Call for Book Reviewers and Bloggers

Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Jul 10, 2014
Public radio, abandoned houses, and the search for mystery in video games.

As an insufferable coastal faux-intellectual, I am pretty much obligated to listen to This American Life.  Each week, the show picks a theme (such as “A Call for Help” or “I Was So High”) and presents a few stories on the theme.  It’s nice nice way to learn a few things about politics, science, and culture while also wrapping my voyeurism in the guise of journalism.  It’s a good way to hear dramatic or embarrassing stories without feeling like I’m prying.  I recently caught an old episode that helped me realize that my interest in certain types of video games stems from the same place.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Jun 26, 2014
The latest Mario Kart expands its mixture of interventionism and indifference beyond the tracks.

Mario Kart sticks out amongst other established Nintendo series. Like Mario, Zelda, or Metroid, certain constants have persisted over the years. Cartoonish characters, drifting, and wacky items have all become its distinguishing characteristics.  But it’s the last example, the items, that best illustrate Mario Kart’s unique qualities. 


They represent a chance, unexpected upsets, and straight up dumb luck that doesn’t exist in the clockwork levels of Super Mario (there will always be a goomba on the ground traveling from right to left on World 1-1). Zelda’s steady accumulation of items build out a consistent internal logic that governs that game’s world. For example, torches can be lit, the boomerang can spread fire, and therefore the boomerang can be used to spread a flame to multiple torches.  Metroid is similar. Ongoing success is determined by the tools you find, which are discovered through testing your existing skills. In all these games, failure is the result of a lack of knowledge or execution: you either haven’t learned how to succeed or you screw up the implementation.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Jun 19, 2014
Will Fantasy LCS have the power to bring new fans into the eSports scene, including those who do not watch or even play video games?

I used to hate American football. From a viewer’s perspective, especially one who grew up watching soccer, it doesn’t make any sense. Not only is there a glut of obscure rules and strange plays (The onside kick? What’s that all about?), the sport is also extremely slow paced. Half the team sits down while the other half takes its turn defending or moving the ball up the field in short individual bursts. In fact, a Wall Street Journal study estimated that the average time the ball is in play during a given football match is a mere eleven minutes. What a bore.


Then, several years ago, I started playing fantasy football. For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s that thing all of your coworkers talk about during the football season, even the ones who never go to a game. Each participant in your average fantasy football league drafts individual players from the entire NFL and fits them into specific slots on their team. These teams then face off each week, earning points based on the performance of real life players. If, say, Tony Romo throws four touchdowns, your team might come out big. If, on the other hand, Romo gets sacked and fumbles the ball, he could actually earn negative points for your team that week.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Jun 12, 2014
I find myself paying attention to E3 every year, even though I probably shouldn’t.

I’m writing this on June 8, 2014, the day before E3 kicks off. By the time you’re reading this, all the drama has been dissected many times over. The booths have been packed up, winners and losers have been declared, and many a snarky GIF has been made. I’m nowhere near the whirling vortex of pounding music and perspiring participants that is the LA Convention center, but I will be watching. View this as a retroactive explanation or perhaps even as an apology. E3 is obnoxious, but I still go out of my way to watch it.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Thursday, Jun 5, 2014
These blasted landscapes between civilization and chaos reveal how vacuous normative roles can be.

Warning: This post contains spoilers forThe Walking: In Harm’s Way.


Telltale’s The Walking Dead is a series about societal roles. As Lee Everett in the game’s first season, you take on the role of a leader, a fighter, and a father. Sometimes you embrace these aspects of the character willingly, other times they are foisted upon you. Navigating the world of The Walking Dead is largely an act of managing the social obligations that we all carry, every day, heightened to an apocalyptic intensity.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
Win a 15-CD Pack of Brazilian Music CDs from Six Degrees Records! in PopMatters Contests on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.