Latest Blog Posts

by Nick Dinicola

9 Mar 2012

I’ve already written at length about the mechanics of AMY. While the narrative isn’t worth writing about, the game still has a few fascinating quirks worth exploring. Specifically, its use of gender.

Featuring women and children in a horror story is nothing new. Lana and Amy’s relationship is interesting on a mechanical level, but it’s too shallow on a character or narrative level to act as any kind of commentary on gender in horror. In fact, AMY doesn’t do anything new with gender roles, but it’s interesting because it offers such an obvious example of how both genders are portrayed in survival-horror games.

by Nick Dinicola

2 Mar 2012

This post contains spoilers for each of the three endings to Warp.

Warp is a cute, challenging, and fun puzzle game. You play as a little alien who can warp a short distance. With this power, you must rescue a friend and escape the science facility where you’re being held captive and experimented on. You’re a weak creature—get shot once and it’s game over—so it helps that you can warp into people or barrels to hide… and then you can explode out of them with such a show of blood and gore that it would make the chestburster from Alien jealous.

My fist time through the game, I loved the explosion of gore. It was cathartic. The opening cut scene lets you experience the horror of live experimentation first hand; you feel the alien’s pain. Later on we see similar experiments performed on other aliens, scientists slaughter them just to see how they die, and then we’re forced to fight a fellow alien that’s been tortured to the point of insanity. These people, both the guards and the scientists, are not innocent bystanders in some large scale conspiracy. They’re out to kill you and your kind. So I killed them first. Over and over and over again.

by Nick Dinicola

24 Feb 2012

Survival-horror games often cast players in the role of a protector—of a sort. It’s an added responsibility that adds tension to the experience. How can we protect another when we can barely protect ourselves? Silent Hill 2 tasked us with protecting Maria, then toyed with us as it forced us to fail over and over again. Silent Hill 4: The Room tasked us with escorting our battered neighbor through past levels. Resident Evil 2 showed us Claire protecting Shelly, and while that was more story than mechanics, it still cast the playable character as a protector and that status fueled much of Claire’s motivation.

AMY takes this trope further, casting both parties, woman and child, Lana and Amy, as both protector and victim. The resulting co-dependence forms the backbone of the game and makes AMY one of the most interesting horror games to come out in a long time.

by Nick Dinicola

17 Feb 2012

I’ve always hated the online pass. I’ve always thought that it was inherently anti-consumer, a greedy nickel and diming of gamers, justified by the self-righteous call to “help the developer.” I’ve always hated it, except when I liked it.

I’ve always liked EA’s “Project Ten Dollar.” I’ve always thought that it was clever to reward people that bought a game new with a coupon with some free downloadable content. It’s positive reinforcement, a “you’ll catch more flies with honey” type of marketing. I’ve always liked it, except when I hated it.

by Nick Dinicola

10 Feb 2012

This post contains spoilers for the main quest of Skyrim in the very first paragraph.

After playing Skyrim for 90 hours, I saw something that changed my view of the world (the virtual world, that is). I saw one dragon bring another dragon back to life. The latter began as bones, but skin formed and stretched over its wings and skull until it looked alive, reversing the death animation that I’d seen a dozen times before. Then they started talking to each other, then to me. Since when did dragons talk? According to what Skyrim lore I know, the shouts that I had learned that can kill people and beasts are based on words from the dragon’s language; their conversations are battles. But here were two flying lizards, right in front of me, speaking in English and not killing each other. It blew my mind.

//Mixed media

Because Blood Is Drama: Considering Carnage in Video Games and Other Media

// Moving Pixels

"It's easy to dismiss blood and violence as salacious without considering why it is there, what its context is, and what it might communicate.

READ the article