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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for crawling out of bed, stuffing your craw with olives, and filling your brain with red hot words of videogame glory.

  • Margaret Robertson writes about FTL and, while promising not to, tells you about how good it is, while simultaneously conveying the joy of emergent systems, of playing games with friends and, well, videogames in general. “I like co-op games where the other player gets a beer, not a second controller, but can still be utterly pivotal to the outcome of a game. FTL, whose pause function lets it tick-tock between everything happening at once, and an eerily huge possibility space, is remarkably well geared for collaborative play.”
  • For further examples of smart, economical game writing, check out Robertson’s lamentably neglected Games I Like That You Might Like.
  • In Democracy: Experiments with Manifestos, Dan Griliopoulos takes the 2010 manifestos of UK political parties and runs them through Democracy 2. Why that older game in the series? Because it was written around the time of the elections, when I commissioned it for PC Gamer. Then we never ran the article, because we were profligate and wild back in those days. It’s still an excellent and relevant read today: “As the Lib-Dems pledged, I immediately slash 50% of the NHS and defence budgets (I presume cancelling the Trident replacement and the new Eurofighters), and use it to raise public sector pay, increase state pensions, reform the schools, and provide student grants for all. I fiddle with the tax system, reducing VAT and moving the bills onto the wealthy, polluters, motorists and airlines; the excess subsidises the rail networks, rural communities and small businesses.”
  • Dan’s had a good week. See also his interview with Patrick Smith, creator of the magical Windosill.
  • ‘You Can Sleep Here All Night’: Video Games and Labor takes a lengthy look at overtime and exploitation in videogame development. I disagree with its opening assertion that the videogame press is corrupt, but its an otherwise detailed look at the way creative industries take advantage of people’s passion, and what those workers should do about it. “Real unionization, involving an alliance between middle-rung workers and those itching to take their jobs below, is not just desirable but necessary, not only for the workers enmeshed in twelve-hour days, but to save the industry from tottering over the edge into obsolescence.”
  • Richard Cobbett’s Crap Shoot column continues to surprise and entertain. This week he writes a Choose Your Own Adventure about Lone Wolf, an old platformer based on some old Choose Your Own Adventure books. It’s Cobbett through and through.
  • Philippa Warr made use of all her professional skills to review a dog.
  • Paper Half-Life 2 is old but still good.
  • Music this week is a stiff drink.

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Graham Smith

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