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by Jorge Albor

16 Jan 2014


In his PopMatters article on Papers, Please, Lucas Pope’s wonderful game about managing a border checkpoint for the fictional authoritarian country of Astotzka, Scott Juster calls the game, “a terrifying and elegant illustration of how inhumanity is created through systems.” This description could not be more accurate. As the game progresses and feeding your family becomes increasingly difficult, you may sacrifice morality for another day with food or heat. Watching yourself become villainous is one of the most interesting and disturbing parts of the game.

In addition to portraying the bureaucratization of unethical behavior, Papers, Please also makes fascinating and compelling claims about activism. There is one very basic system that defines player behavior in Papers, Please: Familiarize yourself with the rules (although they may change from day to day) and reject immigrants and visitors who do not comply. Above the “look, compare, stamp” routine is a larger political system that defines the behavioral context. The government of Arstotzka, fearing terrorism or revolutionary dissent, maintains a deeply troubling and despotic regime.

by Scott Juster

9 Jan 2014


Game of the year lists are difficult. I try to keep things pretty strict: no ties for particular spots, no games that came out last year, only games I’ve finished (or have invested significant time into if they’re multiplayer or sports games). In fact, Jorge Albor and I limit ourselves to three each on our yearly Game of the Year show.

However, that’s not to say I don’t have lots more that either didn’t make the coveted top-three cut or were disqualified due to one of my self-imposed technicalities. This week, I’ll highlight some of these games.

by Jorge Albor

19 Dec 2013


A few weeks ago, Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends, whose fans otherwise heap overwhelming praise on the company for their positive community interaction, stunned many players by a competitive scene policy announcement. Professional eSports players participating in the upcoming Season 4 Championship Series would be prohibited from streaming competitors’ games entirely. While Riot quickly backpedaled on the policy, the approach and subsequent apology reveals the precarious edge upon which eSports and labor rights reside.

by Scott Juster

12 Dec 2013


No Man's Sky

It’s almost the end of the year, so why not wrap things up by partaking in two of the Internet’s most time-honored traditions: ranting and list-making?!?  Yes, it is time for year-end retrospectives.  This year, current events and big fall releases have provided plenty of topics to shout about, so I’ll take advantage of my modest little soapbox to broadcast a few of my personal diatribes.  In the interest of giving equal time to my curmudgeonly and cheery sides, I’ll make sure make sure to balance positive and negative trends I see as we close out 2013.

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.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Violin Virtuoso L. Subramaniam Mesmerizes in Rare New York Performance (Photos)

// Notes from the Road

"Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.

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