Let us live in hope

Hopeful Engagement in Pre-Release Game Communities

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There are no publicly playable builds, and much of the music, graphics, and even game mechanics remain to be designed. Nonetheless, the developer, Visionary Realms, Inc. has already organized multiple livestreams of material and even had YouTube personalities play and “review” the game – such as it is. These small drips of content then permeate spaces likes r/PantheonMMO, where community members spin out thread after thread analyzing the precious little information they have, speculating about the future, and even producing their own ideas and concepts for the game. Continue Reading

Gendered Spaces and Cultures in Video Games

A Personal Study of Breath of the Wild

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Refusing to acknowledge the customs of the Gerudo people for the sake of entering the city certainly reads as a violation of a safe space when we only take into consideration Link’s canonical gender. However, I also firmly believe, as someone who identifies as a transgender man and has spent much of his life exploring the intricacies of identity, that there is a potential for it not to be a violation depending on how the player views and conceptualizes Link. Continue Reading

Subcultural Style and Splatoon

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Splatoon and Jet Set Radio share that whirlpool of signification and commodification. But while there has been enough time for nostalgia to creep in about the latter, the former is still fresh. With design that owes just as much to the booming popularity of East Asian pop groups worldwide as it does to punk and hip-hop, the Splatoon series merges together someone’s ideas of cool. That imagination is manifest in a frenetic mash-up of styles, characters, narrative frames, environments, and in- and out-of-game gear. Continue Reading

Out of Context

Interacting with Games in Wrong Environments

Interior of the Free Play Bar Arcade in Providence, RI, one of many bar arcades that have popped up around the nation. Photo from https://www.facebook.com/freeplayri/photos/a.2361493820742595/2394202187471758/?type=3&theater.

Games are designed and intended for a particular context. Video games are meant for screens, while board games are meant to be played until the pieces are lost. But more and more, as game designers iterate on new concepts and museum curators recognize more artifacts as worthwhile inventory, the contexts of many games are slowly shifting. But does removing a game from its intended environment impact how we interact with it? And, if so, is changing this interaction bad? Continue Reading

Dementia in diegesis

Signifying progressive loss of self in Dark Souls

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All the behaviors of characters that are going hollow as well as the advancing nature of the illness reflect often-seen forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. In a review of symptoms of dementia, Cereijeira, Lagarto, and Mukaetova-Ladinska (2012) note that the condition includes disturbances to psychological, perceptual, and motor skills. Individuals can start experiencing memory issues, as recollections of different times in life fade in varying patterns. Continue Reading

Mind of Mario

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I was projecting myself on to Mario (borrowing his better life), becoming the hero as I fought through waves of strange enemies, some of which are literally named Bullies. That made it incredibly easy to project my real life tormentors onto these aggressive 64-bit baddies. But sometimes the days were a bit darker, especially when I had been hit, and I murdered needlessly with punches, kicks, and bouncing off of their heads. It felt better to have the power and be the bully for once. Continue Reading

The Politics of Passionate Patti

Sex Positivity and the Problematic Past of Patriarchal Play

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Patti serves as an early—and still decidedly rare—instance of a sex-positive female video game protagonist. Yet, as I argue in this essay, her legacy is complicated. Much like Samus, whose gender is only revealed as a twist at the end of Metroid, or Lara Croft, whose action hero accolades coexist alongside the character’s objectification in promotional materials, Passionate Patti reflects patterns of what I call patriarchal play. Continue Reading