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The Sunday Papers

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.”
  • Polygon give the long treatment to an oral history of Street Fighter 2. It needs a knife, but there’s enough interesting anecdotes to see you through. “At one point, [Yasuda] wanted to live a healthy life, so he said, “OK I’m going to drink milk.” So he’d always buy these little packs of milk. He’d be working, and then he’d reach down to his little milk packs and drink them. Around his desk, he had like 100 of these packs. So he’d grab one, shake it, and whenever he’d find one with milk in it, he’d drink it and put it back, without even looking at it. And he never knew what the expiration dates were. So he started drinking milk to be healthy, but he was always complaining he had diarrhea.”
  • Jonathan Blow tweeted this earlier in the week. I Want A Clone is a Tumblr displaying screengrabs of cloned or reskinned games, and of people who want to hire a developer to produce a clone. “i need someone to Remake the Same idea of Flappy Bird but with levels and In app Purchase , i also need a same graphic style . i want it for iPad & iPhone . I need the game to have Smooth and Good physics .”
  • Pete Davison on Eurogamer writes about how Dungeon Keeper’s mobile reincarnation, and its F2P gubbins, is a symptom of a wider problem. “Herein lies a serious problem with the mobile games industry as a whole right now: good game design is frequently sacrificed in the name of making something more likely to make money. Players are not respected as people who want to have fun; they’re treated as resources who need to be exploited. “Friction” is created by making players wait, or by not quite giving them enough money to do something, or, in some cases, by limiting the number of actions they may take in a single day through an energy bar or lives system, and the only way to alleviate the “fun pain” that “friction” creates is by paying.”
  • There are plenty of good examples of free-to-play models, but disappointingly few on mobile. I don’t buy the standard industry defence that this is ‘what people want’, either. I know people who aren’t gamers who play free games on mobile that they wouldn’t have tried if there was an upfront fee, but they’re just as frustrated by the waits and microtransactions as anyone else. They don’t want the model, either. The issue lies in marketing: how do you get people who don’t engage with the games press, and who are cautious purchasers, to pay a fee for games upfront? Corrupting the market and the games with exploitative mechanics is surely only a short-term solution.

  • It’s been a week for mobile games. Flappy Bird has flown to absurd heights, and ruffled some feathers in the process. I quite like the game, but Kotaku stick the knife in over its Mario-like art. In the same week, the creator announced he’s taking the game down. A shame. Key (funniest) quote: “Weird to think that some kids might grow up thinking these are “Flappy Bird pipes.””
  • Ian Bogost writes a deeper piece about Flappy Bird for the Atlantic, acknowledging its limitations but celebrating its “squalid grace”. This is a good ‘un: “To understand Flappy Bird, we must accept the premise that games are squalid, rusty machinery we operate in spite of themselves. What we appreciate about Flappy Bird is not the details of its design, but the fact that it embodies them with such unflappable nonchalance. The best games cease to be for us (or for anyone) and instead strive to be what they are as much as possible. From this indifference emanates a strange squalor that we can appreciate as beauty.”
  • Professional tweeter/occasional game maker Mike Bithell, of Thomas Was Alone and Volume, writes On Success. This is the sort of thing you’re not supposed to say or complain about, so props to Mike for writing it. “The internet will hate you. Because you’re fat. Because you’re ugly. Because you’re hot. Because you are a woman, or god help you, a person of colour. They will believe you don’t deserve it. They will chase you down, find out personal info, the works. Journalists and bloggers might weigh in too, if they think it’s worth the clicks.”
  • A short but good ‘un from last year: Why Sid Meier’s name is on his games. It’s worth looking beyond the use of “addicting” in the first paragraph to learn it’s maybe because of Robin Williams.
  • I imagine the best feature about this has yet to be written, so news stories will have to do for now. The deaf composer of music for Resident Evil is neither deaf, nor a composer.
  • Music this week is Lullatone. It’s all good, but start with Soundtracks for Everyday Adventures.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

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