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by Jorge Albor

28 Apr 2011

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Portal 2 and its accompanying comic Lab Rat. I encourage you to read the comic, which you can find here before you continue reading.

Last week saw the release of Valve’s much anticipated Portal 2. Already, the game has earned a great deal of well deserved praise. (For an excellent assessment of the game, check out G. Christopher Williams’s review of the game.). Put simply, the game is a joyful masterpiece, an absolute delight to play. Without veering far from the original game’s themes and system, Portal 2 adds several wonderfully implemented new puzzle elements, including laser beams, laser bridges, and a bunch of cool goop. Newcomer Stephen Merchent also voices a hilarious addition to the series in the form of Wheatley. While I adore the robotic British eyeball, I am also drawn to an even more tangential character, someone hidden away in the game itself behind wall panels and in secret rooms. Featured in the comic accompanying the game, and narratively playing a large role in the Portal canon, the Rat Man’s story and presence in Portal 2 enriches Chell and the play experience.

by Rick Dakan

28 Apr 2011

Chapter 1 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 2 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 3 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 4 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 5 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 6 of Rage Quit is available in .pdf format here.

“That might be the most amazingly strange and wonderful thing I’ve ever seen,” said PB, a little out of breath as he came running into Randal’s cubicle from Eli’s office. Eli, the QA Lead, was in Korea with Frank the CTO for a localization meeting with the publishers.

“It’s like I said, it’s got to be a hacker or something right?” Randal asked, his temples still pulsing from adrenaline, like he’d just seen a ghost or witnessed a mugging in a dark alley. “That’s the only thing that makes sense.”

by G. Christopher Williams

27 Apr 2011

This discussion contains major spoilers of the plot of the single player campaign of Portal 2.

The original Portal is in part a performance of (and, thus, a consideration of) the mechanisms of power.  The relationship between the protagonist, Chell, and the supercomputer, GLaDOS, reflects also the relationship between players and rule systems in games in general.  Playing the role of lab rat within the boundaries of computer-defined rule sets is the heart of playing a video game and speaks directly to the complexity of negotiating between the freedom of play and the imposition of regulation necessary to “game,” given especially that embedded in gameplay is a negotiation that is a constant movement between giving up control to authority and then resisting voices of authority.

Thus, given that such similarities exist between the structure and narrative of the sequel and the original title, it is unsurprising that once again another Portal raises the issue of why we submit to rule systems, accept their challenges, and follow their orders in order to enjoy ourselves.  In the sequel, though, I drew a rather hasty conclusion early on in my playthrough that, perhaps, this iteration of the series was going to critique politics and power in a more specific way than the more philosophical and abstract approach that the previous game had taken when merely acknowledging this theme through its gameplay.

by Kris Ligman

26 Apr 2011

Today marks the third of four articles dedicated to fully unpacking my recent paper for Rutgers School of Communication, presented earlier this month at the Game Behind the Video Game conference in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Our previous articles focused on vectors for audience engagement and two of the four major taxonomic categories of Let’s Play walkthroughs, the Expert and the Chronicler. We continue our taxonomies today with discussion of the third major LP type, the Comedian, before concluding next week with our final type and an overarching discussion of Let’s Plays as a fan practice.

by Aaron Poppleton

26 Apr 2011

Every once in a while there is a moment in a game which becomes the defining experience for the player. That moment which, if it is good, makes the player forget they are playing a game, and if it is bad, it breaks immersion or proves such a frustrating experience that the rest of the game becomes tainted by association. Mass Effect is a game that is arguably made with these sorts of moments in mind, but a lot of those moments seemed telegraphed—your crew’s disappearance, for example, was clearly supposed to be a Big Deal which would stick in the player’s mind. I knew better, of course, which is why I acknowledged that my crew was missing, yes, but no big deal. I would rescue my crew after I finished all the missions still waiting around for me. The crew could wait. This would prove to be a mistake that would haunt me for the rest of the game, although I didn’t know it.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article