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by G. Christopher Williams

7 Oct 2015

The thing that struck me most about reading the first issue of Titan Comics’s Assassin’s Creed was its focus on an element of the video game series that has faded in its interest for me over the years. This issue spends much of its time, not in the past, but in the present with a character who will be experiencing the simulated memories of an Assassin.

I was fairly intrigued by the first Assassin’s Creed game’s decision to frame the experience of playing an assassin during the time of the Crusades with a conceit that allowed the game to justify some of the more game-like qualities of a somewhat historical simulation. While most of the player’s time with the game is spent in the guise of Altair, the game’s titular assassin, the game also featured brief narrative vignettes that concerned a character named Desmond Miles. In the present, Desmond was actually hooked to a machine called the Animus that allowed him to “play” his ancestor’s past (his ancestor being Altair) through the simulation of that period created by the machine. You know, like he was playing a video game.

by G. Christopher Williams

30 Sep 2015

I am once again teaching one of my favorite courses this semester, an upper division course that I run every couple of years called Violence in Literature and Film. Among novels like Crime & Punishment and Cormac McCarthy’s brilliant and horrific Blood Meridian and films like Old Boy and A Clockwork Orange, my students and I are also reading Shakespeare’s bloodiest and most vile play Titus Andronicus.

Since I am not a Shakespeare specialist, I was brushing up the other evening on my knowledge of the Elizabethan and Jacobean revenge tragedy by reading a number of essays including a kind of quick and dirty encyclopedic entry on the topic over at Shakespeare Online. The essay notes some of the more common and more horrific types of subject matter presented in plays written in this mode, including “cannibalism, incest, rape, and violent death” (of which Titus Andronicus includes three out of those four elements and additionally offers dismemberment, which, like most of its other elements, is intended to occur on stage, right before the audience’s eyes).

by G. Christopher Williams

29 Sep 2015

I’ve written about video games for more than 10 years. During that time, I’ve talked about sex in video games, religion in video games, representations of masculinity in video games, representations of femininity in video games, politics in video games, clothing styles in video games, economic issues in video games, morality in video games,  violence in video games, self identity in video games, death in video games, reproduction in video games, but I have never written a single article about dogs in video games.

To be honest when trying to remember games in which I had encountered dogs in the past, I had a pretty difficult time. I remembered that Grand Theft Auto V featured a Rottweiler named Chop that you could hang out with if you wanted to. I didn’t get into Chop much, despite him representing a breed that I’m rather fond of. He seemed like too much of a hassle to play around with much. His mechanics and value weren’t intuitive to me, so I quickly abandoned the idea of developing a relationship between he and Franklin. I had more important matters to attend to in that game. I also remembered that another Rockstar game, Bully, had a mission in which a dog figured quite heavily, and I remembered that Fallout 3 had a dog in it, but that’s a game that I only played a small chunk of, so I don’t know that much about Rex. Beyond that, I found myself struggling to think of any other dogs in games.

by G. Christopher Williams

16 Sep 2015

Rumors of the death of the point-and-click adventure game were, of course, greatly exaggerated. It isn’t impossible to see how one could draw the conclusion a decade ago that this form of gaming, present since almost the inception of the medium, seemed to have been finally drawing its last breath. And, indeed, the point-and-click adventure game is, for the most part, no longer the sort of game that breaks sales records, and it isn’t likely to be so again. The days of the classic LucasArts and Sierra games selling as well as or better than other genres are probably over. But that doesn’t mean the genre is dead.

Certainly, the more recent evolution of this genre largely spurred on by Telltale’s adaptation of The Walking Dead have not been entirely unsuccessful. The addition of mechanisms that allow for more choices in these games, like conversation wheels and other ways of promoting more branching narrative paths, expand on the more traditional exploration and puzzle-based mechanics associated with the genre. Additionally, though, the genre has continued to exist apart from that success story and that newer approach to the genre, regardless of these efforts to “modernize” it.

by G. Christopher Williams

2 Sep 2015

Tengami (Nyamyam, 2015)

When I started writing seriously about games in 2002, most of what was being written about video games came largely in the form of previews and product reviews. Video games were still largely being covered as a form of entertainment, but largely anyone, like myself, pondering whether or not the medium might be more than a frivolous way of passing time existed only in fairly small numbers in pockets of the Internet.

As the decade progressed, though, more and more bloggers appeared asking questions similar to my own about whether or not video games were not just a pastime, but also an art form. Many mainstream gaming web sites began including essays of a more critical (that is, “critical” in the sense of art criticism) nature alongside the more traditional offerings of screen shots and consumer information about video games. Infamously, Roger Ebert declared that video games were not art, but by the mid 2000s, there were an awful lot of writers, some journalists, some academics, and some enthusiasts, talking about video games, their stories, their mechanisms, and even their possible aesthetics using that very term.

//Mixed media

'Assassin's Creed': The Comic Book

// Moving Pixels

"How does one establish an entry point into a complex mythos developed through the plots of more than a half dozen very popular video games in only about 20 pages? Not very well.

READ the article