A Better World

Examples of Disability in Overwatch

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Video games, like any other cultural product, reflect the cultural values that influence their creation; these values then influence perceptions on what is normal and acceptable in a social context (Flanagan and Nissenbaum 2014). Mass media shapes the perceptions of disability by influencing the language used to talk about disabilities, including what is (or -perhaps more significantly-, what is not) covered by news outlets and other mass media (Haller 2010). The invisibility of those with disabilities continues to be normalized when they are left out of media such as video games. Continue Reading

Madness as True Sight in The Cat Lady and Fran Bow

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Video games, particularly role-playing games, have addressed madness in various ways since their inception, though usually in the form of villains and antagonists whose sole motivation for their evil deeds is their madness. Although inclusivity is important, connecting madness (among other marginalized identity markers, such as gender deviance, queerness, and femininity) with villainy only serves to further alienate and demonize those who identify as mad or have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Continue Reading

Mad/Crip Games and Play

An Introduction

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Content Notification: reference to self-harm

The first time I saw Poison Ivy, I fell in love with her. But I didn’t get to play Ivy. I had to play Batman. And Batman punished Ivy for being a Mad queer femme. He played the role of the legal system, and the legal system punishes people like her, like me. The logic of the game was patriarchal, sanist, ableist. The game made me hurt us.
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Savage Beasts

The Spatial Conflict Between Civilization and Nature in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

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It is hard to talk about playing the fantasy role-playing game (RPG) The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim without talking about its digital environment. Its vastness. The freedom with which players can move through it. With an impressive “16 square miles” (Hong p. 42) of digital landscape on offer, there certainly is a lot of world to explore. Continue Reading

Ritual of the Moon

Time and Reparative Game Design

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Much has been made recently about ‘crunch’ and the dangers of cramming development into bursts of unhealthy and inaccessible work habits. It has been written about in Kotaku, The New York Times, and many other places. The solution sounds so easy: just don’t crunch. Take your time. Live your life outside of making practices. But what are sustainable practices of making? Those which follow the ebbs and flows of sometimes the erratic and out-of-grasp force of creativity? Continue Reading

Embodying the Story

Haptic Narrative in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

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Famed German board-game designer Wolfgang Kramer suggests in his essay “What is a Game?” that a game, video or otherwise, “always has components or rules.” He goes on to say that “[t]he components are the hardware, the rules are the software. Both define the game. Both can exist independently from each other, but separately are not a game.” If we accept Kramer’s thesis, then the need for further discourse as it pertains to the physical devices – i.e. the components used to play a video game – becomes apparent. Continue Reading

Documentation, Periodization, Regionalization, and Marginalization

Four Challenges for Video Game Historiography

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As I understand it, and as others before me summarized it (Lowood & Guins 2014, XIII-XV), history is the study of the past through documents, and historiography is the study of the craft of history – the methods used by historians to write their histories. Historians often conduct their work in two phases: studying the documents to retrace the facts, and then organizing these facts and events into a narrative to infuse them with meaning. Continue Reading