Let’s Go Home, Ellie

Perhaps the most affecting AAA title in recent memory, with a tightly wound narrative calcified by solid performances from Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker, Naughty Dog’s 2013 effort The Last of Us evinces a cinematic quality often ascribed to games, but rarely interrogated thoroughly. Moreover, I’ll propose now that the game’s plot, organized around seasonal … Continue reading Let’s Go Home, Ellie

Here and There: Notes on Henry Jenkins’ “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”

Foreword: I originally wrote this scholarly annotation and reflection in the spring of 2014, but never published it anywhere. For additional reading, I suggest Lindsey Joyce’s great annotation of the same piece on her blog The Joycean. — The short piece “Game Design as Narrative Architecture” by Henry Jenkins seeks middle ground on the conflict … Continue reading Here and There: Notes on Henry Jenkins’ “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”

The Lonely Walk of Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

There’s a brief exchange from Kentucky Route Zero that succinctly condenses the otherworldly atmosphere of Fragile Dreams. A fellow companion asks, “Do you believe in ghosts?” to which your protagonist elegiacally returns, “I do believe a place can be haunted.” Fragile Dreams suggests a re-interpretation of survival horror in similar terms, foregrounding what it means … Continue reading The Lonely Walk of Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon

Suda 51, A Career: 2015-2051

The mild financial and critical success of DEATH or Glory fuels Suda’s subsequent vanity project, the inexplicable arthouse wrestling game Tokyo Takedown! Driven by the developer’s neurotic passion for masked wrestling, the game offers a throwback to his first foray into videogames in 1993, Super Fire Pro Wrestling III: Final Bout. Irresponsible fund allocations result … Continue reading Suda 51, A Career: 2015-2051

Imaginary Real Places: Forza Horizon and the American Open Road

Racing games have always been an oversight in games writing, partly because it’s often difficult to write analytically and lyrically about a genre devoid of distinctive style (hence: generic), but also because critics simply snub racing games as uncomplicated fare. This kind of thinking is deceptive, disavowing the potential for stylistic authorship in any and … Continue reading Imaginary Real Places: Forza Horizon and the American Open Road

Split Screen Series: Reflections on Max Payne 3

Split Screen Series is a critical dialogue of videogames by Justin Keever of Virtual Narrative and Miguel Penabella of Invalid Memory, investigating the stories, themes, aesthetic choices, gameplay, and formal properties of videogame art. Experiencing Max Payne 3 entails a world of tensions and thematic bifurcations. It’s a work of urgent artistry, both an introduction … Continue reading Split Screen Series: Reflections on Max Payne 3