Marsh Davies talks about how games distribute power to players and how power fantasies often fail to work as parables about bigotry through the window of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, with side discussions of how violent combat became so common in video games, how stealthy paths can be less interesting than combat-heavy paths, the tension between player power and narrative, and how these narratives can encourage people who already have power to feel sorry for themselves. [more inside]
Diorama Club - a site where you can play interactive stories or use a simple tree syntax to create and share your own.
Magic: the Gathering is a fantastic strategy trading card game, currently in it's 22nd year and more popular than ever. But as it becomes more mainstream, an ugly issue is coming to light: there just aren't many women players. The official company line is that 38% of players are female, although that number is not represented in high level play. Gaby Spartz's article 6 Things You Can do to Get More Women Into Magic puts the percentage of women in tournament play closer to 1-2% of the field. Spartz's article, as well as her followup 7 Counterpoints to My Women in Magic Article, has sparked a debate that has raged over the past few months. [more inside]
Someone apparently found a strange horror "game" that was uploaded to a remote corner of the deep web, accessible only via anonymizing tools like Tor. No one seems to know what it is or who made it, and apparently the link hosting the file is now down. All we have to go by at the moment is part of a playthrough (note: potentially unsettling material): Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
In June, 1994, a man goes missing. His wife makes a series of interviews with police. Those interviews form the basis of the recently released title Her Story, an FMV-style game that tasks the player with digging through hours of video to determine what happened, and how, and why. [more inside]
Inspired by Dwarf Fortress and No Man's Sky, Josh Newland writes about procedural generation of game worlds at Gamasutra and presents his Unity/WebGL game project.
23 Games from E3 2015 with Badass Playable Female Characters - Sam Maggs for The Mary Sue
Gaming Your Brain - How to top the leaderboard of Clash of Clans, and how Freemium games rake in billions of dollars from their players.
A fan takes a look at the downturn of Sonic the Hedgehog, and presents some ideas on how to breathe new life into the franchise. [SLYT]
You're sitting down with your friends to play a boardgame, and you find yourself in a conundrum: how do you choose a first player? Sure, you could roll a standard die and take highest number, but what if there's a tie? That could take forever! Besides, wouldn't you rather be mathematically sure that everyone has a fair shot at each spot in the turn order? Of course you would!
Regular Human Basketball: A QWOP-like multiplayer game for Mac/Windows/Linux in which you play basketball as God and James Naismith intended—with the slight addition of thrusters, a magnet arm, and all-terrain wheels. Comes with realistic basketball commentary from real human commentators!
Duke Nukem Forever. Earthbound and Donkey Kong 64 on Virtual Console. DnD RPGs and LucasArts adventure games on GOG.com. What an age we live in, in which vidya games we were once denied are suddenly no longer denied. And now, Chip's Challenge and its fabled sequel, classic puzzle games long thought permanently unrereleasable and unreleasable respectively due to copyright issues, have finally been released on Steam (and let's not forget its spiritual successor from during the drought, Chuck's Challenge 3D). But why stop there? Fans have created a bunch of free extra levels for the original game, including three epic collaborative level packs, and a free program (first version, newer version) capable of running them. The latter version also has a convenient bundle including all three level packs and an intro pack that serves as a tutorial. [more inside]
'New Wave Games Journalist' and frequent Guardian and Rock Paper Shotgun columnist Cara Ellison is leaving games journalism, and she lays out her reasons in an essay on her site. Some of her best-known writing includes her S.EXE series about sex in a games for Rock Paper Shotgun, a verse review of an Anna Anthropy game for The Guardian, the Embed With Games series and a heartfelt tribute to indie game maker Increpare.
