Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Imitating Intimacy in Video Games

Love and sex in video games. I just can't get away from these topics.

I just think that games have done pretty well with some kinds of stories (parent-child relationships recently but also they have done okay with revenge, war, mystery, etc.) but not so much with romance and authentic (or mature) representations of physical intimacy.

This week I talk about some of games' failings in this regard and a few slightly more successful versions, especially the 2008 Prince of Persia and Max Payne 2.

Imitating Intimacy in Video Games

Monday, June 28, 2010

Moving Pixels Podcasts: Red Dead Redemption Parts 1 & 2

I forgot to mention last week that the first of a two part Moving Pixels podcast on Red Dead Redemption went live at PopMatters. Maybe part of it is my absence from that episode. However, Rick, Nick, and Tom were all on hand for the first part, which concerns the gameplay and world of Red Dead. The second part, which I did manage to show up for, concerns our impressions of the story in the game.

You can find both at the links below:

Moving Pixels Podcast: Red Dead Redemption Part 1
Moving Pixels Podcast: Red Dead Redemption Part 2

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

All This Useless Interactivity

LB Jeffries wrote a really nice post this week on the game-like qualities of the movie Groundhog Day. Maybe it is just me, but I see some strange correspondence between his thoughts on the inability to alter a script and some thoughts that I had concerning Remedy's attitude towards the player's relationship to narrative in the Max Payne (and Alan Wake) series:

All This Useless Interactivity

Monday, June 21, 2010

Daddy Issues: Gen X and Video Games

I kind of went on hiatus last week in part because I was working on the column below. I guess that this post worked out well following up on Father's Day, since it is about "daddy issues" in the plots of two recent releases, Bioshock 2 and Red Dead Redemption.

Those releases are really the culprit in getting me thinking about the difference between how "daddy issues" are discussed in media written by Baby Bommers and Gen Xers, though. The correspondence with Father's Day is mere coincidence and something that my editor decided to riff on in the title of the piece, which I guess is fair enough:

Father's Day Is Over, but Daddy Issues Remain in Bioshock 2 and Red Dead Redemption

Monday, June 14, 2010

Moving Pixels Podcast: Exploring the Capital Wasteland

This week the Moving Pixels podcast crew and I talk about the world of Fallout 3. It's a game that I have started twice, but I haven't actually finished (twice). I'm not quite sure why, as I really admire a lot of things that it does. I really like the opening birth sequence, for example, as an alternate to the typical amnesiac manner of getting a game plot going. I also am a sucker for '40s and '50s music and aesthetics and like the contrast with the corrupted landscape of Washington D.C.

My fellow podcasters have actually finished the game and may have much more relevant things to say. You can listen at us here:

Moving Pixels Podcast: Exploring the Capital Wasteland

Friday, June 11, 2010

Review: Red Dead Redemption

This is only the second 10 that I have assigned in a review, having been writing for PopMatters since (I believe) 2003. The only other 10 that I have given was to Bully.

Yes, I have a Rockstar thing.

But I think Rockstar provides good reason for having a "Rockstar thing." It may be generational, as I think that the borothers Houser have a very X kind of attitude about everything, one which I easily understand and relate to, but I do think that their critique of Amercian culture and their ability to recreate historical (or at least the mediated version of the historical--Vice City is as much Miami circa 1985 as it is Miami Vice and Scarface circa that same period) is one of the best things going in video games in the last 10-12 years or so.

One part Fistful of Dollars, one part Josey Wales, mix with Gun and "The Bride Comes To Yellow Sky" with a serving of The Odyssey on the side, it's Red Dead Redemption:

Red Dead Redemption

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Dastardly Achievement

If you have to draw the line concerning virtual misdeeds somewhere, I guess mine is at the railroad tracks:

The Dastardly Achievement

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Moving Pixels Podcast: The World of Alan Wake

My Moving Pixels compatriots and I have spent a lot of time with Alan Wake lately. I think that all of us admire the game for various reasons, most of which concern the skill with which the game's developers use to evoke real fear and dread in the player. This week we focuse on the town of Bright Falls and the horror that an experience within its environs generates:

Moving Pixels Podcast: The World of Alan Wake

Friday, June 4, 2010

Review: Alpha Protocol

Following up in some sense on my "Slow Starters" post from a couple days ago, I am reviewing the slow starting but satisfyingly complex in retrospect Alpha Protocol.

The game is a conversational rhetoric simulator, which is actually what most games with conversation trees are, but Alpha Protocol revels in being such and that is its real strength:

Review: Alpha Protocol

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Slow Starters: Deadly Premonition, Assassin's Creed II, Alpha Protocol

I came of age in gaming in a decade in which, after you hit start, this little fellow in a hat and overalls was all set to break bricks with his head and stomp mushrooms. I expect to get right into the action.

To read more:

Slow Starters: Deadly Premonition, Assassin's Creed II, Alpha Protocol