Opened World: Standing Still

Night in the Woods filters the world through the perspective of the naïve Mae as a way to carefully unravel and critique nostalgia and the privilege that accompanies it, steadily undercutting its own autumnal aesthetic of warm, homespun imagery as concealing the underlying hurt that the protagonist fails to see clearly. The very notion of a … Continue reading Opened World: Standing Still

Opened World: Erasing Places

The Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic of Donut County and and the sterile, featureless city blocks of Nova Alea seem mutually opposed upon first glance, but both games share an interest in examining the deleterious effects of gentrification. Donut County allegorizes gentrification via puzzle game mechanics in which homes and buildings vanish into maneuverable holes, transforming lively city blocks into empty lots … Continue reading Opened World: Erasing Places

The Garden in the Machine

I’m still astounded at how an unassuming trailer for the PlayStation 4 rerelease of Grand Theft Auto V reframed my entire understanding of the game. In eighty seconds, the trailer reroutes our attention away from the underwhelming storyline and characters, and toward the open-endedness of sandbox pleasures, gesturing at a focus on Grand Theft Auto … Continue reading The Garden in the Machine

The Spectacle of Career Professionalism in Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty offers a specific kind of action spectacle, that of witnessing career professionals efficiently carrying out their jobs, in which saving the world at the last second is rendered as rote work. By making explosive superheroics mundane, the games ultimately lionize its characters and deeds. The game, especially the thunderous Modern Warfare 2—all climax and … Continue reading The Spectacle of Career Professionalism in Modern Warfare 2

Player Two: An Interview with Hosni Auji

Interview by Miguel Penabella Originally conducted April 21, 2018 Edits and introduction written September 3, 2018 Alongside the bustle of this past spring’s Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco—with its long queues snaking around pavilions for Google and Microsoft, or rows of high-end monitors displaying battle royales amidst unending beer service paid by top company … Continue reading Player Two: An Interview with Hosni Auji