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'What Remains of Edith Finch' Is What Remains of Anyone

Video games are one of the few mediums that regularly asks their audience to experience death alongside its protagonists.


'We Become What We Behold' Takes on Viral Divisiveness

We Become What We Behold looks at how social media magnifies small differences into gross monstrosities.


The More I Have, the Less I Play

Choice in media sometimes doesn't lead to freedom, just paralysis.


Learning the Barbarian in 'Conan Exiles'

There's no one better than a barbarian to teach you how to become civilized.


Playing to Lose: The Tragedy of 'This Is the Police'

Video gamers are not accustomed to playing to lose.


'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.


Emerging from My Hiatus from Big Budget Games

I'd gotten burned out on scope and maybe on spectacle in video games, but I think it's time to return to bigger worlds to conquer.


'Zero Time Dilemma' Argues for the Necessity of Trauma

The structure of Zero Time Dilemma suggests that learning how to solve problems can only occur after having lived through suffering.


'Westworld' Ponders the Lives of NPCs

Westworld seems less interested in examining traditional protagonists than interrogating the behaviors and abuses of a fictional world's props, its non-player characters.


Measuring Success: The Unsatisfying Notion of "Good Endings" and "Bad Endings"

Sometimes stories need to end badly in order to be really good.


Horror May Require a Responsible Audience

Horror requires of its audience a particular attitude, an attitude that I often lack.


The Pleasures of the Comatose and the Tedium of False Awakenings

I have found that I am not looking for games that are relatable and expressive of my own problems, so much as the ones that more ideally promise progress and solution to some unspecific ones.


'Pokemon Go' Buddies: Way Too Many Steps in the Right Direction

Pokemon Go's buddy system is a step in the right direction for the game, but when you do the math, it may be way, way too many steps for many players to take.


'No Man's Sky' Argues for Design

While the central goal of No Man's Sky seems antithetical to the teleological argument for the existence of God, ironically it also seems to drive players towards the very thought that seems to motivate that argument.


Anticipation and Expectation in Game Marketing: The Art of ‘Anti-Hype’

Watch the trailer for No Man's Sky and then for Frostpunk. There is a clear difference in the kind of expectations each creates in its audience.


Celebrating Fear in the 'Batman: Arkham' Series

The idea of striking terror in the hearts of criminals becomes an idea clearly represented by gameplay in the Arkham series. After all, fear is Batman's best tool.


It's Not Easy Being Yellow

In which we consider the challenges of and the reasons for making the “wrong” color choice in Pokemon Go.


'Pokemon Go': Returning Mystery to Video Games

What I like best about Pokemon Go is the rumors and lies.


Field Observations from a Non-Pokemon Go Player

My wife witnessed a Pokeromance in the making, while I discussed the philosophical underpinnings of Pokehunting with a 14-year-old.


Is High School Really So Horrible?

Horror and high school go hand in hand, at least they do in these video games.


Intimacy with the Devil: Horror and 'the static speaks my name'

the static speaks my name creates an uncomfortable intimacy between the player and the protagonist.


The Virtues of Selfishness in Co-op Gaming

The trouble with co-op gaming is cooperativeness.


Hold Down B to Run: On the Importance of Velocity to Video Games

Holding down B to run changed our relationship to video games. It let us slow down enough to understand choices we never knew we had.


Silver Dollar Games: Playfully Punk

Silver Dollar Games and punks in general are the big brother that keeps poking you in the ribs because -- not despite -- the fact that you keep telling him to “quit it”.


'Hardcore Henry' Is Less Like a First Person Shooter Than It Is an On-Rails Shooter

Hardcore Henry's forward moving ferocity doesn't allow its viewer or Henry time to think on why its action and violence might or might not be justifiable.


Playing the Fool

Cliff Johnson's 1987 classic, The Fool's Errand, is an homage to the tradition of the Fool in the literature and folklore of Western culture.


Playing Sophisticated Trash: 'Duke Nukem 3D' and the History of the First Person Shooter

Trashy gameplay calls for trashy presentation, and sophisticated gameplay calls for sophisticated presentation. However, Duke Nukem 3D is a game that is constantly in tension between these two principles.


The Taming of the Dude: From Harlequin Romance to Virtual Boyfriends

Dating sims and apps may bring a new level of interactivity, or even intimacy, to escapist romance, but they don't seem to me like a specific response to changing 21st century attitudes about sex and relationships.


Addicted to Death: More Thoughts on Gaming and Masochism

Maybe I'm addicted to critique, to learning through failure, or maybe I'm just addicted to the simple, clear reminder that video games give me sometimes: “Pay more attention, stupid!”


'The Flame in the Flood': Gaming As Naturalism, Gaming As Romanticism

The Flame in the Flood provokes musings on the often troubling determinism of American naturalism.


Teenage Suicide and the Extinction of Identity in the Persona Series

Sometimes growing up can feel a little like killing yourself.


'Firewatch' and the Case of the Much Too Obvious MacGuffin

In creating a plot device to motivate its characters, a MacGuffin, Firewatch competes against itself, with a story that it is a gimmick and a story that it really wants us to care about.


Undressing Kratos

If you want a man to represent brutality, in the end you're going to end up taking his clothes off.

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