CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 4 Feb / 19 Feb]

 
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Wednesday, Jan 21, 2015
South Park: The Stick of Truth reveals the strange and ambiguous quality of entertainment rating systems.

I performed an abortion to save the world. Actually, it was one of three abortions that I performed, two of which were performed on men. I also dodged my father’s scrotum while battling an underpants gnome. He, of course, (the gnome) was crushed by one of my mother’s big, swinging breasts. I climbed up a man’s rectum, farted on a man’s balls, and I also witnessed several anal probings by aliens.


What I am trying to say is that I recently have been playing the Mature rated game, South Park: The Stick of Truth.


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Tuesday, Jan 20, 2015

This post contains spoilers for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.


There’s a saying when it comes to writing fiction. Never reference a better work in your own writing. You’ll only make the audience wish they were reading that instead. The saying is only half true. In reality, the effect of making a reference to other pieces of fiction is generally an enhancement of the feelings an audience already has towards your work. Making a reference to a better work in one that the audience isn’t liking, will make them wish they were reading that instead. However, making that same reference in a work that the audience is liking, will make them appreciate it as an homage or possibly as a deepening of the thematic message of the original. This goes for movies, poems, songs, and, yes, video games.


Ignoring for the moment that making a direct reference is complicated, it is a substantial risk because it can have the above effect of making the audience wish they were reading/watching/listening/playing the other work right now. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter does refer to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and other genre fiction, but peppered throughout the game world are a number of side stories that have an unfortunate, detrimental effect. Those short side stories make me wish any one of them were the focus of the game instead of the Carter family.


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Monday, Jan 19, 2015
We are now a year into the next generation of consoles, but many of our favorite video games of 2014 remain the smaller, quieter indie titles.

As we do each year, we discuss what was for us the standout video games of last year.


We are now a year into the next generation of consoles, but many of our favorites of 2014 remain the smaller, quieter indie titles.


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Friday, Jan 16, 2015
It turns out that in a role playing game, hit points aren't as important as we think.

Health is generally considered an important resource in games. It makes sense. When we run out of health, we die, we lose, and we have to start some portion of the game over again. We always like to know how much health we have, and in RPGs, a very numbers-driven and statistic-heavy genre, we like to know exactly how much health we have.


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Thursday, Jan 15, 2015
I believe in Clementine, and so I cried when I ask her to kill my Lee. I believe my friends in Dragon Age: Inquisition, so when I change the decor in Skyhold while they are in mourning, I make believe they notice. Choice feels a lot like faith.

Several weeks ago, when the topic of Telltale’s The Walking Dead came up, a good friend of mine announced that he did not like the game because “your choices don’t matter.” My shock and hostility has subsided, but I still fail to understand how such a perception could be true. Why did the decisions I made lead me to tears while it only led him to frustration?


Meanwhile, the past few days has seen a bevy of writing about Dragon Age: Inquisition and the choices that it contains. Patrick Klepek of Kotaku asks, “There’s much to ‘do’ in Inquisition, but how much of it is meaningful?” While Rowan Kaiser on Unwinnable says, “they’re really gun shy throughout Inquisition, with barely any choice that threatens a player’s emotions throughout the game.” Austin Walker over on Paste states (quite rightly I think), “What trained us to prefer a branching, long-form story over a series of little vignettes? I think if we ask questions like these, we’ll find our definitions of words like “real” and “meaningful” become increasingly complex.” Likewise, Todd Harper chimes in with an, ahem, “stiff” assessment that size does matter.


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