Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Wednesday, Oct 15, 2014
Spec Ops: The Line isn't a criticism of mediocre shooters, but of the romanticism that has so often gone hand-in-hand with the modern shooter genre.

Since its release, quite a few people have described Spec Ops: The Line as a horror game. It’s easy to see why one would describe it that way after playing it. The hallucinations, the harsh treatment of the player, and the symbolic imagery of hell would be enough for a player to come to that conclusion regardless of anything else that the game might be doing. If one was to call Spec Ops: The Line a horror game, it wouldn’t be monster horror or gothic horror, but the strange twisted nightmare of psychological horror. The kind of horror that makes one look inward at an obstacle course of torture of one’s own making.


I can see the argument for it, and yet, I don’t know if I could fully subscribe to it. Instead I want to focus on a design technique. Spec Ops: The Line seemingly borrows from horror games, particularly early survival horror games like Resident Evil. The early Resident Evil games managed to cultivate a terrifying game with static camera angles and difficult to maneuver tank controls and other design choices that weren’t optimal in the traditional sense. These design choices were born of technical limitations, but as we saw over the years as the developers added better player control that the games lost what made them effective horror games. Spec Ops: The Line isn’t quite this extreme, as much of it still functions like a traditional third-person shooter, and instead operates under the same ethos but with a more subtle approach to sub-optimal design.


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Tuesday, Oct 14, 2014
by Brian Crecente (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)
Star Wars Battle Pod is a single-player flight combat game that uses an array of high-tech gadgets packed into a gaming pod to drop players into the action of some of Star Wars’ key space fight moments.

Long gone is the golden age of arcades, two decades that saw some of the best coin-op games in history not only take over game rooms, but turn into massive pop culture icons. It was the era, for better or worse, that gave us Pac-Man Fever, a slew of Space Invaders songs and cemented the ubiquity of Donkey Kong.


While arcades games may never return to that former glory, they remain a sort of gaming mainstay across America. You can find them still in bowling alleys, trucks stops, niche arcades and, of course, entertainment complexes like Dave and Buster’s.


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Monday, Oct 13, 2014
This week we discuss the simple and basic approach to the hardboiled genre in 2013's cult favorite, Gunpoint.

The hardboiled detective genre is not known for its subtlety or complication. A good hardboiled tale simply hits you like a right to the jaw.


This week we discuss how Gunpoint presents a hardboiled fiction through simple, straightforward puzzle mechanics and with surprisingly little gunplay.


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Friday, Oct 10, 2014
Motte Island is a combination of Silent Hill and Hotline Miami.

Balancing action in a horror game is always a tricky prospect, but Mottle Island gets it better than most by combing two games that should be completely opposed to each other.


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Thursday, Oct 9, 2014
by Brian Crecente (McClatchy-Tribune News Service)
Sleek, tiny boxes that can deliver a near-endless stream of music, television, movies and games are starting to nose their way into the multi-billion dollar video game industry.

Sleek, tiny boxes that can deliver a near-endless stream of music, television, movies and games are starting to nose their way into the multi-billion dollar video game industry.


Call them set-top streamers or micro-consoles or streaming media devices, the latest entries in this growing market are coming from behemoths like Amazon, Razer and Sony. All three will have their own take on the diminutive devices out this year.


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