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Playable Journalism Journalism: Level With Me Updated


Say, remember when Robert Yang interviewed a load of neat-o level designers while collaborating on a Portal 2 level with them as a sort of playable journalism? I enjoyed the Level With Me series back when I only read RPS, and now I’m here I’m glad I get to post about it.

The first Level With Me creation, made with folks including Brendon Chung, Dan Pinchbeck, Davey Wreden, and Ed Key, had been brokenby a Portal 2 update. Oh no! But this week, Yang released an updated version you can find over here. It’s a fine opportunity to revisit a classic RPS feature.

Level With Me, if you missed it, was a series of interviews about level design with seven level designers of first-person games. Yang and the week’s guest would chat about fascinating things then work on an accompanying Portal 2 level, each adding to the previous week’s work, as a sort of playable journalism. The end result was an interesting experimental mod showing the work of many minds, pulled together and expanded by Yang. It’s best played alongside reading the interviews.

Alongside this this update repacking the mod for modern Portal 2, Yang added an addendum:

“In the years since this mod’s original release, it strikes me that 6 of 7 interview subjects were white men. They were very lovely and articulate white men — but my goal was to achieve an “honest” overview of practice across level design, and non-diverse panels can never give ‘honest’ overviews of a field. Future installments are, and will be, more diverse, especially along gender / race lines.”

The second Level With Me series saw the creation of a whole game, Cohort 2. You know, I think it’s about time I revisit this all; I’ve forgotten much of the interviews and the creations.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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