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

Opened World: Who Watches the Workers?

Death Stranding and Tacoma are two games that reflect our boring dystopia. They are both concerned with precarious labor, hauling cargo, and data collection, and both feature labor contexts of granular workplace surveillance. In Death Stranding, players are confronted with the constant monitoring of their labor. Sam Porter Bridges, transcontinental porter in a post-apocalyptic United States, grinds away as … Continue reading Opened World: Who Watches the Workers?

Player Two: An Interview with Nina Freeman

Interview by Miguel Penabella Originally conducted November 15, 2019 Edits and introduction written December 24, 2019 Thinking back on her time studying poetry under Charles North at Pace University, game developer and poet Nina Freeman expresses admiration for the confessional, precise prose of Elizabeth Bishop. She shares her love of “In the Waiting Room,” a … Continue reading Player Two: An Interview with Nina Freeman

Player Two: An Interview with Heather Gross

Interview by Miguel Penabella Originally conducted November 7, 2019 Edits and introduction written December 2, 2019 With its temperate rainforest climate, the Pacific Northwest has no shortage of natural beauty and biodiversity that has attracted many to places like Washington’s Olympic National Park or Oregon’s Cannon Beach, among the many other forests, lakes, rivers, and … Continue reading Player Two: An Interview with Heather Gross

Opened World: What Binds Us

Death Stranding, like gig economies under companies like Uber or DoorDash where workers are paid per completed task, aggressively tracks user data. If Kojima means to satirize gig economies via this system, he replicates its gamified systems precisely. Upon completion of a delivery, players are greeted with arcane metrics called the Porter Grade, in which … Continue reading Opened World: What Binds Us