I hadn’t danced a day in my life before I spontaneously decided to go in on a discarded Kinect with possibly the best argument for owning one: Harmonix’s Dance Central (2010). My lack of dancefloor experience was not for a lack of interest. I’d made a point to position myself as “the wallflower who could (if only someone would give me a push).” I went to school dances, stood at the edge of wedding reception mosh pits, and spent hours studying dance videos on YouTube only to find that I was still as unable to get my body moving as ever. All of that changed with Dance Central. Continue reading Dance Central is for the Wallflowers
To quickly recap the past week, the long awaited mobile spin-off of Nintendo’s perennially popular monster collecting RPG, Pokémon Go, was finally released to the world at large (whether officially or otherwise), and seemingly everyone with a smartphone is now racing to catch them all. That race is actually fairly literal in this instance, as Go’s hook is sending players to real world locals in order to discover what Pokémon have congregated around various landmarks. It’s a fantastic concept (albeit, dubiously effective here), but where Go both succeeds the most and misses its biggest opportunity is in this same conceit that makes it so compelling: exploring the area around you. Continue reading Pokémon Go isn’t about collecting Pokémon, it’s about collecting places
This piece didn’t begin as what it eventually became. I had just finished Rain, House, Eternity and was attempting to outline my thoughts on paper, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that what I was writing was less a review of a particular game and more a discussion on its creator’s full body of work. Continue reading On the many works of Kitty Horrorshow
Warning: this article contains vague spoilers for Persona 4.
Persona 4 released way back in 2008 on the Playstation 2, but as with so many games I’ve only just begun playing it (the excellent Vita re-release “Golden” to be exact). It’s an exceptional game that’s completely devoured all my free time and which there is a lot to say about (most of which has likely already said), but one thing in particular has stuck out to me over the 40 odd hours I’ve put into it so far, and that’s in the way it approaches time. Continue reading The Catharsis of Inaction in Persona 4
Last week Valve unrolled a feature that would allow people to sell Skyrim mods on the Steam workshop. It wasn’t a mandatory requirement all mods be paid or listed on the marketplace, but there was now a legal infrastructure to allow modders to be paid for their work. A few hours ago Valve announced they would be removing this feature and issuing refunds to anyone who had purchased a mod. Continue reading Valve Removing Paid Mods Is Everything Wrong With Gamer Entitlement
As I’m writing this GamerGate is entering its 8th month of ongoing terror and intimidation across social media. It’s been a horrendous period in games, destroying people’s lives, driving people out and away from the games industry, permanently scarring the reputation of games in the public eye, causing universities to cut funding for games programs, and showing no signs of stopping anytime soon as its advocates continue to find new, even more horrific methods to try to drive out their adversaries. Continue reading I’m Not A Gamer
Close your eyes and think of what the word “game” first brings to mind. For myself and I imagine a lot of people born before 1995, that image was something 8 or 16-bit. Maybe Mario, of MegaMan, or one of the early Final Fantasy games. In my eyes, pixel art is the defacto aesthetic of games. It’s where they began and an art style they created, yet beginning around the release of the Playstation, there’s been a trend in games to abandon the style in favor of attempting as high a level of realism as possible with a game’s graphics. Only in recent years has the style been revisited, mostly by indie developers, and yet the response I so often see toward it is not one of appreciation but accusations of developers being “lazy”, “incompetent”, or “unimaginative”. Continue reading An Ode to Pixel Art
I’m not exactly sure where the mindset originated (though if I had to guess I’d say with young people without a large income), but for a large segment of the gaming community a game’s length is often viewed as one of the deciding factors in whether they decide to purchase/play it. It seems absurd to me, as after all nobody says they only read books that are over 1000 pages or albums with more than 20 tracks, but for whatever reason games are uniquely singled out as being required to provide dozens and dozens of hours of content, or else be written off as a poor value or even somehow degrading games as a whole with their meager offering. Continue reading Are long games hurting the medium?
Steam, Desura, Humble DRM-Free, GMG Capsule; there are so many different digital platforms for games at this point that anytime I hear of the creation of yet another, I shake my head and wonder “what is the point?”
itch.io is the latest of these, or at least the one I’ve been hearing about the most. It’s a site dedicated to independent games with a focus on developers and flexible monetization. It doesn’t sound too radical when you put it that way, but as I dug deeper into the site, I began to see how itch.io drastically differs from other distribution platforms; in ways that significantly alter the message the site seems to driven by, and the impression I got of how it chose to present it. Though in some ways the site still feels as if it’s in its infancy, these differences are exciting and noteworthy enough to warrant discussing. Continue reading How itch.io is different and why they’re important
It took a long time to get here, folks, but we seem to finally be entering a stage of video games being taken seriously as a medium for storytelling.
That isn’t to say games haven’t been telling great stories for years (they have), but it no longer feels like an exception to the rule for a game to have a story worth experiencing, nor is it still considered taboo to criticize a game for a garbage narrative on the basis of games being somehow incapable of decent writing. After so many years of clichéd plots and shallow characters, we’re seeing games with important things to say, capable of inciting emotion and empathy from players; of being more than a conduit to deliver us from one gameplay scenario to the next. We still see a lot of the same stories we’ve been rolling our eyes at for decades, but they’re becoming less and less common as we raise our collective standards and demand better, because we know our games are capable of it. Continue reading Games vs narrative and why it shouldn’t have to be that way