Creating and Queering Space with Player Housing

Perks Cover

With the shutdown of massively multiplayer online roleplaying game WildStar (Carbine Studios, 2014), many players are reflecting on the lost potential of the game. The game offered an interesting combat system, unique and playful character design, and most strikingly a deep player housing system. Now past its foreclosure, I want to reflect on the importance of player housing, and other building systems in games, that allow for players to create space and community within game worlds. Few games offer players the opportunity to impact their world in meaningful, creative, and unique ways, often instead having players move through expansive open-worlds or along a set narrative path. Continue Reading

Dark as a Dungeon

Fallout 76 and the Coal Mining Industry

Morrissette Cover

I was ten hours into playing Fallout 76 when it finally happened—a moment I had warily anticipated since I first learned the latest installment in the franchise would be set in West Virginia. My character, the self-styled Shotgun Nurse of the Wasteland, was descending into a coal mine. It was the final step in my character’s training before officially joining the Fire Breathers, a group of post-apocalyptic firefighters headquartered in the crumbling remains of the Charleston Fire Department. All that was left was to activate an emergency beacon located in the sulphurous depths of Belching Betty, the site of a subterranean mine fire that had raged for untold years. Continue Reading

Destined for Silence

Speech as Trans Identity in Destiny 1 & 2

Opening Image

It didn’t matter if you were Human, Awoken or Exo. It didn’t matter if you were male or female. You had been resurrected as a Guardian; humanity’s last hope against the Darkness, and you would do everything in your power to succeed.

And from those first orchestral bars, I had a voice. . . or my character had a voice. And I had a. . . my character had an identity that I as the player created. I tend to get lost in my games. When I’m playing a game I’m not simply a human sitting in a chair with a PlayStation 4 controller watching the pixels of my screen illuminate and change. Continue Reading

Memories Shaping Identities

An Overview of Dontnod's Games

Jirodet Cover

While French studio Dontnod is still releasing new episodes of Life is Strange 2 and is teasing a new project, Twin Mirror, they have already developed four games in five years. To me they all bear a common theme which leads the experience: memory and how it defines identity. Let’s see how each game uses these ideas in their themes and gameplay and what it could mean for the studio. Continue Reading

Remembering Katamari Damacy

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

Arauz Cover

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

Darkmoon Tomb

Ford Cover

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

World of Warcraft and Getting out into the World

Argüello Cover

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