Tuesday, May 12, 2015


a major barrier to the exploration of emotional resonance in games is the puzzle-solving orientation, in which all game objects and actors are reduced to the status of things to be used in order to achieve an end

thus, soft chambers is invested in discovering ways to disrupt this orientation
whereas the traditional approach to 'closing distance’ has been to attempt 'immersion’ of the player within the game world, soft chambers believes it may be more fruitful to explore ways in which we can allow the game to spill into the player’s world


the norm for videogame development is the negation of the self; indeed, we are encouraged to pride ourselves on this negation, on our dedication to our labour against the demands of our body, our relationships
as we explore the development of games that are more caring of our players, we wish to explore modes of production that are more caring of ourselves


because videogames are the aesthetic form of rationalization, replacing punching with hugging or building with growing is not enough
but it is a start


Is Deus Ex Still The Best Game Ever?


Errant Signal - Blendo Games (Spoilers)


The story of the last two games—Soul Reaver 2 and Defiance—then becomes the process of rectifying history, of restoring it to its proper flow. Put another way, the return of the soul to its proper, divine status is the objective of vanilla Gnosticism; in Legacy of Kain the objective is the restoration of history’s proper flow.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


No Place for Hideo


Sometimes when I play with someone new to games, they’ll ask me ‘How did you know that was the solution?’ and the answer is simply because I’ve been here before. On the surface it looks like skill, but in reality it’s a sign that we’ve learned to be obedient. A lifetime of playing games has taught us to be followers, and it is now a major factor in slowing down innovation and experimentation in games.
Researchers in Copenhagen and New York have both looked at building point-and-click adventures with replayable puzzles that redesign themselves each time you play, for instance. Others have looked at giving RPG characters emotions that affect how they behave in battle, protecting their loved ones, becoming distraught if they see close friends die.
`Core’ gamers are a tamed breed – companies know how they think, what they want, and how to make them feel like their needs are being met. They are the people who never ask why a door can’t be opened, they never ask why Mass Effect characters can only die in cutscenes, they never explore the same conversation tree twice expecting new dialogue. At the start of this piece I talked about playing with people newer to games, or the people who are routinely made to feel embarrassed for playing ‘casual’ games, and how it can seem that they make strange decisions that break the conventions we would never dare to. This is not a reflection on them for playing without preconceptions – it should be a reflection on us, as people too entrenched in what games are to be able to think about what they could be.


The desperate situation in which the denizens of Hyrule found themselves seems to be a result of their own belief. They waited for a hero when none were forthcoming, dooming themselves with blind faith. Despite enacting this same familiar fairy tale journey, Wind Waker takes this warning to heart. It’s a fairy tale against fairy tales, showing reverence for received stories even as it warns that they should not be blindly trusted.
The final scene shows Link and Tetra (back to her old piratical self) embarking on a journey to find a new life and new land among Wind Waker’s endless seas. Link rides on his old red boat, but its magic is gone. It’s still a vessel but no longer a guide binding him to a predetermined path. This time, Link’s in the lead, and the stories these kids tell will be their own.
By letting go of the past and its recurring players, the King, our storyteller, breaks the recurring Zelda cycle and frees them from its grasp.


This is the nine most popular posts on Electron Dance.


Errant Signal - Life is Strange (Spoilers)


Romance in Games - Can We Play with Lasting Relationships? - Extra Credits


Made-up Game Awards


Resogun Post Mortem Part 1


Extra Credits - Four Realistic Predictions - What the Future Really Holds for Games


Mario 3D World Review


From Bioshock to Portal, twenty-first century games have emphasized the antagonistic relationship between the player and the game world that that player occupies, indicating the illusory nature of player choice and decision making in gaming.
Device 6, of course, certainly has its own own unique vibe among the sea of “games about games.”
This may be the ultimate solipsism of video games, the promise that each one of us can be a hero, that each of us is, in fact, Prince Hamlet, whether we chose to be or not, as we save the world or the princess, thanks in part to our own unique effort—an effort taken on by hundreds and thousands of players who feel uniquely chosen themselves. And that’s the rub. That’s the recognition that Device 6 provides the player and that differentiates it from the other “games about games.”