Remember the surprising stealth thing-that's-great Frog Fractions (previously)? When creator Jim Crawford (also previously) and his team released its successfully Kickstarted sequel, they won't tell anyone, and will leave everyone to find it for themselves. Enter the unofficial Frog Fractions 2 twitter account, which bugs Jim about a different possible culprit every day. And for those who didn't back the Kickstarter and thus won't be automatically notified when The Jig Is Up (TM), there's always IsTheJigUpYet, which also attempts to guess at FF2's identity (albeit using a sliiiiiightly different method). [more inside]
User Sparx recently mentioned checking sites of Japanese escape game makers for games of sufficient quality. But what if there were a single, constantly-updated website with links to an obscene number of those frustrating Japanese escape-the-room adventure games? Welcome to
hell No1Game. I figured out the site on my own but if you need help, a guide to navigating the site follows. [more inside]
Dinofarm Games explain why the demand for higher definition graphics have led them to abandon pixel art... over the course of a wonderfully explained, beautifully illustrated, and clearly demonstrated love letter to pixel art.
Eve Online: how a virtual world went to the edge of apocalypse and back The video game Eve Online is one of Iceland’s biggest exports and has become the world’s largest living work of science fiction. While rival games have come and gone, it has survived – thanks to a unique experiment in democracy
In December of last year, the NYC-based digital art nonprofit Rhizome successfully Kickstarted an online exhibition of cloud-emulated copies of the three CD-ROMs created by Theresa Duncan and based on young girls' everyday experiences. Last month, they were made available for play for a minimum of one year with probable extension. You can read about - and, thanks to embedding - play them at Rhizome itself and The Verge (or just play them right here). Note: you may have to wait in a queue. Also, you may have to wait a while for the computer running the game, which will be streamed to you, to start up.
In what would turn out to be a watershed event in the history of viral videos and online multiplayer gaming, footage of the Leeroy Jenkins incident was uploaded to the internet ten years ago today (previously).
Game developer Itay Keren talks 2D scrolling in this very visual and nostalgia-filled post and talk.
Not long ago, 3D Realms (formerly Apogee, not to be confused with the spin-off Apogee) revamped its website and store, including an anthology (several of these games have also been released on GOG.com). A few days ago, after much negotiation with individual rights holders, a Steam version of the anthology (missing Wolfenstein 3D and Commander Keen, which are (apart from two certain Keen titles) already available on Steam via iD/ZeniMax) was released (direct link to store page). Over the years, they have also made a bunch of their titles freeware. After the break, a full list of links to download those free games via their legacy site (apart from two, downloadable elsewhere) in order of original release. Most of the newer ones are also available in the revamped store for registered users (via the same library as game purchases). Those not available via that store will be marked. Oh, and as always, DOSbox is your friend when running old DOS games. [more inside]
You couldn’t control the camera, I mean. The Silent Hill video games were blunt and herky-jerky—you, backed into a corner, swinging a plywood board clumsily at two sets of mannequin hips bolted horrifically together, flailing at you. Clay-colored, faceless children grabbed at you in the dark as you tap-tap-jogged awkwardly in circles, desperate to regain some kind of control. The world fell silent for cutscenes, PlayStation glory-era wax-lipped women with empty eyes mouthing hollow dialogue at you from the mist and shadows.Why Silent Hill mattered.
It was all really bad and scary, and kind of broken, and everyone loved it, especially me.
Flash Friday! In Murder, don't get caught killing the King, then catch others trying to usurp your reign- or get usurped and get revenge! Red Light Green Light was never played with higher stakes!
A highly addictive and adorable Japanese Smartphone Game Available for both IOS and Android and exclusively in Japanese, it's pretty easy to navigate, and a clearer explanation of how to play can be found here.
"What could you possibly have in common with a mushroom, or a dinosaur, or even a bacterium? More than you might think. In this Lab, you’ll puzzle out the evolutionary relationships linking together a spectacular array of species. Explore the tree of life and get a front row seat to what some have called the greatest show on Earth. That show is evolution." Evolution Lab is a educational game created by the Life on Earth Project and NOVA Labs
Want to play Warhammer Fantasy Battle? Not possesed of a Scrroge McDuck style moneypit or willing to sell organs in order to buy figures? Kieron Gillen and Matthew Sheret are here to help with Hipsterhammer. Jump in with guides to building Dwarf, Empire or Vampire Count armies on the cheap! Doubles as a bit of a guide to the weirdo world of Warhammer Fantasy, as distinct from your more generic Tolkienesque efforts. They even have a manifesto!
