This week we take a look at how we shape our personal worlds, and how games are shaped by us. Not just from a design standpoint, but by the way we explore our worlds and how that world informs the games we play, consider, and contextualize. Lot of interesting thoughts here, all worth considering.
The things we do in our world also affect our games. We provide a context to games that they may not have at time of creation, or could not have had if not for our hands.
- Notes on Thoughts and Prayers: The Problem with An Empty Gesture | Sufficiently Human
Lana Polansky points out the effective but imperfect satire of empty gestures using the game Thoughts and Prayers.
- How the Meaning of Vanquish (and Spec Ops: The Line) Changed – Writing on Games – YouTube (Video with subtitles)
Hammish Black examines the how a game’s context changes what the game means within even just a few years.
- Remodeling the Labyrinth | First Person Scholar
Jeremy Antley highlights the problems with historically gamifying an on-going period of history, and players’ efforts to update the war game to better match with evolving times.
- The Tyranny of Kawaii | Tokyo 42 | Heterotopias
Toussaint Egan explains the history and inspiration for Tokyo 42’s wild, cute, and cyberpunk urban sprawl.
The Capsule Tower stands today as a landmark for urban explorers and squatters, a derelict relic of a bygone vision of the future, suspended in the amber of bureaucratic blindsight. How apt then, that the rise and fall into dilapidation of Kurokawa’s Tower would serve as an inadvertent analog for the cultural rise and intellectual stagnation of cyberpunk…
Under the Hood
A brief look at the invisible efforts that happen in order to make a finished game.
- Masashiro Sakurai’s Exhaustive Smash Bros. Blog Gave Me a Year of Joy and Agony | Minus World
Oliver Jameson pens a retrospective about the blog that gave players a peering look into the creation of Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
- Gamasutra: Stanislav Costiuc’s blog – Characterization Through Mechanics
Stanislav Costiuc takes a look at how mechanics can help define and personalize a character.
- Gamasutra: Pietro Polsinelli’s blog – Videogame Dialogues: Writing Tools And Design Ideas
Pietro Polsinelli and Daniele Giardini thoughtfully come to no clear conclusions about choices in dialogue writing and UI design.
Most media have a predetermined, linear, progress. Even when the writer tries to hide this under a complex narrative, there’s only one way to go from beginning to end. Under this aspect, games are a completely different medium: writing a game means dealing with mutations, branching narratives, and is a sort of chaos theory applied to storytelling.
The contexts we bring to games can change them specifically for us, in ways that may not be apparent without the knowledge we go in with.
- ‘Far Cry 5’ can’t ignore the real darkness lurking in rural America | Mic.com
Leif Johnson looks at the way Far Cry 5’s extreme villains misses the truly scary side of the philosophies its villains stand for.
- The Dubious Representation of Tattooing in Video Games| No Coast Gaming (Warning: Featured image shows blood.)
Will Anderson laments the impermanence and poor representation of tattoos in video games.
- Does Mass Effect: Andromeda get past old, colonial ideas? Not quite | Gamasutra
Katherine Cross highlights the ways in which Andromeda fails in fully escaping the lingering specter of European colonialism.
There is freedom and art within limits, and much to explore in the territory of constrained power. Andromeda would have been better served by delving into that, rather than serving up another cliched guns-blazing conqueror fantasy.
Muddling the Medium
The gaming medium isn’t itself immutable, and sometimes it’s nice to see the scenery changed for us.
- Why aren’t we adapting more games into comic books | ZAM – The Largest Collection of Online Gaming Information
Brock Wilbur considers the untapped potential of mixing the comic and videogame mediums.
- A Warm Place | Real Life Mag
Zach Budgor speaks to the meditative life found in altgames—outside of the usual conflict-driven ones.
- Sketches of Greatness: why do esports excite us so much? | Zam – The Largest Collection of Online Gaming Information
Eron Rauch muses deeply on narrative and engagement in esports, and how they differ from physical activities.
In this way, esports have a theatrical aspect that is like the story aspects of professional wrestling match mixed up with a meta-story of incredible physical and mental prowess.
In the end, lives can end. Sometimes, that alone is meaningful enough to be worth recognizing.
- ‘Pokemon: Magikarp Jump’ is a Crash Course in the Cruel Nature of Mortality – Musgravian Musings | Touch Arcade
Shaun Musgrave considers the contrast of cheery life and impermanence in Pokemon: Magikarp Jump.
- How DEFCON Taught Me To Worry About the Bomb | Strategy Gamer
Charles Ellis dwells on the bleak, disconnected misery of thermonuclear apocalypse inescapable in DEFCON.
The music rises in tempo, a dull flash over the target and the number killed rises up from the ruined city. These numbers will often reach into the tens of millions. The world’s metropolises will be reduced to wastelands bathed in sickly yellow green radiation. Hit a continent enough, and it will glow with sickly radiation. This is, apparently, what “victory” in nuclear war looks like.
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!