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Games

'Kingdom Death: Monster' and the Allure of Knowing that "You Really Shouldn't..."

In an age when I can I have nearly anything shipped to me in three to five days by Amazon, Kingdom Death: Monster's exclusivity is its chief lure.

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Games

The Dangers of Playing in Unfinished Houses: Considering Early Access Video Games

Playing a game in its alpha or beta form is like living in an unfinished house; it's habitable, but some things seem off or don't work or might get better (or worse).

Games

'Dark Souls', Bicycles, and Level Design

How well could you draw a map of your favorite video game level?

Games

Playing the Pacifist in 'Dark Souls III'

I’ve become some sort of playful anthropologist.

Games

The Soothing Terror of 'Dark Souls'

Dark Souls teaches us to be relaxed in the face of horror.

Games

Getting Social with 'Dark Souls III'

If I invade and murder you, it’s for your own good. I swear.

Games

The Barkley Marathon and Incomprehensible Game Design

The challenge of understanding something enough to beat it is part of the joy of unraveling incomprehensible game design.

Games

'Darkest Dungeon', a Masochist's Dream

For as much as you level up in Darkest Dungeon, you will also level down. This is not power fantasy. This is a fantasy of cruelty and self inflicted pain.

Games

Revisiting 'Dark Souls 2'

Is Dark Souls 2 as perfect as I once thought it was? Not quite.

Erik Kersting
Games

Be Prepared to be Unprepared

Bloodborne wants to catch us off guard, even as it teaches us to always be on guard.

Games

The Backwards Looking Future of 'Resident Evil'

Our frame of reference for talking about games often lags behind the reality of their development.

Games

Dead at Last: Notes on the Consequences of Death on the Virtual Body

In games that feature perma death, by melding narrative consequence to mechanical consequence, a great deal of meaning is added to even the most routine of skirmishes. Death makes play matter.

Erik Kersting
Games

From Nietzsche to Hegel: Perspectives on Humanity in 'Dark Souls'

Despite putting on display both the virtues and vices of man, Dark Souls does not make a judgment call about humanity, but rather leaves that up to the player.

Erik Kersting
Games

I'm Glad 'Quest for Infamy' Exists Even if I Don't Like It

Is nostalgia an excuse for bad design? Is it even bad design if it's done on purpose to evoke nostalgia?

Games

The Pleasures of the Apocalypse, Fantasies of Pain

We don't want utopia. We already have that. We need dystopia, something less familiar, something challenging, something painful.

Games

'FTL' and the Failure of Text Narratives in Roguelikes

While it is possible for a roguelike to tell a story, textually based narratives are a burden to the genre.

Erik Kersting
Games

'Dark Souls', 'Dead Space', and the Future of Action/Horror

The template of Dark Souls is more sustainable in the long run as an action/horror franchise.

Games

White Raccoon Suits and Pipe Dreams: The Problem with Nintendo's New “Easy Mode”

Nintendo games are memorable more for their grand and difficult moments than for their easy and quick ones.

Erik Kersting
Games

Puzzles Aren't Scary: Intellectualizing Fear in 'Knock Knock'

The lack of thematic tension and thematic horror stems from the fact that Knock Knock presents itself as an intellectual puzzle instead of as an emotional story.

Games

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.

Games

A Strategy for Dying

The option to “continue” changed the nature of death in games. It could certainly remain an annoyance and a sign of failure, an indication that the player is not executing well, but frankly, any number of games also seem to use death as a feature, as a necessary mechanic for play.

Games

Brevity, Death, and Replay Value

I find myself more discouraged by the games that encourage me and more interested in letting brief failure teach me patience, better strategy, and to appreciate the few victories I squeeze out of hours and hours of play.

Games

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.

Culture

Staring Death in the Face: '1 Lunatic 1 Icepick' and 'Dark Souls'

This week Flash Points looks at the role the internet played in the creation and distribution of 1 Lunatic 1 Icepick, arguably the world's first snuff movie. We also anticipate the release of Dark Souls for the PC, a game that is literally designed to kill you.

Games

Playing 'Dark Souls': Desperate Acts and Our Shared Humanity

To venture into Dark Souls, even for a moment, is to remind yourself of a universal truth: everyone has the capacity to transcend expectations, even you.

Games

Dead Again: Notes on the Impermanence of the Virtual Body

In video games, dying becomes useful, functional, pedagogical. In some games, it is consequential. However, such pain ironically can magnify the pleasure of play.

Games

A Quiet Start Screen Speaks Volumes

So, I never touched Demon's Souls. And it wasn't because I was scared (okay, maybe I was a little bit scared).


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