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#PopMatters20: The Evolution of Game Criticism

The intersection of personality, ideology, and art criticism in games is a messy place. L.B. Jeffries reviews the genre's history of criticism for this installment of the #PopMatters20 series.

Reviews

Dragon's Lair Trilogy

There’s still no video game quite like this, but that probably has more to do with the death of the arcade rather than with the nature of the game itself.

Games

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games, PC) [$19.95]

Reviews

Saw II: Flesh and Blood

Conceptually the series was always a modernized take of the morality horror films of the '70s and '80s, modern in this case being a combination of the rhetoric of Fight Club alongside video game elements.

Reviews

Dawn of Heroes

On paper, a simplified tactical RPG probably sounds like a good idea. Games like Pokemon have shown that the formula can deliver to younger audiences. The reason that Dawn of Heroes bombs is that it doesn’t really pay attention to what the player wants to do in this type of game.

Games

On Design-Centric Game Criticism

L.B. Jeffries bids adieu to the Moving Pixels audience, but before he goes, he has a few words to share about writing game criticism, noting that "the difference between a critical analysis and a game FAQ is that somebody who has never played the game can still gain something from good analysis."

Games

Music, Space, And Your House

"If you grew up thinking that the stage/arena show is what live music is supposed to be, it’s jarring to be confronted with a band playing two feet in front of you, running into you, spitting in your face, hitting you with their instruments."

Games

Shattered Horrors: Fragmented Perspectives in 'Fatal Frame 2'

Leaving the dark unspeakable evil unexplained is best because the moment that you reduce such horror to words or images, the player’s imagination no longer feeds it.

Games

The Multimedia Diet

People may not listen when they feel like they're being preached at, but raw data has a voice all its own.

Reviews

Amnesia: The Dark Descent

For longtime fans of horror games, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is now more about thrills than genuine fear.

Games

Filling in the Details in Video Game Worlds

When an author constructs an entire world, they tend to want to show it off as much as possible and provide explanations to game players. That's when games get stuck, especially if borrowing from sci-fi or fantasy literature.

Games

Post-Structuralism in Video Games

It doesn’t matter what you try to force a space into being, people will define that space themselves in connection to other parts. A game designer never truly plays their own game.

Games

Sierra vs. Lucasarts

What benefit is there to having terminal consequences in an adventure game? Adventure games always succumb to the issue of having an interface where you can theoretically do anything and having it confined to a space where you can only do what the designer allows.

Games

Perfecting Loss in 'N+'

For as often as I died while playing N+, maybe the best compliment that I can pay it is that I didn’t mind a single time.

Games

Video Game Parodies

The general traits of a video game parodying another video game are simplification of both content and design to show how inane the bare bones interaction of that game really is.

Games

Mastering the Basics in Butcher Bay

Escape From Butcher Bay is a simple story with simple mechanics, but it works with what it has elegantly.

Games

Mary Flanagan's 'Critical Play'

“In the final analysis, a critique of performance practices must ask: Who gets to play?"

Games

'LOST' and Video Games

At the end of the fourth season, LOST abandoned mimicking the content of video games and instead focused on how they characterize space.

Games

The Multiple Choice Game

A multiple choice exam is looking for a sweetspot of a certain percentage passing, not too high and not too low.

Games

Morality in Mystery Dungeon: 'Shiren the Wanderer'

The moral of Shiren the Wanderer is one of the few that only a game can truly teach; aspects of the story, new locations, items, and characters all have far more emotional resonance if we have to struggle for them.

Games

A Good A.I. Trick

The art of video game AI is in making a player think that they’re interacting with something more sophisticated than it really is.

Games

Transparent Difficulty in 'Order of Ecclesia'

The perception of challenge in a game is always contextual and based on prior experiences in the game space.


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