Video Games Archive

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Burning The Backlog 4: Grounded To The Sandbox

My best friend and me came of age loving two things: video games and movies. We grew up owning Playstation 2s and seeing games expand as many companies were willing […]

My best friend and me came of age loving two things: video games and movies. We grew up owning Playstation 2s and seeing games expand as many companies were willing to pour money into crazy idea after crazy idea. Games no longer were the simplistic high that Mario and PacMan provided. Games were committed to creating whole new worlds to explore and substantial narratives to live and truly immerse you in them in a way that Fallout or Planescape Torment couldn’t, by simple virtue of their limited resources.

The catalyst for this expansion on the time of the PS2 was, of course, Grand Theft Auto III. It wasn’t the first open world game and it wasn’t even the best. But it was what finally struck a chord strongly enough to convince people that this was the way to go. That big expansive worlds were nothing without a veritable way of navigating them. Previously, all you did was walk and hiked through Hyrule and the Wasteland, interacting with NPCs and trying to find the location of your next adventure, a new community to help and then move on. In a way, it was all very Mad Max.

But in Grand Theft Auto III, you became the inhabitant of a community and you strived to raise above your peers through crime. This vision was in many ways, a butchering of what many gangster movies often do, caused by the filter of the easiest interpretation of movies like the Godfather and Goodfellas. GTAIII is the sort of game that’s written by people who watch gangster movies for the “badassery” of its criminal protagonists and see men as Henry Hill and Michael Corleone as Men, relics from a bygone era that should be revered and seen as sources of inspiration, rather than the symbols of brutality and excess that they’re supposed to represent in their original text. 

This dissonance between the texts that Rockstar would take as direct inspiration and the games they would create to heighten the feelings those movies originally caused through interaction would become the key problem for me as Rockstar built their new empire.

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Bloodborne Shows The Breadth of Cosmic Horror

Anybody who knows me will probably have surmised that Bloodborne is a game tailor-made for me. After all, I love the works of H.P. Lovecraft, I love games with strong […]
huntersdream

Welcome good hunter, you’ll be here awhile

Anybody who knows me will probably have surmised that Bloodborne is a game tailor-made for me. After all, I love the works of H.P. Lovecraft, I love games with strong atmosphere, I love subtle storytelling, and of course I also love to swear at screen and throw my controller in frustration a lot.

I’m kidding (a bit) because Bloodborne ended up being the most even handed game I may have ever played. It’s such a tightly constructed game that it began to affect my ability to enjoy other games. Witcher 3 is a sprawling epic RPG and a labor of love but now I find its clunky controls and repetitive combat jarring. Platinum Games’ Transformers: Devastation fares a bit better with its tighter controls but as a result I found myself instinctively going back to Bloodborne’s control scheme and wondering why I was dodging instead of attacking. Bloodborne is a game that infiltrates your headspace in such a way that you end up viewing other games through that lens.

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Video Games are not Films. They are TV.

The most recent trend in video game storytelling is releasing the games in monthly chunks that are entirely concerned with advancing a narrative. This trend, of telling stories in interconnected […]

The most recent trend in video game storytelling is releasing the games in monthly chunks that are entirely concerned with advancing a narrative. This trend, of telling stories in interconnected semi-regular releases is meant to emulate the feeling of TV. And yet, as of right now, TV has moved closer and closer towards using the season as the main unit of storytelling (versus “the episode”)

The argument could be made, especially considering Telltale’s resolution to continue both The Walking Dead and the Wolf Among Us in a format akin to a TV season, that the season is still a valid construct that could apply to the critical discussion of these games. However, the emphasis on the season on TV in recent years is quite different than the one exhibited by The Walking Dead or Life is Strange. Stories like True Detective’s seasons are more like volumes of a book series, while told on regular weekly installments (equivalent to a book’s chapters) each one to be interconnected into a bigger whole.

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When You Play the Game of Thrones, You Win or You Die. (Hint: You die.)

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.” That particular saying is bandied about so frequently nowadays that I’m worried it’s actually permanently engraved into my skull, […]

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

That particular saying is bandied about so frequently nowadays that I’m worried it’s actually permanently engraved into my skull, taking up valuable space I could be using to remember details about taxes and other Important Adult Skills. So as I eagerly fired up Telltale’s latest endeavor, Game of Thrones, that particular line was ringing in my ears. ‘I’m going to be fine’, I reassure myself. ‘I’ve read the books and seen the show, I know these characters better than they know themselves. I can be clever. I can be cruel to save my own life. I’m gonna rock this.’

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November Spooktacular! You Should (Not) Be Playing: Horror Games popurri

Hello and welcome back the Brain On Airwaves podcast. It’s been quite a while since me and Jerry could sit down and talk about things and stuff but we were […]

Hello and welcome back the Brain On Airwaves podcast. It’s been quite a while since me and Jerry could sit down and talk about things and stuff but we were constrained by Real Life, the cruelest of all mistresses.  Either way, we managed to sit down and talk about one of our very favorite topics: horror design in video games. And we got a special guest, Liz!, to join us and hear our shouting about things.

Hope you have a nice sunday and, of course, that you don’t stop being spooky because of a silly date in the calendar.

(download)

(Twitter: Juan: @JuanConde11 | Jerry: @sonofaether)

(Tumblr: Juan: thehermesofverses | Jerry: thedrunkenminstrel | Liz: doesgames)

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