Racing Line: Your Dream Life

Forza Horizon 2 offered an escape during the spring and summer of 2020, when such joys were badly needed. Its sunny, jubilant representation of a European road trip and music festival conveyed an irresistible nostalgia for better summers spent among crowds of strangers and loved ones. Forza Horizon 2, oddly enough, isn’t really about racing; it is … Continue reading Racing Line: Your Dream Life

Opened World: Sharp Objects

So, what does Limbo ultimately mean? What is the game about? Lacking character dialogue or narration, its one-word title serves as one possible anchor for meaning like the title of an abstract artwork, gesturing towards some means for interpretation. Andrew Kauz offers an essay that touches on the common reading of purgatorial limbo and the satisfying ambiguity of the … Continue reading Opened World: Sharp Objects

Opened World: Refusing Labor

Say No! More playfully rebuts these toxic frameworks of corporate culture, exploitation, and grind. A comedy game about labor unrest, Say No! More, as its title suggests, emphasizes the power of saying NO. Its core mechanic centers on the ability to blast away onerous coworkers and supervisors by responding NO to their unreasonable demands, causing chaos in … Continue reading Opened World: Refusing Labor

Opened World: The Hollow Spectacle of Power

Wolfenstein: The New Order depicts a frightening, globally devastating alternate history of continued Nazi power throughout the mid-twentieth century, with hordes of mechanical beasts and legions of soldiers who have taken over the world after the Allied defeat of World War II. Gunfights are fierce and explosive, conveying the raw power of your fascist adversary. But … Continue reading Opened World: The Hollow Spectacle of Power

Player Two: An Interview with Everest Pipkin

Interview by Miguel Penabella Originally conducted December 12, 2019 Edits and introduction written September 1, 2020 When I caught up with artist, professor, and game maker Everest Pipkin late last year, they were wrapping up a semester of teaching but still finding new creative outlets for their talents and expertise. Outside of the college classroom, … Continue reading Player Two: An Interview with Everest Pipkin

Opened World: Exploitation by Design

By randomizing the selection of available upgrades, Payback radically alters the structure of a Need for Speed game by compelling players to dutifully check tune-up shops to browse the latest supply of speed cards as stock is refreshed every ten minutes (originally a whopping thirty minutes before criticism). In previous games, players typically upgrade their vehicles intermittently, usually at the moment … Continue reading Opened World: Exploitation by Design

Player Two: An Interview with Brendon Chung

Interview by Miguel Penabella Originally conducted December 9, 2019 Edits and introduction written March 17, 2020 What strikes me about Brendon Chung, sole developer of independent studio Blendo Games, is his sustained interest in taking things apart to learn—really learn—how they work. In his many meticulously detailed game development streams on his YouTube channel, he … Continue reading Player Two: An Interview with Brendon Chung