On last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, the Comedy Central host took on Gamergate, gaming’s biggest controversy. The segment also included a surprise guest—feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian.
Tag: Games (1-10 of 187)
For many, Lucasfilm is synonymous with Star Wars. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be, either—Star Wars is huge.
But if you were playing video games at any point during the late ’80s throughout the ’90s, chances are you have a very different association to the studio bearing George Lucas’ name. Started in 1982 by the man himself, Lucasfilm Games (later LucasArts) would become a beloved games studio that didn’t just make great Star Wars games (like the classic Star Wars: TIE Fighter), but quirky and frequently hilarious adventure games like Day of the Tentacle and the Monkey Island series. But since many of these were computer games for a niche audience, they disappeared after their initial runs—and if you still have a copy of, say, Sam & Max Hit the Road, getting it to run on a modern machine could prove quite difficult. But not anymore.
Maybe you’ve heard of GamerGate.
Countless stories have been written about the controversy over the past two months—yes, it started that long ago—in outlets ranging from game-centric titles to our biggest national publications. GamerGate has gone mainstream in a big way, but it remains elusive and difficult to understand. If you’re someone who would like to know just what GamerGate entails, check out this exhaustive piece by Deadspin writer Kyle Wagner. It’s long, but it’s also evenhanded and nuanced. Anyone who tries to break the whole mess down in a bite-sized YouTube video or nifty imgur link is probably trying to mislead you.
One of the best things about video games is how they allow you to experience things from truly unique perspectives—playing characters that come from an entirely different racial, religious, or socioeconomic background as yourself, allowing for deep insight and empathy when done right.
Now, you can also play as a slice of bread.
1993’s Myst was a video game phenomenon. Just read this EW article from October, 1994—even during a time when computer games were very much a sequestered entertainment medium, Myst got mainstream attention more than a year after its release. It was kind of like The Sims of the 90s—everyone had a copy, even if they didn’t know why. At the time, Myst was thought to be the future of storytelling—the beginnings of a bold new form of entertainment. That never really caught on, but much like Twin Peaks, Myst is getting another shot.
According to Variety, Legendary Entertainment has just closed a deal with Myst creators Rand and Robyn Miller to turn the game into a new series, either for network or digital. The creators will be involved, and they hope to turn Myst into an immersive transmedia franchise, with a companion game and other apps expanding on the show’s story. Here’s the thing: it could actually work.
While most summaries of Myst will talk about how players take on the role of someone called “The Stranger” and solve puzzles to uncover a world of intrigue, that doesn’t really capture what makes Myst special. Myst was so captivating because it didn’t tell you a thing. You didn’t play as “The Stranger,” you played as yourself—the world was presented to you in the first-person perspective, and didn’t explain a thing to you. You were alone on a strange and beautiful island, and as you wandered around, you’d find strange things: trap doors and diaries and puzzles. Each discovery was more intriguing than the last, and throughout it all, you’d wonder, “Why is this all here?” And eventually, piece by piece, the game would answer your questions.
That sort of experience, where the act of watching and reading and interacting is one of discovery, where you’re presented with a beautiful world that doesn’t explain itself to you but invites you to figure it out—that’s a thing that’s ripe for reinventing from the ground up. And since the Myst games have been dormant since 2005’s Myst V: End of Ages, it stands to reason that those involved aren’t looking to cash in on a hot property, but choosing to adapt a story that has potential to be something new and interesting.
If you want to play Myst, you can get it on just about any platform (including iOS and Android) here.
We, as a nation, have apparently decided that we want most of our video games to come out at the same time every year. We, as a nation, should probably rethink that, because the time it takes to finish an average video game is something crazy like 40 hours. Even with the time off that comes around the holidays, taking on a few extra full-time-job’s worth of games is kind of bananas. Did we mention that this fall’s release calendar is what a “light” year looks like?
Fortunately, our own Natalie Abrams, Jonathon Dornbush, Darren Franich, Aaron Morales, and Joshua Rivera have opinions on how to best allocate those extracurricular hours. Game accordingly.
Disclaimer: This list isn’t comprehensive. It very obviously omits sports games (because we know jack shit about them) and indie games (because they’re made by commitmentphobes who don’t set release dates very far in advance). We’re very much looking forward to some of these games (hello, Ori and the Blind Forest), but this list is geared towards games with set release dates.
Combining beloved Disney franchises with some of Marvel’s most recognizable faces, Disney Infinity 2 adds heroes like Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon, and Spider-Man to the menagerie of actual figurines you can zap into its game worlds. (No, really—the game comes with action figures that determine which characters players control.) Beyond that, it allows players to create whatever they would like in the game’s imagination-driven Toy Box, from tower defense games, to a Disney-themed house, to a raceway that’s part Guardians of the Galaxy and part Toy Story.
