Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch wants to be your new, favorite stalker

Cue the establishing shot: a suburban home at night. Its window drapes are open. In the distance, a skyline looms over the horizon like a mountain peak. Inside, a man sits in the dim glow of a television. He’s slouched low, pushed back by the emanations. The marketing rhetoric leans into classic entertainment images: The first 10 seconds of your favorite syndicated situation comedy; The Maxell TV ad of a man getting blown backwards by the cassette tape’s hi-fidelity sound. He’s playing a game. Light strains of composer Koji Kondo’s classic Overworld Theme from The Legend of Zelda (1986) mix…

Southern Fried Gameroom Expo

The Southern Fried Gameroom Expo is a reminder of what we’ve lost

Long cast as the home of hospitality, green tomatoes, and civil war memorials, the South is pushing back against a more current War of Northern Aggression. Gaming expos born north of Mason-Dixon line have prospered: Penny Arcade Expo began in 2004 outside of Bellevue, Washington before expanding to Boston, Australia, and Texas. Gen Con, founded in Wisconsin by the father of Dungeons & Dragons, Gary Gygax, focuses on tabletop gaming and calls Indiana home. The largest and oldest retro games convention is still California Extreme, set in Santa Clara the past 20 years. But Southerners love games, too. And Preston…


Nintendo is interested in VR. Just not how you think.

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// In 1990, the word “Nintendo” was the generic trademark for videogames. A quarter-century later and Nintendo is now just one voice among many in a chorus that too often sounds like a single note of varying volumes. To survive so long, Nintendo have had to play an exotic chord or two, pushing in directions beyond what is expected. Their most recent key change, the Wii U, never caught on with the mainstream public; rumors point to production ceasing after only…


Internet-connected toys spark a new era of play

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. From building blocks to Cabbage Patch Kids, children’s toys have often relied on the player’s active imagination. A new era of touchscreen cubes, rolling robots and other Internet-connected toys engage kids, teaching them about the world. Overall, the market for toys is on the rise, with marketing research firm NPD Group estimating a 7 percent sales growth across 11 major global markets. Meanwhile, licensing industry publication License! Global predicts connected toys will be a significant trend in 2016. Take, for example, the plastic kitchen set of old, which did little more than provide…


Cats finally take over the world with mobile game Neko Atsume

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Neko Atsume is a smartphone game where players can watch cats. They can’t pet them, or call to them, or scratch behind their ears. The most a player can do is buy a treat or toy and place it in a backyard. If the player is lucky, the toy will attract Snowball, a furry white kitty who enjoys playing with rubber balls. Or, if the player is really lucky, the toy might even attract Pumpkin—who eats all the tuna he can get his paws on. Yutaka Takazaki, the creator of…

Breath of Light

Breath of Light breathes new life into Australia’s game-making scene

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. In 2011, curious creatures took over the music festival “Splendour in the Grass” in Woodfordia, Queensland. Jimmy McGilchrist designed “Curious Creatures” as an interactive exhibit for the public; silhouettes of strange animals were displayed on a large screen, as if fenced in on the other side. Attendees could approach and engage with them: Stick your hand out and the animal would dip its snout toward you; get too close and the large chicken-like thing might cackle and flutter away. By the end, the question of which creatures are meant…


The biofeedback games made to improve our well-being

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. When Space Invaders dropped into Japanese arcades, the alien shooting gallery was such a phenomenon that the 100 yen piece, the equivalent of an American quarter, became a rarity. The game’s action was straightforward and exacting, and the narrative spoke to everyone’s inner xenophobe. Ultimately, however, it was the stellar soundtrack — a simple pulsing heartbeat that accelerated with each passing minute —that made each playthrough a thrill. Videogames have always had the ability to affect a player’’s biorhythms but now games are being created to pull those physiological reactions into…


The Year of Not Playing Games

This coming year, I will turn thirty-five years old. Such an accumulation of time brings certain privileges: the ability to run for President; the removal from key marketing demographics, aged 18-34, typically known as Young People; the necessity to buy shampoo that strengthens follicles at the root, “saving hundreds of strands per month.” When I entered that most trend-setting of audiences, way back in 1999, I did not foresee “playing and writing about videogames” as a key element of my identity in this far-flung future. And yet here I am, contributing to a year-end series about an industry whose evolution…


How a Small Team of Australian Game-Makers Reinvented Pac-Man

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. // This past August, the latest version of Pac-Man reached #1 on the charts in Japan. This may not sound surprising. Until one considers that Pac-Man 256 is a touch-based mobile game made by a small independent studio from Melbourne, Australia. When Matt Hall and Andy Sum of Hipster Whale released their Frogger-inspired mobile game Crossy Road last November, their expectations were realistic. “We definitely didn’t expect any of this to happen,” Sum told me over the phone. “When we made Crossy Road, we knew we had a good game…