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by Scott Juster

15 Nov 2012

Calling a video game “realistic” could mean any number of things.  Sometimes, it’s about graphical verisimilitude: does that virtual character look like a real human being?  Other times, it’s about how something feels: does swinging this Wii remote remind me of swinging a tennis racket?  Games like Sim City try to tackle a more mathematical version of realism: does building a city with good roads help the economy?

The point is that video games have a variety of ways of representing our world, thus allowing even the most fantastical games to resemble aspects of daily life.  Dishonored does this, despite the fact that it’s a game in which you can warp through thin air and commune with a supernatural deity.  Getting to know Dishonored’s world and the people that call it home felt very much like moving to a new town and meeting the neighbors.

by Jorge Albor

8 Nov 2012

The release of Halo 4 earlier this week put an end to both the excited and nervous anticipation of the renewal of a franchise in transition. Now in the very capable hands of 343 Industries, Halo is with us forever now or at least until the studio rounds out their own trilogy. The smooth transference of ownership—and more importantly the community’s positive reaction to it—reflects a continuation of the changing relationship between player communities and developers.

For fans of the series, Master Chief’s return has been a long time coming. Halo: Reach launched two years ago, but the game was a side story and mechanical departure from the standard Halo series. Master Chief has been slumbering for over five years since the release of Halo 3, longer than his actual cryogenic sleep between the events in Halo 3 and Halo 4.

by Scott Juster

1 Nov 2012

A Masquerade in Dishonored (Bethesda, 2012)

Depending on when you read this, you’re either preparing for or recovering from the annual candy and alcohol feast that is Halloween.  Well, what better way to get into a gruesome frame of mind or shake out last night’s cobwebs than a discussion of some holiday-appropriate games.  It’s likely you’re familiar with horror classics like Resident Evil and Fatal Frame, as well as more recent hits hits like Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Slender, so I thought I’d take a different angle and talk about a handful of games that were unexpectedly chill-inducing and the ways in which they strike fear into our hearts (and thumbs).

by Jorge Albor

25 Oct 2012

Kickstarter has helped launch some of the most anticipated games in recent memory. Double Fine blew open the game funding floodgates with their upcoming point-and-click adventure and, most recently, Project Eternity broke records with almost four million dollars raised through Kickstarter.

Among the heavy hitters, a small indie-game about a serious issue is making its own attempt at crowd-sourced funding. iBeg, from Last Pick Productions, is a pixelated simulation of homelessness. Like most social impact games, iBeg’s subject matter is sensitive and the issue complex. While the game is still early in development, the game concept alone raises interesting themes in regards to the design of social impact games. Chris Worboys, the game designer behind iBeg, kindly offered to sit down for an interview about his goals for iBeg, the difficulties of addressing homelessness in a game, and more.

by Scott Juster

18 Oct 2012

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: a brash young man gradually mellows over the years, gains perspective on life’s annoyances, and begins to respond to setbacks in a more measured, thoughtful way. At some point, I realized I was this walking stereotype. The things that annoyed me in years past had gradually become easier to take in stride. I can’t do anything about a traffic jam. The old lady at the grocery store who insists on paying for two apples with a personal check will finish when she’s finished. A single bad day at work isn’t a sign that I should abandon all my earthly possessions and become a monk. Life is a marathon, and patience is the key to winning.

However, this general mellowing hasn’t completely extended to my attitude towards games. In fact, it’s often the opposite. I find myself increasingly impatient with games. I tell myself that I don’t have the time to invest in a 50 hour RPG. I don’t like being asked to slog through a long manual or parse obscure game mechanics. Long cutscenes? Widely-spaced checkpoints? Load times? I don’t have time for any of that, or so I think.

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// Short Ends and Leader

"Rainer Werner Fassbinder is the whole show.

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