Star Wars Battlefront is a beautiful diorama

  After the release of Star Wars in May of 1977, the Kenner toy company could not make enough action figures to meet the demands of an eager consumer base. Even into the Christmas season, the company still had inadequate stock, so Kenner instead sold people an “Early Bird Certificate Package”—an empty box containing a diorama stand, some stickers, and a certificate for four toys to be mailed to the purchaser when they finally became available the following February. People snatched them up, of course, placing empty boxes under trees, assured in the knowledge that in a few short months,…


The birth of No Man’s Sky

If you want more in depth interviews like these, support us on Kickstarter! // Few games have captured the public imagination like No Man’s Sky. Due out in June 2016, the game promises an entire universe to explore: some 18 quintillion planets, which would take some 600 billion hours for players to fully explore. (Who knows, though; never underestimate the public’s appetite for videogames.) This would all be impressive enough, but what turned our heads was the kaleidoscopic array of colors in which the game is painted, full of toxic green skies and impossibly lush plants, dank caves and deep purple…


Mad Max: The film videogames are made of

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. // The Mad Max franchise is unique. Not only does it depict a very different apocalypse than the zombie-ridden radioactive tragedies we’re used to, but it also stands as a distinctly seminal Australian film in an age where America dominates the box office releases. The beauty of its Australian influence originates with director George Miller, who grew up in the infamous outback with a love for film – particularly Westerns – that inevitably lead him to create the character of Max Rockatansky, legendary Road Warrior. In an interview with Variety,…


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…


Eternal Darkness, Psychonauts, and sanity in videogames

Western depictions of mental illness often tend toward the dramatic. Shows like House often showcase rare disorders or extreme versions of a diagnosis when they mention mental illness at all: the schizophrenic woman who sees fire where there isn’t any, a mute patient who is able to speak after one redeeming event, or the man who had bipolar disorder and kept it secret after opting for an experimental surgery—one that ultimately resulted in malaria. In other cases, the idea of insanity is used as, if not a comedic device, a warning; one simply cannot look into the face of an…


The game design of the Hunger Games

Calling the design of the Hunger Games terrible is kind of missing the point, right? There’s no fairness intended, no logic, no rules. The “gamemakers” are industrial-scale butchers, striking a balance between mass execution and mass execution that’s fun to watch. They’re games only in the bread-and-circuses sense: distractions. Bloody spectacle. (The series’ ravaged, enslaved nation is called, in a Kojima-esque flourish, Panem.) Author Suzanne Collins famously says she came up with the idea for The Hunger Games books while flipping between reality TV and Iraq War coverage. That might be embellishment, but it’s also a cogent appraisal of the…


How Battlefront is both the past and the future of Star Wars

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. A month before the December 18 release of the seventh Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, fans can get their fix of light sabers, starfighters and wookies in a galaxy far, far away inside EA DICE’s online shooter game, Star Wars: Battlefront. Drawing heavily on the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V and VI for the uninitiated), as well as from the new film, the game hopes to bridge the best of Star Wars in one epic online battlefield. But with a franchise so vast, and expectations so high, is it really possible to unite 38 years of stories, millions of fans and…


The Dismal Western Front of The Grizzled

The First World War is often referred to as The Great War, due to its immense scope, as it incited all the world’s national powers and resulted in a devastating death toll. Set within this war is the tabletop game The Grizzled, which makes no attempt to capture such scale, and instead hones in on a small squad of French soldiers whose camaraderie is their greatest chance for survival. In this, The Grizzled prompts comparison to Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which describes the war through a concise and emotional narrative. The story follows…

why paper

Why Paper?

Support print media in the modern world by backing us on Kickstarter If you want a sense of the difference between the worlds of paper media and videogames, color is the best place to start. In print, as we learn in kindergarten, there are three primary colors—red, blue, and yellow—and you get all the other colors by mixing them together. If you pay attention to the color cartridge in your printer, you’ll see blue and red are “cyan” and “magenta,” but otherwise it’s the same. This color palette, often referred to as CMYK for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), is the subtractive…