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 […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

The start screen in 'The Path'.

Despite writing more or less in-depth about many of the digital works of Belgian studio Tale of Tales – see my posts on The Endless Forest, The Graveyard, and FATALE – I had been avoiding writing about what is arguably their best work to date: The Path. In any case, it is the one I felt the most personal connection with, and I’ve tried to express why that is in a retrospective piece I wrote for Gaming Daily. So if you’re interested in why a game about Little Red Riding Hood, disobedience, violence, sexuality, and trauma made me feel empathetic with some typically feminine psychological experiences, read on: […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…]