The 1990s, the decade that never ended

In 2013, the New Museum in New York presented an exhibition titled NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star (named after an album by Sonic Youth). It curated art from the year of Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Soon after, New Jersey’s Montclair Art Museum featured Come As You Are: Art of the 1990s (named after a song by Nirvana). Jason Farago, writing about these shows for the BBC, posited that “this wave of 1990s shows marks a welcome effort to impose historical rigour on a period we still sometimes call ‘contemporary,’” but, “they reveal that the gap between then…

Play Anything

Ian Bogost’s Play Anything and the sublimity of boredom

In the strata of books about videogames, I offer the following overly simplistic codification: 1. Books about a specific game or game developer 2. Books about a specific period of time in the history of games 3. Books about how videogames are art, dammit And then there’s Ian Bogost’s new book Play Anything, which isn’t so much about games as distinct artifacts as it is about why games and play are an essential strategy for navigating the banality of the world. Sometimes the experience of grocery shopping, of sitting in traffic, of attending meetings, can feel like an elaborate series of…

The Texas Chain Saw Masscare

Screenage life: What looking at screens all day is doing to your eyes

This article is part of Vision Week, our exploration of eyeballs and videogames celebrating our collaboration with Warby Parker. Grab a pair of limited edition Kill Screen glasses here: warbyparker.com/kill-screen /// The eyes are among the most sophisticated organs in your body, comprising an automatic focusing and light sensitivity system far better than the best cameras and film designed to date. Four separate surfaces bend light as it enters the eye, and ciliary muscles flex in order to make these lenses change shape, flattening and thickening to account for distance and light. In other words, there’s a lot of work…


The cyberpunk dystopia we were warned about is already here

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// It’s the Sunday morning following a busy week, and my wife and I are attempting a calm moment. She’s flying out in the afternoon for a week-long company retreat, so these last few hours together are significant, our chance to recharge batteries before entering the world of teleconferences and deadlines. Unfortunately, the routine business of maintaining a household—the multitude of obnoxious little tasks that make up most of our days—has gotten away from us over the course of the week,…


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…

Solace State

Look out for Solace State, a game about ideological division in a daunting sci-fi city

The world of Solace State opens up before me, its buildings cross-cut and becoming transparent as Chloe, a “woman of many [identities] who gets caught up in a journey of dissent, deception and redemption” navigates a foreign, 21st century cosmopolitan city-state. “An isometric camera cuts in, and you’re hacking into the building,” says Tanya Kan, the lead designer and founder of Vivid Foundry as she demonstrates Solace State for me. “It’s a way of depicting open-societies, or of trying to reveal more of the world.” As 2D art is overlaid on 3D environments, I’m reminded of origami: detailed, delicate, intricate. Compartmentalized facets combining…

Dear Esther

More people will soon be able to play The Chinese Room’s poetic videogames

Very soon, thousands more will have the opportunity to get lonely with a videogame in the most beautiful way. Yes, The Chinese Room is bringing both its poetic narrative games, Dear Esther (2012) and last year’s Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, to new platforms—the former is coming to Xbox One and PlayStation 4, while the latter makes its way to PC. Other than a few pleasant additional touches, like a developer’s commentary for Dear Esther and a few bug fixes, the games will remain essentially unchanged. That means each of these games will, once again, invite you into their virtual…