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by Scott Juster

8 Aug 2013

The other day I did something I normally don’t do. I finished a game for a second time.  It’s not that I want to be a rolling stone when it comes to games. It’s just that the odds (i.e., the realities of life) aren’t stacked in my favor.  The potential number of hours that I can dedicate to games has drastically ebbed, and gone are the days when playing through Final Fantasy VI twice a year was a modest accomplishment.  On the other end of the scarcity spectrum, I could quit my job for a year and still find myself surrounded by great games from 2012’s back catalog.  Finally, it doesn’t help that games often demand a gargantuan time investment. Try to find a blockbuster action movie that lasts as long as an Uncharted campaign, for example.  Dump 100 hours into DotA 2 and you’ll probably be just good enough to be considered “not bad.”

It’s a shame, since playing games multiple times is something I enjoy.  I see things I missed the first time through and get a chance to reconsider my opinions.  This opportunity for reevaluation means that when I do play games again they tend to fall into two categories: the ones I found either especially enjoyable or those that were less than enjoyable.  Anything that provokes a response stronger than “meh” often gets another look, which is why I played through Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery again.

by Jorge Albor

1 Aug 2013

“Something will happen in 77 days.”

It started on July 9th, when the YouTube account “Pronunciation Book” took a sudden turn for the weird. What had originally been a channel dedicated to helping foreign language students pronounce English words correctly was now the source of a strange and expansive mystery. The unassuming source of linguistic tips was hiding something, and now without a disguise, it became a deeply compelling project for thousands of impromptu researchers, code crackers, and detectives.

by Scott Juster

25 Jul 2013

This post contains spoilers for The Swapper.

In a recent interview on the Penny Arcade Report, Dan Teasdale explained his weariness with the preponderance of fantasy, science fiction, and retro game genres. I find his weariness with this “nerd triumverate” understandable, especially when it comes to sci-fi. Open up the iOS app store and you’ll find countless games about mining, fighting, or flying in space. On the blockbuster side of things, we’ve had Halo, Dead Space, Mass Effect, and numerous other operatic tales of galactic calamities. Maybe it’s time we put sci-fi in cryo stasis for a while?

But then there are games like The Swapper. The Swapper doesn’t have any gun battles, and it isn’t about interstellar war. And this actually works in its favor.  By narrowing its scope, The Swapper is able to fully explore its game systems and the ethical implications they have within the game’s story.

by Jorge Albor

18 Jul 2013

Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Last of Us, Heavy Rain, and The Walking Dead Season 1.

In the very last scene of The Last of Us, after Joel and Ellie have formed an inseparable bond, traversed half the country, killed hundreds of infected humans to stay alive, and put their own safety in the hands of one another, Ellie asks Joel a question, and without batting an eye, he answers her with a complete lie.

by Scott Juster

11 Jul 2013

Image of Ryan Davis from Kotaku

My only two-way interaction with Ryan Davis was at E3 2012.  He was finishing up taking the picture you see here. I clapped him on the shoulder as one would do with a long-time colleague and said, “Hey Ryan, I love Giant Bomb. You all do a great job,” or something similarly banal. To his credit, despite the long days, miles of walking, and the mixture of tedium and chaos that defines the conference, he responded with a quick thanks as we continued walking past each other to respective appointments. Looking back on it, the shoulder clap may have been presumptuous since we didn’t actually know each other. 

It came from an honest place though. Since 2008, I’ve listened to and watched literally hundreds of hours of his podcasts and videos on Giant Bomb. Following Ryan and the rest of the crew was a staple of my week. No matter how bad things were, I knew there would be at least a couple hours a week when I could listen to them virtually shoot the shit about video games and whatever else struck the crew’s fancy (their unexpected Star Trek-related tangents were always fun). Strange as it is to think about, I most certainly heard more of Ryan’s voice on an average week than the voices of most of my family members. It’s the weird thing about our modern media landscape; the Internet has made it possible to feel like you know someone even if you’ve never met.

Ryan passed away on July 3, 2013.  How do you pay tribute when one of these strange types of friends dies? Since I can’t help others get to know him, I figure the best way to honor him is to share his influence on me.

//Mixed media

Cage the Elephant Ignite Central Park with Kickoff for Summerstage Season

// Notes from the Road

"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.

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