The Scenographic South

Scenography builds mood and meaning into the theatrical production via choices in stage design that accentuates human performance above all else. This emphasis on performance through scenography informs the architectural spaces of Cardboard Computer’s episodic game Kentucky Route Zero too. Point-and-click adventure games like it often mimic the perspective of the theatergoer viewing a proscenium. They … Continue reading The Scenographic South

Opened World: Let’s Eat Capitalists

Taking Molleindustria’s 2006 release McDonald’s Videogame as a point of reference, we can breakdown its strategy of critiquing McDonald’s on multiple fronts as a way to identify productive ways that games can critique industry concerns. The game adopts the political values of Molleindustria founder and Carnegie Mellon University professor Paolo Pedercini, conveying a left-wing, activist urgency to … Continue reading Opened World: Let’s Eat Capitalists

Player Two: An Interview with Greg “Cosmo D” Heffernan

Interview by Miguel Penabella Originally conducted October 20, 2017 Edits and introduction written November 17, 2017 Greg Heffernan’s games always bear the mark of a musician. Under the pseudonym Cosmo D, his three games—Saturn V, Off-Peak, and The Norwood Suite—all heavily feature his own music in ways that experiment with sound’s relation to space. Saturn … Continue reading Player Two: An Interview with Greg “Cosmo D” Heffernan

Opened World: The Remains of the Day

Fallout 4 carries an air of melancholy by juxtaposing the gritty post-apocalyptic setting with the mundane scenarios these skeletons convey. Skeletons seated inside a rusted bus suggest the instantaneous impact of the nuclear bombs, perhaps catching average people by surprise on their way to work. Pairs of skeletons resonate with particular melancholy, suggesting lovers, friends, siblings, … Continue reading Opened World: The Remains of the Day

Unraveling the Traumatic Interior Spaces of Asemblance

This meditation on human grief unites the stories and themes of Asemblance and Solaris, as both works hinge on the imagery of a ghostly wife haunting the memory of each protagonist… In Solaris, a character calls these visions of Kelvin’s wife “the materialisation of your conception of her,” and later, “a copy, a matrix,” suggesting an unresolved trauma made manifest … Continue reading Unraveling the Traumatic Interior Spaces of Asemblance

Opened World: Complacent Politics

Ideally, George’s plotline should reveal the complex and unexpected reasons alliances were made by early black abolitionists, revolutionaries with colonial powers to sabotage the stable labor force of rival colonial operations. Instead, the game shrugs such nuances off. In hearing George criticize the hypocrisy of the Patriots who would uphold slavery, Aveline nonetheless sides with … Continue reading Opened World: Complacent Politics

Opened World: Metafictional Warfare

Black Ops III often borders on the intangible and avant-garde, but only because warfare has evolved so rapidly that it seems unreal and fictional. Soldiers and terrorists hacking into and controlling armed robots is not merely action spectacle, but a fearful reality. Evoking the language of videogames, the real human targets of drone warfare are marked and dehumanized as “objectives.” … Continue reading Opened World: Metafictional Warfare