The Women I Pretend to Be, by novelist and game writer Naomi Alderman (previously):
No one in tech has ever been as sexist toward me as teachers and rabbis before I was 12 years old. But I've come to notice more and more how working within the particular masculine sexism of the tech industry has nudged the way I present myself, just a little. I've noticed how, very slowly, I've started to acquiesce into playing roles that get assigned to me. I've noticed how I disappear behind these masks.
What follows is not a horror story. It's a series of moments.
As an archivist, my ethical duty is to maintain those objects of intrinsic value to future generations. I’ve often found that others assume my profession is focused on facts and figures, the hard data from which a census or otherwise lifeless historical record can be drawn. Such data will inform one on how a people survived. As important as this data is, it cannot tell you how a people dreamed. [more inside]
It's clear that narrative is an important part of video games and something that the audience deeply relates to. However, the strengths of interactive media are player participation, the ability to experience content in different ways on different playthroughs and the fact that the content is not static. It's time for narrative to deeply embrace these elements.Ken Levine, of System Shock and BioShock fame, explores player driven replayable narrative gameplay.
The brainchild of Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team at From Software, the Souls games have gained a rabid cult following over the past few years. The newest spiritual successor Bloodborne (trailer 1, 2) has been out for a couple weeks now, and it's received stellar reviews across the board. It might very well be the best in the series, reconfiguring the dense gameplay in surprising ways and offering up an intricately-realized Victorian gothic world. Tim Rogers has written a lengthy, articulate, spoiler-free (in a narrative sense) analysis of Bloodborne's design - You Are the Experience Points. [more inside]
Tired of video games with soundtracks full of butt rock, gloomy dirges and electronic haze? You're in luck! Games also have a proud tradition of whimsical, charming, jazzy, funky, jaunty, zany, serene, uplifting, and even joyous tunes! [more inside]
Aurion looks to be a standard and mechanically unremarkable retro action RPG with heavy Japanese design influences. But its design and feel are unmistakably fresh, offering a bold color palette and interesting unit designs. Its fiction is rooted in stories of exploitation and division, and in a desire for harmony.This review of Cameroon's Kiro’o Games latest release is just one of the increasingly visible ways Africa's game developers are beginning to gain traction in their domestic and international markets. Last fall, Lagos hosted the inaugural West African Gaming Expo, bringing together startups, gamers, developers and investors for the first time. Games range from mobile only, extremely local - smash the mosquito or drive your matatu like a maniac - to educational - to full fledged RPG like Kiro'o's Aurion. Women are as much a part of this nascent industry, breaking barriers and encouraging others to join. Watch this space.
"This blog is dedicated to discussing games where you play as a frog, but it might also talk about games which just have heavy frog presence in them. The borders are unclear and the road ahead is hazy. Come with me on the journey to be a frog."
Why I Run Netrunner (fantastic Previous post) is a great card game with a small problem--the initial difficulty curve is basically a cliff, with seemingly a thousand different things for newcomers to keep in mind. So developer Martin Brochu, aka Nagnazul, has created a neat little flavorific text-based tutorial for you all. Now you have no more excuse. Enjoy! (Some NSFW language.)
Dwarf Fortress will now include poetry, music and dance in procedurally generated forms. Making individual poems is beyond the capabilities of Dwarf Fortress (for now) but that hasn't stopped fans from making their own poems based on the publicly posted examples of poetic forms. Besides poetry, music and dance forms will also be generated and spread throughout the game as non-player characters teach each other. Dwarf Fortress developer Tarn Adams has been posting about these new additions to the game on his changelog (starting at 01/24/2015) and answering questions about it in his two latest monthly Future of the Fortress forum posts. On Rock Paper Shotgun Adam and Graham Smith delve into this topic to explore why it matters.
