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by Jorge Albor

13 Mar 2014

As soon as I plunged the pitchfork into his chest, I knew I had made the wrong decision. Clementine’s shocked response stoked my sense of moral repugnance. This was the moment in The Walking Dead’s first season that I knew my decisions in Telltale’s world would irrevocably change not just how the in-game characters saw me, but how I saw my own moral rationalizations within this extreme environment. Throughout the first season, I was in a perpetual state of moral stress.

Two episodes into the second season, and the moral landscape of The Walking Dead has shifted dramatically. It creates what Miguel Sicart calls ethical gameplay, that is it “forces players to address their actions from a moral perspective,” (Beyond Choices, MIT Press, 2013) and these moral perspective shift and change and dramatically so between seasons. While mechanically the game largely remains the same, the new context makes my reassess my actions from a shifting moral perspective. As the world changes around Clementine, so do I.

by Scott Juster

6 Mar 2014

The creep towards cinematic experiences in games should be apparent to even the most casual video game observers. From Journey to Uncharted, cinematography, intricate musical scores, and fleshed out characters are increasingly used as tools to convey meaning. Games like Dead Space go to great lengths to minimize any traditional signs of a video game: health meters, ammo counts, and mission waypoints are all either carefully rationalized in the game world or given as little screen time as possible.

What’s been more subtle is the concurrent movement in the opposite direction when it comes to television. It has happened slowly, but more live action broadcasts are starting to develop HUDs. It’s easy to get acclimated to these new ways of conveying information, but it’s worth noticing them both because they change the way that we watch television and because they are a reminder that the transfer of visual styles isn’t always a one way street.

by Jorge Albor

27 Feb 2014

This article contains spoilers for The Wolf Among Us: Episodes 1 and 2.

The first episode of The Wolf Among Us proved something important. TellTale’s narrative-driven formula works for more than just The Walking Dead. The story beats, dialogue options, social reminders, and action sequences could all live within an entirely different world and do so very well in the realm of Fables. As I discussed in a previous article, in many ways “The Wolf Among Us uses its detective story backdrop to distill and refine its established core gameplay.” However, with the latest episode in the five part series, Tell Tale has shaken up the norm by moving its themes further away from mere detective work.

by Scott Juster

20 Feb 2014

Winter Games (Epyx, 1985)

Like much of the world, I’ve been watching this year’s Winter Olympics. I must admit that this marks the first time in approximately four years that sports like figure skating and the luge have taken up space in my brain, but I feel like I have plenty of company on this bandwagon. It’s probably a bit more unusual for people to connect the Olympics with video games, but that’s where my mind naturally goes. Seeing these athletes compete at such a high level and in such high-pressure situations helps explain the resurgence of high-stakes video games.

by Jorge Albor

13 Feb 2014

Android: Netrunner - Mandatory Upgrades by
Mauricio Herrera

Like so few games on the market, Android: Netrunner lives and breathes its themes. Set in a cyberpunk dystopian future, the game captures in cards the struggle between power-hungry mega-corporations and freewheeling hackers. Like the best cyberpunk fiction, the world of Netrunner is ripe with astute commentary on technology, society, and politics. From its broad theme to its card design, Netrunner provides ample proof that game designers can meld strong game systems, clever design, and political rhetoric into a fantastic and playful creation.

//Mixed media

Indie Horror Month 2016: Executing 'The Deed'

// Moving Pixels

"It's just so easy to kill someone in a video game that it's surprising when a game makes murder difficult.

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