Weight of the World

How NieR: Automata’s soundtrack embodies the game’s themes and mood

Signor Cover

Content Notification: reference to suicide

NieR: Automata tells the story of the androids and robots who are fighting over the last remains of humanity. Both the androids and the robots display behaviors learned from humans, whether integrated into their own behavior or just mindless mimicking without understanding of why they’re doing it. In the end, it’s revealed that humanity has been extinct for a long time, but it hardly needs revealing, as one of the most striking things about Automata is its use of absence and artifice to speak to the nature of humanity without ever portraying a human at all. Its soundtrack, composed by Keiichi Okabe, reflects this as it strikes appropriate tones of melancholy, emptiness, and repetition. Continue Reading

OMG! It’s a GRILL!

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For those of you who are not female-identifying and have not played online games with voice chat before, this might seem like a gross exaggeration. However, I’ve been greeted with some version of this dialogue many times at the beginning of a match. I usually say “Hi” or make a game-related suggestion and in return, I am called out as a girl. Oftentimes, another player will chime in and carry the dialog on by saying “No, it can’t be a girl. Girls don’t play video games.” Just a meme, they say. Continue Reading

Gorilla Warfare

Playing Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Together in 2017


We shrink down from three dimensions to two and a half, assuming our more primal forms: I an ape, she a smaller ape. Together we jump over chasms and swing from tree to tree on vines, gathering bananas, coins, puzzle pieces, and balloons. Occasionally, we succeed in collecting elusive blocks, each emblazoned with a letter: a K, an O, an N, or a G. Continue Reading

Gotta Scan ‘Em All

No Man’s Sky and The Universe of The Possible

Wysocki NMS Cover

I just need to find one more species. The constant background radiation is frustrating but not impossible to deal with, though it is starting to make the search a little tedious. I got lucky spotting species 5, finding two Upicenae Elgarten after cresting a small ridge and sighting them in a depression below me. I was doubly lucky that the massive carnivores didn’t spot me so I was not forced to elude their pursuit. Now I just need to find species 6 and something tells me it is also a carnivore. I’m not sure what it is, just a sense that I have based on extensive personal experience that is right often enough that I’ve learned to listen to it when it is insisting on something. Continue Reading

Let’s Play with Research Methodologies

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What is the most effective way to formally incorporate my game play experiences into my highly personalized research plan? How can I study not only the games that I am playing, but my own reactions to those games? How can I do justice to my genuine experiences and reactions without having to break my immersion during gameplay to take field notes? How can I convince my interdisciplinary (and strictly disciplinary) peers and supervisors that my game play experiences, and game play related memories, can be studied following a formal research methodology? Continue Reading

“The World Could Always Use More Heroes”

Why Overwatch Matters

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Earlier this year, I presented my dissertation research in the Game Studies area of the Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association conference; the community among these interdisciplinary scholars was so great that I ended up sticking around for almost every panel on games for the rest of the weekend. And I was struck by a common theme: Blizzard Entertainment’s team-based first-person shooter Overwatch (2016) came up in almost every one! Continue Reading

We Gotta Get Out of This Place (If it’s the Last Thing We Ever Do)

Horizons of Expectation in The Room Three


If there’s one trait of videogame series about which I’ve always been certain, it’s that sequels in a series are essentially the same game as the original but with a different story. Though the odd sequel is truly innovative, more often than not, the key principles of gameplay in a sequel will be roughly the same as in its precursors. Whether I’m playing Halo or Halo 5, I will always massacre aliens; whether I’m playing Assassin’s Creed or Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, I will eventually leap from a height to stab a Templar in the head; and whether I am playing Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune or Uncharted: A Thief’s End, I will inevitably end up hurling my controller through the drywall when I die during a mission involving riding a jet-ski or a boat for the forty-fifth time in ten minutes. Continue Reading