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

Opened World: Shattered Memories

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

Opened World: With Strangers

Critics often praise the ping system of Apex Legends for its utilitarian purposes of easing communication, which it undoubtedly deserves, but more than that, it also creates an affective bond between players that often goes unremarked in such critical conversations. Context-specific tags allow players to mark enemy locations, alert one another to valuable loot, call dibs on … Continue reading Opened World: With Strangers

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