CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 29 Jan / 12 Feb]

 
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Thursday, Jan 22, 2015
Mario’s out exploring the galaxy, but Captain Toad is about examining the most minute details.

When I was a kid, I had a bunch of Micro Machines Star Wars toys. Alright, “kid” is probably a generous term, but I defy anyone to question how cool those things were.


I especially enjoyed the ones that started off as statuettes and unfolded to reveal a meticulously constructed diorama. They were more than dioramas though, since they all had some sort of mechanical trick. Poke around and you’ll find that the Rancor’s cage door moves and that Greedo can be launched out of his Mos Eisley seat after taking a shot from a miniature Han. Something that initially looked simple was actually a collection of intricate details meticulously designed to make the small environment a densely packed one.


Nintendo taps into the same feeling with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.


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Thursday, Jan 15, 2015
I believe in Clementine, and so I cried when I ask her to kill my Lee. I believe my friends in Dragon Age: Inquisition, so when I change the decor in Skyhold while they are in mourning, I make believe they notice. Choice feels a lot like faith.

Several weeks ago, when the topic of Telltale’s The Walking Dead came up, a good friend of mine announced that he did not like the game because “your choices don’t matter.” My shock and hostility has subsided, but I still fail to understand how such a perception could be true. Why did the decisions I made lead me to tears while it only led him to frustration?


Meanwhile, the past few days has seen a bevy of writing about Dragon Age: Inquisition and the choices that it contains. Patrick Klepek of Kotaku asks, “There’s much to ‘do’ in Inquisition, but how much of it is meaningful?” While Rowan Kaiser on Unwinnable says, “they’re really gun shy throughout Inquisition, with barely any choice that threatens a player’s emotions throughout the game.” Austin Walker over on Paste states (quite rightly I think), “What trained us to prefer a branching, long-form story over a series of little vignettes? I think if we ask questions like these, we’ll find our definitions of words like “real” and “meaningful” become increasingly complex.” Likewise, Todd Harper chimes in with an, ahem, “stiff” assessment that size does matter.


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Thursday, Jan 8, 2015
Words can deceive. The way we fight reveals our true nature.

Generally speaking, I don’t miss having roommates. Those dishes in the sink are my own doing. The person-to-bathroom ratio is suitably low. I can walk around the house in various states of undress without offending anyone. It’s good to be king, even if your kingdom is a small apartment.


One thing that I do miss about living with a motley horde is being able to poke my head out into the hallway and instantly find a Smash Bros. opponent. Instead, I’ve been putting a considerable amount of time into the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U online mode. Because I haven’t yet abandoned my delusion of becoming competent at the game, I mostly play 1-on-1 “for glory” (meaning no items, no stage hazards) matches. It’s a unique experience that differs from your standard in-person Smash-fest in some key ways:


1. You have no rule options. It’s a 2-stock match with a 5 minute timer.
2. You keep playing the same person until one of you disconnects.
3. There’s no voice chat.


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Thursday, Dec 18, 2014
Amid the game’s palatial estates and ancient ruins, I found a story that hit much more close to home than I expected. With remarkable subtlety, the world of Dragon Age creates a personalized experience of race.

Warning: This post contains minor spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition.


My Inquisitor is a Dalish female with white hair. See, I try, whenever possible, to make game characters unlike myself. I want to roleplay in worlds with a different perspective than my own, and what better opportunity than in the blight-infected lands of Dragon Age: Inquisition? But even amid the game’s palatial estates and ancient ruins, I found a story that hit much more close to home than I expected. With remarkable subtlety, the world of Dragon Age creates a personalized experience of race.


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Thursday, Dec 11, 2014
When it comes to modern online experiences, Nintendo soars one moment and then stumbles the next.

Like any dutiful Wii U owner (or, for that matter, any Wii U owner at all), I’ve been playing a lot of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U lately. Both games have significant online components, which has me reviewing Nintendo’s approach to the modern video game landscape. To be fair, the Wii was a connected console, but its adventures on the Internet were quite shallow compared to its successor. Seeing some marquee Nintendo games embrace current expectations around multiplayer and social content is exciting, but there are still plenty of oddities and ambiguities to resolve.


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