Stirring the Pot

Cooking, Compression and the Quotidian in Breath of the Wild

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I don’t much like cooking in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I understand its aesthetical value—the imperative to scrounge together enough sustenance for basic survival, especially in the early game. However the more I played and more I discovered, the less novel it became, and the lofty rhetoric surrounding the game only made this dissatisfaction harder to swallow. “Get lost!”, “Turn off the HUD!”, “Figure it out yourself!” and contradictorily “It’s the first ‘real’ Zelda adventure, the other games were only legends, man” against “C’mon grandma break out the graph paper, it’s exactly like Zelda 1!” Continue Reading

Weight of the World

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

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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

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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

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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