As a way to confront the police state we seem to be barreling toward, Tanya Kan and her development studio Vivid Foundry have created Solace State. A different kind of visual novel, Solace State, focuses on the interaction and social relationships of a group of young hackers to imagine a hopeful ground-up approach to bettering a dystopian world. Instead of a singular, white hope, the game demonstrates the diversity of faces and voices involved in mounting a revolution. Continue Reading
Heart Projector is a Vancouver-based arts collective that hosts semi-regular arcade events showcasing underground videogames from diverse creators. Since 2016, Heart Projector has curated arcades that blur the lines between games and art, and that highlight themes of queerness, indigeneity, and inequity. For this interview, I spoke to three of Heart Projector’s main organizers: Leanne Roed, Brendan Vance, and Ziggy. Continue Reading
Mike Ren Yi has developed a reputation as a controversial game designer. As a diasporic Chinese American living in Shanghai, Mike creates personal games that explore the intersections of race, state control, and environmental degradation, all while working in an industry overseen by state censors. But while his games challenge the status quo, they also contain heartfelt expressions of daily life. His game Yellowface (2019), based loosely off of David Henry Hwang’s play of the same name, captures the microaggressions of being an Asian American man in the United States, while his game Hazy Days (2016) follows a young girl living in the pollution-saturated airways of contemporary China. Mike Ren Yi’s latest game, Novel Containment (2020), attempts to capture the atmosphere of state control and censorship during the COVID-19 pandemic. And it may be his most risky venture yet. Continue Reading
Olivia Wood is a video game writer, narrative designer, and editor, specializing in interactive narrative. She works for Failbetter Games in London, UK. Her credits include Sunless Skies (2019, writer, narrative designer and editor), Sunless Sea: Zubmariner (2016, writer, narrative designer and editor), Sunless Sea (2015, writer and editor), Fallen London (2009, writer, narrative designer and editor), Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (Dimbulb Games/Serenity Forge, 2018, contributing writer), The Mystery of Kalkomey Isle (Kalkomey, 2018, design consultant and editor), Cheaper than Therapy (sub-Q, 2019, writer, designer and developer), and Lethophobia (2016, writer and designer). Continue Reading
Melos Han Tani (formerly Sean Han Tani) is a game designer from Chicago of Taiwanese, Japanese and Irish descent, currently living in Tokyo. He created the game All Our Asias (2018), and is one of the two members of his game studio Analgesic Productions, which made Anodyne (2013), Even the Ocean (2016) and Anodyne 2: Return to Dust (2019). From 2016-2019 Sean was a game design and game music lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Continue Reading
Andrew Reinhard is as old as Pong. He is currently a third-year “mature” PhD student at the Department of Archaeology at the University of York (UK) where he is completing his thesis on archaeological tools and methods for investigating digital cultural heritage. Past video game archaeology projects include the excavation of the Atari Burial Ground, the No Man’s Sky Archaeological Survey and the Legacy Hub Archaeological Project, landscape archaeology in Skyrim VR, and the code archaeology of Colossal Cave Adventure. Continue Reading
Jeffery Klaehn: What possibilities afforded by the contemporary gaming landscape most excite you? I’m thinking of technological developments and digital distribution platforms such as Steam (2003) and GOG (2008), which are still relatively “new” in relation to the history of digital games.
David Brevik: It’s an extremely exciting time to be a developer. Being able to create something and distribute it all around the world from your own home is amazing. But because it’s so easy, the market has been flooded with people doing just that. There are hundreds of games a day on mobile app stores, and 30+ games a day on Steam. There is so much content right now, it’s impossible to wade through all of the games. Continue Reading