Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

13 Apr 2012


Regenerating health gets a lot of flack. I’ve heard plenty of gamers criticize such elements because they make shooters “easier” or “less intense” or “lazier,” but after playing Resistance 3, it seems to me that most of those criticisms are only exacerbated when a game uses a health pack based healing system.

The most common complaint about regenerating health is that it forces the player to spend lots of time hiding behind cover, staring at rock textures rather than actually playing the game. This is true to a certain extent, but I spent far more time hiding in Resistance 3 than I did in Modern Warfare 3.

by Jorge Albor

12 Apr 2012


In a deep salt basin in New Mexico about 26 miles east of Carlsbad, the US Department of Energy has been burying the world’s most dangerous material. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) houses an enormous load of transuranic radioactive waste, the destructive remnants of nuclear weapons research and production. In this massive hole in the desert, our deadly refuse must sit for 10,000 years—a timespan difficult to imagine let alone predict. In the far off future, when an advanced human culture or the destitute remains of a crumbling civilization finds our pock upon the earth, regardless of their culture or linguistic ability, they must understand a clear and resounding message: “What is here is dangerous.”

You can imagine then the difficulty faced by WIPP’s scientists in designing a universal missive for future generations. Their solution was to tap into the study of human psychology and the visceral reactions that we have to aesthetics and architecture, a field game designers explore constantly.

by G. Christopher Williams

11 Apr 2012


I recently read Mike Schiller’s first post in his “Ambassdorship” series, a series of blog posts looking at 20 retro Nintendo games “offered by the 3DS Ambassador program” (“The Limits of Nostalgia: Ice Climber, Unlimited Lives, 6 April 2012).  In that post, Schiller discusses his relationship to the 1985 NES game, Ice Climber, a game that he had especially fond memories of playing when he was younger but that he has less appreciation for now, finding that “it’s unremarkable even in an eight-bit context.”

Now, I did own Ice Climber for the NES myself, and I, like Mike, have rather wistful memories of playing the game. At the time (and really now as well), I personally had a preference for video games that were more end-goal oriented, games that offered some sort of narrative resolution as a prize for beating them. For me, the true gems on the system were games like Super Mario Bros., Zelda, and even Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! as opposed to games like Mario Bros., Popeye, or even the tremendously well scored Spyhunter—all of which were more like endless arcade titles (appropriately enough, given that all of these titles are arcade ports). Nevertheless, Ice Climber is the game that I might rank as my favorite game that lacked an end-goal, that created an arcade-like experience in which the player kept climbing for the sake of climbing and for, of course, the sake of points. Though that was not the only reason that one climbed.

by Mattie Brice

10 Apr 2012


Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than talking about jRPGs. What exactly does the term mean, and am I okay with that? The idea of Japanese RPGs vs. Western RPGs seems like a false dichotomy. Rather, it’s just jRPGs vs. everything else, perpetuating a style and audience that “others itself” from its sibling genres. What bothers me the most, though, is how relatively unchanged this genre of gaming is from 20 years ago. There have definitely been advances in technology and a greater breadth of writing, but just how much jRPGs currently rely on nostalgia to succeed isn’t a difficult argument to make.

jRPGs are an ode to the fans. They seem determined to recreate that special place for a very particular group of people at a certain time in video game history. Nostalgia doesn’t feel like living, however. It’s that familiar ghost of pleasant feelings without much thinking—nice to reminisce about—but a corpse to drag around if you cling to it. That’s how jRPGs feel to me now, a weight that I constantly rationalize carrying. I just feel too old for them now, grown past the usual tropes and mechanics. This is because jRPGs only earn such a title and standing by including a large amount of conventions from a niche of games, and if you mess with that formula too much, a game drops outside of the tastes of the fanbase.

by G. Christopher Williams

9 Apr 2012


Part parody, part loving homage to the Silver Age of comic books, Freedom Force was the best superhero video game that we played before the advent of Arkham.  This episode, the Moving Pixels podcast turns back the clock to revisit a title by Irrational Games that really holds up despite its age.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Doctor Who': Casting a Woman as the Doctor Offers Fresh Perspectives and a New Kind of Role Model

// Channel Surfing

"The BBC's announcement of Jodie Whittaker as the first female Doctor has sections of fandom up in arms. Why all the fuss?

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