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Tuesday, Dec 14, 2010
Today we look at two themed independent titles that showcase two different facets of what we now call the art game: game as system and game as anti-system.

It’s been either a very affectionate or very cynical year in the field of independent games, with at least three single-named titles taking a spin with ol’ l’amour in 2010 alone.


My first review for this site back in July was on Alexander Ocias’s Loved, in which the past tense is used to signify guilt and manipulation of the player rather than the word’s more innocent connotations. Earlier in March, we saw the release of independent user-generated MMO Love from Eskil Steenberg, the painterly aesthetic of which much has been written. A final entry, unrelated to Steenberg’s, is the new flash game Love which has recently shown up on Kongregate from designer Contrebasse.


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Monday, Dec 13, 2010
Bethesda's latest iteration of the Fallout series offers Sin City as one of the last remaining beacons of hope in their postapocalyptic American Wastleland.

Bethesda’s latest iteration of the Fallout series offers Sin City as one of the last remaining beacons of hope in their postapocalyptic American Wastleland.  Despite the buggy quality of the game at release, many players still found themselves “all in” for this expansion of the retro-futuristic universe.


This week the Moving Pixels podcast crew discuss the subtleties of socialization, scrounging, and survival in New Vegas.


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Friday, Dec 10, 2010
Metro 2033 creates a world that is both claustrophobic and empty.

Most of Metro 2033 takes place underground in the dilapidated tunnels of Russia’s metro system. Normally this would be a poor setting for a game since metro tunnels are by necessity a repetitive environment. However, while many big budget games take great pains to send the player all over the world during their single player story—to the snow level, the desert level, or the jungle level—Metro 2033 proves that such grand gestures aren’t necessary. Repetitive scenery isn’t repetitive if handled correctly, and Metro 2033 handles it correctly: The tunnels may stay the same but what fills those tunnels is very different; by contrasting the overpopulated metro stations with the desolate tunnels, the game creates a world that feels both claustrophobic and frighteningly empty.


Tagged as: metro 2033
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Thursday, Dec 9, 2010
According to a conceptual framework of civic involvement in game design, Mass Effect 2 is one of the most successful educational games of all time.

Math Blaster counts as an educational game, right? So does Oregon Trail, and probably Foldit, that shockingly addictive protein folding game. These games foster a particular type of narrow learning, emphasizing isolated details and contexts. Some game developers, however, are working on creating civic learning games, an entirely different class of educational game, one that fosters civic involvement and ethical thinking. According to a conceptual framework put forward by Chad Raphael, Christine Bachen, Kathleen-M. Lynn, Jessica Baldwin-Philippi, and Kristen McKee, Bioware might be on the forefront of educational game designer. This is why—with well over two million sales in its opening week—Mass Effect 2 is one of the most successful educational games of all time.


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Thursday, Dec 9, 2010
Tron is really weird, and doesn't make much sense. And strange as it seems, it makes even less sense as a video game.

I’m excited for the Tron: Legacy movie tomorrow, and in my fervor I convinced myself it was a good idea to go buy and play the Tron: Evolution game since it acts as a bridging story between the first and second movies. At the checkout counter in Best Buy, the young man at the register aksed me, “Cool, is this about riding around on motorcycles and shooting people?” He’d never seen the original Tron and knew nothing about it. I didn’t know where to begin, so I just left it at, “It’s more complicated than that . . .” and paid for my game. On my way to dinner with a friend later that night, I was telling the story and he (who’s my age) asked, “Where does Tron happen? In a computer or a bunch of them?” I had no idea. We talked through it some, combining our memories of the movie with my couple of hours spent with the new game. The end result was just another question. What the hell is Tron anyway?


Tagged as: tron, tron: legacy
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