CFP: The Legacy of Radiohead's 'The Bends' 20 Years On [Deadlines: 29 Jan / 12 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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Wednesday, Jan 14, 2015
The player isn't an audience for the comedy of Jazzpunk. The player instigates the laughs.

During the first mission in the surreal cyberpunk comedy-adventure game Jazzpunk, the player may run across a frog who is trying to hack into a Starbuck’s internet service in order to use the company’s WiFi. This “side quest” initiates a mini-game that essentially resembles the arcade classic Frogger, as the player takes on the role of the frog attempting to reach his interface device by hopping skillfully through oncoming traffic.


However, unlike in Frogger, in which the player is given three lives to successfully traverse the screen from its bottom to its top, following the player’s first failed attempt, the game doesn’t load up the next froggy life for the player to continue trying to get to the other side of the screen. Instead, the game switches back to the frog in the Jazzpunk world who now wears a cast on one of its legs and who asks, “Again?,” before the player can make another attempt. What follows is frogs being squished over and over again in the Frogger clone with an interim screen following each “death” that shows the Jazzpunk frog suffering more and more injury. By the fourth or fifth failure, the frog is nearly in a full body cast and crutches, and he simply pleads with the player, “Please, no more!”


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Wednesday, Jan 7, 2015
The characters in This War of Mine live in a home situated in a larger world that is much colder, much more callous than the bright and cheery suburban void that the homes of The Sims exist in.

The dollhouse is a place to prepare for real life. Of course, most toys, most play has often served that cultural role. Play becomes a space in which children can try on different roles and practice their conceptions of those roles for the future. We play, we practice, and we prepare.


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Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014
In The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, the body is wrecked and made ugly for the sake of freedom from fear. Instead, it becomes something fearful in its own right.

Any game of The Binding of Isaac begins with a naked little boy whose eyes are streaming with tears. Every successful ending to a game of The Binding of Isaac ends with a grotesque monstrosity whose eyes are streaming with tears.


The titular protagonist of The Binding of Isaac is like many video game characters, a kind of paperdoll. In this game, though, the bare canvas that the player begins the game with, this naked little boy, perhaps, makes that function of the video game character as a form of dress up doll that much clearer.


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Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014
Moonkid is a story about not saving the world. That is, it is a story more universal, perhaps, than those more often told by most video games.

Save the world. Save the princess. Save yourself. Moonkid is a video game about what you can’t do. It isn’t a power fantasy. It’s a fantasy of powerlessness.


It’s appropriate that the titular character, Moonkid, is the role that the player takes on in a story about not saving the world. After all, a child represents the opposite of what most video game characters normally do. Children are vulnerable, often incapable, lacking in skills and abilities that we think are requisite to accomplishing “important” tasks. Instead, children bear witness to the world.


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