Opened World: The Flâneuse in Flight

At the heart of Gravity Rush, however, lies an inherent critique of governmental failures to maintain infrastructures to the detriment of the public good. Flying around Hekseville, Kat quickly encounters the downed bridges, broken elevators, and faulty transport systems in need of repair, shattering initial impressions of the city as a glorious steampunk utopia. While Kat … Continue reading Opened World: The Flâneuse in Flight

Opened World: The Act of Looking

The Tearoom is precisely concerned with how institutions define homosexuality as deviant through surveillance practices, reflecting the central role of sexuality in establishing certain social norms to the detriment of entire groups of people. The game takes a page from the controversial 1970 sociological report Tearoom Trade by Laud Humphreys, in which the author analyzes the behavior and … Continue reading Opened World: The Act of Looking

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