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by Jorge Albor

30 Jul 2015


Warning: This article contains spoilers for Telltale’s Game of Thrones Episode 5: A Nest of Vipers.

One of my earliest memories is trying to figure out how old my parents would be as I aged. I’ve always been bad at math, so as I counted my age each year on my fingers, I accidentally added ten years to my parents lifespan for each one. You can imagine my shock when I predicted my parents would die of old age before I was even ten. I don’t remember how old I was then, but I do remember crying so hard it was tough to breathe. It was terrifying to know I couldn’t do anything about it.

In “A Nest of Vipers”, the latest episode in Telltale’s Game of Thrones series of point-and-click adventure, you can’t do much about death, but you can choose who lives and who dies. During the climax of the season’s penultimate episode, two brothers, Rodrick and Asher, are ambushed by Whitehill soldiers. Their only escape route is under an iron gate, but one brother has to stay behind to hold it open. How do you choose who stays and who goes? How do you decide who lives and who dies?

by Scott Juster

23 Jul 2015


What sorts of video games represent the best that the entire medium has to offer? I talk to lots of people about games and the various answers to that question often fall into recognizable buckets. Super Mario Bros. or Doom for their ability to withstand the test of time and also for their long reach. Ico or Shadow of the Colossus for their ability to evoke a rich world through understated visual effects and mechanics. Journey for telling a poignant story while seamlessly (and wordlessly) connecting you to other people. 

What sort of video game best represents the medium’s potential? It’s a question that inspires high-minded thinking and lots of pondering about the nature of art. It usually doesn’t elicit talk about cars that can do rocket-boosted backflips, but maybe it should.  Rocket League is a ridiculous game, and it is a beautiful game.

by Jorge Albor

16 Jul 2015


What does Gotham city mean to you? I have been asking myself this question lately as I play through Batman: Arkham Knight. I spend most of my time gliding around from above, doing my best to avoid boring vehicle gameplay, so I guess Gotham city is its skyscrapers. Or maybe Gotham is the ant-like swarm of enemies populating its streets in endless supply. Or maybe its villains, who have seemingly agreed to carve up the city into their own bite-size portions of malevolence. I suspect all of these are unsatisfying answers.

A sense of place, that ephemeral subjective quality, can be so hard to describe. It shifts and blurs, a combination of emotions, history, politics, and geography. A sense of place can be, at the same time, personal yet collective. For example, I know what Northern California means to me. It is rocky shorelines, vineyards, redwoods, day laborers, and tired hands, among other things. I struggle to understand Gotham city with the same clarity. Why is that?

by Scott Juster

9 Jul 2015


Batman: Arkham Knight is a game about identity crises. Who is the Arkham Knight (and how did he become obsessed with Batman)? Can Jim Gordon reconcile his devotion to his family with his obligation to uphold the law? What really separates Batman and the Joker? Will the Riddler ever realize how annoying he truly is? If the inflated number of Riddler challenges in Arkham Knight are any indication, he is either totally oblivious or sadistically aware of how much of a pest he is.

by Scott Juster

25 Jun 2015


Recore (Microsoft Studios, forthcoming)

E3 wrapped up last week, and I’m still sifting through all the headlines. As always, there was plenty of excitement, but this year’s excitement felt like the good kind, the kind that makes me enthusiastic about what the industry’s big companies are doing. Part of the reason that I follow E3 every year is for the surprise announcements and big reveals, but over the past few years, it had become a morbid fascination. What sort of train wreck would it be this year? Instead of watching spontaneous disasters, I spent this year pleasantly surprised by what the big companies had to show.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Perspectives on Death in 'Game of Thrones - A Nest of Vipers'

// Moving Pixels

"How do you decide who lives and who dies?

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