Latest Blog Posts

by Jorge Albor

16 Dec 2016


If you choose to play Dishonored 2 as Emily Kaldwin (and you should), you’ll find an amazing interplay between her role as a stealth assassin and her role as the leader of an imperial power. The empress’s near-fatal flaw at the beginning of Dishonored 2 is her ignorance. To gain information and to make the world legible is to exercise power as both a player and as an empire.

Within the larger world of Dishonored, the city of Karnaca sits at the southernmost point of the Empire. The setting for Dishonored 2 looks and feels markedly different than its predecessors. Where the first game in the series feels like a steampunk version of Victorian England, Karnaca is more tropical and recalls the architecture and feel of colonial Cuba or other parts of the West Indies. This callback to imperialism is important within the context of the game’s story. Emily is on the outskirts of the empire, ignorant of the people, the power players, and even the wildlife. Her return to power reflects her growing familiarity with (and, therefore, power over) this landscape.

by Jorge Albor

1 Dec 2016


A character creation screen for the forthcoming Mortal Online.

I’m used to inhabiting the skin of others. I’ve been elves, dwarves, massive bro-dudes, and young girls. I’ve captained spaceships, maintained small cottages, and poked around a college dorm room. Games have always given me opportunities to live the stories of others, to be someone I’m not. For many of us, this is one of the biggest reasons we play games. Lately, though, I’ve been trying to reconcile the uncomfortable politics of being someone else.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, my older brother pulled my sister and I out of school to attend a political protest. It was a pivotal moment in developing my political self. The protest was against California Proposition 187, which would severely limit access to public services to undocumented immigrants. This included restrictions on access to healthcare and public education to children. I can’t say I was an expert on immigration at such a young age, but some of my family members were undocumented. I knew it felt wrong.

by Jorge Albor

3 Nov 2016


Overwatch fans love their lore. Blizzard has created a completely multiplayer experience yet filled it with unique and vibrant characters, giving each a unique backstory that ties them all together. It’s a testament to Blizzard’s world building that fans have reacted to so strong to these characters, creating amazing fan art and fan fiction that approaches canonicity for some fans. So why are so many of their community members furious about Sombra?

Sombra is, theoretically, the second addition to Overwatch’s stable of playable characters. She comes after Ana released back in July. Many fans actually thought Ana was Sombra at first. Initially, the ardent detectives of all things Overwatch had discovered an in-game folder titled “SOMBRA [CLASIFICADO]” all the way back in the pre-beta days of the game. Attentive players will even catch Reaper saying, “Where’s Sombra when you need her”, occasionally when spawning on the Dorado map. Blizzard seemingly laid the groundwork for a cunning Sombra reveal.

by Jorge Albor

20 Oct 2016


I thought that I knew what a rhythm game was. Even back in my PaRappa the Rapper days, rhythm games were about losing myself to the beat. It was about achieving that much sought feeling of flow. From Rock Band to AudioSurf, even at their most difficult settings, you could find a kind of zen in the performance of music. Going into Thumper with this perspective was a huge mistake.

Developed independently by Drool, Thumper is aptly called a “rhythm violence” game, a moniker I didn’t know before picking up Thumper earlier this month. The strange shapes and psychedelic colors that surround the game’s brightly winding path certainly bears a striking resemblance to other calming rhythm games. Looking just at screenshots, like I did, you’d be excused for believing the landscape was some gyrating reflection of the music meant to calm your mood and lull you into a steady musical pattern.

by Jorge Albor

11 Oct 2016


Image of the League of Legends World Championship from lolesports.com.

At the League of Legends World Championship group stages event in San Francisco last weekend, I worried a staff member with my sign. On a white board in bright pink and red marker, I had written the phrase “WAKE UP EU!” The person managing the sign-desk asked if “EU” stood for “European Union”, which it did—in a sense. “There are no political signs allowed,” she told me.

Of course it wasn’t a politically charged message, even though I love the idea of using a competitive eSports event as a venue for sending out a hilarious vague treatise on Brexit. It was meant, instead, as a rallying cry for the European teams competing in the event. The three teams from the region (H2K, G2, and Splyce) have lost seven of their eight collective games so far. Worlds matches have nothing to do with politics… mostly. Well, at least not explicitly.

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