Latest Blog Posts

by G. Christopher Williams

18 Aug 2010

I tend to think of any game starring Lara Croft as being a game that is almost exclusively about voyeurism.  The Tomb Raider series is about watching: watching Lara, watching the world that she traverses. 

I spend most Croft-centered games in relative repose, evaluating rooms to figure out what goes where, which switches do what, and how to make the jumps correctly.

Thus, I was extremely surprised (and actually quite disappointed) when I loaded up Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and discovered that I was playing a top down, third person shooter/platformer.  This wasn’t what I expected a Lara Croft adventure to be.

by L.B. Jeffries

17 Aug 2010

Starbreeze’s The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay is one of the most competently organized and coherent games ever made. While nothing particularly dramatic or life changing will happen while playing, like Star Wars: Republic Commando it sticks with the basics and hits all the right notes. There are numerous things that the average action game screws up that Butcher Bay gets right. The setting makes sense with the way that the levels are setup. The game effectively makes you feel like you’re in prison through small details and interactions. While I don’t expect Butcher Bay to radically change the way that people think about games, I think it solidly establishes the bare minimum of what a “good” plot driven game is supposed to do.

The plot is divided into three coherent segments that are matched with proper variation in design to mirror what’s going on. Each segment is basically the same conceptually but varies in length. Riddick is placed in a low security portion of the prison where he talks with prisoners and sneaks around. After mucking about for a bit, you eventually establish a way to escape. The game then switches from stealth and dialogue to action as you tear the place apart while making your exit. Something goes wrong, you get caught, and you get dumped in another part of the prison. It holds together thematically because despite the fact that you will meet dozens of characters there is still only one overarching goal: escape from Butcher Bay. This leaves room for the dialogue to establish character instead of constantly explaining why this person is bad or why the player should care. All missions and side-missions build towards escaping, so you don’t have to worry about what the player is thinking. As Mitch Krpata puts it, “You always understand what your character is doing, and why. Riddick has to accomplish fetch missions, but they’re not burdened with a bunch of useless filler” (“The Chronic-what-cles of Riddick”, Insult Swordfighting, 29 April 2009).

by G. Christopher Williams

16 Aug 2010

We have been focusing on discussions of individual games for a number of weeks. This week we decided to consider some broader interests in games once again. In this case, we decided to talk about how character customization effects our experience of a game world.

As a result, our discussion considers how initial character creation as well as ways of modifying characters, like buying clothing in a game world, affects our sense of the characters that we inhabit when we play games.

by Nick Dinicola

13 Aug 2010

On last week’s Moving Pixels podcast, I talked about why I liked Max Payne better than its sequel, despite the fact that Max Payne 2 is a clearly better game, and I’d like to flesh out that reasoning a little more. I think the first game accomplished something truly unique with its mood and narration, something that no other game has come close to replicating. While many may remember it as the game to popularize “bullet time”, I’ll always remember it as a journey into the mind of one man.

At one point fairly early in the game, Max says, “There were only personal apocalypses. Nothing is cliché when it’s happening to you.” This seemingly throwaway line explains why the mood of Max Payne is so unique. The game revolves around Max’s own personal apocalypse, the end of his world. Everything reinforces this one intimate idea: the environment, the dialogue, the forced metaphors, the meta humor, the mythical references, and even the medium itself.

by G. Christopher Williams

11 Aug 2010

I like Chun Li.  However, I am hard pressed to initially tell you why.  Certainly, I know next to nothing about her as a character.  After all, she is a part of a fighting game, not a genre known for its excessive interest in plot and character development.  While I have beaten Street Fighter II as Chun-Li numerous times, I don’t remember what her ending was all about (then again, I can’t recall any of the endings of the various characters in the Street Fighter series).  Mostly, all I know about her is what she looks like.

Chun-Li is an attractive enough character in my estimation.  However, I wouldn’t say that I have the hots for her, though I know that there is a fan base that clearly does, especially (it would seem) because of a particular physical trait of hers (but more on that in a moment).  However, if you asked me to name the more iconic female characters in video game history, I would likely include Chun-Li amongst characters that I tend to know something more about because they have been given at least slightly more personality than a fighting game character, women like Lara Croft, Samus Aran, Zelda, and even Princess Peach.

//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