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by Nick Dinicola

10 Feb 2012


This post contains spoilers for the main quest of Skyrim in the very first paragraph.

After playing Skyrim for 90 hours, I saw something that changed my view of the world (the virtual world, that is). I saw one dragon bring another dragon back to life. The latter began as bones, but skin formed and stretched over its wings and skull until it looked alive, reversing the death animation that I’d seen a dozen times before. Then they started talking to each other, then to me. Since when did dragons talk? According to what Skyrim lore I know, the shouts that I had learned that can kill people and beasts are based on words from the dragon’s language; their conversations are battles. But here were two flying lizards, right in front of me, speaking in English and not killing each other. It blew my mind.

by Mark Filipowich

9 Feb 2012


Life is slow moving and mundane, games aren’t. Therefore, games satisfy a need for speedy, direct progress. It’s difficult to point to when the idea that games exist for the sake of escapism was popularized, but in recent years, such an idea has driven much of games journalism and probably a good deal of design as well. It’s odd to think of such an expensive hobby that is so often associated with a privileged class as designed purely for escape. What could such an audience have to escape from?

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, released in 2003 for the Gameboy Advance, however, rejects the idea of games merely existing as a form of escapism. The game acknowledges the idea that many have that games are escapist and refutes it.  It’s a game about gamers and the dangers of escaping into gaming too deeply. The thesis of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is that escapism is not just dangerous to the medium but to those of us that love it.

by Scott Juster

9 Feb 2012


This week, I take aim at an easy target: myself.  I recently reviewed Sonic CD and was a bit underwhelmed.  However, after re-reading the piece, I noticed that most of my criticisms of Sonic CD are equally applicable to Mirror’s Edge.  Both games offer fast-paced platformer experiences and both fall victim to some of the same pitfalls brought on by such a combination.  I’m on record for calling Mirror’s Edge tragically under appreciated, so I thought it might be a fun thought experiment to compare the two games in hopes of discovering why Mirror’s Edge sprints where Sonic stumbles.  Will I be able to defend my own opinions from myself?  Let’s find out.

by G. Christopher Williams

8 Feb 2012


I know that Lana Del Rey is receiving all kinds of critical backlash at present from the music community about her authenticity as an artist, her botched SNL performance, and the like.

However, one way or the other, “Video Games” is a rather beautiful song.  It strikes a pretty, but mournful tone that is full of a melancholy, uncertain nostalgia from a twenty-something-years-old artist, and it has managed to solder itself into my consciousness pretty effectively in recent days.

by Eric Swain

7 Feb 2012


I watched Drive the other night, a movie that takes place in California about a nigh unstoppable badass, a possible sociopath with an almost supernatural ability regarding cars, whose enemy is a crime lord who will stop at nothing to kill him. Before putting the DVD into the player I was wondering if it would have any thematic connection to a certain video game, namely Driver: San Francisco, a video game that takes place in California about a nigh unstoppable badass, a possible sociopath with an almost supernatural ability regarding cars, whose enemy is a crime lord who will stop at nothing to kill him.

Beyond that superficial comparison of the details, the movie and the game don’t really have much in common. Drive is a mostly slow paced affair concerned with character development and the main character’s relationships with others, punctuated by sudden violence, which brings a grim underworld into the stark light of day. Driver concerns an internal cerebral battle, in which the violence is presented as so over the top that the player is lucky that he doesn’t consider the main bad guy a Saturday morning cartoon villain. Really I could pack it in there and call it a night—save for one thing. Ryan Gosling’s character is solely defined as a person by his most potent ability: driving. He has no name, no past, and all the human contact that he has is filtered through driving. The dates that he goes out on? They’re night drives. The business ventures that serve as his main means of human contact? They are his job at a garage and stock car racing. He meets his “love interest” by helping her with her car. In an action video game, the protagonist is solely defined by the verb that the player uses to interact with the game. In the case of Driver: San Francisco and John Tanner, that verb is “drive.”

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