Although I had been interested in EVE and its stalwart community prior to reading about what has come to be known as “gaming’s most destructive battle ever,” it wasn’t until I saw game-maker CCP erect a physical monument in Reykjavik for those lost in battle that I got hooked. That was the first time I had seen any physical commemoration of an in-game event by any game company.
This white paper, subtitled "A Comparative Analysis of Real Structural Social Evolution with the Virtual Society of EVE Online," enumerates the ways in which the development of a social infrastructure within New Eden mirrors that of “real-life” civilizations. In the analysis, the authors credit the need for the Council of Stellar Management since the political development of the society of EVE has surpassed the point of tribal and stratified structures, reaching a point of complex social hierarchies and government institutions that designate a civilization status.


A Brief History of Graphics

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

List of video games that have grown the most with time

Many games grow with time. Some become outdated and bested and do not. But perhaps it's not that simple. Super Mario Bros is certainly outdated and bested by its many successors, yet  in hindsight it seems even more impressive for its time. This list is more on-the-fly than well-thought-out, although I've taken the above into consideration while making the (chronological) list.

Super Mario KartI haven't played any other racing game which I've enjoyed as much as Super Mario Kart, and that  includes Mario Kart 64. So I guess it has to be on this list.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time/Super Double Dragon
My two favorite sidescrolling beat em ups have yet to be beaten!

Super Probotector: Alien Rebels/Contra
Yep, still my favorite run n guns.

Soul Blade
I thought that after having a bunch of Soul Caliburs around, this game would become moot. Well, I still love it. It has a slower pace compared to the newer titles, and I enjoy it much as I enjoy Street Fighter 2 after many years.

Micro Machines V3
We need more (racing)games with the main mechanic of Micro Machines! The running game Speedrunners utilizes it, and so should others.

Super Mario 64
They got so much right on the first try at 3D platforming it's crazy. The manveuering and camera controls aren't the best by todays standards, but the platform design is still super fresh.

Planescape Torment
Was not disappointed when replayed a couple of years ago. Still my favorite RPG.

Fallout 2
Although it's very buggy and I don't wish to play it again, the open world structure of the game is still very impressive. I don't like open world for the sake of open world, but this game has reactivity and makes the open world feel like one world, manages to fill it with narrative and soul.

Unreal Tournament
This is probably just me, but I still love this game and don't bother with any other area shooters, basically.

The Legend of Zelda: Majoras Mask
Could not appreciate the adult themes of Majoras Mask first-time around. It seems to have gotten a bit of a revival in the critical community the last couple of years due to its artistic integrity.

Metal Gear Solid 2
What made me appreciate Metal Gear Solid 2 on a whole new level and really see the MGS franchise in a different light was this article. Since then, the game has for me become the pinnacle of subversive play.

Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill hasn't delivered very much in the last 14 years, and I've gotten tired of most horror anyway. So this game, couched in psychonalytical themes, is still the gold standard.

Parsec47/rRootage/Noiz2sa (Kenta Cho)
After a couple of years playing a lot of shmups, I started getting tired of the lack of procedurality in most games. These three have a lot of it, and thus it never completely feels like starting over and just waiting to getting back to the level you were on before to give it another shot. Sadly, I've been searching for this type of game ever since and come up with, well, Geometry Wars, and nothing else I enjoyed.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3
The formula was completed with this one, I believe. After that it was just a bonus, and not always a good one either.

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
It was the first Zelda game for a new console that I played "as a grown-up". It couldn't have been anything else than disappointing, since the Zelda franchise (basically just A Link to The Past and Ocarina of Time) was such a big part of me growing up. I haven't replayed it since its release, but I have come to view it in a different light due to all the critical writing on it. And in retrospect it has perhaps even more weight, considering that the games that take place chronologically after Wind Waker don't have Ganondorf in them. So in a sense it's a goodbye to that villain.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

List of good games with bad review scores

Games that are enough critically recognized as to be ranked on metacritic/gamerankings and are far from critically acclaimed but would certainly get a higher review score from me if I were to review them. Well not necessarily, but all of these games have a special place in my heart and didn't get very good aggregate review scores, even if some of them are indeed critically acclaimed nonetheless. Most of these games mostly focus on story and narrative, to the detriment of graphics, sound, and general production values.

