Hard to believe it's nearly August already. What happened to the slow summer weeks where I was going to finally catch up with Valkyria Chronicles, Demon's Souls, and Persona 4? When games like Divinity: Original Sin show up out of nowhere, it certainly doesn't help. (That's the pettiest complaint ever.)
It's possible Divinity: Original Sin will not be a game I love or hate, but one of dozens of games I simply gave a fair shot. Trying to figure out where to draw that line, when to conclude a game is not for you, is murky. It's part of the reason I've always argued for finishing a game to completion when reviewing it. It's not necessarily a positive that a game comes into its own 15 hours deep, but you never know, right?
But I'm keenly aware I have trouble giving up on experiences. While the joke is that I watch shows like Prison Break to completion because I want to see how they end, no matter how terrible the writing becomes, sometimes that really pays off. I couldn't have written last week's piece about Aiden Pearce without having played through (suffered through?) the entirety of Watch Dogs.
To some extent, I consider that part of my professional responsibility. I've been given an opportunity to spend my day thinking critically about video games. The least I can do is see what they have to offer.
Hey, You Should Play This
And You Should Read These, Too
- "What It's Like To Play Games When You're Colorblind" by Cameron Gidari
It's not that I don't believe Jeff or Vinny when the two of them talk about how difficult it is to be colorblind and play some games, but it's impossible for me to do anything more than empathize. But Cameron Gidari paints a fantastic portrait of colorblind gaming in this piece, using both words and images to demonstrate how crippling a game that doesn't account for colorblind players can be. While it might be a bit much to ask that every video game take colorblind players into account, it's encouraging how many are stepping up.
"There's rarely a game where my color blindness doesn't rear its head in some way. My latest bane is Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition, a game that I had been tearing through like an unstoppable suplex machine until I met the enemies with four different colored overshields that require specific attacks to break.
I can't tell which shield is which when they're next to each other so I'm using random special attacks and hoping for the best. Guacamelee! is technically an action platformer, but now it's effectively a Russian roulette simulator (coming soon to Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight)"
- "Oh God, I Spent $494.04 Playing the Kim Kardashian Hollywood App" by Tracie Egan Morrissey
This seemed fitting after hearing Google's going to stop games with in-app purchases from being labeled free. Granted, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood might not be what we think of when it comes to the slow erosion of balanced gameplay by free-to-play business models, but it's easy to imagine swapping Kim Kardashian: Hollywood with Dungeon Keeper and having a similar experience. What makes this Tracie Egan Morrissey piece interesting is how it doesn't engage with the gross free-to-play stuff driving why she's paying money for the game, which I suspect is how most players are. It's just part of the game.
"I know. I know! I'm the worst. I'm a sheep. I'm part of what's wrong with modern American culture. But at least in Kim's realm I'm an A-list celebrity with 50 million fans—after nearly $500 worth of in-app purchases, of course.
You guys, I literally think I have a problem. What a lame, embarrassing addiction to have. What would I even say if I tried to get help for this at AA or something?
"Hello, my name is Tracie and I'm a basic bitch."
So with that acknowledgment, I'd like to say that Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is so fucking fun. Sure, in a really terrible, anxiety-ridden, OCD-triggering kind of way, but fun nonetheless."
If You Click It, It Will Play
These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool
- The Hole Story is a tremendously cute game being created by a group of young female designers.
- Solarix, despite being a beautiful sci-fi horror in the veil of System Shock 2, has little backing.
- Ninja Pizza Girl wants to tell an an emotional story about bullying, growing up, and pizza/ninjas.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
@jobjstauffer has there been a scene in TWD where there's a really tense scene and somebody in the group lets out a little fart? Free idea..— Steve Gaynor (@fullbright) July 15, 2014
Is it "video game" or "videogame"? Neither -- it's "vyddy-o-gäem."— S. Dungeon (@scd) July 16, 2014
My top indie start up advice: 1) Be at most 3 people. 2) Spend all money on game dev, not conferences, etc. 3) Plan and put effort into PR.— Thomas Grip (@ThomasGrip) July 18, 2014
This fucking town in FFXIV has music that is ONE STEP AWAY from Concerning Hobbits and it's driving me mad— IDDQD/IDKFA (@legobutts) July 16, 2014
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Stephen Totilo explains why Kotaku won't stop asking game creators about diversity.
- Benj Edwards interviews Jerry Lawson about his life and developing the first cartridge system.
- Keith Stuart explores the ongoing shift to multiplayer, and how it's leaving some players behind.
- Giant Bomb user TrueHersey talks about how his mental health complicates playing games.
- Angelina Bellebuono speaks with the creator of To the Moon and recounts her playthrough.
- Naoki Yoshida speaks at GDC about trying to save Final Fantasy XIV from eternal damnation.
- Josh McIllwain ruminates on tabletop RPGs touching on sensitive subjects like race and gender.
- Kris Ligman reacts to a showing of Let's Play videos at the Los Angeles Film Fest.
- Chris Wager raises the criticism that reviewers sometimes unfairly dismiss complicated games.
- Simon Parkin files an exhaustive look at the ongoing payola controversies in YouTube culture.
- Ian Bogost recounts his 50 hours spent with the game that is Mountain.
- Reddit's theczarman highlights Paradox programmer Johan Andersson reacting to criticism.
- Steve Stanley examines how ecological systems in games can help us explore our own morality.
- Todd Harper reflects on a weekend spent at San Francisco's GaymerX event.
- Burak Tezateser throws cold water on the notion that getting on Steam guarantees any success.