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by Scott Juster

5 May 2011


Back in 2009, I joined 138,813 other people in hopping on the Humble Indie Bundle bandwagon.  It was the perfect opportunity to justify the purchase of more games. I wasn’t just hoarding games and adding to my ever-expanding backlog; I was making a statement by supporting independent developers!  I happily bought a collection of games I knew very little about.  I had played (and loved) World of Goo but had never even seen screenshots of the the rest of the collection.

2011 rolled around, and I realized that I still hadn’t played any of the games for which I so righteously paid.  For no reason in particular, I installed Lugaru HD and proceeded to experience something I hadn’t felt since I played my first video game on my Dad’s early-1980s Zenith computer: total ignorance.  Aside from its title and its menu icon, I knew nothing about the game.  This lack of knowledge drastically affected my response to every portion of Lugaru HD and prompted me to reexamine my approach to video game analysis as well as the pitfalls of knowing too much about a game before playing it.

by Rick Dakan

5 May 2011


Chapter 1 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 2 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 3 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 4 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 5 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 6 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 7 of Rage Quit is available in .pdf format here.

“Do you like it?” Lea asked through IM.

“I do,” he typed. And he did, which was scary. It was a bootleg CD recording of a Jonathan Coulton concert signed by Jonathan Coulton himself with the phrase “Pirates are WAY cooler than ninjas! - J. Coulton” It was from the last time Coulton had played San Francisco. Randal had been at that show and loved it (although his date had not, “I don’t get it, what’s a Code Monkey?” she’d complained). Whoever “Lea” was, she’d bought the CD with his PayPal account and paid for the expedited shipping, which was kind of ridiculous since the seller was in San Mateo. “Thank you,” he typed, not sure what else to write, but not wanting to upset whoever Lea really was.

“I knew you would.”

by G. Christopher Williams

4 May 2011


This discussion does contain spoilers for Portal 2

While the first Portal has certainly interested critics with its tendency to highlight gender dynamics, especially because it is one of the few games that puts women exclusively in its leading roles (in its case, featuring a female character in both the role of protagonist and antagonist), Portal 2 moves beyond simply considering the power relationships among women themselves to consider more broadly how gender plays a role in games of power.

by Kris Ligman

3 May 2011


Today marks the final of four articles expanding upon my “Interactivity by Proxy” paper delivered in early April at Rutgers’s Game Behind the Video Game conference. Previously, this series looked at vectors for audience engagement and three of the four major taxonomic categories of Let’s Play walkthroughs, the Expert and the Chronicler and the Comedian. We wrap up today with discussion of the last major LP type and arguably the most contentious from a social sciences perspective, the Counter-Historiographer.

by Aaron Poppleton

3 May 2011


I was reminiscing the other day about my intense love for Conker’s Bad Fur Day when a peculiar thought struck me: namely, that when you get down to it the end of the game is a real bummer. Sure, Conker saves the day, discovers a glitch in the game, and gets the programmers to solve his problems, rewriting the world in which he lives, but he completely forgets to bring back his girlfriend while he’s at it. So despite the best efforts of the player, the main goal of the game (win back Conker’s girlfriend) goes unfulfilled. Conker fails and sinks back into a deep depression. The game ends as it began, a drunken squirrel stumbling off into the night. No happy ending, just a failed attempt to get back home.

Watching the end of the game, I remember being surprised at its downright depressing conclusion—a group of my friends and I were playing at the time, and none of us realized what a vicious kick in the pants the ending of the game had in store for us. We sat through the credits in shock, quietly hoping that there would be something afterwards, such as a last sting where the game told us ‘just kidding, she’s actually okay, he’s actually okay, happy endings all around,’ but it never came. Conker had gotten distracted from his main quest (get home to Berri) and when the game had given him the chance to make everything right he’d forgotten to actually fix anything beyond the immediate problem of the xenomorph in front of him. It was one of those moments where a game actually felt mature, and not just because the characters swore and there were a bunch of jokes about tits (the measure of what was ‘mature’ and not to a teenager). Hiding behind the singing pile of feces was a black comedic sensibility, and while we all were more concerned with the tit jokes as kids, a second look at the game reveals a far more sophisticated plot than we’d given it credit for having.

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