Pathologic (66%) 10/10 - my score
One of the most astounding and intriguing gaming experiences in my adult life. I'm awaiting the remake with anticipation, which will have a better translation/localization and more resources for the technical side of things.

Dear Esther (71%) 10/10
Very beautiful and haunting, even more so with the updated graphics of 2012. The music still rings in my ears.

Unrest (69%) 9/10
An adventure RPG which has some of the most intricate political intrigues I've ever seen, and you're dropped right in the smack middle of it all. But it's not just clever, there is actually a lot of wisdom in the game as well. It leaves much to the imagination, but I can live with sparse graphics and a lot of text when it's done this nicely. I'm awaiting the first AAA-title with this kind of narrative ambition and focus.

Consortium (66%) 9/10
This one's fresh, so I might be infatuated beyond the point of reason right now. It's a very suspenseful one-room (or rather one ship) title with lots of depth and interactivity. The characters may look alike, but they are very fleshed-out due to backstory, the events in the game, and the voice actors. The sci-fi mystery of the game is super exciting, the lore is well-written, but perhaps the game doesn't have much worthwhile to say in the end. It's leaves one puzzled in a different way than say Pathologic or Unrest, two titles which are really existentially relevant for me. And it doesn't touch me the way games such as Dear Esther or The Novelist do for example. Maybe it's a case of having more style than substance, which is definitely the case with Device-6, an awesome experience, but yeah, I wish it would lead to something more in the end.

Knock-Knock (57%) 8/10
From the creators of Pathologic, this kickstarted experiment is definitely something else. I didn't even understand all main gameplay elements (how do I progress in the forest?!), but the experience in itself was different and worthwhile, always leaving things unsaid, the mystery unresolved. Maybe it attempts something similar to P.T, a game which has murky affordances, players never sure why they got a specific ending or how they made the game progress. There is potential in that kind of experience, and some of it is realized in Knock-Knock.

The Novelist (69%) 8/10
A game about responsibilities, about marriage, about child-rearing. A sober yet affecting story about the inadequacies of people and life in general. Main mechanic of the game is kinda forced (why would I be a ghost in a game that has nothing to do with ghosts otherwise?) and doesn't need to be there for justification, but I was touched by the fates of respective family members. It's not as fresh, well-made and designed as Gone Home, but there is a moving story here too.

Journal (59%) 8/10
A game about a young girl and her troubles, with divorce, disease, school, etc. Slice of life game with much warmth.

Borderline Cases

Due to nostalgic blindness:
Hexplore (66%)
One of my favorite games from my childhood. It's an ok dungeon crawler but these are dime-a-dozen. Still, I love it.

Castlevania 64 (72%)
I realize it's not the best game out there, but it's actually still one of my favorite Castlevania games, up there with Symphony of the Night. Another case of just having the game and loving it at a time where quality wasn't as important for enjoying myself.

Because the score isn't all that low:
Jazzpunk (75%) 9/10
Super childish game which made me laugh out loud quite a lot of times. That doesn't happen often, so I have to commend the game!

Because the game isn't all that good:
Contrast (64%) 7/10
Even though I would only give the game a 7, my seven is probably much more worth than the seven of the general video game community. The game had its magical moments and touched me with its story and presentation of it. But, as often is the case with the games on this list, the technical side of things wasn't very good. Buggy as hell.

Dark Eye (67%) 7/10
A pain in the ass to play, since progression comes down to clicking all interactable items on all screens quite often, and you get stuck because you can't find all items to click on, basically. No really, it's horrible. But if you manage to get the tempo up and play through it, it's certainly one of the most chilling subdued horror games I've played. The slowness of it all almost makes it more creepy.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Unrest has a point to make. The game takes place in a kingdom that is suffering drought, and food has become scarce. You play as several individuals in the kingdom, from peasants to diplomats to commanders and queens. The point of the game is: individual actions can not change the course of systematic problems./.../
The consequences are simpler, and so the decisions are guided more by what “feels right” instead of what is “correct”. By choosing what “feels right”, you are more in tune with the character you are playing, and as such the consequences have more personal meanings rather than systematic ones.

