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Thursday, Mar 7, 2013
It's clear that streaming and capturing game footage will be easier with the PS4, but why is that a good thing? In a word: democratization.

To hear Sony tell it, every piece of their upcoming PlayStation 4 is an industry-changing marvel.  As John Teti aptly writes, their mantra is “More”: more processing power, more polygons, more texture, more social network hooks.  It’s hard to separate substance from static in the middle of the hype storm but now that some time has passed, I’m more confident that the most important feature announced is linked to a single button labeled “share.”  Assuming it’s implemented gracefully (which is a big assumption given Sony’s console software track record), the ability for players to stream and save gameplay footage will have a much larger effect than any amount of increased visual fidelity.

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Thursday, Feb 28, 2013
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game has salvaged many of the core ideas of the deck building genre by crafting a thoroughly interactive multiplayer experience.

As an avid board gamer, someone who revels in the social dynamics around a tabletop, which are all too rare in video games, I remain deeply confused by the popularity of minimally interactive board games. I understand how creating and managing a system can entertain someone, but playing a multiplayer game of solitaire seems to undermine the very nature and personality of board games. Worker placement games and deck building games are the two biggest genre offenders in this field, although outliers apply. For the most part, I forswear this style of game. However, the recently released and the unfortunately named Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game has salvaged many of the core ideas of the deck-building genre by crafting a thoroughly interactive multiplayer experience.

For those that may be board game illiterate, there are a few core systems in deck building games that define the genre and lend themselves towards poor multiplayer experiences in general. First, generally speaking, deck-building games start all players off on an even playing field with identical decks of cards. Players then use the cards in their hands to effect a central tableau of cards, either purchasing new cards to add to their deck or by removing cards from the game. As the game progresses, each player’s deck becomes a unique machine, watered down or strengthened by their decisions.

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Thursday, Feb 21, 2013
Video games have given me quite a few ideas about guns over the years. As it turns out, most of them are probably wrong.

I don’t own any guns, I don’t go hunting, and I’ve never been to a gun show.  Playing with a BB gun is the closest I’ve ever come to firing a real gun.

When it comes to virtual guns, it’s a whole different story.  I’ve taken down entire squadrons with a sniper rifle.  I can differentiate a rifle from a submachine gun with a quick glance.  I’m adept at handling everything from advanced artillery installations to vintage World War II pistols.

Or at least I like to fool myself into thinking this.  In reality, I’m quite disconnected from the basic realities of guns.  My knowledge is mostly confined to surface level observations that ignore the mechanical and social dynamics of the firearms simulated in most games.  Thanks to a couple of gun-focused games and an excellent piece of gun-focused journalism, I realize now that I haven’t given this blindspot enough attention.  Granted, simply recognizing a blind spot is only the first step in correcting it, but you have to start somewhere.

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Thursday, Feb 14, 2013
The art of designing for horror takes practice. I gladly applaud those not yet willing to surrender defeat.

The release of Dead Space 3 brings with it the well-worn discussion of cooperative horror games. For the first time in the series, Isaac Clarke teams up with Sergeant John Carver to offer players a cooperative xenomorph-killing extravaganza. For a vocal bunch of players, the additional company might be fun, but saps the game of its horror roots. Pushed by popular discourse, I fear we may settle on the false assumption that horror and co-op gaming are simply incompatible. While most conversations pit co-op play against “isolation” and “immersion”, I think we can find a place for multiplayer horror games by balancing vulnerability and mutual reliance in games.

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Thursday, Feb 7, 2013
Can planet-sized explosions ever get boring? Asura's Wrath suggests that the answer involves finding the right dosage.

I’m not the biggest fan of the Dragonball Z series, mainly because I get bored waiting for people to charge up their power levels, hearing people discuss their power levels, and being surprised others’ power levels do not match their expectations.  I like an “over 9000” joke as much as the next Internet denizen, but I prefer a little more interactivity in my melodrama.  Enter: Asura’s Wrath.

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