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by Jorge Albor

17 Mar 2011


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).

by G. Christopher Williams

16 Mar 2011


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.

by Kris Ligman

15 Mar 2011


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.

by Aaron Poppleton

15 Mar 2011


“You’re joking, right?  I don’t care about titles or power.  I just wanna be number one.”
—Travis Touchdown, No More Heroes

We are a culture obsessed with ranking.  No multiplayer game worth its salt releases without having leader boards anymore (and even single player games have leader boards these days) so that we can all see who is the “best” at whatever game that we’re currently talking about.  Suda 51’s No More Heroes takes the obsession with being number one into the world of assassination, presenting a world where the mysterious United Assassins’ Association has created a ranking system for assassins in which one can move up the ranks by killing those above him.  For Travis Touchdown, the promise of being the top ranked assassin is enough.  “I wanna be number one… Short and simple enough for you?” he asks the player in the introduction.  This is the first step on a bloody path that comprises the game’s story, which darkly points out by the end that the rankings don’t mean anything.  Travis’s battle has been in the service of nothing at all.  It is a nihilistic message that lies hidden under the game’s constant pressure to move up the rankings and be the “best”.  By the end of the game, the plot itself refuses to provide any sort of actual conclusion, as Travis seeks only to bail out of the plot, saying “You want me to tie up all these loose ends [in the plot]?  I don’t think so”.

There is a hint at this lack of meaning after the very first fight, when Travis complains that “I’m not feeling the sense of accomplishment that I should”, which in turn leads to the promise (but not a guarantee) that if he reaches number one, Sylvia might “do it” with him.  The motivation for making a run at the number one spot (the desire to be “the best”) changes once Travis realizes that the defeat of the former 10th ranked assassin is not half as satisfying as he hoped it would be.  Apart from the promise of sex, the only other motivation he has is that defeating assassins pays the bills, but when one of those bills happens to be the fee for setting up the next fight, it all seems a bit self-defeating.  This is also setting aside the number of perfectly legitimate jobs that can do the exact same thing for Travis—and in many cases the assassination jobs that Travis can pick up pay less than some of these more menial tasks—the gas pumping job can reap sizable rewards, as can a job cleaning up litter, although the game does provide at least one assassination mission that pays far better than most other jobs.

by G. Christopher Williams

14 Mar 2011


This week the Moving Pixels podcast considers the ballet of blood choreographed by People Can Fly in their new game, Bulletstorm.

Is the game a perfect storm of masculinity and mayhem or just more boys and their bullets?

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Fave Five: Alpine

// Sound Affects

"Australian sextet Alpine's newest album is a fantastic expansion of their joyous pop sound, but two members give us five records apiece that helped define their unique musical identities.

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