Memory Trading

A Singularity of Self

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Melted wax oozing from my left arm, I make another feeble swing at Suago-mo. I miss, my waxflab appendage severed from my body by their counter-attack. “Well, that solves the infection,” I think to myself, trying not to panic as oozing wax is replaced with gushing blood. Now, several hours into this character, exploring a historical site that had been brought to my attention within the first moments of gameplay seemed something I was very much capable of by this point. Continue Reading

Not a Mimic

Deception as a Rhetorical Device in Survival Horror Games

Webb Cover Image (Talos I)

Samantha Webb holds a Master’s degree in Game Design from Brunel University, London. She is a freelance games writer and narrative designer, working with both AAA and indie studios to develop games. She has an interest in second-level storytelling and… Continue Reading

“Fix my post-apocalypse”

The speculative horror of civilizational end in Fallout 76

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Jason Wallin is an Associate Professor of Media and Youth Culture Studies in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Alberta. He was raised by wolves in the hinterlands of British Columbia. For Doug M. Since its release… Continue Reading

Creating and Queering Space with Player Housing

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With the shutdown of massively multiplayer online roleplaying game WildStar (Carbine Studios, 2014), many players are reflecting on the lost potential of the game. The game offered an interesting combat system, unique and playful character design, and most strikingly a deep player housing system. Now past its foreclosure, I want to reflect on the importance of player housing, and other building systems in games, that allow for players to create space and community within game worlds. Few games offer players the opportunity to impact their world in meaningful, creative, and unique ways, often instead having players move through expansive open-worlds or along a set narrative path. Continue Reading

(Re)Coding Survivance

Sovereign Video Games

Call For Papers

This call takes up threads of Indigenous Futurisms and Video Games Studies to weave a fiber-optic cable of survivance – (re)coding sovereignty into flowing non-binary streams of Indigenous-made video games and experiences.

As Anishinaabe, Métis, and Irish scholar and designer Beth LaPensée notes, Indigenous communities are already in a post-apocalypse, and “doing more than surviving. We’re continuing our traditions in ways that are malleable to the situations we’re in now”(qtd. in Creegan). We ask how these games can shift players to these media landscapes that are, as Loft says, “replete with life and spirit, inclusive of beings, thought, prophecy, and the underlying connectedness of all things that mirrors, memorializes, and points to the structure of Indigenous thought” (xvi). We also ask how they can – from internal and external positionalities – (re)code how we understand games and larger networks of connection and relationality. Continue Reading

Dark as a Dungeon

Fallout 76 and the Coal Mining Industry

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I was ten hours into playing Fallout 76 when it finally happened—a moment I had warily anticipated since I first learned the latest installment in the franchise would be set in West Virginia. My character, the self-styled Shotgun Nurse of the Wasteland, was descending into a coal mine. It was the final step in my character’s training before officially joining the Fire Breathers, a group of post-apocalyptic firefighters headquartered in the crumbling remains of the Charleston Fire Department. All that was left was to activate an emergency beacon located in the sulphurous depths of Belching Betty, the site of a subterranean mine fire that had raged for untold years. Continue Reading

Folk-Music, Radical Politics, and Bliss

Far Cry 5’s Music as Western Hymnody

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Music has the unique ability to bring people together and speak to them on a fundamental, subconscious level (for more on this, see Ehrenberg and From Lullabies). This aspect of music plays an important role in the narrative of Far Cry 5 (Ubisoft, 2018), as Joseph Seed, the game’s primary antagonist, uses music as a powerful tool for recruiting people into his doomsday cult, the Project at Eden’s Gate. Indeed, Far Cry 5’s music ties more closely with its narrative than any previous game in the series; by exploring its music, we may better understand the populist belief system that underlies Joseph’s “fringe” doomsday preaching. Continue Reading