Playing an open world game can be a profoundly lonely and introspective experience. Roaming the plains, deserts, tundras, and futuristic landscapes of fictional lands, my mind wanders. Sometimes I poke and prod the limits of my digital sandbox while I think about my day, zoning out the game world in a moment of zen to actually ponder my real life circumstances. I often pass this downtime thinking about the game at hand, what my characters have been through, or where they are going. These moments of self-reflection take place within a very real, albeit digital, environment that subtly or blatantly shape my thoughts. The most interesting moments of video game solitude are populated by the ghostly presence of the past and future, and they become an integral part of play.
Latest Blog Posts
Nintendo makes toys.
I’ll see if I can explain what I mean.
I’m vaguely excited every time that I see an ad for Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS. I don’t own a 3DS. However, I did own an NES back in the day, and I did own Kid Icarus. It wasn’t a very good game.
Mmm Mmmm Mmm Mmmm MmMmmMmMm
Step by step, a world constructs itself, piece by piece, under his feet. A bourbon from the bottle voice reminisces about each tremble of the hammer, every breath of the bellows. Synesthetic is the only way that I can describe Bastion, but instead of stimulating the senses, it evokes memories that I’ve never had. The music is integral to the experience, like vibrating brushstrokes to the wonderful painting that is Bastion. When asked how he pulled off such an amazing score, Bastion’s composer Darren Korb cited pouring a lot of love and hard work into the music to match up to and exceed the quality of games with big budgets. In his talk at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) this year, Korb showed how a two person team provided all the beats, hisses, and narration of Bastion with little glamour. I sat in the back row with my pen bleeding through my notebook as I watched a process I could theoretically enact myself given enough passion and grit. In passing, he mentions how one of the vocal tracks of the game, Zia’s “Build that Wall,” is a cultural artifact of a country at war. It is strangely soothing despite describing an impending doom of a people locked up in their stronghold.
Theology, horror, and an old school console aesthetic combine in Edmund McMillen and Florian Himsl’s The Binding of Isaac.
Nick Dinicola and G. Christopher Williams return from Isaac’s basement with stories to tell and more than one observation about this troubling, provocative, and madly additictive roguelike shooter.
I’ve already written at length about the mechanics of AMY. While the narrative isn’t worth writing about, the game still has a few fascinating quirks worth exploring. Specifically, its use of gender.
Featuring women and children in a horror story is nothing new. Lana and Amy’s relationship is interesting on a mechanical level, but it’s too shallow on a character or narrative level to act as any kind of commentary on gender in horror. In fact, AMY doesn’t do anything new with gender roles, but it’s interesting because it offers such an obvious example of how both genders are portrayed in survival-horror games.