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by Eric Swain

6 Mar 2012


Driver: San Francisco is a fun game. Fun should always be qualified, but I stand by this. Driver: San Francisco is an exhilarating, enjoyable, fluid experience that doesn’t compromise on its intelligence. I’ve gone on at length in multiple places on the various aspects underpinning the game on a textual and subtextual level that for me make it stand out as one of the best games of last year and the best game that no one seemed to champion. In light of all that and in my delight to dig deep on this racing game, I have skimped on detailing all of the surface level aspects of the game that make Driver worth one’s attention in the first place.

The driving featured in the game is arcade racing at its highest level with the right level of bombast to still feel grounded in the game world. The entire design of the game exists to facilitate the player’s flow. The choice of presenting the player an open world to drive in means that you are never “out of the game” and are always present doing something. The shift ability that allows you to jump from car to car is not only there to help should you crash and wreck a car, but it also exists as a means to get around breaking the flow of the game with time spent in menus. See a car that you want to drive? It is a button press away. Do you need a different car for a challenge or simply want something tighter or faster to suit your style? Go ahead and grab it. Even if you are looking for something specific and it isn’t in the immediate vicinity, the act of flying around the streets checking out each car as you pass it has its own visceral thrill to it.

by G. Christopher Williams

5 Mar 2012


Angry Video Game Nerd, Jarko Naas, deviantART

This week the Moving Pixels podcast is joined by former Digital Cowboy and current host of the Digital Gonzo podcast Alex Shaw to discuss the changing face of the gamer.

When a game full of dungeons and dragons can sell to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars on release (yes, we’re looking at you, Skyrim), it seems that what was once perceived as a hobby for freaks and geeks may “belong” to a slightly broader slice of the general culture than it used to.  We consider generational shifts in attitudes towards gamers, the advent of social gaming, and the inclusivity and exclusivity that gaming as a past time may or may not have come to represent as a cultural practice as we have moved into the twenty-first century.

by Nick Dinicola

2 Mar 2012


This post contains spoilers for each of the three endings to Warp.

Warp is a cute, challenging, and fun puzzle game. You play as a little alien who can warp a short distance. With this power, you must rescue a friend and escape the science facility where you’re being held captive and experimented on. You’re a weak creature—get shot once and it’s game over—so it helps that you can warp into people or barrels to hide… and then you can explode out of them with such a show of blood and gore that it would make the chestburster from Alien jealous.

My fist time through the game, I loved the explosion of gore. It was cathartic. The opening cut scene lets you experience the horror of live experimentation first hand; you feel the alien’s pain. Later on we see similar experiments performed on other aliens, scientists slaughter them just to see how they die, and then we’re forced to fight a fellow alien that’s been tortured to the point of insanity. These people, both the guards and the scientists, are not innocent bystanders in some large scale conspiracy. They’re out to kill you and your kind. So I killed them first. Over and over and over again.

by Jorge Albor

1 Mar 2012


Far Cry 2, Ubisoft, 2008

During a discussion a few months back between Ken Levine and Guillermo Del Toro on Irrational Game’s endlessly fascinating podcast, Del Toro mentioned a significant question that he asks during the design process for his upcoming game inSANE: “What would the asshole do?” Del Toro, a filmmaker by trade, approaches game design very much aware of potential narrative troubles caused by “inventive” players—to use a more tasteful term. As Del Toro explains, “When we finish something that looks really neat and clean and we’ve packed it up, I go ‘Okay. We say they go from A to B to C and they exit through the doors. What if I’m the asshole? I sabotage that.” While maybe a bit paranoid, this alternative perception of players as a hostile force illuminates the value of looking at games as homeostatic systems in which players are primarily external and chaotic forces.

by Mattie Brice

28 Feb 2012


How gender informs design is a subject rarely discussed but holds a lot of value as we explore how to express gender topics in games. What exactly is a feminine narrative design? There isn’t a concrete answer, but we have the benefit of the Final Fantasy series to consider the question, including its games led by women characters. This isn’t to say that what we find there is definitively feminine storytelling, but rather how the series shifts in technique whenever women dominate the cast.

A curious trend exists of women-led Final Fantasy games being ensemble stories rather than their men-led siblings with their single-character focus. Mostly notably in Final Fantasy VI it becomes unclear who exactly matters most in the story, since Terra is most often seen as the head of the party.  However, Celes takes control for the last part of the game. Final Fantasy X-2, XIII, and XIII-2 all fall into ambiguity, in which the team is emphasized over the individual in terms of the game’s design. Contrast this to series favorites, like VII and VIII, which has male leads with no question as to who the story is about.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Here Comes the Bloom: Timothy Bloom Takes Hip-Hop to the Sock-Hop

// Sound Affects

"More sock-hop than hip-hop, soulster Timothy Bloom does a stunning '50s revamp on contemporary R&B.

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