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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.


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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?


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Wednesday, Feb 4, 2015
Recently stumbling onto the tower defense game, Witch Hunt, feels to me like stumbling back into the arcade era.

Stumbling onto Witch Hunt over at NewGrounds felt like stumbling back into the arcade era. Though I felt the sense that I was playing something from that era almost immediately, it was initially difficult for me to put a finger on why.


Witch Hunt is at its core a tower defense game, a genre of video game that I associate with the last ten years or so, not the video games of the 1980s. Instead, I see the tower defense game as appearing with the arrival of Flash games and iOS as a gaming platform. The tower defense game typically asks the player to be responsible for creating defenses against an encroaching horde of “creeps.” An army of creatures will advance to destroy a central base, and your job is to manage the battlefield by strategically placing towers of various sorts (some may fire quickly and do a bit of damage, some may fire slowly but cause a great deal of damage, some might simply slow the oncoming creeps, etc.) to stop them. Destroying creeps provides money that allows you to purchase more towers or to upgrade towers. Your business is as a field commander managing the economics of a battle.


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Wednesday, Jan 28, 2015
Differentiating yourself from other gamers on the basis of a few primary colors may indicate some powerful symbolic and identificatory impulses.

You see that little car up there on the Monopoly board? Yeah, that’s me.


That car has always been me for as long as I can remember. I have played my fair share of games of Monopoly, and I honestly don’t believe that I have ever played the game as anything other than the car. All of which is kind of weird when you come to think about it, since Monopoly has so much more variety in its playing pieces than many other classic family board games. There’s a car, a thimble, an iron, a little dog, a man on horseback, etc. A much different quality than, say, merely picking from the traditional red, blue, yellow, and green pieces that usually all look the same in most other games. Wouldn’t it then be neat to play as something different once in awhile?


Well, obviously for me the answer is “no” because any time a box of Monopoly has been opened in my presence, I immediately either reach for the car or simply declare, “I’m the car.” Somehow the car has become my identity within the context of a game of Monopoly.


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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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