As the conversation
about the state of games criticism continues
, there is a site that acts as a platform for some of the best writing in the field by theorists, critics, and independent developers: Nightmare Mode dot net
Nightmare Mode refers to a group of outsiders, insiders, aliens, starfighters, and the occasional human being who refuse to work within the marketing machine. Fuck that. We write thoughtfully, meticulously, critically, sometimes absurdly about games, their industry, and their surrounding culture.
Here are some recent posts from the last month or so, with a bit of annotated info:
Dot Matrix Story: Final Fantasy Legend
, by Andrew Vanden Bossche
-- Andrew writes about the place that Final Fantasy Legend (wiki
) held for him as a child visiting his relatives in California.
I Speak for the " ... "
, by Allois Wittwer
-- Wittwer examines the often maligned silent video game protagonist
using the lens of Dragon Quest V (wiki
Borderlands 2 - An Extended Engagement
, by alex -- Falling out of and then back in to love with Borderlands 2 (wiki
Downtime is disappearing in modern games. Is that really a good thing?
, by Craig Bamford
-- Bamford explores the change in pacing brought about by social and mobile gaming, leading to more activity and less 'down time'.
You Know What’s Gross? We Often Play Nice Guys™ In Games With Romance Options
, by Kim Moss -- On the idea of kindness as a sexual currency that's found in many games
. Male gaze and gaming recently on the Blue
. And less recently
What can we consider ‘negative space’ in games?
, by Matthew Schanuel -- A exploration of the concept of 'ma
' in game design.
Eating in a game should mean more than just food
, by Rachel Helps
-- Helps looks at how food can be used in games as more than just a stat boost (also explored well over at Magical Wasteland
, by Cara Ellison -- A poem about what it means to be a woman playing games and working in the industry (and more). A play on Kerouac's poem, hadda be playing on your jukebox
. Similar topic recently on the Blue
How would a plant love someone?
, by Dennis Farr
-- Farr examines sex, gender, and world building with Guild Wars 2 (wiki
) and the fantasy race of the Sylvari
. A recent discussion about identity in gaming
Breaking out of a self-centered gamer mentality.
, by Richard Clark -- Clark writes about the self-centered nature of gaming, and the harsh conflict of game-reality with real-reality, resolving with a story about To the Moon
. Are video games dumb?
At the Intersection of Police Brutality and Vigilante Tourism in Games
, by Ethan Gach
-- On fascism, vigilante justice, and wish fulfillment, using Arkham City (wiki
) as a point of discussion.
What games teach us about guns vs real guns
, by Bill Coberly -- A reflection on why the primary verb in so many games is to shoot one thing at another thing, and what this means for our conceptions of guns, violence, and embodiment in game-spaces. Referencing the sublime QWOP
. Spec Ops: The Line
as an attempt to address this in-game.
Creation Under Capitalism and the Twine Revolution
, by Porpentine
, as an aside I can't recommend the second previously enough) -- A beautiful love letter to interactive fiction, a tutorial, a guide, and a bibliography; specifically referencing the IF software Twine
Games for adults
, by Jonas Kryatzes
-- An extended joke which reflects upon the role of narrative in games. See also. See also
. See Also
Gaming the System
, by merritt kopas
-- merritt looks at serious gaming by examining Dsy4ia
, by Anna Anthropy. Dsy4ia is a beautiful game about the designer's experiences with being transgendered in modern society.
The depiction of religion in games is awful for non-religious and religious alike
, by Jordan Rivas
-- Depictions of religion in game-spaces.
Labyrinth of Someone Else’s Memory: Mother
, by J Chastain
, and previously
)-- "Existing within Mother’s world means embodying the image of someone else’s childhood, his stumbling steps into adolescence, the expectations that have been inscribed onto his brain. I’m someone for whom attempting to exist as a good heterosexual boy was rather self-destructive, and part of playing Mother made the deep inscriptions burnt into my own brain light up. It’s the promise, repeated here as I saw it repeated a thousand times elsewhere, that understanding heterosexual desire is a gateway into adulthood. It’s the absolute inevitability of and my perfect, effortless entitlement to the care and adoration of women.
" Referring to Mother (wiki
). Highly recommended.
Lost for words: new relationships and Journey
, by Alan Williamson -- How words fail in describing the experience of game play. Referrs to Journey (wiki
Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2: ass2ass.gif
, by Greg Petrovic -- On the fake morality of No Russian
No Exit: How Games Can Change Us
, by Mattie Brice
-- Brice gives a wonderful analysis on the bleed between the real and the sim. Raph Koster expresses similar ideas
. Maybe a bit about the games/art dichotomy
No Exit: How Games Can Change UsHow our perception of space in games changes depending on our maps
, by Line Hollis
-- Using Morrowind (previously
, and previously
) as a focal point, Hollis looks at the way that our perception of geography is shaped within game-space by both physical and digital artifacts.
Play is excavation: the search for game poetry
, by Dylan Holmes -- "My premise while writing this book was to portray these games as being something other than the insipid and pointless rot-your-brain-run-your-eyes-waste-your-life-whydontcha entertainments that many of the adults of my youth saw them as, but as the works of art they truly are.
" Holmes examines the game as poetry, referencing the work of noted games scholar Ian Bogost
Sometimes games want you to think they’re critiquing violence, but instead they legitimize it
, by Cameron Kunzelman
-- Kunzelman writes about the 'epic win' of the ten billionth digital covenant death, as celebrated by Jane McGonical
. Relates specifically to the strange internal logic of the new XCOM game
Planting Seeds: A mobile game that supports Kenyan women
, by Jill Schar -- On gameful design, as imagined by Jane McGonical
, and gamification
The Heart of Torchlight 2’s Darkness
, by Dan Cox -- The troubling mechanic of progression through killing. Examined within the game-world of Torchlight 2 (wiki
Borderlands 2 might be funny, but it’s not a comedy
, by Tom Auxier
-- Auxier writes about genre: shooter, comedy, action movie, farce. Draws upon the hillarious game Tokyo Jungle
In defense of old values: talking with Pid’s Kian Bashiri
, by Fernando Cordeiro
-- An interview with Pid's
developer Kian Bashiri
Dark Souls – the Hollowed Killer of Lordran
), by alex -- A narrative about the narrative of Dark Souls
. Praise the Sun!
There are many more at Nightmare Mode