The importance of frame-rate to a Counter-Strike pro

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Improving skills led “n0thing” into competitive esports, but fine-tuning his PC helps him outplay others. Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert was 16 when he gave up ice hockey to focus on conquering a new, uncharted frontier: the competitive esports world of Counter-Strike. After putting down his hockey stick for a PC, he climbed up the amateur circuit until he hit a wall. His vastly improved gameplay skills pushed his computer to its limit, and that held him back from reaching the coveted invite-level competitions. “That’s when my parents knew,” said Gilbert. “If…

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Announcing Versions Workshops

In partnership with NEW INC, we are excited to announce a series of workshops to accompany our upcoming Versions conference. Versions workshops offer participants a chance to learn best practices from the pros, get hands-on and investigate the practical side of creating compelling experiences for VR. Led by industry-leading experts, they’ll explore a range of approaches to VR that includes web-based, 360 video and game engine environments, as well as more cutting-edge experiments like room-scale VR. There are two ways to attend Versions workshops. If you don’t have a conference pass, you can purchase a ticket a la carte to…


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…


Advice from Torment: Tides of Numenera

Torment: Tides of Numenera is, in its own words, “chewy and full of strangeness.” The game’s beta sets players down in the city of Sagus Cliffs, where weird humans and alien “visitants” live in squalor beside buried spaceships. You meet citizens who can’t stop sprouting extra toes, others who drink and brood about psychic wars, and one who’s trying hard to stop a robot from having babies. They toil in the shadow of countless dead civilizations, as well as the shadow of the monumental Planescape: Torment (1999), whose themes, protagonist, and aversion to short sentences have been carried over intact…

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SUPERHOT and the unique temporality of videogames

When the Wachowskis transported bullet-time over from Hong Kong cinema to The Matrix (1999), mainstream western audiences were wowed. This was the beginning of something new for action cinema, the ability for the camera to pivot around action, playing a moment from a multiplicity of angles that stunned and awed in equal measure. The camera was unhinged from static points, instead echoing the orbital movement of a clock or pendulum. In the years following, slow-mo sequences in games misguidedly attempted to convert what was so fascinating about that spectacle into something the player could experience. Instead, it only introduced the…


Shut Up, Gaming Positivity

This article is part of a series called Shut Up, Videogames, in which critic Ed Smith invites games old and new to pipe down, or otherwise. In this edition, he looks at today’s atmosphere of “gaming positivity” in games criticism. Rather than challenged by the emergence of different games and different creative voices, I feel like the culture of blithe acceptance in the gaming industry has simply widened. Old reviews of shooters and sequels, scaffolded by a checklist of “graphics, gameplay, replay value,” are today lampooned even by the big sites—I think anyone with the sense to not leave comments on things…


Playing Paris like a game

I have never been to Paris. In my provincial life I’ve never even left the United States. Despite or, perhaps, due to my localism, I was beguiled by the vision of the city given by Luc Sante in his 2015 book The Other Paris. Sante provides an underground history of the city, of its crime and prostitution, its low-wage work and lowbrow entertainments, its intoxications and insurrections. As fluent as he is with tales of murderous gangsters and wayward streetwalkers, what really comes across in The Other Paris is Sante’s deep mourning for the lost topography of the city. The…


Jonathan Blow’s Laboratory

A series of opaque circles flicker around a crudely rendered pool table like digital fireflies. As you choose your shot, a program simulates the aftermath, allowing brief insights into the future before you’ve even decided what to do. The game is Oracle Billiards, named after, and partly inspired by, a character from the Matrix. It’s a straightforward experiment based on a simple concept: how does seeing into a game’s future change how you play it? Exploring the contours of that question proved difficult, however, and so the prototype was scrapped. Its creator, Jonathan Blow, had decided that the “billiard-balls-physics phenomenon…