Going Maverick

the Politics of Terrorism in Mega Man X

Terrorism, as one such political narrative, has remained at the forefront of public consciousness to varying degrees since September 11 2001, but in particular has been retooled and pulled in new directions over the last couple of years by the Government of Canada under Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper. While all kinds of video games have tackled the subject of terrorism over the years, one unlikely franchise has echoed with uncanny fidelity the trajectory that terrorism as a narrative has followed under Conservative governance: Mega Man X, originally developed and published by Capcom for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1993. Continue Reading

Designing for the Other

Serious Games, Its Challenges, & Mindful Play

It has been foretold that Games will define the nature of media in the 21st century[1]. As with any expanding media form, games have splintered into smaller and smaller sub-genres. Serious Games is one of these sub-genres, and my field of practice at my studio Antidote Games. The use of games to resolve topics with real world consequences is commonly referred to as Serious Games. Usually, the conversation around games splits into the familiar AAA vs Indie divide, and there is a similar divide between games for pleasure or games for social justice. The separation into games for “fun” and games for “change” has given new life to the exploration of serious “real-world” topics in game making. While a lot of this conversation circles around unfamiliar narrative paths being explored in autobiographical games and games that contextualize unfamiliar topics for players in the west, my interest is in opening up a part of Serious Games that rarely get discussed, much less critiqued: games made for people in non-western countries as part of aid or educational programs. Continue Reading

Heterotopia & Play

A Rapprochement Between Foucault & Huizinga

What have gardens, graveyards, brothels and videogames in common? What might sound like the beginning of a joke for one, is in fact the introduction of a theoretical approach towards videogames which uses a concept popularized by the French philosopher Michel Foucault: the heterotopia. Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia originated in the 1960s and was – besides a short paragraph in Les Mots et les choses and an article in Architecture, Movement only explored further in a radio report for France Culture on December 7th 1966. Nevertheless it was used extensively by academics in the fields of film, literature and culture studies and there were also some ideas to make it fruitful for Game Studies, for examples look at Keith Challis’ Games as Heterotopias or at Gamereader.net. But I want to start with the basics and show, at least in sections, that the concept of Heterotopia is related with Johan Huizinga’s notion of play. Continue Reading