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

 
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Text:AAA
Friday, Aug 15, 2014
To fall off-screen is to cease to exist. Off-screen is death, and an auto-scrolling screen is Death on a mission.

Nihilumbra is an interesting puzzle platformer about a little piece of nothingness that tries to become something more. You’re a piece of The Void that suddenly finds itself born into the living world. As you explore, you gain new abilities and learn what it means to be alive. However, The Void chases you wherever you go, consuming everything in its path in a single-minded quest to become whole again.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Aug 8, 2014
Tower of Fortune has been an enlightening reminder of what “random chance” really means.

Tower of Fortune is an iOS RPG that has you climbing the titular tower to rescue your daughter. It’s a stripped down experience, perfect for mobile platforms: You only have to manage a few stats, and you only have one attack. You eventually earn new swords and equipment that make you stronger, but in truth, there’s very little tactical depth to the game. Everything from combat to fun times at the pub—actually, that’s kind of all you can do. That’s the totality of Tower of Fortune, fighting and drinking—all of which is determined by random chance. And this is not a bad thing.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Aug 1, 2014
One Finger Death Punch is about the visceral, addicting, and euphoric pleasure of the fight.

One Finger Death Punch is a brilliant game that manages to wring every drop of entertainment and excitement out of a simple concept. It’s a 2D martial arts fighting game that evokes nostalgic memories of those pre-YouTube viral videos Xiao Xiao, which show stick figures battling it out in impressively animated and choreographed action scenes.


You are a student of the martial arts, on a journey to… y’know, it doesn’t matter. You travel around a map and get in lots of fights. The story is nonexistent. One Finger Death Punch is about the visceral, addicting, and euphoric pleasure of a fight. It’s about the beauty of violence, the ballet of combat, and every system in the game works to reinforce these ideas. As such, One Finger Death Punch may be the most mechanically perfect game since Fez.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Jul 25, 2014
Is story so tangential to the gaming experience that even a self-professed story-lover can play an entire game and not glean a single plot point from it all?

I hate skipping cut scenes. I never do it. I understand wanting to get into the game quickly, but cut scenes are important. They’re part of the experience, whether you like them or not, and they’re a major mouthpiece for what the game is about thematically. Beyond that, I’m very interested in how games tell a story, their ambition versus the reality of execution. Often the failures are just as interesting as the successes.


But all that didn’t stop me from skipping the cut scenes in Sniper Elite 3, and the one important story cut scene in the Destiny beta. I know, I’m a bad person, but I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about the characters, I didn’t care about the plots, and I didn’t care about the themes. I didn’t care about anything those games had to say, and I don’t know exactly why.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Jul 18, 2014
Is nostalgia an excuse for bad design? Is it even bad design if it's done on purpose to evoke nostalgia?

My dad can’t watch old movies (let’s say, ‘50s and earlier) because he finds the acting universally terrible. Other people I know enjoy older movies over modern movies. Opinions and tastes vary, but there’s no denying that the art and craft of acting has evolved in the past 60 years. The art has changed, the criticism of that art has changed, and the cultural appreciation of that art has changed.

While the art of yesterday exists as a time capsule of our former cultural and artistic values, what about the modern art that mimics those older aesthetics? By what standards are we supposed to use to judge that art?


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