Jazzpunk feels different than Schafer’s games. It isn’t a game that solely tells jokes in cutscenes and through dialogue. It more often involves the player in the jokes and depends on the player to complete actions necessary to complete those jokes. It is a comedy that hinges on the fact that games are more interactive than other media. The comedy becomes a collaborative act between the game and its player.
In Jazzpunk, we don’t laugh at the clown, so much as we laugh at our own clowning around.http://www.popmatters.com/post/189726-jazzpunk-a-collaborative-jack-in-the-box-comedy/


Interestingly, the lamp on the cabinet begins the game turned off. This seems contrary to the received wisdom of level design: use light to guide the player. In this case, having the light begin lit would draw the your eye and encourage you to interact with the cabinet. With this guidance specifically absent, you are more likely to fumble around, unsure what to do. However, this “fumbling” serves a didactic purpose. http://ludusnovus.net/2015/03/10/the-first-cabinet-in-gone-home-a-close-reading/


There’s a pervasive idea that procedural storytelling and arts are somehow less “authored” than linear narrative, which is bullshit. I love Transistor because it skewers this idea mechanically and thematically, and while many games ask us to question what we consume (a la Spec Ops: The Line), Transistor asks us to question what we make.



The Bestest Best Being Pleasantly Lost Of 2014: Bernband


... if I had to draw a conclusion here, it is that what I failed to really see was how utterly trivialized gender is by standard games, and how it would never occur to any given male player that playing as a woman might actually make a difference in what (or how) a game makes meaning.  Instead of explicitly deconstructing the privilege I set my sights on, I sorta feel like I gathered my firewood and forgot to strike the match.


if the S3 plan is a crucible through which the Patriots are recreating Snake as embodied by Raiden (or at least doing so as a benchmark for the *real* S3 plan), I was not only a participant due to my connection as a player to Raiden as an actor, I was now an active collaborator with the Patriots.
And sure, my will overlapped with Raiden’s character goals but the way in which they overlapped was perverted by the nature of ranked play. Both Raiden and I want to defeat Vamp. However, I want to do this to assert my technical mastery as a player while Raiden actually wants to do this to save lives.
I want to complete the game according to the simulation mapped in my head. The one where Raiden achieves perfection. My emotions threaten to distract me from that. I need to pull back. Like the Patriots, I cannot choose to see Raiden or any other character as anything other than things I can manipulate to get a result. Austin Howe pointed out to me that the Big Shell is shaped like an infinite loop. Each Shell is a circle. Combined, they form a lemniscate. I run around and around, repeating simulation after simulation. Mr. Howell notes that the level design of Shell One is a reaffirming myth space where Raiden fallaciously continues to enact his fantasy of being Solid Snake. A hypnotic mold.
If the Big Shell is about affirming my control as a player over the simulated space of the game, Arsenal Gear is where the simulation starts to run wild.
This specifically is because there is an rogue factor in the program that I cannot afford to ignore any longer: Snake.
What was I not engaging on if not my own S3 plan? Both to mold Raiden into the perfect actor but also to control the flow of the digital information that made up the game. I wanted to censor anything that didn’t fit into the narrative of “my playthrough”. I wanted everything that the villains wanted. Perfect data, perfect control. In the end? I got what I wanted. I “won”.

And I’m not going to lie: I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.


This video is my explanation why I am leaving MGS criticism due to the series' sexism.


When we grasped this new dual-grip controller we did something that Goto might not have ever imagined: We placed our right thumbs solidly over the X button. Without the benefit of so many years of cultural reinforcement we didn’t know that the X was not the affirmative button. We couldn’t have.


I spent most of my life religious—Christian, to be specific. Semi-recently, however, that small part of me died. Or maybe I killed it myself. I know one thing for sure, though: video games had a hand in it.


