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Wednesday, March 26 2014

There Are No Villains, Only Victims with Power

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream argues that there's no such thing as a true villain, just people who have been wronged and have the power to exact revenge.


Monday, February 24 2014

Blood, Bugs and Gore: ‘Gears of War 2’, Postpartum Edition

Gears of War is not about narrative. It's about gut instinct. Pure, primal, primitive emotion. It paints on a big canvas, and uses thick brushstrokes, but the result is an unfiltered, expressionistic roar. It's just like a newborn baby.


Wednesday, February 19 2014

Tick, Tick, Tick: The Temporal Cost of Free-to-Play Gaming

Free-to-play game developers are playing a game of their own. The object of that game is to gain ownership of your time.


Monday, January 27 2014

The (Mis)Education of the Player

Players can approach a game however they wish, but a developer has a responsibility to provide some sort of guidance through their virtual world.


Tuesday, January 7 2014

We’re Not Computers, We’re Physical

The Room understands that we are gamers, geeks who like to look at a thing, take it apart, and figure out how it works. We aren't mere computers.


Tuesday, November 19 2013

‘Arkham Origins’ Constantly Rigs the Odds Against Batman

This game revels in watching Batman struggle, throwing villain after villain and crime after crime in his way, trying to overwhelm him, trying to break him -- and it almost does.


Wednesday, October 16 2013

‘Grand Theft Auto’: The Game with Plenty to Say

If Grand Theft Auto has nothing to say, as the participants of Slate's recent Culture Gabfest purport, then they must be playing with the sound turned down.


Monday, October 7 2013

‘Beyond Good & Evil’, Beyond Art & Not-Art

Culture, civility, and empathy. When crafted with the elegance and care of Beyond Good & Evil, videogames exceed every arbitrary 'requirement' for Art demanded by those who would deny them worth.


Thursday, September 19 2013

The Video Game Trilogy Deathmatch

Which has the better ending? Assassin’s Creed 3 vs. Gears of War 3 vs. God of War 3 vs. Halo 3 vs. Mass Effect 3 vs. Modern Warfare 3.


Thursday, August 22 2013

Fountains of Youth and the Undying Baby Boomers

"I expected a monster to greet me at the dias; a foe of unimaginable strength. But when I entered the castle and saw my father -- the king -- sitting atop the dias with goblet in hand, I knew all was lost. He would never die... and I would never be heir."


Tuesday, July 30 2013

The Problem with Emergent Stories in Video Games

Emergent stories are missing the key component of any good story. They’re not about anything.


Thursday, June 20 2013

Danger, Romance, Adventure and the Health Bar, or How I Learned to Love the HUD

In the game world, we can't feel the pain of taking a bullet or check our wallet to see what's in it. There just isn't a button for that.


Monday, May 27 2013

The Sword Is Mightier Than the Gun

In gaming, there’s a story within a sword fight that’s missing from the kind of story told by a gunfight.


Tuesday, April 23 2013

Playing to Suffer, Suffering to Play

I have found myself struck with admiration recently by games that I have played that have put me in less than empowering positions, games that celebrate difficulty and hardship, struggling and deprivation, rather than empowerment and excess.


Monday, April 1 2013

We’re More Than Our Job: The Characters of ‘Little Inferno’

Even voiceless and often invisible, the characters of Little Inferno manage to ooze more personality than most video game characters.


Sunday, February 24 2013

Forgive Me, Father, for I Have Simmed

I feel guilty for things that I have done in God of War. Pushing that caged man over a bed of flames to solve that block puzzle? Still not over that.


Monday, February 11 2013

The Assassins’ Failure

The last four games in the series have criticized totalitarianism by showing us what would happen if the “select few” in charge didn’t care about the people, but Assassin’s Creed III argues that if the “select few” in charge really do care about those beneath them, then society might flourish.


Monday, January 28 2013

Is Catherine the Last of the Manic Pixie Dream Girls?

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl not only teaches men how “to embrace life and its infinite mysteries” but also to violate taboos, the mundane, and all that which represents the prison of order and responsibility.


Monday, January 7 2013

2012: Another Year the World Should Have Ended

The end of the year is a time for festivities, joy... and naysayers to lament the end of cultural artifacts. The naysayers needn't fear. The world hasn't ended, again. It's just different, now.


Sunday, November 25 2012

Of Assholes and Antiheroes: Morality in ‘Borderlands 2’

Modern video games feature a plethora of antiheroes. But there are times when this archetype is taken too far, when the antihero becomes just an asshole.


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