Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Join us this week as we hop once again into the caverns of Spelunky and chat about EVO, Dota 2, old internet sites, and so much more!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Victimhood and The Wolf Among Us

Bloody Mary's true form
Tell Tale remains at the top of the game, proving themselves once through consistent themes capped off in the excellent conclusion to The Wolf Among Us.

In this article I mostly talk about the victims of the series, which for the most part encompasses everyone. Of course it's the women who largely drive the story forward and its the victimization of women in particular the game most critiques with its fable-bending twists and turns. One character that doesn't quite fit into my analysis however is Bloody Mary.

The creepy mirror-walking horror is one the Crooked Man's most trusted lackey. Her appearance in the game is the first in the franchise entirely and unlike most of the others, she originates from a more contemporary mythology than the other fables. While Nerissa (The Little Mermaid), Snow White, and Beauty all come from stories with troubling gender issues, Blood Mary is not portrayed as the product of suffering in the way many of the other characters are. Even her Book of Fables entry says her history is "completely unknown".

If we are to find one true "femme fatale" in the The Wolf Among Us, maybe it's Bloody Mary, though she displays none of the sexual or manipulative features of the traditional film trope. Instead, she is the game's purist form of villainy. With that in mind, maybe she serves more as a condemnation of the Crooked Man's true motives. She is the physical extension of his will, which is appropriate as he appears to suffer from physical maladies himself.

Regardless of what Bloody Mary may or may not stand for, she is one of a collection of interesting and well realized characters, all of whom support the twisted noir fairytale throughout the series.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

EXP Podcast #285: Free Advertising

The Devil has finally met his match: The ASA.
Everyone open your creative writing journals, it's time to answer a question: "What does 'free' mean to you?"  It's a question the UK's Advertising Standards Association answered in their analysis of EA's recent Dungeon Keeper remake.  The game was advertised as "free," but the ASA's ruling found otherwise, saying that the ad was "likely to create a game experience for non-spenders that did not reflect their reasonable expectations from the content of the ad" and that they can no longer use the ad to promote the game.  On its surface, it seems like rebuke of some of "free-to-play's" sleazier dynamics, but it also raises some complex questions about who gets to define game systems, monetization schemes, and player expectations.  Adding to the comments is always free, so jump in with your thoughts!


- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes
- Find the show on Stitcher
- Here's the show's stand-alone feed
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Runtime: 29 mins 31 secs
ASA Adjudication on Electronic Arts Ltd
- Music by Brad Sucks

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't Starve: Anti-Pig Violence

Jorge and Scott show off their survival skills. It's lucky they live in a nice, safe, 21st century urban environment with a distinct lack of bipedal pigs.

 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Video Games and the House on Loon Lake

Confirmed: Rapture is real (image from PopMatters).
This week on PopMatters I write about the House on Loon Lake.

No: it’s not the latest indie darling that Jorge and I are fawning over. It’s an old episode of This American Life about an abandoned house full of artifacts left by its former inhabitants. The episode tries to unravel the mystery: Who were these people? Why did they leave? Why is the house still full of stuff?

The nerdiest part of my brain immediately made the leap: it’s like Looking Glass created a real life immersive sim and made a radio show about it. On a more serious note, it’s a good reminder that environmental storytelling (even tropes like abandoned diary pages and broken dolls) is based in reality. It’s easy to roll our eyes at audio logs and graffiti messages scrawled across walls, but sometimes reality is just as cheesy as fantasy. I mean, finding an abandoned letter from a woman who had just given birth, imploring the father to come to the hospital and go along with the lie that he was her husband? It seems unreal.

Hopefully you’ve listened to the show at this point, because I’m going to spoil it: the mystery is never solved. More accurately, it is only partially solved and the explanation is a quiet, ambiguous one that leaves a multitude of loose ends. It’s fully explored, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that you want more and that if you search, you’ll eventually find something. Some missed clue or hidden code that will keep the story’s boundaries from becoming hard barriers.

 I think this is the feeling that keeps the search for Luigi in Super Mario 64 alive. Giving up means admitting that even the most mysterious world is ultimately finite.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

EXP Podcast #284: Games Big and Small

The occasional strangeness of Valiant Hearts
We launch these podcasts every week, but still there is never enough time to touch on every game we play, even if they make an impression. This week on the EXP Podcast, Scott and I take some time out of our regular schedule to chat about a variety of games we've been playing lately, from one "fall" to another. Let us know how you've been spending your gaming hours in the comments below and if we share something on our dockets, please share your thoughts on the game as well!


- Subscribe to the EXP Podcast via iTunes
- Find the show on Stitcher
- Here's the show's stand-alone feed
- Listen to the podcast in your browser by left-clicking here. Or, right-click and select "save as link" to download the show in MP3 format.
- Subscribe to this podcast and EXP's written content with the RSS link on the right.

Show notes:

- Runtime: 37 mins 54 secs
- Music by Brad Sucks

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Story About My Uncle: Familial Revelations

This week for our regular EXP video series, Scott descend into a deep a deep, dark, madness cavern and uncover some shocking familial revelations. Check out the delightful indie game A Story About My Uncle below and let us know what you think of the grappling hook in video games.