Extra Credits - What Makes Us Roleplay? - When Game Worlds Feel Real


Extra Credits - Asymmetric Play - Can One Game Cater to Many Playstyles?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Wrap-up

There wasn't really a game I thought was deserving of being called the best game of the year until december month, when I finally played Transistor. Oh, my, Transistor. Oh my. Well, to be fair, I did miss out on a lot of games this year which I wanted to play. In fact, I believe that if I were to have made a prediction at the beginning of the year as to what games would make it to my top ten, I think a lot of them would have consisted of games I've barely touched upon. The Witness would be there for sure (which didn't see the light of day 2014 - better luck next year Jon, I'm sure we'll be BLOWn away!) The Vanishing of Ethan Carter seemed very promising too, although I don't think I actually knew about the game a year ago, and decided on playing it when it hits the PS4 with a friend instead of playing it with low fidelity on my pc. Then there's the Dreamfalls, The Wolves Among Us, the Walking Deads, the Kentucky Route Zeros - episodals which I haven't played because I'd rather do them all in one go when they're a wrap. Both The Longest Journey and The Dream Machine have taken many years to finish, and I've decided that waiting is better than playing a bit here and there.

Dragon Age Inquisition is another game that would have made the top ten prediction, although by now I've accepted that I won't be playing that type of game much more anyway - sad but true. I'm opting out of the 50hour+ games, and going for stuff such as Consortium and Unrest for my rpg fixes. Shadowrun too, for next year. Well, sure, I'll be playing Pathologic and the new Planescape game, which will both be very long games, but mainly I'm just opting out of games which have a lot of filler and to me meaningless violence/gameplay. Perhaps it's no coincidence that two of this years biggest disappointments for me have been The Banner Saga and Wasteland 2 - both oldschool computer RPGs which I helped kickstart. The Banner Saga was simply too epic for me, too abstract, with too little emotion. It has the same problem as had the "Choice of" games, which seemed very interesting to begin with (interactive novels which lots of choices, yey!) but then got me not caring at all about the characters and my motives. Wasteland 2 on the other hand... well, I did play 40+ hours of it, almost finished it actually. But it just wasn't worth it. I know I love those types of games and just using them as escapism, but it wasn't a memorable experience in the end. It gets an honorable mention, basically.

Perhaps I should be skeptic when it comes to my hopes for the old-school pc rpgs that are coming in 2015, but I can't help myself. Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera are two of the games I'm looking forward to the most next year. Then there's the aforementioned The Witness, the PS4 exclusive Everybodys Going to the Rapture, the X360 exclusive Ori and the Blind Forest and Quantum Break, the remakes Grim Fandango and Majoras Mask, the follow-up Metal Gear Solid 5, the question marks Sail Home, Outer Wilds, Gorogoa and Life is Strange, the kickstarter successes Pathologic (O_M_G!), Ice-Bound (by my favorite creator of interactive fiction, Aaron Reed), That Dragon Cancer, The Sun Also Rises, Epanalepsis, Moon Hunters, the kickstarter non-successes To Azimuth, The Black Glove (Bioshock without combat encounters), and Late to The Party (same guys that made Unrest).

So anyway, speaking of being late to parties, I gotta go. Here's the list of my favorite video games for this year.


