Latest Blog Posts

by Mattie Brice

14 Feb 2012


Dragon Age II is subversive on multiple levels, focusing on character relationships with fluid sexualities instead of the usual epic storylines. What most people miss upon a superficial playthrough is BioWare’s statement on contemporary social issues. Everyone can recognize the set-up: the Templars as the safeguard of tradition and society, while the Mages represent the oppressed and the often abused. It’s not a huge leap to compare this conflict between social (typically religious) conservatives and minorities like the LGBT community.

The game exaggerates the relationship, creating a situation that couldn’t happen in reality. Thus, the philosophical ideas that inform the conflict aren’t constrained by the factual details of our world. No one is implying that the LGBT community turn into blood magicians and that the religious march out to cage and murder them, but this conflict still echoes the tensions felt in the lives of real people. BioWare was successful in avoiding moralizing by not choosing a side, while providing enough interactions to allow the player to take a stance on their own. While it is easy to side with the Mages, especially when one thinks of them as social minorities, one cannot ignore how many of them do resort to blood magic and turn into demons.

by G. Christopher Williams

13 Feb 2012


This week Jorge Albor and I are joined by game designer Matthew Gallant to discuss Riot Games’s free-to-play sensation, League of Legends.

There is much to talk about here, from Riot’s successful business model to its varied gameplay offerings to its management of its very large and (*ahem*) very complicated community.

We consider this video game and the nature of such “eSports” from just about every angle.

by Nick Dinicola

10 Feb 2012


This post contains spoilers for the main quest of Skyrim in the very first paragraph.

After playing Skyrim for 90 hours, I saw something that changed my view of the world (the virtual world, that is). I saw one dragon bring another dragon back to life. The latter began as bones, but skin formed and stretched over its wings and skull until it looked alive, reversing the death animation that I’d seen a dozen times before. Then they started talking to each other, then to me. Since when did dragons talk? According to what Skyrim lore I know, the shouts that I had learned that can kill people and beasts are based on words from the dragon’s language; their conversations are battles. But here were two flying lizards, right in front of me, speaking in English and not killing each other. It blew my mind.

by Mark Filipowich

9 Feb 2012


Life is slow moving and mundane, games aren’t. Therefore, games satisfy a need for speedy, direct progress. It’s difficult to point to when the idea that games exist for the sake of escapism was popularized, but in recent years, such an idea has driven much of games journalism and probably a good deal of design as well. It’s odd to think of such an expensive hobby that is so often associated with a privileged class as designed purely for escape. What could such an audience have to escape from?

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, released in 2003 for the Gameboy Advance, however, rejects the idea of games merely existing as a form of escapism. The game acknowledges the idea that many have that games are escapist and refutes it.  It’s a game about gamers and the dangers of escaping into gaming too deeply. The thesis of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is that escapism is not just dangerous to the medium but to those of us that love it.

by Scott Juster

9 Feb 2012


This week, I take aim at an easy target: myself.  I recently reviewed Sonic CD and was a bit underwhelmed.  However, after re-reading the piece, I noticed that most of my criticisms of Sonic CD are equally applicable to Mirror’s Edge.  Both games offer fast-paced platformer experiences and both fall victim to some of the same pitfalls brought on by such a combination.  I’m on record for calling Mirror’s Edge tragically under appreciated, so I thought it might be a fun thought experiment to compare the two games in hopes of discovering why Mirror’s Edge sprints where Sonic stumbles.  Will I be able to defend my own opinions from myself?  Let’s find out.

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