I learn through Paradise, or Disco Inferno?

A Brief Etymology of Disco Elysium

The most important heritage Disco Elysium receives from disco is its deference to powerful emotion. Even Diana Ross (1979), whose command of her own sass was enough to “turn emotion, on and off”, collapses, eventually, into a different romantic victory: it was “love”, not a man, nor material things, that taught Ross “who was the boss” (fab70smusic, 2012). Ross’ singing typifies Dyer’s (1979) argued function for disco, to give “a glimpse of what it means to live at the height of our emotional and experiential capacities” (p.23). Continue Reading

Sins of the Father

Playing Mom in Death Stranding

When I played Death Stranding in 2019, I played for nearly ten hours before I even saw an enemy NPC. When you finally do, you see they look just like you, wearing the same gender-neutral jumpsuits—and you pretty much just run away and try not to trip. Like in Kojima’s previous games, you can choose to kill enemy NPCs, but this doesn’t just cause you to lose points. Death Stranding goes beyond disincentivizing killing—the game barely provides the mechanics to do so and penalizes flagrant video game killing with both a fail state and a permanent crater-sized pockmark in the otherwise gorgeously designed open world. My mom would like the game. I love it. Continue Reading

Rediscovering Politics in RPGs

The Case of Disco Elysium

Players in Disco Elysium are presented with a different set of choices than those that prevail in conventional RPGs, but this on its face isn’t important if we don’t articulate how and why choice matters in the RPG genre. Player agency in RPGs always begins and ends with some expectation of choice. It is in RPGs where expectations of player agency are highest and where the idea of what constitutes freedom is most produced. Choice thus marks a common point of departure for RPGs and how they are received. However, it is important not to accept the notion of agency uncritically and question its significance based on its own conceptual ambiguity (Stang, 2019). Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 45

Content Gaming Videos

Welcome to the 45th episode of First-Person Podcast. This is the final part of our three-part series that we are doing to examine how games are introduced to us and played with on YouTube. For part three, we are going to be looking at the Content videos that we see comic youtubers and casual gamers making for us. We can see what’s new on Twitch and where the YouTube community can go from here. Continue Reading

Designing Games for Affect

A Two-Year Post-Mortem

For games, affect theory lets us look at a game’s mechanics, visuals, soundscape, systems of interaction, and forms of movement as contributing to a specific affect. In my Master’s thesis, I focused on the affect of intimacy, which I understood as a vulnerable, precarious closeness, the feeling you might get sharing a passing look with a stranger on a train or opening up to a friend about an insecurity. I looked at Overwatch, The Last Guardian, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to see how they created different kinds of intimate affects. I found that each game, in its own way, created a sense of intimacy through its systems of interaction, visuals, sound, and temporality. Continue Reading

There is No Escape

How Hades Connects Game Genre and Greek Myth

So how does Hades fit into the history of refiguring Greek mythology? The theme of fate and the extent of free will is the connective thread. If roguelikes are designed around the experience of dying and restarting, then permadeath is a mechanic that makes players think about the decisions taken, what has led them to death, or consequence persistence. Procedurally generated content ensures that no two runs are exactly alike, making the weight of our decisions ever more impactful. Continue Reading

First Person Podcast Episode 44

YouTube Game Analysis

Welcome to the 44th episode of First-Person Podcast. This is part two of our three-part series that we are doing to examine how games are introduced to us and played with on YouTube. For part two, we are going to be looking at the Lore Analysis videos that get worked into the mainstream YouTube feed every so often. And, yes this was my way of working in a reason to talk about Dark Souls. Continue Reading