AS THE LINE between mobile and non-mobile gaming becomes increasingly blurred, there’s a tendency to qualify games that exist in both realms as being primarily part of the former, and only secondarily part of the latter.
Games & Digital Media
THERE IS A vast openness – visually, thematically, atmospherically – to any given Tarkovsky film that feels easy to attribute to the monumental scale of Russia, both in its history and its sheer physical size. But this too-easy association belittles an artist who brought immense visions to life as much in spite of his homeland as because of it.
AMONG ALL THE games I’ve played over the past decade, Skyrim holds a special place. I’ve probably spent longer talking to Belethor, the smarmy but conveniently-placed Whiterun merchant, than I have playing many other titles from start to finish in their entirety. I’ve quested for hours to win the favor of a lone companion for the sole purpose of having someone to help carry my unwieldy piles of stuff – an apt if depressing analogy for real-world relationships.
GAME GUIDES OCCUPY a unique space in the present-day videogame universe. As with the guidebook industry as a whole (including everything from travel guides and maps to cookbooks, legal guides, and repair manuals), the option to simply consult an online forum is nearly always present. The result is a greater pressure on printed guides to offer beauty and substance, and to exist as complementary projects that stand on their own.
CLOCKING IN AT 536 pages, NES/Famicom: A Visual Compendium offers a wealth of retro goodness for die-hard gamers, nostalgia seekers, and pixel-art fans alike. In addition to its eye-popping visuals, the book includes features on major developers like Konami and Capcom, extensive box art, interviews with developers from both Japan and the west, and fan tributes both written and visual.
GROWING UP, I had a closer-than-usual relationship with Atari’s games: with a close family member who worked at the then-young Silicon Valley company, I had access to dozens of games, sometimes even in pre-release builds. With most of the games I played existing only on floppy disks, this mind-bending cover art (not to mention any sort of packaging, background info, or instruction manual) was totally absent from the experience. This meant contending not only with the games’ built-in learning curves, but also figuring out the frequently bizarre lore and background stories of the games only through their totemic, rudimentary pixel art.
GAME ON IS A massive exhibition spanning the entire history of videogames, from Tennis for Two to home consoles, and from massive arcade cabinets to VR headsets. Originally curated by the Barbican Centre, the exhibition came to Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Spring 2016.
I’VE BEEN WANTING to write about The Witness for several months now, but kept getting hung up on how to address the elephant in the room (or in this case, on the island): namely, how difficult the game is, both in the classic hard-to-solve sense and in how much it asks of players conceptually. There’s no question the game’s hundreds of puzzles are exceedingly difficult, and require an iron stoicism to complete without rage-Googling. But the second layer of difficulty runs deeper, and is more open to debate: assuming one plays the game “right”, i.e. avoids any and all online discussions of the game (and only requires assistance from one’s spouse or partner on—I don’t know, let’s say 10-20% of the puzzles), and somehow, through perseverance, luck, page after page of maniacal scribbling, and the aforementioned pre-internet Genuine Human Interaction factor, manages to complete the game—is it worth it?