Latest Blog Posts

by Mark Filipowich

8 May 2012

Last week, Daniel Tovrov wrote a piece for Popmatters on the cult of iconic movie “bad guys” (“It Must Feel Good to Be as Bad as Gordon Gekko”, PopMatters, 1 May 2012). Through the characters of Gordon Gekko of Wall Street, Tony Montana of Scarface, and Patrick Bateman of American Psycho, Tovrov argues that, even though these figures are cautionary tales about unchecked power, audiences come to worship them because the idea of relinquishing control to the id is more appealing than the consequences of doing so. Audiences might not want to behave like these villains or even condone what they do, but wouldn’t it be kind of nice if they could?

That left me wondering about how audiences react to similar figures in video games because in a sense they do become these villains. In games, after all,The audience takes control of the sociopath with no limits that Tavrov writes about. This isn’t something that always works all that well in games because—in theory—if the player can’t relate in some way to their on-screen avatar, then there is nothing compelling them to keep playing. But there are a few cases in which the protagonist is a true, rotten-to-the-core bad guy, and—as Tovrov says—it does feel good.

by G. Christopher Williams

7 May 2012

Awsum by

Fez is an amazing phenomenon, generating a unique community that both works together to solve its many perspective driven puzzles but also shares in its appreciation of secrecy with its and tehir desire to maintain the mystery of the game.  Keeping hush hush on anything in the Internet Age is a rather unlikely feat, but Fez enthusiasts seem committed to the cause.

This week we discuss that community, the game itself, and, well, spoil a few of those mysteries.  So, listeners, be warned (though, for a change, we actually announce when the spoiler section is coming up in deference to those committed to encouraging players to experience how Fez‘s mysteries unravel from your own perspective).

by Nick Dinicola

4 May 2012

Fez is a easily the most personal puzzle game that I’ve ever played. It’s not personal because it “spoke to me” in any way, but because the biggest puzzle in Fez is figuring out what you know and what you don’t know. This is a puzzle game built around the idea that people’s minds all work differently.

The game, in my mind at least, is split into three layers:

The first layer is the perspective shifting puzzle. This is what you solve to progress in the game. In other words, basic exploration is built on this puzzle. You’ll find cube bits that make up full cubes that unlock doors to more hub worlds, and you can get through most of the game by focusing only on this first layer. However, the final cube bit is hidden behind a rather obtuse puzzle that is not apparent if you are only focusing on this first layer. In this way, Fez nudges you over the edge, down to the second layer of puzzles.

by Scott Juster

3 May 2012

One of my favorite aspects of video games is their ability to simulate worlds that reconcile the conflict between huge spaces and quick trips.  Virtual spaces can be big enough to feel large and mysterious but small enough to mentally map as a contiguous whole, even after you get the ability to fast travel via the equivalent of a virtual jet.  I’ve been replaying The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past recently and have found that I can still remember how to walk from the foot of the mountains to the middle of the desert by memory.  Because of this, the game still retains its sense of place when I take a shortcut by instantly warping around the map.  I may be skipping a lot of obstacles, but I know that they exist, and I know how they connect the world.

This feeling of connectivity is part of what makes the game (as well as many Zelda games) special; the world feels like an ecosystem, one in which fast travel and load screens are concessions to convenience and technical limitations, as opposed to a segmented approach to design.  It’s also a feeling that was impossible for me to have in the latest Zelda title, Skyward Sword, a game whose very structure feels like a series of disjointed plane trips over a disconnected world.

by G. Christopher Williams

2 May 2012

This post contains major spoilers for Fez.

A lot of people think that Herman Melville’s Moby Dick is about whale hunting, which it is.  However, it is really more about hunting.

The part of the novel that never makes it to the silver screen is a whole lot of chapters about whales in general: the biology of whales, the history of mens’ encounters with whales, how whales are seen in religion, etc., etc.  And there are a lot of etcetras, dozens and dozens of “off topic” chapters.

//Mixed media

Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

// Moving Pixels

"Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.

READ the article