Latest Blog Posts

by G. Christopher Williams

12 Oct 2011


So, I never touched Demon’s Souls.  And it wasn’t because I was scared (okay, maybe I was a little bit scared).  It really was that I don’t have access to a Playstation 3. 

This was disappointing to me, as I heard all of these stories about the game’s ability to evoke tension and fear because of its punitive nature (death packs a real wallop in the game, real loss).  People either hated the game’s punishing nature or spoke about it as if it had the ability to change your life (or at least the way that you see most video games) through its sense of the value of death and its consequence.

by G. Christopher Williams

5 Oct 2011


Katarina from League of Legends (Riot Games, 2009)

Y’know, I was terribly amused by the parody of the long term grind (that which is necessitated by the turn-based role playing game genre in general) in Half-Minute HeroHalf-Minute Hero more or less does what it suggests by boiling the time consuming “play” of that genre into the shortest character development of a role playing hero possible.

Gone, in that game, is the necessity for spending hours just killing, killing, killing in order to get strong enough to advance the plot by beating the next big boss in a dungeon.  Indeed, while I whiled away many an hour playing JRPGs as a kid and as a teenager, these were not games that required much skill or even intellectual acumen.  Winning a battle required pressing a button in a menu to “Attack” and then healing once in awhile if a member of your party was in the danger zone in terms of their hit points.  All the “skill” required by a boatload of turn-based RPGs is simply just persistence (and that’s really a character trait, not a skill, right?).

This is partly why I tend to avoid turn-based RPGs these days—as my own “persistence” has evolved into simple “impatience” as I have aged alongside the genre.

Which is why League of Legends is so very tantalizing and so very compelling when played in short RPG-lite bursts.

by G. Christopher Williams

28 Sep 2011


Okay, so maybe on the face of it, a game like Zynga’s Cityville (one of many spin offs of the wildly popular Farmville) and Sid Meier’s Civilization World (a transformation of the classic video game into a social game format) only vaguely have some things in common.

Both games focus on the development of cities, creating buildings and growing populations, in order to show your opponents that your civilization is superior to theirs. 

But wait a sec, CivWorld is obviously a game about showing off your prowess in evolving a superior civilization, while Cityville is a co-operative playground in which I own my own city, build it, and help others in building their own cities. There’s no competition in Cityville, right?

Not so fast, though, while CivWorld might be more of a traditional “game” in that it has an end goal, a way to win, along with clear rules about how to achieve that win, really there is a potentially more subtle competitive aspect that underlies Cityville as well. And frankly that aspect of competition is why Cityville‘s monetization will probably remain more financially lucrative for Zynga than CivWorld ever will be for 2K Games.

by G. Christopher Williams

21 Sep 2011


This discussion of Dead Island contains several major spoilers of the game’s main plot points.  You have been warned.

After all of the buzz following the release of its often maligned, but more often admired trailer (see below), I have cynically assumed that Dead Island, as a game, would probably not share the emotional weight of said trailer.  And I was more or less right.

by G. Christopher Williams

14 Sep 2011


I grew up in an odd era, in which when you wanted someone to play with, you walked down the block (or biked if it was a couple blocks) over to a friend’s house and knocked on their door to ask some scary adult person if Johnny could come out and play.  As dangerous as such a practice is in our more progressive age, in which we clearly know that children’s playtime needs to be rigidly scheduled in what are detestably called “play dates”, nevertheless, I personally parent my own children in a manner quite similar to my own upbringing.  When one of them is bored, I suggest biking over to a friend’s house to see if they are available, all on their own.

Strangely, none of my children are dead yet.  And they also function independently pretty well in a pinch.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

It's Not Easy Being Yellow

// Moving Pixels

"In which we consider the challenges of and the reasons for making the “wrong” color choice in Pokemon Go.

READ the article