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Monday, Mar 21, 2011
Originally conceived of as a discussion of the best superhero video games of all time, the Moving Pixels Podcast crew quickly discovered that super powered games have been -- for the most part -- less than super.

Originally conceived of as a discussion of the best superhero video games of all time, the Moving Pixels Podcast crew quickly discovered that super powered games have been—for the most part—less than super. 


With that in mind, our discussion of the presentation of superheroes in video games became, instead, a discussion of the history of the superhero in video games—more particularly the refinements that have lead to more interesting gaming experiences within this genre.


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Friday, Mar 18, 2011
3D is a feature best appreciated by an audience watching a game being played -- because the player isn't likely to notice the effect at all.

There was a lot of 3D stuff on display at PAX East this past weekend. Many 3D demos were present from publishers, developers, or video card manufacturers for fighting games, shooting games, or racing games. In particular, Mortal Kombat and Crysis 2 had a very big 3D presence.  Displays featured a demo of each game being played on a massive 3DTV with buckets of glasses available for curious attendees. After watching both games being played in 3D for a good long while (sadly I didn’t get a chance to play anything on the 3DS), I came to realize that 3D is a feature best appreciated by an audience watching a game being played, but the player isn’t likely to notice the effect at all.


To be perfectly clear, I’m a proponent of 3D stuff in whatever form it takes. I like the effect, it doesn’t hurt my eyes, and I don’t mind the glasses. But like any new piece of technology, there’s a learning curve that we have to endure as artists learn to use it.


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Thursday, Mar 17, 2011
The burden of documentary storytelling is too confining. In order to successfully create a documentary, game designers must inhibit their own genre from flourishing.

Every year, school buses loaded with children of all ages take class field trips to the Ronald Reagan Foundation & Library in Simi Valley, California, which is located about forty miles outside Los Angeles. There, in the Air Force One Discovery Center, library staff lead students through an interactive history lesson. Children take on the role of Washington staff, members of the press corp, and even Reagan himself and replay the events of leading to the 1983 invasion of Granada. In the provocative episode “Kid Politics” from the radio show This American Life, Starlee Kine records one such field trip in which a class of fifth graders joyfully reenact a troubling moment in American history.


The children are shepherded towards the vilification of the press and deification of Ronald Reagan. Loud buzzers and flashing lights punish students for making decisions that err from history and reward them for correctly mimicking Reagan’s actions. At one point, the class lets out a unanimous and resounding “No!” when asked “Just because [the press] have their freedoms, does that mean they should use them?” (“Kid Politics”, This American Life, 14 January 2011). The entire session comes off as frighteningly Orwellian. One individual, discussing the episode, describes the event as a form of indoctrination, stating: “It can be argued that the library’s bias is obvious in the very name of the building. It’s just that they pass these conclusions off as products of the students’ own critical thinking that is misleading and so very Reaganite.” (Paul Steele, This American Life - Kid Politics”, Dogmas of the Quiet Past, 14 March 2011).


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Wednesday, Mar 16, 2011
What does the twisted geometry of the rooms that James has to traverse have to do with collecting clues to identify the murderer? Not much. However, this is seemingly the point of The Man with the Invisible Trousers.

Madcap isn’t a descriptive word that I use very often, but it certainly applies to Radical Dog’s The Man with the Invisible Trousers.


From the opening menu, in which you can choose from options like “Play” or “Don’t Play,” it’s obvious that tautology informs the game in terms of both its randomized narrative as well as its absurd physics, one thing matters about as much as another.


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Tuesday, Mar 15, 2011
Something tells me that despite its flaws, Dragon Age II is going to have real staying power over time, especially among the critical and theoretical blogosphere where already some important dialogue is taking shape.

As I wrap up my second playthrough of Dragon Age II in preparation of a full review, I thought it might prove salient to note some of the things I was especially (and thankfully) mistaken about when discussing the game in our recent Dragon Age podcast. Dragon Age II proves that it is capable of surprises at every turn, and while it’s far from a perfect experience, it knocks some balls so far out of the park that it would be a shame not to highlight them.


I’ll be keeping spoilers to a minimum in this, but as usual, please read with discretion if you’re still in the midst of your first run or intending to buy it. For the rest, including those who might still be on the fence about the game’s merits, read on.


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