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by Jorge Albor

5 Dec 2013

Poltergeist by
ganando-enemigos (DeviantArt, 2011)

There’s an interesting aversion in the games space to discussing film—or other media for that matter—as it relates to games, and perhaps rightly so. Game makers and enthusiasts sometimes share a concern that by comparing games to film, we water down our own value. And it is true, using film—or any other media for that matter—as a metric for success in the games industry is a losing battle.

However, ignoring the lessons other media imparts is also a harmful form of self-delusion. We crazy wonderful humans tell stories, and lots of them, in all sorts of ways. Engaging other media is a fruitful practice that empowers our own craft. To that end, this is a spotlight on this year’s important films that might be worth considering in relationship to games. Each was selected for its own reason, but all prove insightful. Do not consider these reviews or even personal suggestions. I encourage readers to watch these films in particular with consideration to the lessons we can learn about game artistry.

by Jorge Albor

21 Nov 2013

There is a beauty to asymmetry, well, at least in playful systems. We may find facial symmetry arousing, but symmetry in game is just so normal. No matter which side of the monopoly board you are on, you play by the same rules as everybody else. It is the rare game like Android Netrunner, which features divergent rules for each player, that offers something special, something thematically rich and mechanically unique in the ways that it evokes satisfying play.

by Scott Juster

14 Nov 2013

This week, Jorge and I talked about Call of Duty: Ghosts on our podcast. At one point in the conversation, Jorge raised a good question: Why do Call of Duty games still have campaigns and who plays them?  It’s difficulty to get solid numbers, but cobble together some sporadic achievement data as well as anecdotes from the community and it starts to seem possible that less than half of the people who played Black Ops 2 finished the single-player campaign. Seeing as how the game sold monstrously well and that its campaign was (in my opinion) much better than that of Ghosts, it seems safe to assume a similarly low completion rate.

This brings us back to Jorge’s “why and who” question. I am one of those people who play CoD largely for the campaign, and while I can’t speak for the masses, I think my experience represents some of the practical and philosophical reasons why single player persists in an environment dominated by multiplayer. I’ll start with the practical aspect and work my way towards wild philosophical speculation.

by Jorge Albor

7 Nov 2013

According to a recent interview with VG247, Beyond: Two Souls Writer and Director David Cage very much considers his latest game as a discrete experience from Heavy Rain: “We didn’t try to replicate Heavy Rain, because we would have just done Heavy Rain 2. We really wanted to create an experience that would be different.” The game does diverge in places dramatically from its predecessors. Cage has critical reasons to separate the two titles. Over the years, Cage has built up a healthy group of naysayers and critics, partially for his overly-optimistic faith in “more pixels” and partially for his heavy reliance on cinematic design choices in his games.

However, we do the game a disservice by thinking of Beyond independently from Heavy Rain. What can appear arbitrary or strange in Beyond is better understood as a response to or evolution of ideas implemented in Heavy Rain. As a companion piece, it is easier to appreciate Beyond as an improvement for Cage and an evolution in his body of work, contentious though it may be.

by Scott Juster

31 Oct 2013

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft, 2013)

For me, the fall season is television season. Due to football season and the return of the scant few broadcast television shows I still watch, most of my live television time is concentrated over the span of a few months. When it comes time to bust out the antenna (you guessed it: I’m one of those cut-the-cable, streaming-site techno hippies), it’s not just a return to shows and sports. It’s a return to advertising. I only half-jokingly tell people that this is the time of year when I get back in touch with the consumer landscape. Which deodorant has the quirkiest commercial? What does my choice in a luxury sedan say about me? Do I need to hit my doctor up for any new drugs? And of course: what are the video games I need to buy? 

I expected this year to be a heavy year for video game advertisement. Fall is blockbuster season in general and this is a new console launch year, so the game companies have plenty to advertise. While I have seen quite a few video game commercials, they haven’t been what I expected.

//Mixed media

Notes, Hoaxes, and Jokes: Silkworm's 'Lifestyle' - "Ooh La La"

// Sound Affects

"Lifestyle's penultimate track eases the pace and finds fresh nuance and depth in a rock classic, as Silkworm offer their take on the Faces' "Ooh La La".

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