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Thursday, Apr 23, 2015
Playing Bloodborne is like willingly partaking in a rite of passage, an individualized ritual imbued with social meaning.

Last week here on PopMatters, Scott Juster compared playing Bloodborne to exercising. He’s right. Playing the game can feel like a gradual and painful investment towards self-improvement. But what of the social elements of Bloodborne? How do the in-game and meta social interactions surrounding the game contribute to the experience of play? To me, Bloodborne is a lot like walking on flaming hot coals.


It sounds strange, but hear me out. Firewalking and and playing Bloodborne really are quite similar, and not just because both sound excruciatingly painful. If you want to compare the two, you can pretty easily create your own firewalking experience at home. First create a small bonfire, traditionally made of hardwood. After a few hours, rake the coals into a rectangular bed of about eight or so feet in length if you’re looking to take a short stroll or upwards of twenty feet for a longer jaunt. Now step onto the coals and walk as briskly as possible without losing your dignity.


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Thursday, Apr 16, 2015
Next time you think about eating an entire tub of ice cream, try taking a stroll to Oedon Chapel.

Unless you’re some sort of professional video game savant, you’ll be spending a lot of time staring at Bloodborne‘s logo. Surprise attacks, traps, one-shot kills, and just plain sloppy play means that you’ll have plenty of time to consider your actions while staring at the Game Over text and subsequent loading screen. Bloodborne‘s unusually long load times enforce this period of reflection. Apparently From Software is trying to cut these times down, but during the last few weeks if you have played Bloodborne, you may have been staring (and seething) at the loading screen for the better part of a minute.


Tagged as: bloodborne
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Thursday, Apr 9, 2015
While the deadly realm of Westeros is a far cry from the calm Pacific Northwest, the two experiences are not as removed as you might think. Both games bend genre expectations and explore their narratives while fully aware of their opportunities.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Telltale’s Game of Thrones and DONTNOD’s Life is Strange.


I am contemplating whether or not to kick someone off a 700 foot wall. An hour earlier I was just trying to decide what to have for breakfast. The first takes place in the cold north of Telltale’s Game of Thrones, the second occurs in DONTNOD’s Life is Strange, two adventure game siblings in what is now quite clearly a genre renaissance. While the deadly realm of Westeros is a far cry from the calm Pacific Northwest, the two experiences are not as removed as you might think. Both games bend genre expectations and explore their narratives while fully aware of their opportunities.


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Thursday, Apr 2, 2015
Risk of Rain's most dangerous enemy is that ticking noise you hear in the back of your head.

I didn’t have a chance to play Risk of Rain when it first came out, which is probably a good thing. It’s been exceedingly hard to be productive since discovering how much I like it. It has a catchy name that’s also a metaphor for the gameplay.  It’s a crisp action game with harsh consequences and randomized item drops. Most of all, it’s a game full of various timers that force you into making tough decisions.


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Thursday, Mar 26, 2015
Earthbound is a masterpiece meant for children, complete with all the daring, joyful, and deeply unsettling shards of truth this implies. Earthbound might be the best children’s game ever made.

I remember my own childhood vividly… I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them.
—Maurice Sendak


Last week on PopMatters, Scott Juster described Earthbound as “bizarre and melancholy,” an element that he came to appreciate with new eyes playing the game now as an adult. I am playing the game for the first time myself. I have no sense of childhood nostalgia for the game, no memories of understanding its world any differently than I do today. Scott is right. Earthbound is at times sad, surreal, and deeply unsettling. I had no idea before I started playing that Earthbound would be quite so weird or would tackle some very adult themes. My perspective is, of course, that of an adult, but I think Earthbound might be the best children’s game ever made.


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