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by Kris Ligman

1 Mar 2011


As is the case with about half of the Moving Pixels blog’s writers, I’ve been replaying Dragon Age: Origins and its accompanying DLC recently in anticipation of the sequel’s release. Admittedly, this is as deeply as I’ve ever gotten into it, and I was surprised at the extent to which the writing emphasizes the female warrior as not secondary or conditional.

It’s important to not conflate the idea of “woman warrior” with “feminine strength” because strength and femininity both take a variety of forms. That being said, I’m not very traditionally girly, and I like it when a video game character is able to communicate that mixture of gendered ideals without becoming a caricature. I found that in Dragon Age.

by Aaron Poppleton

1 Mar 2011


Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: I have a soft spot for horror games.  As a rule, I do not have a soft spot for horror films (although I’ve got a soft spot for movies with zombies in).  I am fairly certain that the reason for this differing feelings about the genre lies directly in the lack of control that one has when watching a horror movie—I am totally okay with stomping around a mansion infested with zombies, because at least I’m smart enough to know that if something starts eating me alive and I don’t have any bullets left, it was my fault for being foolish with my ammunition.  My problem with horror films is that I tend to spend a lot of time shouting at the characters for acting as if they are characters in a horror movie.  Horror games don’t have that same baggage (except in cutscenes, at which point all bets on my shouting at the television are off), because if anyone is making a bad decision, it is probably me.

I got to thinking about horror games after reading a bunch of reviews about Dead Space 2 that complained that the Dead Space series just hasn’t been that frightening because you generally have the ammunition required to survive a situation.  This, apparently, goes against the survival part of survival horror, which in turn means that to call Dead Space a horror game at all is a misnomer—except that there are other types of horror games out there.  Or maybe there aren’t, and the problem is merely a definition of “survival horror” that is just too strict.  I decided that the best thing to do would be to take three games, all of which I consider to be “horror games”, and see on what each relies to drive its horror element.  Deciding on the three games was a bit of a trick, and I know that I will catch hell for not including a Silent Hill game in this analysis, but to be honest, I’ve yet to play any of them (I swear it’s on my list of things to play).  So instead, the three games that I’ve selected are: Resident Evil, Eternal Darkness, and the game which got me thinking about this in the first place, Dead Space.

by G. Christopher Williams

28 Feb 2011


Last week the Moving Pixels podcast crew took a look at Dead Space as a transmedia phenomenon, considering the films, comics, and other spin offs that the series has generated.

This week we look at the games themselves, considering their innovative design decisions and gameplay, alongside their grotesquerie and some of their choice in presentation of issues like work and women.

by Nick Dinicola

25 Feb 2011


The rebooted Medal of Honor is supposed to be about the soldiers and not about the controversial Afghan war that serves as a backdrop for the action. The game was criticized for sticking to such a narrow subject matter; staying apolitical in this case seemed like a marketing gimmick meant to stir up just the right amount of controversy—enough to hype the game, but not enough to hurt sales. In retrospect however, after beating the single-player campaign, I’m confident in saying that this approach works for this game.

by Scott Juster

24 Feb 2011


As long-time readers know, it takes precious little to get me started on Super Mario analysis. Just as he expected, Jorge’s recent post on how 2D sidescrollers fail as multiplayer games (“Double Trouble: Flawed Multiplayer in Donkey Kong Country Returns, PopMatters, 20 January 2011) has inspired me to revisit one of my favorite game design topics: challenge. While I haven’t yet played Donkey Kong Country Returns, I have put a considerable (or ridiculous, depending on your interpretation) amount of time into New Super Mario Bros. Wii.

Despite its cartoonish exterior, NSMBW is a demanding game. This can lead to frustration, especially if players of unequal skill are playing together. The rhetoric embedded in the game’s rules and the philosophies of its creators argue that true success is something that the players actively obtain rather than passively achieve. From a historical perspective, NSMBW’s difficulty is in keeping with tradition, and this legacy is carried into its multiplayer mode. It then becomes understandable why the mode is frustrating; instead of minimizing differences between the players, it demands that weak players either rise above their limitations or rely on the stronger players to succeed. Frustrating as this may be, I argue that NSMBW comes by its challenge honestly and that a team’s failure in multiplayer is more a reflection on the team’s aggregate skill and cooperative dynamics than any inherent failing of the game’s systems.

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The Moving Pixels Podcast Focuses on 'The Detail'

// Moving Pixels

"This week the Moving Pixels podcast discusses the possibilities and limitations of a crime drama in episodic game form, The Detail.

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