It was common practice in the 8/16 bit era for Japanese programmers to use pseudonyms or abbreviations in the game's credits, so you might not have given too much thought to the name NASIR popping up in the credits for Rad Racer, Final Fantasy II or Secret of Mana. In fact, NASIR was just the first name of programmer Nasir Gebelli, an Iranian-American who first made his name programming ambitious games like Horizon V in the Apple II era. [more inside]
The Tub Adventure. The Stupid Room. The Gaming Guyz Game (watch their complete animated hijinx here). The Tube Adventure. The Tilted Cart. All by Shmorky (Tumblr, Twitter). [more inside]
Simon Tatham's Portable Puzzle Collection "I wrote this collection because I thought there should be more small desktop toys available: little games you can pop up in a window and play for two or three minutes while you take a break from whatever else you were doing. And I was also annoyed that every time I found a good game on (say) Unix, it wasn't available the next time I was sitting at a Windows machine, or vice versa; so I arranged that everything in my personal puzzle collection will happily run on both those platforms and more." In addition to the desktop implementations available at the website, the collection is also available on Android and iOS.
This is a game where you push circles into other circles. This is a destructively massive time sink. You have been warned.
A short history of gaming in Brazil: "To understand the history of gaming in Brazil dear reader, you must know a little bit about our political and economic history ... In 1991, a small publisher by the name of GSA published a roleplaying game called Tagmar [translation], often lauded as the first Brazilian RPG. ... They also released Desafio dos Bandeirantes, a game set in 17th century colonial Brazil using regional folklore instead of European myths, and a sci-fi game, Millenia [translation] ... In February 1994, the Brazilian authorities set in motion a major economic plan that invigorated the Brazilian economy for the first time since 1973. By March, the currency stabilized enough to assure the population (and companies) that their money would be worth the same by the end of the week ... The happy result for gamers was that companies started buying game licenses right and left." Via. See also History of Brazilian RPGs, History of Brazilian RPG magazines, Role-playing games in education in Brazil: how we do it [PDF], and President Cardoso reflects on Brazil and sociology.
Although he's been out of the games industry for years, Keiji Yamagishi (known as the original composer for Ninja Gaiden[YT] and Tecmo Bowl[YT] among other soundtracks) has kept busy with work on ringtones and other music compositions. After contributing to a compilation put out by the game music label Brave Wave, he decided to put out a full album with label founder Mohammed Taher. You can listen to the first track on Soundcloud. (warning, may melt speakers/face) [more inside]
What's the scariest thing in the world? Ask your teenage daughter. Ninja Pizza Girl is a game from independent game studio Disparity Games.
I’m pitching my idea for "baddies" to the Disparity Games design think tank. It consists of me, my wife and however many of our daughters happen to be in the room at the time.… Raven looks up. "Robots aren’t scary Dad.… Zombies aren’t scary either."[more inside]
I’m getting a little tetchy with this unreceptive design group. I ask Raven, "So what are teenage girls scared of?"
Raven thinks for a moment. She looks sad. "Other teenagers," she says.
"Some games make an enormous impact on you when you play them, and time and technology do little to diminish that impact. I feel that way about quite a few games: Elite, Super Mario Bros, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are three that immediately come to mind. Secret of Mana is without question a fourth." [more inside]
Mozilla's Darrin Henein writes about his decision to release his side project, the iOS game Lastronaut, completely free - no ads, no in-app purchases. He describes the game as "a love-letter to an industry". His co-creator is Stephan Leroux.
Swery65 is a game designer known for the cult class Deadly Premonition. Deadly Premonition was distinguished by its quirky Twin Peaks inspired storyline, lovingly rendered American small town gameworld, memorable characters, and unique gameplay. Swery's new series is an atmospheric mystery game, D4 (Dark Dreams Don't Die). D4 notably ditches the somewhat tacked on combat of Deadly Prem. in favor of a series of investigation mini-games more in line with old-school point and click adventures. Noted Let's Player SuperGreatFriend has been working his way through the game as it's released, and you can follow along to get a taste of Swery's latest unique creation.