Latest Blog Posts

by Brady Nash

17 Apr 2012

I just deleted Temple Run from my phone. Not because the game is bad—far from it. Rather, I deleted it because it is perhaps the most maddeningly addictive piece of software that I have ever encountered. I would walk down the street staring into the screen, in the process bumping into people, stepping on cats, falling down stairwells, and yet still continuing to play. The premise of Temple Run is that you are an Indiana Jones-like character speeding away from what looks to be a pack of wild apes through a maze of ancient temple ruins. Along the way, you tilt the phone to collect coins and swipe left, right, or up to turn and jump.

While Temple Run is a “casual game,” it’s not a terribly casual experience to play it. Every moment requires your absolute attention. There are turns every second or so, and you must angle the character just so in order to collect coins. One second of inattention and – BAM – you’ve run off track and into a tree. After a month or so of non-stop temple running, I started to realize that the game was taking over my life in subtle and problematic ways. I would take a break from work and come back more stressed than when I had started. I would fire up the game every time I had a free 30 seconds, playing on the elevator, while cooking, while walking to the bathroom. As the anxiety and addiction melded and became more obvious, I started to question why I was even playing at all.

by G. Christopher Williams

16 Apr 2012

This week, the Moving Pixels podcast considers their personal picks 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

13 Apr 2012

Regenerating health gets a lot of flack. I’ve heard plenty of gamers criticize such elements because they make shooters “easier” or “less intense” or “lazier,” but after playing Resistance 3, it seems to me that most of those criticisms are only exacerbated when a game uses a health pack based healing system.

The most common complaint about regenerating health is that it forces the player to spend lots of time hiding behind cover, staring at rock textures rather than actually playing the game. This is true to a certain extent, but I spent far more time hiding in Resistance 3 than I did in Modern Warfare 3.

by Jorge Albor

12 Apr 2012

In a deep salt basin in New Mexico about 26 miles east of Carlsbad, the US Department of Energy has been burying the world’s most dangerous material. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) houses an enormous load of transuranic radioactive waste, the destructive remnants of nuclear weapons research and production. In this massive hole in the desert, our deadly refuse must sit for 10,000 years—a timespan difficult to imagine let alone predict. In the far off future, when an advanced human culture or the destitute remains of a crumbling civilization finds our pock upon the earth, regardless of their culture or linguistic ability, they must understand a clear and resounding message: “What is here is dangerous.”

You can imagine then the difficulty faced by WIPP’s scientists in designing a universal missive for future generations. Their solution was to tap into the study of human psychology and the visceral reactions that we have to aesthetics and architecture, a field game designers explore constantly.

by G. Christopher Williams

11 Apr 2012

I recently read Mike Schiller’s first post in his “Ambassdorship” series, a series of blog posts looking at 20 retro Nintendo games “offered by the 3DS Ambassador program” (“The Limits of Nostalgia: Ice Climber, Unlimited Lives, 6 April 2012).  In that post, Schiller discusses his relationship to the 1985 NES game, Ice Climber, a game that he had especially fond memories of playing when he was younger but that he has less appreciation for now, finding that “it’s unremarkable even in an eight-bit context.”

Now, I did own Ice Climber for the NES myself, and I, like Mike, have rather wistful memories of playing the game. At the time (and really now as well), I personally had a preference for video games that were more end-goal oriented, games that offered some sort of narrative resolution as a prize for beating them. For me, the true gems on the system were games like Super Mario Bros., Zelda, and even Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! as opposed to games like Mario Bros., Popeye, or even the tremendously well scored Spyhunter—all of which were more like endless arcade titles (appropriately enough, given that all of these titles are arcade ports). Nevertheless, Ice Climber is the game that I might rank as my favorite game that lacked an end-goal, that created an arcade-like experience in which the player kept climbing for the sake of climbing and for, of course, the sake of points. Though that was not the only reason that one climbed.

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