Posts Tagged ‘The Sunday Papers’

The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on March 2nd, 2014.

LOSING. MY. EDGE.

Sundays are for losing my edge. I’m losing my edge to the internet seekers who can tell me every member of every Amiga developer from 1987 to 1991. I hear that you and your blog have sold your PCs and bought Ouyas. But have you seen my collection of the week’s best (mostly) game’s related scribbling?

  • Over at Eurogamer, Donlan says thank you to the sadly departed Harold Ramis, and muses on how to say thank you to the anonymous people who make the things we love in videogames. “In truth, if you’re like me, you’ll have little idea of who was responsible for many of your favourite moments in many of your favourite games – and that’s a crying shame, since a lot of games are their best moments, living on in your memory, playing over and over and getting sharper and more distinct each time. To me, Arkham City is the grapnel boost. Batman has the best ropes! Look at it go, unspooling from the end of the gun with a puff of smoke, first a coiled Slinky of wire, then a taut black line connecting you to your destination.”
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The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on February 23rd, 2014.

RIND SO TOUGH IT'S CRAZY.

Sundays are for listening to The Smiths, playing with virtual reality spaceships, and assembling a list of the week’s game scribblings while continuing to resist the urge to link to your own podcast.

  • This week was dominated by the re-structuring of Irrational Games. Our very own Rich Stanton takes to the Guardian to talk about the meaning of Irrational’s closure, holding up the company’s games and Levine’s comments as a mirror for what’s happening. Good quotes in there from Levine himself as well. “I love systems, I love board games and that’s all they are is systems. I think the challenge is that I probably have something more to say in the narrative space than I do in the system space, but who knows how that could combine? I mean maybe, we did this game called Freedom Force about superheroes, and one thing that I thought we did better than other superhero games was the narrative component. Superhero stories are soap operas, right? They take the characters and emotions and amplify them through the fantastical stuff, and without that character stuff – like without Uncle Ben dying in Amazing Fantasy #15 – Spider-Man isn’t interesting! Videogames often leave that on the table and make their games way more goofy than comic books actually are.” Thanks for the Spider-Man spoilers, Ken.
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The Sunday Papers

By Graham Smith on February 16th, 2014.

Flappy Bird on pages 3, 5, 6, 11, 18, 36-124.

Sundays are for sleeping in til midday, before rising to gather the finest articles about flapping birds the internet can provide. What will make us all angry next week, I wonder?

  • Let’s do all the Flappy Birds articles first. Brendon Keogh writes about the problem with innovation, and does some rare work towards understanding what makes Flappy Bird a fun game to play. “There’s a slapstick, black humor to it – a morbid desperation. Mechanically, this translates into the game’s difficulty. In most flying games, it’s possible to find an equilibrium as your flaps turn into something resembling gliding. Not here. Flap too little and you plummet; flap too much and you’ll bang your head on the pipe. You must compensate for overcompensation.”
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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on February 9th, 2014.

    Bet there's chewing gum on the underside of this table.

    Sundays are for visiting family in the frigid north, before the country detaches and sets sail to hang out with Iceland. They’re also for reading pre-prepared game writings from across the week.

    • OXM UK’s Edwin Evans-Thirwell takes to The Guardian to write about how videogames provide his brother, who has Down’s Syndrome, with a mechanism by which to escape the expectations placed upon him. “We expect “disabled” people – that’s to say, the vast spectrum of individuals branded as such for convenience’s sake – to be passive, unaware, content to live within tacit, carefully managed social nooks in exchange for support and guidance. We don’t expect them to recognise such overtures for what they are: well-meant, but limiting. We don’t expect them to break the rules. We don’t expect them to cheat. By contrast, most video games outright encourage you to misbehave, or at least refrain from bringing down the gavel when you do: it’s what makes them such wonderful, liberating escapism.”
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    The Sunday Papers

    By Kieron Gillen on February 2nd, 2014.

    Next the Chaos Retrospective piece, probably, except not.

    Sundays are for heroic dwarfs entering the gold-filled lair of the sleeping malevolent dragon of games journalism, and awaking it, saying it’s the 300th anniversary of the Sunday Papers, and whether it would deign to rise up one last time and scour the earth with its fiery prose and/or compiling a list of the finest recent writing (mostly) about games. And the Dragon did rise up, and its wings blotted out the sun, and it said “Okay – as long as I can get it done before I finally get around to going to see the Hobbit this afternoon.” And the Dwarfs said “Sure.” And the Dragon said “Great, let’s do that then.”

    • I was in Venice last weekend, and rather reading Mann’s Death In Venice as I planned to on the journey, I couldn’t turn away from Leigh Alexander’s Breathing Machine: A Memoir of Computers. Well, I could, but only when the turbulence got a bit crazy and I had to have a little cry. It’s a short e-book, which you can buy in all the usual places. Gamasutra ran an excerpt if you need a taste, but if you’re reading the Sunday Papers, I suspect you’re already clicking buy and I’m speaking to thin air. Come back, you fuckers. It’s Leigh writing precisely and beautifully of the coming of age of herself and the consumer information age. Also, lots of text adventure chat.
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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on January 26th, 2014.

    I'm going to start getting this up in the mornings, I swear.

    Sundays are for spying a glimpse of the finish line and stretching wide in preparation for the final sprint home. Sundays are for this.

