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Friday, Nov 21, 2014
No one really wants to play a fair game. Video games are unfair, but in our favor, which is what makes them fun, right?

No one really wants a fair game. For the most part, we want a game that skews to our advantage so we can finish it and move on to the next game. It’s unfair, but it’s unfair in our favor, which makes it fun. Generally, when a game is unfair to our disadvantage we call this out as a negative, something to be rectified with a patch or update. However, after having recently played Shadow of Mordor and Alien: Isolation, I’ve come to appreciate how unfair those games can be. They prove that balance and fairness are overrated because the most exciting moments in these games stem from the systems that are stacked against us.


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Friday, Nov 14, 2014
No one really likes being scared. The fun of being scared never comes from the actual act of being scared. This pleasure comes afterwards when we can look back and laugh.

A few weeks ago, Scott Juster asked why it’s so hard to find fear in video games. It’s a question that immediately struck me as odd because I’ve never had a problem finding fear in video games, but while reading his post, it became clear why our experiences with horror have been so different. The post also highlights one of the most difficult paradoxes facing the horror genre and gaming especially: the problem of audience participation.


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Friday, Nov 7, 2014
Shadow of Mordor has created an emergent gameplay system that allows the game to explore a single theme in depth, the nature of revenge.

I just got the Brand ability, which allows me to take over the mind of an orc and have it fight for me. I can do this easily mid-combat, so I can very quickly turn a horde of enemies against itself, then stand back and watch the battle. I also got the Shadow Kill ability, which allows me to teleport to any orc and instantly kill it. Or I can use my flaming arrows or my “infinite executions.” These are all late-game abilities in Shadow of Mordor that make it easy to slaughter countless orcs. The horde that once frightened me, that I once ran from on a regular basis because it was too much to handle, is now my playground of death and decapitations, made even more fun by the fact that reinforcements just keep showing up, so my genocide never has to end.


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Friday, Oct 31, 2014
The Last Door is Lovecraftian in every way that a story can be. It captures the mood, the intellectual curiosity, and the slow burn escalation of dread that typifies the best of Lovecraft.

Usually, when someone uses the term “Lovecraftian” to describe a work of horror, it’s meant to describe the antagonistic presence that drives the story. It’s shorthand for “ancient unknown evil.” But there’s more to Lovecraft than Cthullu, and The Last Door, a point-and-click adventure game by Spanish developer The Game Kitchen, is Lovecraftian in every way that a story can be. It captures the mood, the intellectual curiosity, and the slow burn escalation of dread that typifies the best of Lovecraft.


Tagged as: the last door
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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Eversion's most unsettling moments are when it changes its rules and mechanics without telling you.

“I promise this isn’t a troll entry. But saying anything about this game borders on spoiling the experience. There is a free version available to try.”


That’s the review of Eversion by the Steam group “Rely on Horror” that intrigued me enough to buy and play the game. It’s an accurate review. You should play Eversion before reading further. It’s available via Steam for $5.00, or you can download it for free from the Zaratustra Productions website. It’s only 20 minutes long at most.


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