The Fun is in the Dying

Difficult Games and Metagame Strategies

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The idea of games as “difficult” engagements has been popular in both our colloquial conversations around games, as well as some critical discussions. Much research has been conducted on the function of difficulty as an aspect of immersion and engagement, but less has focused on the particular ludic mechanics that define the difficulty of a play experience. It seems fair to say that some of the more visible games that fall into this category are FromSoftware’s action RPG ‘Souls’ series. Continue Reading

The Paratext of Video Games

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A compelling but often overlooked part of video games is what we call the ‘paratext.’ The term was coined in literary studies to discuss the pieces of information which appear outside of the text (the main body of writing), but which nonetheless participate in and influence our reception of the text. For instance, the paratext of a novel would be the novel’s title, the author’s name, the synopsis on the back cover, chapter titles, publication details, or the cover art. It appears marginal to the experience of the text, but actually provides a significant network of ideas around which our approach to the text is shaped. Continue Reading

#BloodbornePoems

May The Good Blood Guide Your Way

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Bloodborne follows a similar mechanic; by selecting the notebook in your inventory, you can scrawl a note and send it out into other players’ universes, where it can be rated “fine” or “foul” according to how helpful (or amusing) players who stumble across the missive find it. There’s something moving about this process, like a note in a bottle sent out across other dimensions, little gestures of kindness and goodwill in the decaying and endlessly hostile environment. Hunters sending little vials of hope across the cosmos; tiny pearls of help. A colleague of mine, Braydon Beaulieu, wrote a few notes in Bloodborne that were not about strategy, but self-care. Little reminders of kindness in the bleakness. In response to this, I wrote a poem, my own little wish for gentleness. Continue Reading