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by G. Christopher Williams

25 Apr 2011


Sometimes a tech problem requires a little strategy to resolve. With some trouble with a microphone among a few other snafus leaving us potentially unable to discuss our planned topic this week, gamers that we are, our solution was to turn this weeks show into a game by putting a little social media to work for us and treating this podcast as something a little more interactive than usual.

The result is this week’s experiment in podcasting, a show based on utter miscellany about gaming and gaming culture.  We sent a “voiceless” Kris Ligman out to Twitter to gather possible mini-topics for discussion this week related to gaming, and then, of course, arbitrarily assigned points to our podcasters ability for improvisationally riffing on said topics in short conversational bursts.

by Nick Dinicola

22 Apr 2011


The Conduit feels like an old game. Its simplistic, linear levels are a throwback to early shooters, and the awkward button placement on the controller ensures that you’ll rarely do more than just point and shoot. Ironically, these shortcomings actually help make it fun. It’s a flawed game, but it gets the most important things right—the shooting and the guns—and all of its flaws serve to highlight these successes. This accidental limited focus is what makes it a great “first Wii shooter”.

Of course, this (probably) wasn’t actually the intention of developer High Voltage. The Conduit wants to be a complicated modern day shooter, as demonstrated by the fact that it uses every button on the Wiimote, but the Nintendo controller wasn’t made for that kind of game.

by Scott Juster

21 Apr 2011


Works that feature traditional narratives often enjoy the distinction of being the most popular, critically acclaimed, and carefully analyzed form of video games. Blockbusters like Mass Effect and Red Dead Redemption center around plots reminiscent to those found in film or literature. Popular independent games like Limbo or The Path also adhere to themes that have been explored in other forms. Obviously, video games differ from these traditional media, as players actively collaborate in the story and have at least some control over crafting the character behavior. Thus, game criticism often focuses on the dialectic between the themes a game’s plot conveys and those advanced by its rule systems. The BioShocks of the world elicit a preponderance of essays that parse the ways in which their stories and rules interact, but comparatively little is ever said about about what Gran Turismo tells us about the cultural role of automobiles or whether Madden NFL makes implicit arguments about football’s social value.

I recognize the bulk of my work has (and will probably remain) focused on games with plots, but I thought I would try and mix things up a bit. What kinds of values do games without stories impart? What do they say about the medium and about culture in general?  In search of answers, I turned to Picross 3D.

by Rick Dakan

21 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 in .pdf format here.

She needed to talk to him. She needed someone to tell her what to do next. In her old world, in the zones she knew backwards and forwards, she’d long ago outgrown the need for instruction. She knew all the variables and all the possibilities and all the winning strategies. Then she’d found the hole into the rest of the world and the number of possible paths multiplied beyond her ability to count in the amount of time she was willing to spend counting. One quick calculation was enough to discern that exploring all the possibilities was impossible. She’d have to make some choices, and choices meant finding more data.

by Kris Ligman

19 Apr 2011


This week we continue unpacking the details of my recent conference paper on Let’s Plays, multimedia videogame walkthroughs, presented earlier this month for Rutgers. Last week offered an overview of the two main motivators behind game watching, creating types I called the Spectator and the Passenger. Today we look to Let’s Plays themselves to start drawing connections between performance and viewership behaviors as well as fan practices.

A standard text for this series in understanding the role of Web 2.0 in media sharing is Henry Jenkins’s Convergence Culture (New York University Press, 2006). I would also recommend Sports Fans (Daniel L. Wann, et al, New York: Routledge, 2001) for more about spectatorship theory as it pertains to both competitive and non-competitive sports, a connection direly critical to understanding certain aspects of online and offline game spectatorship.

//Mixed media
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Exposition Dumps Don't Need Dialogue in 'Virginia'

// Moving Pixels

"Virginia manages to have an exposition dump without wordy exposition.

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