Remembering Katamari Damacy

YouTube era nostalgia and memories of childhood play in Keita Takahashi’s cultural critique

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The last time a work of art made me cry was at a local screening of My Neighbour Totoro. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a film that captured what playing pretend as a child felt like, befriending magical creatures that live separately from the world of adulthood.

The credits rolled, and a little girl sitting in front of me asked her mother in amazement, “Mommy, is Totoro real?” and I was a sappy, sobbing mess.

In games, such overwhelming, positive experiences often come from the resolution of an epic story, or completion of a difficult final boss. Think to the moment in which we complete a difficult final boss, with quivering hands and your heart in your throat as you land the final strike. Continue Reading

An interview with Andrew Reinhard

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Andrew Reinhard is as old as Pong. He is currently a third-year “mature” PhD student at the Department of Archaeology at the University of York (UK) where he is completing his thesis on archaeological tools and methods for investigating digital cultural heritage. Past video game archaeology projects include the excavation of the Atari Burial Ground, the No Man’s Sky Archaeological Survey and the Legacy Hub Archaeological Project, landscape archaeology in Skyrim VR, and the code archaeology of Colossal Cave Adventure. Continue Reading

Gaming’s Hidden Toxicity

What is Salt-Mining?

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At the 2018 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Todd Howard, executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios, revealed to an ecstatic audience the new instalment of the popular videogame franchise Fallout, titled Fallout 76. Nothing much was new here regarding the game’s core principles: rather, what captured the attention of news outlets and gaming fans alike was the announcement that, unlike previous titles, Fallout 76 would only be playable online. Fans’ reactions were, to put it mildly, polarized: some enthusiastically welcomed the new direction of the franchise, while others expressed their concern that making Fallout 76 online-only would open the door to toxic player behaviour. Continue Reading

Darkmoon Tomb

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For me, being trans is a lifelong experience. My childhood and adolescent memories are coated in a thick layer of sadness. Something that was invisible and omnipresent. Because I didn’t have the language to understand myself, and that language was the subject of high scrutiny. Constantly marked with the label of “impolite conversation,” keeping it, seemingly, forever out of reach for a kid like myself. I had to learn to cope with dysphoria without knowing what it was. It was a lot like being trapped in the dark. I can tell when I’ve tripped, hurt myself on a cave wall or stray rock. But I can’t ever see the things that cause that pain. Continue Reading

How Fantasy Games Deal with Race

As Demonstrated by The Elder Scrolls

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Video games have politics. With many developers insisting that their games are not political in any way, and with recent games desperately trying to say as little as possible about their subject matter, many critics find that there is once again a need to stress this point. The ability to be political stretches across genres and settings, though some genres and settings lend themselves to being seen as more overtly political than others. For instance, criticising racialised depictions in games set in the ‘real world’, like Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series, is often quite straightforward, especially given the shallowness and harsh stereotyping these depictions usually entail (Dyer-Witheford & De Peuter, 2009, p. 164-70; Gray, 2014, p. 24-26). Continue Reading

An Interview with David Brevik – Part 2

It Lurks Below

Jeffery Klaehn: What possibilities afforded by the contemporary gaming landscape most excite you? I’m thinking of technological developments and digital distribution platforms such as Steam (2003) and GOG (2008), which are still relatively “new” in relation to the history of digital games.

David Brevik: It’s an extremely exciting time to be a developer. Being able to create something and distribute it all around the world from your own home is amazing. But because it’s so easy, the market has been flooded with people doing just that. There are hundreds of games a day on mobile app stores, and 30+ games a day on Steam. There is so much content right now, it’s impossible to wade through all of the games. Continue Reading

World of Warcraft and Getting out into the World

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During the summer break of 2010, back when I was a 13-year-old student about to start his first year in high school, I decided to start playing World of Warcraft. I had no prior experience with a Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) nor even the basic knowledge to understand the lore of the game. I chose to play in the Horde only because the idea of creating my own Orc seemed tempting, as they were bound to become fearsome warriors or living shields that would protect allies from danger. Continue Reading