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?
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
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
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
Interview by Miguel Penabella Originally conducted May 3, 2019 Edits and introduction written October 29, 2019 Stefano Gualeni was enjoying the early morning sun, opening his windows to savor “a full blast of Maltese morning air,” when I caught up with him for a friendly chat. Since finding success with adventure game Tony Tough and … Continue reading Player Two: An Interview with Stefano Gualeni
Aisle rewards plentiful backreading akin to detective work, in which players must construct an obscured backstory from snatches of textual clues embedded in half-recalled memories. In Aisle, narration is presented with the second-person pronoun “You,” linking the protagonist with the player and granting us—in bolded text—brief entrance into his inner thoughts: “Interesting… fresh Gnocchi–you haven’t had any … Continue reading Opened World: Shattered Memories
Interview by Miguel Penabella Originally conducted over two days: December 9, 2017 and December 10, 2017 Edits and introduction written July 31, 2019 With the premiere of the final act of Kentucky Route Zero increasingly close at hand, I revisited old conversations with composer Ben Babbitt that we shared back in 2017, just weeks before … Continue reading Player Two: An Interview with Ben Babbitt