Latest Blog Posts

by Mark Filipowich

24 Jul 2012

Andrew Bell, "but... you promised no one would get hurt", the CREATURES in my head, 28 August 2005

Games are about agency. They also blur the line between character experience and audience experience. The audience is the main character in a game, and the events of the story impact the audience directly. All that holds immense narrative potential, of course.

In a game, then, the hero’s victory is the same as the players.  In a sense, the character’s thoughts and emotions are not left up to speculation. The player doesn’t need someone to tell them how powerful a villain is; they find out themselves when they fight with that villain. The player doesn’t need an explanation as to why their victory is sweet; they already know because they are the one that earned it. But one potential shared experience that is so often neglected in video games is shame. Too often developers are reluctant to put their heroes (and their players) in undignified positions.

by Nick Dinicola

20 Jul 2012

Syndicate creates an interesting world and places you in an interesting position within that world: There are no more countries, just giant corporations. It’s a set up primed to offer social commentary by showing you different facets of everyday life filtered through a corporate lens. You play as an Agent, essentially a spy but nowhere near as subtle. It’s a great role for the player since it justifies our travel to multiple syndicates and our access to sensitive information. From this position we can easily watch a conspiracy unfold.

Syndicate could have offered social commentary by way of a political thriller, but it doesn’t. The great world building is undermined by a plot twist so hackneyed and lazy that it turns Syndicate into a prime example of how not to tell to a story.

by Jorge Albor

19 Jul 2012

Every year, 50 to 100 tourists visiting Israel, the vast majority devout Christians, succumb to what is colloquially known as Jerusalem syndrome. Awed by the ostensibly holy nature of their surroundings, they begin to exhibit strange behavior. Many perform acts of spiritual and physical cleansing before taking to the streets and becoming ad-hoc prophets and messiahs. Seemingly normal individuals begin delivering sermons to passers by. Others partake in daily activities to prep the world for the second coming of Christ. Yet others genuinely believe that they are Jesus reborn.

This phenomenon is not localized to Jerusalem. Stendhal syndrome is the name of a similar psychosomatic illness in which sufferers may succumb to dizziness, fainting, confusion, and hallucinations when surrounded by art, particularly in Florence, Italy. Similarly, Paris Syndrome describes the psychological disorders of predominantly Japanese tourists that every year experience temporary psychosis partially brought on by the disconnect between their idealized perception of Paris and reality. While Jerusalem syndrome is engendered by the city strongly matching cultural and in this case religious expectations, Paris syndrome is evoked by the disjuncture between expectations and truth.

by G. Christopher Williams

18 Jul 2012

I listened to a political activist speak over the weekend. He was gathering signatures for a petition to put a referendum up for a vote in the November election. As he described the proposal and read the wording of the referendum itself, he also mentioned that this was the third time that he and his fellows had attempted to get the referendum to pass and that most likely it would fail again.

Following his presentation, I approached him in order to tell him that the thing I admired most about his discussion was his candor about the likely failure of his efforts and that I especially admired his willingness to lose—but that he intended to go ahead and continue trying anyway.

by Mark Filipowich

17 Jul 2012

After two seasons on the air, Game of Thrones has captured the heart of the internet. The books may have been popular, but it was HBO’s series that made it into the phenomenon that it is. Since the adaptation hit the airwaves it has been ripe for gamification. Games based on screen franchises are usually rushed cash-ins forced on a studio’s junior development team. It’s rare that they reach large audiences, and it’s rarer that they deserve to. But the good will that the audience has built up around Game of Thrones and the intimacy that the show has garnered with its viewers means that from a marketing standpoint, basing a game off the show seems intuitive. The problem that nobody seems to have considered is that the kingdom of Westeros is a miserable place that nobody should want to be in.

//Mixed media

The Thoughtful Absurdity of 'Spaceplan'

// Moving Pixels

"Spaceplan is a goofy game that still manages to pack a potent emotional punch.

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