Missed Out On, Want To Play
Bayonetta 2
Blood & Laurels
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Contact Cowboy
Donald Dowell
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Dragon Age Inquisition/Dragon Age Keep
Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey - Episode 1
Game of Thrones (Telltale Games)
Goat Simulator
ibb & obb (Sparpweed)
Hidden in Plain Sight
Kentucky Route Zero: Act III/Here And There Along The Echo
Mario Kart 8
Shadowrun: Nightmare Harvest
Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall – Directors Cut
Soul Axiom
Super Smash Bros
Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One - Zer0 Sum
The Deer God
The Sensational December Machine
The Talos Principle
The Terror Aboard The Speedwell (Javy Gwaltney)
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter/The Vanishing of Ethan Carter Prequel Mini-Comic
The Wolf Among Us: Season 1
The Walking Dead: Season 2
Thief Town
Void & Meddler
The Sailor's Dream
Revolver360 Re:Actor
Honorable Mentions
// / I’m Really Sorry About That Thing I Said When I Was Tired and/or Hungry (Deirdra Kiai)
02:22AM/Text and Drive: Friendship Never Dies (Albert Lai)
A City Sleeps
Among the Sleep
Arboretum (Matthew S. Burns)
Bezier (Philip Bak/Niine Games)
Cave! Cave! Deus Videt – Episode 0
Cyborg Goddess (Kara Stone, Kayte McKnight)
East van EP/Oracle (ceMelusine)
Echo of the Wilds (Anthony Case)
Error City Tourist/Black Pyramid/Abstract Ritual (Strangethink Software)
Five Nights at Freddy's (Scott Cawthon)
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensons
Girls Like Robots: Nerdfest
Grim Express
Initation/The Way of Yiji (Schizoid)
Lethal League
Level 2 The Virus Master
Neverending Nightmares
On August 11, A Ship Sailed into Port (Cameron Kunzelman)
Project Temporality
Rehearsals and Returns
Sleep When Exhausted (Benjamin Willems)
Starwhal: Just the Tip
The Lion's Song (LeafThief)
The Banner Saga
The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo (Michael Lutz)
Three Fourths Home/Letters to Babylon
Tradesmarksville (Molleindustria)
Universal History of Light/The Serpent/The Transgression/Happy Memories/wear & tear/Place and Time/ Vigil (increpare)
Wasteland 2
You Won't Tell Anyone, Right? (Oxeren)
Zest (Richard Goodness)

Close Calls
Broken Age: Episode 1
Chyrza/daymare #1: "ritual"/Dust City (Kitty Horrorshow)
Dog of Dracula 2: Cyber Monogatari
Elegy for a Dead World
hets (ditto)
Journal (Richard Perrin)
Laza Knitez!!
Monument Valley
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
South Park: The Stick of Truth
The Journey Down: Chapter Two
Year Walk

10 Bernband (Tom van den Boogaart)

9 P.T (Silent Hills Playable Teaser)

8 Niddhogg (Messhof)

7 Shovel Knight

6 You Were Made For Loneliness (Tsukareta)

5 Towerfall: Ascension

4 Glitchhikers (Silverstring Media)

3 Jazzpunk

2 Unrest

1 Transistor

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


A theme ought to be omnipresent but subtle. If the audience can identify the theme easily then it's too over-the-top. If there's unanimous consensus about the theme then it's also over-the-top. A theme is like the body language of the work. It should give a strong impression to those paying close attention while operating on a subconscious level in most cases.

A theme is not a moral. It's an open question, not a conclusion. It needs to be an open question because an entire work of fiction needs to be created in its service.


The Game Design of Tinder & Online Dating | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios


Extra Credits - Snakes and Ladders - How the Meaning of an Ancient Children's Game Adapted Over Time


Anti-War War Games


23 Ways Gaming Makes You a Better Person | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios


Extra Credits - Global Games: Norway - The Challenges of Norwegian Game Companies


Why Do You Still Play Smash Bros.? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios


Mass Effect lost its way. It could have been a series that really explored these notions of morality, humanity, artificial intelligence, and merging with technology. And it really does hit so many amazing character and story beats—while Mass Effect has the greatest sense of world-building, I fell most in love with the cast of Mass Effect 2. And I credit Mass Effect 3 for achieving a sense of epic scale, urgency, and drama. It delivers well on its “galaxy at war” premise, making you feel like you’re at the head of a massive operation to save life as we know it. It also has some of the most stunning cinematic production values I’ve ever seen in a video game—let’s just say I was not expecting what happened on Tuchanka.

But in the end, the glue that ties a story and its characters together is the writing and the themes, the stuffing between the lines and all that hums in the subtext. And that part of it was sadly fumbled, regardless of how much fun I was having with all the side stories and character vignettes.


After four years of talking with all these versions of myself, the long-distance aspect of my relationship came to an end. My girlfriend and I moved in together. I don’t travel as much anymore—only on holidays to see the folks—and so I had no use for my passengers anymore. I didn’t need their voices or, at least, my awareness of their voices. I made an effort not to think about them.

That is, until I played Glitchhikers.