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Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014
The unusual quality of Leisure Suit Larry exists in the unconventional role reversal of the male as pursuer in favor of the female as the one necessary to complete a game's quest.

As a comedy (and not an especially sophisticated one at that), the Leisure Suit Larry series has always traded on stereotypes. The focus of most of the 1980s era point-and-and click adventure games is on Larry Laffer and his quest to get laid. In most instances, the games have a standard formula. Larry attempts to bed several women, all of whom are typically stereotypical gold diggers, before he finally finds his one “true love” (and since this is banal sex farce “true love,” of course, really simply means “good sex” or at the very least “decent sex”).


For Larry Laffer, the narrow definition of sex always contains a simplistic understanding that sex is a commodity. In Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals, Larry will, as usual, attempt to bed at least three women before meeting his dream girl, Passionate Patti. These sexual encounters will end in miserable failure, of course, but they will also be defined by the idea that sex for a loser like Larry will need to be purchased. In the case of this game, Larry initiates sexual encounters by giving a girl a credit card, another is given a deed to some land that he owns, and another is aided in figuring out how to market her exercise video by Larry’s economic advice that “sex sells.” Sex is always for sale in this context, but, also, of course, the boundaries of the point-and-click adventure make the idea of trading objects for sexual experience the only reasonable course of action within this genre. After all, the classic point-and-click adventure is always reduced to solving puzzles by figuring out how to use objects on other objects in order to progress in the game. That the objects of Larry’s affection must be cajoled by yet more objects is unsurprising to say the least (and also unsurprising in a narrative genre in which men and women are most often reduced to objects that represent an idea of what men and women are, rather than in attempting to create realistic imaginings of actual people).


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Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014
Travel in and the exploration of the game world in Sepulchre is neither linear, nor multilinear. It is nonlinear.

This discussion contains spoilers for Sepulchre, a 20 minute long free point-and-click adventure. So, feel free to download and play it at Owl Cave Games web site before reading on.


A train might seem like the worst metaphor possible for a video game. We are often reminded (or at least often hope) that what makes video games different from other artistic mediums, like novels, films, or music, is their ability to tell a different kind of story. We talk a great deal about player choice, divergent paths as a result, and the possibilities of a multilinear experience. Quite the opposite of a train (or most novels, films, and music), the video game affords the opportunity for branching paths and different resulting conclusions. Indeed, if a game is “on rails,” this usually isn’t considered a positive—at least from the perspective of narrative progression.


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Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014
Fear is strangely an experience best shared with others -- even in seemingly less than social mediums, like single player video games.

I’m not especially fond of horror as a genre. Maybe it is because horror is not often the best written genre in cinema. Maybe it’s because I really don’t enjoy viewing things that are gory.


That being said, I do find that generally horror is a highly moralistic genre (maybe the most moralistic genre), since it tends to portray good and evil in the starkest terms possible (there are typically no fine lines between ugliness and evil, for instance, in horror). I tend to find this vaguely interesting, as I am drawn to works that are concerned with morality and ethics in the philosophical sense. However, that also being said, I more often find that revenge films and even exploitation cinema are more interesting than the typical horror film in exploring these ideas (give me Quentin Tarantino over Clive Barker any day of the week).


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Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014
In A Dark Room, the player begins with a sense only of the immediacy of the self and its own needs, before becoming aware of a small corner of the world around that self, before then becoming aware of how that corner fits into a larger and larger universe.

This post contains spoilers for A Dark Room.


In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and while still a young boy, the novel’s protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, writes on the flyleaf of his geography book:


Stephen Dedalus
Class of Elements
Clongowes Wood College
Sallins
County Kildare
Ireland
The World
The Universe
(James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Dover, pg. 7-8)


As an exmple of a bildungsroman, a novel about human development, maturation, and growing up, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man uses this moment to emphasize Stephen’s burgeoning awareness of himself and his relationship to and awareness of the world around that self. Indeed, all human deveopment is marked by this exponentially growing sense of the self in relationship to a larger world. We all begin life with a sense only of the immediacy of the self and its own needs, before becoming aware of a small corner of the world around ourselves, before then becoming aware of how that corner fits into a larger and larger universe.


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Wednesday, Jul 2, 2014
A Dark Room withholds the one piece of information that is traditionally the very first thing established in the rulebook of games: the object of the game.

A Dark Room, an iOS and browser based game developed by Doublespeak Games, is an amazing experience, and it is hard to immediately say why.


Beginning in a dark room that is cold, the player is given a single option to interact with the game by lighting a fire. I’m hesitant to say a great deal more about the game at this point, though, as I think a great deal of the experience of playing it has to do with with not knowing what you are getting into. So, if you haven’t played the game and don’t want to have anything spoiled for you, I would recommend that you stop reading right here and go try your hand at it yourself at one of the links above.


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