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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.


Monday, October 15 2012

Paying Too Often for Sex in Video Games

In film, the salacious is something to see. In video games, however, the salacious needs to be something to do.


Thursday, September 27 2012

God Is My Employee: The Theology of ‘Asura’s Wrath’

When members of humankind pray, they pray not out of worship, but because they understand that their help is needed to protect the world.


Thursday, August 16 2012

The Pleasures of Playing in an Economy of Pain

The greater the failure of the video game player, the greater the financial reward of the video game machine’s owner. More frustration, more 'death', used to mean more quarters per hour. These days, it means something else, entirely.


Tuesday, July 17 2012

‘Fez’ Argues for the Artistry of Play

Fez may argue that games are just meant to be played, but it makes that argument with such impressive thematic consistency that it also makes an argument for the artistry of play.


Sunday, June 17 2012

E3 2012: The Crowd, the Blood, The Screen

Pay attention to the rumblings of E3 2012 and you'll hear what may be a series of forthcoming storms.


Sunday, May 20 2012

To Build a World or to Tell a Story?

Plot just provides us with a win condition, it is not necessary for the act of play. I can enjoy a game without plot, but I can’t enjoy a game without world building because that is a game without rules.


Sunday, April 22 2012

A Love Letter to ‘Ms. Pac-Man’

Ms. Pac-Man speaks to the most essential nature of what a video game is, clarifying what makes a video game a video game and not any other type of game.


Thursday, March 22 2012

The Method to the Madness of ‘Modern Warfare’

In a series in which World War III is just a subplot, it’s clear that Infinity Ward is more concerned with character resolution than it is with plot resolution.


Wednesday, February 29 2012

Labyrinths of Childhood: Exploring ‘The Path’

Herman Kern says that “a certain level of maturity is required to understand the shape of as well as to make the decision to venture into, a labyrinth." The girl who enters Grandmother’s house in the labyrinthian game, The Path, has just what it takes.


Wednesday, January 25 2012

Batman Is Boring in ‘Arkham City’

Batman is a bit player in his own story, and I think a lot of that stems from his desire to save everyone.


Tuesday, January 3 2012

The Best Flash Games of 2011

These games taught me: the danger of following the rules; the pleasing presence of unexpected personalities; the pleasures of a well paced and meditative process; the joys of a frantic and chaotic twitch-fest and; the satisfaction derived from a game that brings out my inner masochist.


Thursday, November 17 2011

If You Can’t Help Me, Just Die: Survival in ‘Dead Island’

Dead Island is old-school survival-horror game, a subgenre that seems to have largely disappeared from the medium with the ascension of the action-horror game.


Monday, October 24 2011

Other Princesses, Other Castles: The Problem with Playing Romantically in Video Games

The insensibly repetitious nature of romance present in both video game plots and in their mechanics leads to all too familiar storytelling.


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