Is it strange to dread the release of a new game? Next week, we’ll see the release of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, the sequel to what I would consider, easily, the scariest game ever made.
One anticipates a new Amnesia with a mixture of fear, loathing, and excitement. I remember the first time I tried playing Amnesia. My wife and I were visiting her family in Omaha, Nebraska for Thanksgiving, and an afternoon of drinking had put everyone in bed rather early. I wasn’t ready to call it quits, though, so I snuck a beer upstairs, loaded up this “Amnesia thing” on my MacBook (yes, Amnesia will run on just about anything), and spent maybe 20 minutes with it before deciding this was neither the time nor the place to begin engaging with a game like this. Click!
I didn’t come back to Amnesia until several years later, and I cannot remember what prompted me to return. Maybe the sequel had been announced? I’m not sure. It doesn’t really matter, but when I crossed the finishing line, I wanted someone to tap me on the shoulder and hand me a t-shirt that said “congratulations, you finished Amnesia.” On second thought, had anyone tapped me on the shoulder when the credits rolled on Amnesia, I might have stabbed them with a pen.
Someone on Tumblr asked me what the appeal of horror was, and wondered why it never did anything for them. I gave them two answers.
One, horror is akin to comedy, and if you consider what it might be like to explain why a joke is funny to someone, it suddenly makes way more sense. (This is what I find so remarkable about the Cards Against Humanity guys, actually. Listening to them break down why cards do and don’t work scratches an intellectual itch for comedic structure that I didn’t know I had.)
Two, horror reacts to what you, the viewer, bring to the table. It preys and exploits your weaknesses, whether it’s a childhood experience that left a lingering impression (i.e. I’ve never felt comfortable in water I cannot see the bottom of, so Jaws slayed me) or an irrational reaction (i.e. alien abductions continue to drive me up the wall). Each person is different, though some of the best horror recognizes universal fears and is able to gain a wider audience. Consider why Paranormal Activity works. We’ve all heard bumps in the night, but what if those bumps in the night were caused by something? A creaky door now becomes...menacing.
The question has given me much to consider, and I’ll have to think about it for a larger piece when I’ve finally played through both Outlast and Amensia: A Machine for Pigs. Too bad there’s not a time machine to let me skip forward two weeks in my life, and know the deed is truly done.
Hey, You Should Play This
And You Should Read These, Too
Sports games are weird. They sell millions of copies year after year on the promise that advancement has been made. I’m not one to judge whether that happens or not, as I’m barely able to keep up with TV football, let alone apply that tiny bit of knowledge to actually playing a game simulating it. It’s especially weird when the non-sports writers among us find ourselves being pitched on the new edition of X Sports Game 2014. Totilo highlights the absurdity of what’s happening, and breaks down why it’s interesting with appreciable detail.
"For two years, I've been privy to a pair of semi-public teardowns of the previous year's EA Sports games. They've happened each of the last two springs as part of a press preview of the fall's big games from EA. Since we're in the midst of EA Sports' big 2013 sports releases—NCAA Football 14 and Madden 25 have now been released; NHL 14 and FIFA 14 are still forthcoming—I thought it'd be a good time to tell you about what I've come to look forward to as two of the weirdest hours of my year as a video game reporter.P
I leave these two-hour sessions amused, impressed and a bit bewildered. It's commendable that game developers are iterating on the finest details of their games, spotting old flaws and fixing them. But it's weird, right? It's weird that this happens—that the same game has to be monkeyed with year after year to... make it better? Make it different enough to sell again?"
Simon Parkin writes a new story, Patrick Klepek links to the new story. It’s been heartening to see more games writing in The New Yorker, and Parkin goes down a rabbit hole that I’d wish more games writers would, myself included. There are so many people doing so many different things with games, and most stories go terribly unnoticed. Here, Parkin talks to the people obsessed with finding sasquatch in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, people who are unwilling to face the reality of hard data to continue the search for “truth”--their version of the truth, anyway. Makes me think I should return to that feature on Resident Evil 1.5 that I've been kicking around.
"In 2004, Rob Silver was driving his truck through Back o Beyond when he caught sight of something in the thicket. “Out of the corner of the television screen I saw a large, tall, dark figure,' he said. 'It happened twice, both times during that first year. To this day, I’ve not come across the creature again.' Earlier this year, Kaleb Krimmel, a teen-ager from Michigan, had a similar experience. 'I have seen strange figures in the fog before, but pedestrians can sometimes appear in weird places,” he said. 'While this sort of computer error describes most of my encounters, this time was different. I was in Back o Beyond, walking up a hill. It was foggy out, but behind some plants I clearly saw a giant black figure. I aimed my camera to take a picture, but by the time I steadied the viewfinder it was gone.'"
If You Click It, It Will Play
Like it or Not, Crowdfunding Isn't Going Away
- Don't have much to say about The Attack Pack, except to say it looks damn cool.
- Neverending Nightmares is one hell of a game, and it certainly deserves support.
- Launching right next time Mighty No. 9 is either insanity or genius for Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
I want to hit my head with a hammer so I can play Wind Waker again for the first time. That's a rational thought, right?— BenKuchera (@BenKuchera) September 6, 2013
As I've gained a larger audience, I've paid more attention to how my words affect people. That's not censorship, it's responsibility.— Max Scoville (@MaxScoville) September 4, 2013
Listening to Jesse regail a story of how some snooty "old gaming media" types looked down on him until he told them his sub numbers.— Totalbiscuit (@Totalbiscuit) September 5, 2013
A Series of Responses to Mike Krahulik's Recent Comments
- If you aren't aware of what's going on, this timeline should help catch you up.
- Don't let the name fool you, MC Frontalot has meaningful things to say about what's going on.
- This NeoGAF post best summarizes how I feel about the situation, as it currently stands.
- Rachel Ededin on why she's never returning to PAX. Maybe avoid the comments section?
- The tension between saying something and saying something could be part of the issue.
- Christine Love showcased her game, Hate Plus, at PAX, and shares her thoughts.
- An argument that Penny Arcade still represents a force for good.
- Lesley Kinzel on what it means to feel both welcomed and rejected at PAX.
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Cory Casciato interviews the man with the largest video game collection.
- Amnesia designer Thomas Grip on the core elements of interactive storytelling.
- Stephanie Carmichael on why more women in games means more than just "diversity."
- Gameological apparently has a whole series on breaking down terrible video games.
- A Rome: Total War fan who lost his battle with cancer was immortalized in the game he loved.
- Veteran game developer Keith Judge confesses everything that went wrong when he went indie.
- A consultant for free-to-play games explains why he isn't something to be feared.
- Ghosts in the Machine appears to be an excellent anthology of game stories.
- Designer Clint Hocking reflects on the notalgic conversation happening around Splinter Cell.
- Pete Davison comes back with an in-depth report on the merit of otaku games.
- Leigh Alexander interviews Lucas Pope about designing Papers, Please.
- Charlie Hall's story about the origins of bitcoin is batshit insane.