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by G. Christopher Williams

26 Apr 2016


Jimmy from Hardcore Henry (STX Entertainment, 2016)

About two thirds of the way into Hardcore Henry, Jimmy, one of the main characters in the film, performs the movie’s only musical number, crooning that Sinatra staple “Got You Under My Skin” for both the titular character Henry and to “you”, the audience of the film.

Obviously, the film creates an odd relationship between the audience and the film’s protagonist, Henry, by aping the first person perspective of a first-person-shooter video game. That perspective in video games is in part intended to create the illusion of the player occupying a game world almost directly, since that player is seeing seemingly through the eyes of the character that they are playing.

by Kris Ligman

18 Jan 2011


Being the nose-to-the-grindstone academic that I am, I admittedly had no idea what I was seeing when a colleague invited me out to see Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars this past Friday. I really should have known: it’s only the latest award-winning release from Madhouse, the Japanese animation studio responsible for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (also by Hosoda) and all of Satoshi Kon’s work up until his death. But I digress. The movie is offbeat and quite enjoyable, and I would highly recommend it to any gamers with a thing for anime. Or Facebook, for that matter.

The film is a bit of a tossed salad where plot is concerned, but the central storyline is one in which a young math geek and part-time code monkey, Keiji, seeks to prove himself to classmate Natsuki’s extended family, with whom he is staying over the summer. Events naturally coalesce to give him the opportunity, when a viral super-AI called Love Machine is unleashed onto the web, vandalizing sites and shutting down network hubs to affect everyone from the teenage txter to the communications of entire governments.

What especially impressed me about the film’s depiction of a global network is the enhanced state of media convergence implied to have occurred by the story’s start. There’s a dramatic, almost corny sequence where we get a montage of global network users connecting wirelessly by their phones or DSis, which makes me seriously question the heretofore under-advertised wi-fi strength of the average Nintendo portable. Beyond that, we also have the climactic scene i which Natsuki stands challenging the Love Machine AI with her entire extended family linked in behind her. We get a glimpse of a four-generation household all clutching their various electronic devices, from game handhelds to GPSes, all logged in with their various network avatars as they prepare to sacrifice them for Natsuki and the greater good.

//Mixed media
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