    • I forgot this one last week: Tom Chatfield on Wired writing about how in videogames, difficulty is the point. “Time is of the essence when it comes to almost every aspect of the field. Even the most difficult works of literature or philosophy tend to take at most tens of hours to read. Yet far simpler games can demand a hundred hours or more of play if they are to be exhaustively explored, while some online games raise the pitch of this expertise to thousands (hello, EVE).”
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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on January 19th, 2014.

    Cut copy me, I'm all yours.

    Sundays are for celebrating the week past by smearing yourself in Philadelphia cream cheese, listening to Petula Clark, and reading the week’s best writing about videogames.

    • Cassandra Khaw takes to the Daily Dot to skewer the low quality and nearly non-existent wages of esports reportage: “Yet, in spite of the adulations, the nerd cred, and the media’s enthused portrayal of the rapidly growing industry, only a handful are making an actual living. But while eSports’ high-tech athletes and their entourage of coaches, managers, and publicists are slowly being given their due, eSports journalists are still, by and large, community volunteers who subsist only on their own passions and the occasional approval of their peers.”
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    The Sunday Papers

    By John Walker on January 12th, 2014.

    Sundays are for plotting your gruesome destruction of the planet Earth. But before you do, take a look at some interesting morsels of games writing we’ve noticed this week.

    • One of the most beautifully written and compelling articles I’ve ever read kicks us off this week: Christian Donlan’s extraordinary piece on the role of Monopoly in the Second World War. Weaving in takes of his own grandfather into this peculiar and audacious tale, it’s so good I wanted a whole book of it. And now for someone to option it and make it into a film.

      “That set gave my grandfather his war stories. Spared the dangers of actual combat, he worked at a nearby farm handling the bookkeeping during the week, and he built up a dazzling property portfolio and crushed his competitors in his spare time. Long days in the camp meant that the prisoners quickly adapted the rules of the game so that a single match could take a fortnight to unfold and then they played and played and played. Europe burned, Russia was driven back into the black mud of the Eastern Front, the Blitz rained fire from the sky over St Pauls (and as far north as Glasgow). As for my grandfather? My grandfather learned the value of nabbing all the oranges quickly, so as to capitalise on any unfortunates rolling to get out of jail.”

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on January 5th, 2014.

    Sundays are for wiping the sleep from your eyes, clearing a holiday-worth of coffee cups from your writing bureau, and settling down in your favourite armchair for another round of the week’s best game writing.

    • Simon “Nice Man” Parkin visits with Chris Crawford to find out how his quest to fix videogames is going. Crawford is the industry’s Don Quixote and exactly as inspirational, depressing and comic as that implies. “Chris Crawford owns two jars. One is filled with the beads that represent his past, and the other is filled with the beads that represent his potential future. Every morning, Crawford takes a bead from the jar that holds his future days and places it into the jar that holds the past. While he performs the ritual he tells himself not to waste the day. This routine reminds him that life is finite. Each jar represents how much life Crawford has already lived, and offers an approximation of how many days he might have left.” You’ll have heard parts of this story before, but Parkin tells it well.
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    The Sunday Papers

    By John Walker on December 22nd, 2013.

    Sundays are for being on holiday before Christmas! So just a quick one this week.

    As the Warhammer Age Of Reckoning MMO closes down, former developer Josh Drescher writes about how he believes WAR is still everywhere, as so many of the game’s team have gone on to work on other leading MMOs, and how many other MMOs have picked up ideas from Warhammer. “If you look around the industry today at pretty much any major MMO being developed in the Western market, you will find WAR there. Sometimes, it will be in the games themselves where concepts and ideas that first showed up in WAR have been “gently borrowed”. Mostly, however, it’s in the people making those games. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a major MMORPG team whose leadership doesn’t feature someone who cut their teeth as a developer on WAR.”

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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on December 15th, 2013.

    Don't call it a comeback. We do this every week.

    Sundays are for work, for wishing it would stop getting dark at 2pm, and for panic-buying gifts for family and friends while wondering if you couldn’t just give them links to the week’s best game writing instead.

    • Paul Mason at the Guardian posits a game based on creating radical economies, imagining how players might exist outside of the economic mechanics of EVE Online, Skyrim, or a whole new game: “What I am proposing is something different. What if, just as in an Occupy camp, where they try to “live despite capitalism”, you could live “despite” the property forms and voracious market economics of a computer game?” A great article and design experiment. Also noteworthy: it’s about games, but it’s not in the Guardian’s games section.
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    The Sunday Papers

    By Graham Smith on December 8th, 2013.

    If you link me, I will link you.

    Sundays are for weeping uncontrollably, but consoling ourselves with the sweet succor of a week’s worth of game writing.

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    The Sunday Papers

    By John Walker on December 1st, 2013.

    If you link me, I will link you.

    Sundays are for buffering you against the impact of an incoming Monday morning. Nestle within its plush airbag, and enjoy reading gaming articles from the week.

    • The New Yorker hosts a piece by Maria Konnikova, looking at the first-person shooter, and why it’s such a successful genre. Ignore the awful title, this isn’t a tedious “why oh why?” piece, but rather an exploration of the experience and science of the FPS. “As the environmental complexity, variety of opponents, and difficulty increased, the players’ [of Half-Life 2] faces registered greater positive emotion while their skin indicated increased arousal. Subjectively, they reported feeling happier and more immersed in the experience. They also felt an increase of challenge and tension—Csikszentmihalyi’s optimal match between skill and challenge—as well as a heightened sense of action as their own identity melted away.”
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