming options?


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Text:AAA
Tuesday, Mar 4, 2014
by Erik Kersting
Error and exploitation have made Super Smash Bros. a success.

Chances are that if you call yourself a gamer, you have played Super Smash Bros. in one form or another. Like Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Wii Sports, this is a game almost exclusively made for multiplayer and competitive play. Unlike those games, though, a thriving competitive community has actually developed around Super Smash Bros., a scene that consists of tournaments, crews, rivalries, prize money, and even a documentary, none of which is sanctioned by Nintendo. It’s also not played in the way that the developers envisioned it, and the learning curve for competitive play is complicated by physics exploits and glitches.


In a lot of ways, though, Super Smash Bros. is unlike other fighting games. In most traditional fighting games, the player has a set amount of hit points at the beginning of a match, and if those hit points reach zero, the character faints or dies and the round is over. Instead of starting with a certain amount of hit points and losing them, in Super Smash Bros. you start at 0% and work your way up. The higher your “%” is(which doesn’t correlate to any real percentage and goes up to 999%), the further you can get knocked back when hit by attacks, which will eventually send you off the stage and hurtling toward your doom if you cannot recover. Falling off the stage removes a stock from your character and if you run out of stocks you lose.


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Text:AAA
Monday, Mar 3, 2014
This week we explore the branching narratives of The Stanley Parable to see if there can be a singular and straightforward way of understanding Stanley's plight.

The Stanley Parable is a game about games. While parables are usually straightforward little tales that have a clear and singular meaning, though, as noted, this is a game about games. Thus it is also a parable about paths, paths that expand, branch out, and loop back on themselves.


This week we explore the branching narratives of The Stanley Parable to see if there can be a singular and straightforward way of understanding Stanley’s plight.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Feb 28, 2014
Since a game is interactive, it requires so much more effort on our part to progress through it that we can’t detach ourselves from the experience to enjoy it ironically.

I thought Killzone: Shadowfall had a really dumb story, easily one of worst of any game that I’ve ever played. Yet I can’t bring myself to take the disc out of my console. It calls to me, it begs to be played again, and I find myself drawn to it because of its badness, not in an academic way, but in an ironic appreciation of it—a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way. This strikes me as weird because bad games are hard to like, even ironically. That so-bad-it’s-good moniker doesn’t usually apply to games.


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Text:AAA
Thursday, Feb 27, 2014
Smoke & Mirrors is a strange play experience: not particularly interesting mechanically and certainly not fun, but nevertheless unique and entrancing.

This article contains spoilers for The Wolf Among Us: Episodes 1 and 2.


The first episode of The Wolf Among Us proved something important. TellTale’s narrative-driven formula works for more than just The Walking Dead. The story beats, dialogue options, social reminders, and action sequences could all live within an entirely different world and do so very well in the realm of Fables. As I discussed in a previous article, in many ways “The Wolf Among Us uses its detective story backdrop to distill and refine its established core gameplay.” However, with the latest episode in the five part series, Tell Tale has shaken up the norm by moving its themes further away from mere detective work.


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