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by Jorge Albor

18 Aug 2011

While playing Catherine the much anticipated erotic-thriller from Atlus, the occasional loading screen will feature a famous quote or saying appropriate to the game’s themes. Most of these quotes pertain to marriage, what it means to be a “man” or a “woman,” or relationships in general. During a particularly trying period for Vincent, the game’s often pathetic protagonist, words by the famous poet Ralph Waldo Emerson grace the screen: “We walk alone in the world. Friends, such as we desire, are dreams and fables.” Such an isolating belief, reflected in Vincent’s paranoia and solitude, stand in stark contrast to the game’s persistent references to widespread and shared decisions and mistakes. From the depiction of cursed men as sheep to revealing confessional statistics, Catherine attempts to dismantle individuality, insulting and devaluing the player in the process.

No matter how many minor decisions that I make throughout the game, Vincent will always be a selfish and incompetent boyfriend. I usher Vincent through poorly crafted lies and watch as he tunes out Katherine, his partner of roughly five years (Vincent cannot quite remember how long it has been), to manage one of his many panic attacks about a future he refuses to confront. Rather than deal with his emotional baggage, he drinks with friends and avoids dealing with the growing dilemma that is the coquettish Catherine and his cheating problem.

Numerous other men share Vincent’s deep character flaws. As Michael Abbott rightly points out, “Vincent is one messed up dude, as are nearly all the men present as NPCs. To Catherine’s credit, it shows us male characters that we seldom see in games—vulnerable, damaged, self-loathing—all gathered in a freakish final-exam-nightmare purgatory.” (”The Catherine Masquerade”, The Brainy Gamer, 9 August 2011). Indeed, nearly every NPC wrestles with the causes and consequences of his personal neuroses. Across the board, the cast of Catherine are painfully flawed.

by Rick Dakan

18 Aug 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 here.
Chapter 7 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 8 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 9 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 10 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 11 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 11 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 13 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 14 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 15 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 16 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 17 of Rage Quit is available here.
Chapter 18 of Rage Quit as a PDF.

“Turn left in 300 yards,” said the voice from his phone as it continued to feed him turn-by-turn, GPS-based driving instructions. He was nervous as hell about the meeting. It would be the first time they’d seen each other in months, and Randal knew he was going to have some explaining to do. The fact was, he wasn’t even sure where to begin.

by G. Christopher Williams

17 Aug 2011

So I’m not a PS3 guy.  I have spent this whole console generation with my 360 and (unfortunately, for the most part) my Wii.

In general, I haven’t found this to be much of a problem.  With few exclusive releases on either of the two big consoles, I feel like I haven’t missed too much.  Mostly I have regretted lacking access to Metal Gear Solid 4 and God of War 3, two extensions of franchises that I admire.  The only real new IP that I have felt any strong curiosity about has been the Uncharted series—and mostly because the buzz among critics that I trust has generally been so positive about those titles.

I have been staying with my brother-in-law for the past few weeks, who owns a PS3.  I played a little bit of LittleBigPlanet which I found to be kind of “meh” (I hate those jumping physics).  However, then he brought home a copy of Uncharted 2, which I was kind of excited about.

But then I was kind of underwhelmed.

by Aaron Poppleton

16 Aug 2011

An important note:  If you have not yet played The Stanley Parable, I strongly suggest that you download it and do so before going any farther.

One of the big things that we were told back in those early days of interactive storytelling was that now the Author was truly dead.  It was the Reader who had control of the story now, which even lead to some academics using the absolutely awful portmanteau of wreader in order to illustrate the new relationship.  It was no longer Author and Reader, it was some shambling combination of the two that is able to create truly unique experiences.  Since then, there have been an awful lot of games claiming to give the player control over the story, but there’s always the nagging sense that you’re not really being given real control over the story beyond a few arbitrary points—and this is the case even for games that I have and will continue to praise for their storytelling (see: almost any Bioware release, especially Planescape: Torment.). 

Then last weekend I sat down and played The Stanley Parable, the Half Life 2 mod that was released a few weeks ago to almost universal delight.  Like every other game promising a narrative, there’s an illusion of player agency—you can go wherever you want to, and the game will allow it, and that decision becomes part of the story.  The difference is that >The Stanley Parable has an ending in mind for the player from the beginning, and the narrator (who sounds somewhat like the union of Stephen Fry and the narrator from A Series of Unfortunate Events) has absolutely no problem with letting you know when you’ve deviated from his plan.  There is an ending that the narrator wants you to play to, and his narration is a way of insisting upon the player’s cooperation.

by Mark Filipowich

15 Aug 2011

Every so often a game will come out that prompts game journalists to take a second glance at their terminology. When Mass Effect 2 trimmed most of the original’s already spartan RPG elements, many wondered, “What is an RPG?” When StarCraft 2 was developed with more competitive consideration than story, the question “What is a sport?” inevitably arose. Questions like these can be useful, but there’s a larger one that hasn’t received enough attention, and that is “What is a video game?”

There was a time when the term “video game” was inclusive enough for just about any piece of interactive, virtual entertainment. But as games have rapidly become far more complicated, “video game” has long been outgrown as a meaningful term. Mario Party, Leisure Suit Larry, Shadow of the Colossus, Guitar Hero, Limbo, and Resident Evil are all considered “video games,” even though anyone with a passing knowledge of these examples can tell you that they’re nothing alike. The only common denominator among them is that they’re all experienced with a controller in hand, and with the advent of motion controls and touchscreens, games aren’t even qualified by the controller anymore.

//Mixed media

'Fire Emblem Heroes' Is a Bad Crossover

// Moving Pixels

"Fire Emblem Heroes desperately and shamelessly wants to monetize our love for these characters, yet it has no idea why we came to love them in the first place.

READ the article