Latest Blog Posts

by Brady Nash

1 May 2012


Over the past sixty years, poetry has developed a reputation among high school students for stodginess, complexity, and mechanical twists and turns that only the most hallowed of literary minds could hope to understand, much less care about. I have learned this not only from my own experiences as a high school student long, long ago but from my current students, who I teach in my life outside of blog writing. Poetry is boring and laden with an air of inaccessible mystery, they tell me. This, I tell them in return, is how much of the populace views World of Warcraft and Call of Duty. Video games, like poetry, are often inaccessible to the lay person unfamiliar with a sixteen-button controller. Their power and novelty are lost behind an iron curtain composed of technical skills and erudite understandings beyond the grasp of the outsider.

When I teach poetry, then, I try not to get caught up in the mechanics—at least not at first. I try to imbue the reading of poetry with a sense of novelty, with the idea that these are not incomprehensible puzzles created by some Kafka-esque madman to drive fourteen year olds insane. More, they are bits of thought and feeling, slivers of experience and reflection, carefully arranged to create in the reader a sensation, to translate feelings from person to person. We watch YouTube videos and short scenes from My Neighbor Totoro and I ask them, is this not a poem as well? A small bit of emotion that is here to convey to you some undefined—yet clearly felt—experience.

by G. Christopher Williams

30 Apr 2012


This week Nick and I are joined by Jorge Albor and Scott Juster of the Experience Points podcast to discuss how video games fare as live action properties.

Some of these films are homages, some are there to support their franchise, some are both.  Most are better than what we have seen on the big screen.

by Nick Dinicola

27 Apr 2012


Demon’s Souls showed the world a great and innovative multiplayer feature that most of the industry has ignored: the ability to leave messages for other players. It’s a great feature because it creates a sense of community through user generated content, and that content is easy to make. It’s actually so easy to make that it’s more like content manipulation than content creation, but that’s part of the appeal. Everyone can participate. Despite this, the only game that I’ve played (or seen or heard of) since then to incorporate a similar kind of content manipulation is SSX, which then tweaks the feature so that it becomes something quite addictive.

In part, this is what makes the multiplayer in SSX so great. It’s a collection of lesser used multiplayer innovations pieced together in such a way that each one compeiments the other, while also avoiding the most persistent problems that plague multiplayer games.

by Jorge Albor

26 Apr 2012


MissionUS, WNET Thirteen, 2011

Mark Sample of Play the Past recently asked an interesting and thought provoking question to his readers: “What are the limits of playing the powerless?” Even more specifically, he asked, “What are the limitations of playing the powerless in videogames about the powerless?”  (“The Limits of Playing the Powerless and the Doomed in Video Games”, Play the Past, 10 April 2012).  Sparked by Ian Bogost’s How to Do Things with Videogames, Sample goes on to raise and allude to a variety of questions about viewership and participation, player detachment, historical obligations, and developer responsibility.  All games can—and more should—address sensitive issues with tact, including emotional topics and historically significant time periods or events marked by troubling power relations. The only limits to playing the “powerless” are the limits we set when we carry our game design assumptions into the development process.

The concept of fun inevitably arises when discussing serious games and powerlessness in particular. Time and again others have exhaustively argued for “engagement” as a more descriptive ideal than “fun,” which fails to capture why we engage with melancholy media at all. So let’s leave that concept behind entirely.

by Mark Filipowich

25 Apr 2012


In the weeks after the release of Mass Effect 3, the drama around its unsatisfying ending went to some interesting places. After some discussion over whether or not the ending ought to change, the conversation muted into whether or not it should be “allowed” to change. And ultimately, the question became, who makes that decision? Essentially, if games are art, who is the artist?

That’s a question that hasn’t seemed relevant to games until the last decade. After all, who “makes” a video game? There are only a handful of important developers that have individually stood out enough to be recognized by name. Authorship is granted to the conglomeration that distributes the work. When discussing a work or a body of works, our language centers on the development company instead of a single person. We say that Bungie changed the FPS with Halo, we complain that Squaresoft/Square-Enix’s material was much better before the turn of the century, we tap our feet impatiently while we wait for Valve’s next opus. We don’t talk about a individual creators as independent minds that produce a work.

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'Full Throttle: Remastered' Is Both Updated and Dated

// Moving Pixels

"Full Throttle: Remastered is a game made for people who don't mind pixel hunting -- like we used to play.

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