Playing Dead

Queerness, Photography and Video Games

Ting Cover

As early as I can remember, there is a Buddhist shrine carved out of redwood (metasequoia) placed right in front of the entrance door of my family home. As you leave and come home every day, it is the first and last thing you see. On it are three levels; the top level is Guanyin, the bodhisattva that protects peace and tranquility. In the middle are photographic portraits of my ancestors, and on the bottom level is Dizhu Gong, the protector of travel and the land. Continue Reading

Life After an El Presidente

Tropico through a Post-Colonial, Post-Martial Law Lens

Castor Cover

Content Notification: references to torture, sexual violence

“Satire does not work in the Philippines because this country is the theater for the absurd.” – Carljoe Javier, author

I thought about that one cold November night, looking down at a crowd of students wearing black, standing right next to the major road outside our school. The nightly Manila traffic beeped their horns as they passed by, seeing the signs that said “busina para sa hustisya” or “honk for justice”. In the distance, I could see police cars stuck in traffic on approach to the rallying site Continue Reading

VA-11 HALL-A

Queer Spaces and Drug-dream Fantasy

Planty Cover

I first played VA-11 HALL-A (pronounced Valhalla, like the Norse hall of gods) the day it released while I was living in an indoor patio used to house dog kennels. I only had a mattress to my name and ate instant noodles just to survive. Such is the life that VA-11 HALL-A’s protagonist, Jill, lives in her pursuit to pay rent by the end of the month during a financial crisis plaguing Glitch City. This title is as much about escapist-fantasy as it is about survival all while trying to maintain a positive outlook on life. It’s a bittersweet title that wastes no time strapping its player into a queer world of cyberpunk nostalgia, winding conversations about life, and flirtatious drink-mixing. VA-11 HALL-A is preoccupied with the question of what does capitalism ultimately give us, and what do we receive in exchange for not just our physical labor, but our emotional labor, too. Continue Reading

Memory Trading

A Singularity of Self

Brinegar Header

Melted wax oozing from my left arm, I make another feeble swing at Suago-mo. I miss, my waxflab appendage severed from my body by their counter-attack. “Well, that solves the infection,” I think to myself, trying not to panic as oozing wax is replaced with gushing blood. Now, several hours into this character, exploring a historical site that had been brought to my attention within the first moments of gameplay seemed something I was very much capable of by this point. Continue Reading

Not a Mimic

Deception as a Rhetorical Device in Survival Horror Games

Webb Cover Image (Talos I)

Samantha Webb holds a Master’s degree in Game Design from Brunel University, London. She is a freelance games writer and narrative designer, working with both AAA and indie studios to develop games. She has an interest in second-level storytelling and… Continue Reading

“Fix my post-apocalypse”

The speculative horror of civilizational end in Fallout 76

Wallin cover image

Jason Wallin is an Associate Professor of Media and Youth Culture Studies in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Alberta. He was raised by wolves in the hinterlands of British Columbia. For Doug M. Since its release… Continue Reading

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