On Wolves: The Fragility of Ecosystems

On Wolves: The Fragility of Ecosystems

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

The game Okami is a beautiful title that puts you in control of  Amaterasu, the Shinto goddess of the sun, who comes to earth in the guise of a white wolf. Throughout the game your goal is to heal the world around you, giving life to plants and animals. The actions of the game, in essence, involve nature fixing itself. While Okami was not necessarily created with the purpose of displaying the importance of biodiversity in ecosystems, the wolf-like goddess affects her environment much like real wolves do in their natural world. Wolves have such a massive impact on eco-systems, in fact, that their very existence changed the geography of a landscape. Continue reading “On Wolves: The Fragility of Ecosystems”

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Infamous: First Light in the Right Direction

Infamous: First Light in the Right Direction

Why the narrative and voices we are exposed to in games matter.

(Article published on Gameranx.)

There was a point in time where I thought I was immune to the gender of a protagonist in a game or movie. The majority of games I played, unless an RPG that allowed you to build a character, presented a male as the quintessential hero. I didn’t mind. I was young and accepted it.

But a spark ignited when I first saw that Samus, from the Metriod series, was a female. Precipitously, this character meant so much more. For the first time, the vulnerabilities I often felt about being a girl were shed. 


Continue reading “Infamous: First Light in the Right Direction”

2Player: Time to Get Hyped for Destiny

2Player: Time to Get Hyped for Destiny

Without further ado, here is inaugural episode of Ryan Winslett and I’s new podcast hosted by Cinema Blend…. but it’s WRITTEN. Because why not check to see if people actually read anymore, am I right? This week’s focus is on Destiny:

There’s no denying that Destiny is shaping up to be one of the biggest launches of the year, set to arrive on PlayStation and Xbox home consoles on Sept. 9. The PlayStation beta begins this Thursday, with the Xbox crowd joining in on the fun just one week later. In other words, the whole world is about to find out whether or not the folks at Bungie, developers of the Halo series, are able to deliver on their promise to mix first- Continue reading “2Player: Time to Get Hyped for Destiny”

Clockwork Empires: Victorian Steampunk at its Finest

Clockwork Empires: Victorian Steampunk at its Finest

Victorian dry humor and horror find their way into the gaming universe with Clockwork Empires.

(Article published at Gameranx).

As I sat down to preview Gaslamp’s  Clockwork Empires, I was met by three developers feverishly discussing the Victorian era in all of its opulent historical background. CEO Daniel Jacobsen, Art Director David Baumgart, and Technical Director Nicholas Vining knew their stuff. As an English major I was enthused—sitting in a room of game developers who reminisced on reading Dickens and Tennyson—but I was more intrigued when they told me that all of this was inspiration for their game. Everything from canonical literature, steampunk, ludicrous invention, and even the occult were all used in the game not merely out of the idea of absurdity, but out of an actual historical mindset held in perhaps one of the most long-winded but fascinating literary periods. Continue reading “Clockwork Empires: Victorian Steampunk at its Finest”

Conversations We Should Have: Bioware’s Manveer Heir on Diversity in Video Games

Conversations We Should Have: Bioware’s Manveer Heir on Diversity in Video Games

Bioware’s Manveer Heir discusses the importance of diversity in the development of video games.

(Article published on Gameranx.)

When I first started studying and writing about media and games, discussing diversity within the medium never crossed my mind. I was naïve in my idealism—complacent in ignoring the nuanced bread crumbs that would eventually lead to conversations we should all be having. But this changed when I began to attend industry conferences, a change elicited largely thanks to people like Bioware’s Manveer Heir (a designer currently working on the Mass Effect franchise).

Continue reading “Conversations We Should Have: Bioware’s Manveer Heir on Diversity in Video Games”

Ken Levine’s “Narrative Legos”: A World of Infinite Replay GDC 2014

Ken Levine’s “Narrative Legos”: A World of Infinite Replay GDC 2014

Creative mastermind Ken Levine discusses how games have infinite potential in narrative design.

(Article published on Gameranx.)

In a panel at this year’s Game Developers Conference, BioShock’s Ken Levine discussed his aspiring ideas on how to break the mold of linear narratives in game design. His goal? To create a system that allows for infinite replays. In other words, he wants to create a circle that remains unbroken…. without falling into the linear redundancy that he graciously admits games like BioShock often rely on.

Continue reading “Ken Levine’s “Narrative Legos”: A World of Infinite Replay GDC 2014”

Cultural Implications: The Defense of Jodie Holmes

Cultural Implications: The Defense of Jodie Holmes

2013 has been a year of progression in terms of tangible female protagonists in games—but does that matter if the media ignores them?

(Article published on Gameranx.)

When Quantic Dream’s Beyond: Two Souls released in October of 2013, it was met with mixed criticism that often questioned its validity as a video game.  Throwing incessant invectives at the overuse of quick time events and the minimalistic use of game mechanics, reviews often failed to bring into question what the definition of a video game actually is. IGN’s review was titled “Look, Don’t Touch.” Kotaku emphasized that you would like the game if “you don’t mind a game that’s basically a movie” and if “you’re down with the idea of playing as a teenage girl.” I’m not going to say Beyond was the perfect game; it’s based on a genre that isn’t necessarily for everyone. However, if we look closely at how some games are widely reviewed in media, we can witness the cultural implications they carry. Media, after all, helps to establish the standardization of the industry. Continue reading “Cultural Implications: The Defense of Jodie Holmes”