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Feature

Videogames and the digital baroque

During the 17th century in Europe and her colonies, mankind was forcibly removed from the center of the universe and cast adrift in an indifferent cosmos devoid of greater purpose or meaning. This was accomplished not by any supernatural power but by advancements in technology, particularly optics: telescopes could chart the motions of previously obscure celestial bodies while microscopes could, for the first time, see the living cells that made up human bodies. Earth turned out not to be the center of the universe but one of many planets that orbited the Sun; an average star among countless others in…

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News

An art book wants you to embrace your failures

To be an artist is to know failure. We know it intimately, in our smudges and our typos. We fear it, anxiously hesitating before we draw the second eye, afraid that we cannot replicate the perfection of the first. Failed It! by Erik Kessels challenges these feelings, arguing for the beauty of our mistakes. It’s part photobook, showcasing many beautiful and hilarious examples of imperfection across different creative mediums. But it’s also part guidebook, seeking to dispel our fear of mistakes and, in doing so, remove an obstacle to reaching our full potential as artists. While some of the photographs…

IMRF2
News

Internet Murder Revenge Fantasy is a first-hand look at growing up online

As a transgender girl growing up in the American Midwest, childhood was a lonely experience for me. I was still questioning so much of who I was, and at the time, there weren’t many resources out there to help me work through it. Transfeminist literature like Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl (2007) had yet to be published, and I had to resort to older and more colloquial narratives instead, like a 1998 book a mother wrote about her daughter’s transition titled Mom, I Need to Be a Girl. Finding myself in a real-world culture that was unwilling to talk about LGBT issues for…

rain world
News

The threat music and animal sounds of Rain World

The goofy term “slugcat” has been tossed around to describe the creature you’ll control in Videocult’s upcoming game Rain World for a couple of years now. Due to its unique ecosystem set on an industrial planet that’s ravaged by bone-crushing downpours for most of the year (the game takes place during the brief dry season), describing the things that flap, squirm, and leap around Rain World is a task. Imagine, then, trying to apply not words but audio to match everything found on this alien planet. Well, you don’t need to, as a recent Kickstarter update (the game was successfully funded back…

MADE
News

The MADE, or the importance of games console history you can touch

About 30 miles northeast of the Frank Gehry-designed campuses and complexes where competing cloud environments are designed, there’s an Oakland museum full of game cartridges. You can see the sign from the highway: The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE). That the sign is visible from the highway is a big reason for an uptick in attendance since the museum’s February 2016 re-opening, I’m told, and this seems right to me. In the San Francisco Bay, where programming cultures abound and history is cast as something to be disrupted, forgotten, discarded, the MADE idiosyncratically contrasts the irresistible narratives playing…

windowframe
News

A game idea hidden right in front of you

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. windowframe (PC) BY DANIEL LINSSEN You’re reading this inside a window. Practically every interaction with a piece of software takes place inside one. This has been the norm for computer use since around 1990, which is when Microsoft’s Windows 3.0 arrived and engulfed all other graphical interfaces. It’s reasonable to say, then, that having us reconsider the windows we peer into our computer files and the internet with every day isn’t an easy task. But, in only 48 hours, game designer Daniel Linssen has managed exactly…

Mable & the Wood
News

Pixel art exploration game gets its moral ambiguity from Studio Ghibli films

Mable & the Wood is a 2D exploration game about a young red-haired girl with the ability to transform into other creatures. The idea is to get her through the titular colorful woods. However, the more you use the girl’s powers, the more you take from the forest, slowly destroying it—regardless, it’s the only way to reach some areas, and it’s the only way to beat the enemies you meet. The idea behind the game was born in April 2015, as it was made for the Ludum Dare game jam that month, which carried the theme “An Unconventional Weapon,” hence the shape-shifting. Now…

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Review

The joyless heroics of Star Fox Zero

As I sit at my keyboard, trying to figure out what in the world I could possibly say about Star Fox Zero, I find myself forced to concede that there’s not that much wrong with the game as a game. As an engine built to allow players to fly around in a high resolution version of a spaceship apparently built out of triangles, Star Fox Zero is entirely functional. There are things to blow up, which will also seek to blow the player up. There are big spaceships, and big imposing robots with hidden vulnerabilities (which are signaled to the…

Oxenfree
News

Teen ghost story Oxenfree to get new endings in upcoming Director’s Cut

Originally released for Windows, Mac, and Xbox One back in January, teen horror adventure game Oxenfree is now coming to the PlayStation 4 on May 31st as Oxenfree: Director’s Cut. It’ll come complete with a bevy of new features to find in its New Game+ mode, including new dialogue, new areas to explore, and new alternate endings to discover. While the PS4 version will already have all of this content included at launch, Steam and Xbox One players need not worry, as they will also receive the New Game+ mode in an update on the same day. “Upon completing the story once,…