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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are, let’s be honest, for doing the same thing we do every day. With one exception: that we first round up and celebrate the week’s best writing (and videos) about (mostly) videogames.

  • Videogame Tourism interviewed Mark Johnson, solo developer of our beloved Ultima Ratio Regum, an ambition procedurally generated 4X roguelike.
  • The most interesting thing for me is integrating the macro – nations, religions, cultures, history, etc – into the micro of individual people, houses, what people have in their homes, clothing styles, etc. It’s an awesome way to make this type of stuff not just lore or background like in so many games (I have a long-standing hatred of games that “tell their story” by just having you pick up little fragments of text or recordings or whatever – it seems so lazy) but rather something which is integral to the player’s success. I gave a talk on that last year!

  • Shut Up & Sit Down lit up the internet this week with their review/skewer of Cards Against Humanity.
  • I hate Cards Against Humanity because it’s shit.

    If it’s part of the “face” of modern board gaming, it’s also the pervert’s moustache and smug grin. Fittingly for a game so in love with stereotypes, Cards Against Humanity is every horrible stereotype of a nerd snickering in the corner. It is every person ready to lecture you on how humour must sometimes offend, boldly dragging their Auschwitz joke up to the moral high ground. It is the manifestation of an internet asshole.

    But that’s not why I hate it. I hate it because it’s shit.

  • I’m back on (or off?) the Football Manager wagon, lately, so here’s The Guardian re-publishing an article from The Blizzard (an excellent, quarterly football magazine) on whether or not Football Manager addiction is a medical condition.
  • Dr Yep. Some people are addicted to basic principles or linear relationships. You press ‘a’ and ‘b’ happens. You have a drink and you feel good. They like that simplicity. Then there are lot of people who like the complexities of other relationships. With this sort of game there are so many possibilities, so many permutations. You could literally play Football Manager a hundred times and have a different result every time. You are also obviously addicted to this kind of ‘deity’ analogy that you alluded to earlier. Your addiction is built around a ‘what happens if I do this to them?’ principle.

  • Cara continues to wind up her games writing. Her last column at Eurogamer is on the search for noir in videogames.
  • Like Jim Rossignol mentions, Teleglitch’s Quake-like corridors have a menacing relationship with light and dark; it simulates contemporary noir fiction’s film roots. The grating sounds coming from each muculent chamber make a disturbing hum. It’s a cynical and parochial environment: it’s the roguelike elements, the procedurality, the reorganisation of the space station environment each time you die that brittle claustrophobic, choking death, back-against-the-wall. It’s the terminals’ hard text narrative of human overreach, of coldness violating empathy, the way the game remixes itself to keep you constantly in fear of stalking that violent path. Though Bloodborne was considered, it’s Teleglitch that wins.

  • Fine work continues at Offworld. This week, Aevee Bee writes about bodies both virtual and physical.
  • There is a little secret here which perhaps you can notice: When the ugly monster’s limbs reach out to touch the small human’s body, there is about a tenth of a second—maybe less— where her body is invincible. It doesn’t even matter if she’s geometrically in harm’s way or not. She is safe because she timed it right, was perfect.

    See, even in this very hard game, there is something wonderful and fair: The game doesn’t care about the way bodies actually intersect. If your timing was correct, it agrees: “You were not touched.” Many games hide that tiny moment of invincibility within quick movement, and it feels so kind just knowing, no mater how bad you are, that if you could fit every moment of pain in that one tenth of a second you could be invincible for the rest of your life.

  • Also on Offworld, how edutainment failed author Aroon Karuna and why often regular games are more educational than their specifically designed counterparts.
  • The games I ended up learning the most from were the ones that made no attempt whatsoever to be educational. Psygnosis’ Lemmings series, launched in 1991, sees the tiny creatures doomed to traverse dangerous landscapes. The lemmings are completely helpless, and will cheerfully walk in a straight line to their demise if unattended. You guide them to the exit by making a safe passage through the environment — assigning some of them to build bridges and bash rocks, for example.

  • Gita Jackson writes at Paste about learning about sex through games, particularly Japanese erotic dating game True Love.
  • Eroge (a portmanteau of “erotic” and “game”) are hentai games. They’re porn. I had just barely had my first period but I’d spend my weekends and weeknights down in the basement, acting as a straight man trying to fuck a bunch of attractive women. Although True Love wasn’t a popular game in Japan, apparently it was a huge success in America, and remains a classic of the genre in the states. I had no idea when I was 11. I was just watching porn.

  • Erin Lee Carr, daughter of late journalist David Carr, wrote this about her father and about grieving in the internet age for good and for ill.
  • I walked into the hospital and found out: It was over. My dad had died. My stepmom and I went to his bedside, but before I could say goodbye, my phone started buzzing. Word had broken that my dad had passed away; someone had tweeted about his death. I was filled with rage. Couldn’t I have at least 30 seconds to comprehend what had happened without having to hear the Internet’s take? Couldn’t the loss of the most important man in my life be my own, if only for one quiet moment? My stepmom and I raced to call my sisters, reaching them, thankfully, before the news went viral. It felt unfair to rush through the most difficult words I would ever say just so I could beat the Internet.

  • Matt Lees has a good week. First up, Can We Keep Politics Out Of Gaming?
  • Then let him take your mind off politics – the UK election, specifically – with videogames.
  • Music this week is, oh, a bunch of things. Have this new Lullatone album about Spring though, because it’ll cheer you up.

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    Graham Smith

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