PRO: I’ve already said plenty about why Infinity is so special. Yes, the single player campaign’s mission design is a bit generic, but the marquee feature, the Toy Box, is a delight. By allowing players to create game levels, cities, raceways, houses—almost anything they want—and express themselves by employing memorable Disney and Marvel franchises, the game sucks users in for hours at a time. Infinity encourages imagination, and the sheer number of possibilities should send any child—and more than a few Disney-obsessed adults—into a creative frenzy. —JD
CON: This adult enjoyed playing with the toys that come with game more than the repetitive, simplistic campaign itself. Seriously, the toys are awesome. —AM
In the tradition of many quality cable dramas, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter takes place in an idyllic town in the middle of nowhere that’s full of terrible occurrences. As a detective with supernatural abilities, you’ll communicate with the dead in order to uncover whatever disturbing, hidden secrets lie in Red Creek Valley.
WHY IT’S INTERESTING: Some of the best games don’t give you much to go on. Myst is the classic example here, a game that dropped you on an island with no explanation and left you to stumble across an intriguing mystery. There’s a bit more context to The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, but development studio The Astronauts seem committed to mostly staying out of the way, letting players rely on their own observations to discover the game’s secrets. “Show, don’t tell,” is just as important in video games as it is in other media—and one of the greatest tricks in video game horror is giving you the freedom to creep yourself out. —JR
You know how the first trailer for The Hobbit got you all excited? Because The Lord of the Rings films were great, so surely Hobbit would be, too? And then the movie was divided into like, 18 parts, each a year apart and all of them middling. That’s kind of what it’s been like for LOTR video games, except the bit about there being 18 parts isn’t all that hyperbolic. The pitch for Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is simple: what if a LOTR game wasn’t just good, but great?
PRO: There have been some good The Lord of the Rings games, but fans have been waiting for a great one, and Shadow of Mordor looks to be it. Combining the best of two major franchises—Assassin’s Creed and the Batman: Arkham games—Mordor adds in the promising Nemesis System. With it, your enemies are no longer simple sword fodder—they actually matter to main character Talion. Players can alter the balance of power by taking out ruling Uruks or bending them to his will, and the game’s randomized Uruk creator means you’ll never see the same Uruk twice. With the third-person action space dominated by sequels this year and next, it’s nice to see a new franchise try to stake its own claim in the genre. —JD
CON: The last boss battle is an anticlimactic string of quick-time events. Everything else? Pretty awesome. —AM
Tetris, in many respects, is a perfect video game. You can learn to play in minutes, it is wildly addictive, and it has one of the greatest jingles to ever jingle. Everyone knows Tetris, as they should. Tetris is great. So of course Tetris is going to be turned into a movie and forever ruined.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which somehow managed to report the news with a straight face, the movie is being produced by Threshold Entertainment, a company you may know if you’re a big fan of Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Annhilation. According to Threshold CEO Larry Kasanoff, the planned Tetris movie has a story in place (the one thing the Tetris game doesn’t have) but no cast, crew, or director (all things a Tetris movie needs to have). But it’s okay, because the Tetris brand is the most important thing, and Threshold, with the Tetris Company’s help, has that in spades.
“Brands are the new stars of Hollywood,” said Kasanoff, probably with soul-crushing sincerity. He goes on to call Tetris (the movie) a “very big, epic sci-fi movie,” which is a very strange thing to say about a puzzle game gussied up in Russian iconography.
With language like that, it’s easy to be cynical about the Tetris movie’s fortunes. But maybe it’ll defeat the odds — with passion, talent, and a little luck, a good Tetris movie might just….fall in place.
Maybe you’ve heard of From Software. It’s a studio famous for games with the word “Souls” in them. If you ask anyone about these games, they’ll probably describe them in one word: “hard.” (Or two words, provided there’s an expletive in there. People have strong feelings about these games.)
While that’s true—Demons’ Souls, Dark Souls, and Dark Souls II are far from easy—reducing the games to their difficulty sells them short. The Souls games are experiences—there’s nothing quite like them anywhere else. And Bloodborne, From Software’s latest game, looks like it’ll continue the trend. It also looks absolutely terrifying. READ FULL STORY
Final Fantasy XV has been through a lot. First announced way back in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII (don’t ask), FFXV has been the Moby Dick of video games for both fans of the Japanese Role Playing Game genre and developer Square Enix.
After eight years of waiting with almost no word on the status of the game, it’s easy to get jaded. And then an amazing new trailer comes out and everything is exciting again.
READ FULL STORY
On paper, Battleborn—game development studio Gearbox Software’s big follow up to its successful Borderlands series of games—might sound like the studio is repeating itself. After all, Battleborn, like Borderlands, is a first-person shooter that freely grabs interesting ideas from other genres and repackages them into something with a distinct style and personality.
But that’s not very fair.
Games can be a lot like sandwiches—while technically, every sandwich is simply “bread with stuff in between,” there is a world of difference between a Monte Cristo and a PB&J, with plenty of room for experimentation in between. Similar to how the vast and interesting world of sandwiches can be terribly wronged by our desire to label everything, video games deserve a little bit more than a few genre descriptors. But don’t worry, the genre descriptors are coming.
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