On men­tal health, the dis­cov­ery of being trans, and reclaim­ing my writerly self. […Read more…]

Back to where we began in Quake

In which I ram­ble a tiny bit about Quake’s sym­bolic world and its mom­my issues, along with a tenu­ous com­pari­son to Dark Souls. […Read more…]

Future Nostalgia (A Fictional Review of Bientôt l’été)

[From a friend who wishes to remain ano­nymous, I re­ceived the ori­ginal ver­sion of the mes­sage below, which was picked up using radio ob­ser­vation of sig­nals from outer space. For the reader’s con­venience, I have ren­dered it in con­tem­po­rary Eng­lish, rather than the early mo­dern Eng­lish in which it was writ­ten.] Archive: Des­bares­des belt > Giraud γ > Orbit of Giraud γ 3 > Wreck­age of Sigil, or­bital torus space sta­tion File: Ano­nymous jour­nal entry, text­ual, untitled, dated 2321÷12÷16 Descrip­tion: This log entry, re­trieved dur­ing the sal­vage of Sigil sta­tion in 2456, appears to be an assess­ment of a par­ticular type of inter­active expe­rience avail­able to users of the sta­tion at the time through use of holo­communi­cation trans­mitters. Rem­nants of the soft­ware which is referred to in the entry have been found in the data logs of Sigil sta­tion, and vari­ous other sta­tions through­out the galaxy; see > T. Beach Proj­ector. […Read more…]

Time for a Story (On Papers, Please and Gone Home)

Two recent indie release (Papers, Please and Gone Home) inspired me enough to pen a little ar­ticle last week. Today the piece found a home on The Onto­logical Geek. In the ar­ticle, I ex­plore how Papers, Please simu­lates the way in which bureau­cracies can force us to treat people like cattle, like num­bers, like items on a list. Through in­si­dious sys­tems the player — in­ha­biting the mind of a bor­der offi­cial — is forced to spend as little time on immi­grants as possi­ble, while still follow­ing all the rules im­posed by your govern­ment. I con­trast this to the ex­peri­ence of Gone Home, where we can take all the time we want to dig into the per­sonal lives of an Amer­ican fam­ily, and ex­peri­ence their tou­ching stor­ies. […Read more…]

The Iterations of Punxsutawney Phil

Remem­ber Ground­hog Day? It’s that 1993 film about Bill Murray’s char­acter, Phil, who keeps reliv­ing the same day, Feb­ru­ary 2nd, in the Penn­sylvania town of Punx­sutawney, where on that day, the ground­hog Punx­sutawney Phil will pre­dict when winter’s going to end. […] It’s an awful lot like the way we tend to play video games these days. Faced with chal­lenges in a game, we have the quick­save and quick­load but­tons close at hand, ready to revert to an earlier point in the game to try again. If you get to replay a sec­tion of a story over and over again, any chal­lenge inher­ent in the ori­ginal situ­ation quickly morphs into a mat­ter of trial and error. Like Phil in Ground­hog Day, we get to try out every inter­action, every conver­sation option the world allows us. More im­por­tantly, in a typ­ical collap­sing together of char­acter and player, Phil – like us – retains (meta)­knowledge of every­thing he did earlier. […Read more…]

Walking The Path

Through the years I’ve had so many reas­ons to ignore her, always telling me where I could and couldn’t go… – I was follow­ing a pretty bird, and I got lost. I wanted to go for a walk by the lake. I wanted to pick some flowers that only grow in the forest. I was secretly meet­ing a boy. I wanted to check out the creepy grave­yard. I needed to get away for a while. Be­sides, the real reason she doesn’t want me to stray is be­cause she doesn’t want me to grow up and make my own de­cisions and not listen to her all the time. That’s why I went off the path and into the for­est. It’s made me who I am. […Read more…]

FATALE & the History of Salomé

This is the third time I’m wri­ting about a digi­tal work by Fle­mish duo Tale of Tales, and that alone says some­thing about the capa­city of their releases to in­spire dis­cussion. I star­ted with the peace­ful MMO The End­less Forest, and also did a short bit on The Grave­yard. Conti­nuing the chrono­logical trend would leave The Path as my next sub­ject - argu­ably their best and most game-like work - but writ­ing about that fasci­nating psycho­logical hor­ror piece still seems rather daun­ting. Instead, I’m stick­ing to the slightly more manage­able FATALE and explo­ring a bit of what it has to say about the fig­ure of Salomé and how she’s been treated through­out his­tory. […Read more…]