• "In recent years we've seen plenty of criticism (including mine) leveled at video games that rehash old ideas; games that rely on genre formulas; games that ape the language of film. Games, we're often told, need new ideas. Games need to grow up. Games should leverage their defining interactivity. Cutscenes are lazy. Let movies be movies. Players want to write their own stories. Games don't need authored narratives. Games don't need linear stories. Games don't need stories. All games should be fun. No they shouldn't.

    The problem with these reductive arguments is they fail to account for how art rails against boundaries; how artists inevitably seek to situate their work in the margins no one can own. Artists instinctively push back against "don't," "shouldn't," and "must." This is why we give them genius grants. It's also why we put them in prison. The real action is in the margins." Good stuff from Michael.

  • "It's true that Wyndham's preference is for no-nonsense, brisk, wry narrators, and the horrors that visit the books can seem like opportunities to show off good old British pluck. But the books are surprisingly unheroic, and often (notably in the cases of Kraken and Triffids) peculiarly open-ended. And if you look closely, you begin to see that there's something very uncosy, persistently unsettling, about these books, that continues to ask profound questions about the limits of our culture and the foundations of the post-war world."
  • "We’re happy to confirm the news today that the sale of the company is complete. We appreciate all of your support, comments and warm wishes in the preceding few weeks.

    Viacom and MTV Networks have been an amazing home for us over the past 4 years. It’s where we launched both Rock Band and Dance Central, worked with The Beatles, Green Day, AC/DC, The Who and thousands of other artists. We want to take a moment to thank everyone in that organization who helped make these awesome games possible.

    We’re excited to be returning to our roots as an independent and privately owned studio."

    Brilliant news.

  • "One succeeds because it leverages the player's motivated, explorative, self-driven experience; the other fails because it relies on a hackneyed, disjointed "epic" plotting (told in 3 separate plot-lines via cutscenes) with incongruous settings and 2-dimensional characters. One succeeds because its formal systems directly feed the player's connection to the world and characters; the other fails because its formal systems bear no discernible relationship to the stories the game wants to tell." This is strong stuff from Michael; I am increasingly fed up of the focus on (poorly-told) stories in games.
  • "Know that there are no "accidents" in this game design. Everything you notice about the game, and every subtle interaction that you experience, is intentionally packed with meaning." (Gravitation, still, being my favourite of Rohrer's games, I think).
  • "Crucially, Goodrich entreats the public to note the following: "this change should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay." This one statement should cause considerable distress, as it suggests a troubling conclusion about Medal of Honor as a work of public speech.<br />
    <br />
    To wit: it suggests that the Taliban never had any meaningful representation in the game anyway. If a historically, culturally, and geographically specific enemy can simply be recast in the generic cloth of "opposition," then why was it was called "Taliban" in the first place?<br />
    <br />
    And if the Afghan war in which the new Medal of Honor is set was one explicitly meant to drive the Taliban from their strongholds in Afghanistan, why should it matter that the game is set in that nation in the present day at all? In short, how was this Medal of Honor title meant to be a game about this war in particular?" This is a marvellous, critical piece of writing from Bogost.
  • Nice post on Awk basics – most of which I knew, but the examples are still great, especially those involving variables. The links out to the Hacker News and Reddit threads are also full of good stuff.
  • "…let's not kid ourselves. If you sell a game that's a first-person shooter, then no matter how many RPG elements you shoe-horn into the game, the shadow that hangs over every character interaction that you have, no matter who they are, is the question in the player's mind of "What happens if I shoot this person?" And that's our own fault! We've sold the player that; we've made a contract with the player that says it's okay to kill people. Why would we then chastise them for exploring that?" Patrick Redding is brilliant. This interview, with Chris Remo on Gamasutra, is great – Remo asks some smart questions, and Redding gives some really smart answers.
  • "The game insists that I focus, even for mundane activities like carrying groceries, on carefully following directions delivered to me visually on-screen. The simple act of carrying groceries is subsumed by the mechanical procedure of executing a series of prompts _for no apparent reason_. This, for me, is the primary disconnect in Heavy Rain. My mechanical game-directed actions don't amplify or add meaning to the in-game behaviors they execute. They don't pull me in; they keep me out. " Hmn. I've been thinking about something similar recently. Time to fire up the blogpostmatron…
  • Lovely, lovely article explaining just how the PeepCode Blog works. The blog itself features unique layouts for every post. There's no CMS, no database, but what's going on under the hood is at least as clever – and the flexibility makes the beautiful and clear pages much easier to build.
  • "…for reasons that baffle me, my TV can only receive the four terrestrial channels, plus a grainy feed from the building’s security cameras. Easy choice."
  • "SoI think it's not unreasonable to read that the article is presenting the stance that the evolution of the status of games from 'toys and entertainment' to 'art' is fundamentally linked to the idea of authorship coming from the singular creative vision of an individual. For the record, I strongly disagree with this stance – and furthermore, I feel it is treacherous ground in which to plant the 'games are henceforth art' flag, as I suspect it is ground that will quickly be lost to (or surrendered by) the first generation of artists who even attempt to question it (in fact – for those of us 'in the know' it has been and continues to be, questioned all the time)."
  • "…sometimes I fear our endless preoccupation with making the case for video games is self-defeating. It feels defensive and, at its worst, produces a kind of micro-culture obsession with analysis: a 24/7 bloggo-Twitter tilling and re-tilling of the same small plot of dirt. In this self-absorbed environment, each new game's worth is measured by its ability to move the needle on emergent narrative, artistic expression, genre refinement…or whatever criterion we're applying this week to prove games matter to people already convinced." Yes. Not the reason I've been taking a break from writing about it, but something that plays on my mind before I put fingers to keyboard.