Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Mar 11, 2015
In Call of Duty, it takes under 30 seconds to kill five people. Killing five people in The Cat Lady takes eight hours.

In an hour one can kill hundreds in a Call of Duty game, Assassin’s Creed, or Grand Theft Auto. Life isn’t merely cheap in this game, the act of killing is easy, the push of a few buttons in rapid succession.


In so many games, killing is one of the dominant activities (if not the dominant activity of play), and the rapidity of execution becomes expedient to driving the action forward, which is why, perhaps, a game like The Cat Lady feels oddly revelatory.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015
In which the author suggests that the new Lara Croft might be the best example of androgyny in gaming.

Last weekend, I played the board game Bora Bora, designed by Stefan Feld, whose game Castles of Burgundy is one of my favorite board games of recent years. Bora Bora is a Eurogame, which for those that run in board game circles know usually indicates a carefully balanced game with a low running time and probably no dice (though this game actually does use dice). Eurogames are also frequently economic development games that ask players to collect resources and develop an engine to drive an economy. They are also known for their wooden pieces, which often represent resources and people.


People themselves often serve as a kind of resource in Eurogames, since frequently the limited size of a population in such a game determines what jobs can be assigned and what then can be produced on a given turn. As far as people go in Eurogames, like many things in the genre, they are mostly abstracted concepts. They represent the ability to implement an action or to produce a particular good. They represent “work” itself and have little to no personal identity in general. Indeed one of the more general identity markers assigned to human beings, their gender identity, is rarely a concern in Eurogames.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Feb 18, 2015
Sexuality is an important part of monstrosity, and League of Legends breaks with its traditional depiction of female monsters with this beast.

Biologically speaking, it seems that there is no essential difference between the genders among pac-people. Both Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man share an identical body type. It is only markers worn by Ms. Pac-Man that signal the gender difference between the two, her bow and lipstick (well, there is also her mole, which may or may not be painted on a la Marilyn Monroe).


In this regard, Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man share something in common with the typical silhouettes that represent the distinction between the men’s restroom and the women’s restroom. These individuals share an identical body type with only the female silhouette differentiated from the unadorned male silhouette by her triangular skirt.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Monday, Feb 16, 2015
Valentine's Day may be over, but we're still celebrating the most significant relationships in video games.

What with all the shooting and the lopping off of heads, romance and video games are not often concepts that gamers think of first when they think of their favorite medium.


Nevertheless, from Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man to Master Chief and Cortana, their are some pretty significant couples that remain central to the history of video games.


Bookmark and Share
Text:AAA
Wednesday, Feb 11, 2015
Give me a rational reason to act evil in video games. If I'm going to eat a baby, I just need to believe that there is a good reason why.

Ah, binary decision making. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that computer games have often presented distinct binary choices to players as ways of enlivening and complicating the stories they tell. After all, computers themselves are built on binary logic. Is it any wonder that the narratives built on top of computer systems often seem to reflect the programmer’s obsession with 1s and 0s, the concept of on and off?


Of course, what this has led to in the recent past is any number of video games in which players play a protagonist that can be developed in stark terms, choosing to play as a good guy or as a bad guy by offering moral choices in games that loudly reflect a broad ideology of “goodness” and “badness.” It has also led to a lot of discombobulated narratives, especially in regards to approaching games about saving the world while playing as a really ugly specimen of human being. Most players seem to opt to play for the “good” ending in games like Fable, inFamous, Dishonored, and the like and probably for good reason. I have written and spoken before about the frequent ludicrousness of the options often presented in these games that supposedly allow players to make complicated evaluations of moral dilemmas. I mean, if the choice is to save a child or to eat a baby, I am really going to struggle with the moral ambiguity of the circumstances, right?


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2015 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.