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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are for freezing to death in a house that has a broken boiler, meaning no hot water and no heating. Let’s warm ourselves by the glow of our computer screens by reading some of the week’s best writing about videogames.

  • Joel Goodwin recently made a video version of Into The Black, which discusses the joy of exploration in games and the ways in which it can be ruined by extrinsic reward. I like Joel’s videos, which adopt a serious, almost academic tone, then continually pricks the pomposity with gags. Disarming. Joel is also this week’s winner for having both made a thing and also for emailing it to me so I can send people his way.
  • At the New Yorker, Patrick House interviewed Werner Herzog about virtual reality. Some of the questions are dreadful, but it’s Herzon, so the answers are worth reading either way.
  • No. I am convinced that this is not going to be an extension of cinema or 3-D cinema or video games. It is something new, different, and not experienced yet. The strange thing here is that normally, in the history of culture, we have new stories and narrations and then we start to develop a tool. Or we have visions of wondrous new architecture—like, let’s say, the museum in Bilbao, or the opera house in Sydney—and technology makes it possible to fulfill these dreams. So you have the content first, and then the technology follows suit. In this case, we do have a technology, but we don’t have any clear idea how to fill it with content.

  • Emily Short reviewed That Dragon, Cancer, which picks at the ideas around faith discussed in the game and is more generous towards it as a creative work than I was.
  • They are coming from a denomination of Christianity that places a fair amount of emphasis on healing miracles. Amy believes firmly up until Joel’s death that God is going to come through and save their son. Ryan is less certain. Much late-game tension is about the distance between Amy’s certainty and Ryan’s more tentative hope. The game doesn’t explicitly come out and say this, but I wondered whether the character of Amy thought that she needed to expect a miracle because expecting the miracle was the act of faith that would bring it to pass. As for Ryan, his doubt is bound up with feeling that he just isn’t important enough for God to care about his son specifically.

  • At Eurogamer, Ellie Gibson writes about her affection for manuals. That’s common subject matter, but Gibson has the advantage of having written them:
  • My favourite games to write manuals for were the ones Sony co-published with Namco. I would receive a hilariously translated version of the original Japanese manual, which I had to write up in slightly better English, then submit back to Namco for approval.

    The translation for Time Crisis 2 came complete with profiles of the main characters, V.S.S.E. special agents Keith Martin and Robert Baxter. These listed interesting stats such as their weight, eye colour, and home town. I decided to use a bit of creative licence in localising the text for the UK market, pretty confident Namco weren’t bothering to read the stuff I sent them anyway.

  • These are the games industry quiet times, when news writers curse the lack of material to write about and everyone else stares into space waiting for something to play. If you need a little help with thinking of something to do, Digitiser 2000 has seven suggestions for you.
  • 7. Organise your wasps

    Let’s face it, you should’ve done this months ago; the wasps are just lying around everywhere, getting in the way, and clogging up your domestic apparatus. Organising them into some sort of order is way overdue.

  • Cool Ghosts returned from holiday hiatus with a number of new things to imbibe, each of which is worth your time: Quinn’s Pony Island review; a series on Invisible, Inc.; an article on why Subterfuge is really good.
  • Our own Kieron Gillen recently appeared at VideoBrains in London to discuss the forgotten parts of the UK games industry, with a talk called History Written By The Losers. I haven’t watched it yet, will do so after posting these Papers.
  • At The Guardian, Simon Parkin has been writing a series of profiles on ‘the new generation’ of games designers. These sorts of articles always run the risk of creating a club of exclusion, but there’s a neat mixture of developers selected here. Including Meg Jayanth:
  • “I don’t think there was ever a particular moment when I decided I was going to make games,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to write and tell stories. Video games are one way I can do that.” Jayanth’s early forays into the medium were via text-based roleplaying games, played out via email, online forums and even journals. “They were games of creativity and world-building and character,” she explains. “There were no dice or traditional game systems.”

    That’s it for this week, as my fingers have seized up and icicles have begun to form at the tip of my nose. Soon I shall shatter like Boris from Goldeneye.

    Music this week is Pretty Please by Leon Triplett, which is a great bit of R&B that sounds like nothing else by him on Spotify. To the point that it might be mislabelled. I don’t know.

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Graham Smith

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