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…

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13:  Jamelle Jimenez, George Krstic, Moby Frank, Mark Yetter, and Curtis Churn speak at the Tribeca Games Presents The Craft And Creative Of League Of Legends on November 13, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Tribeca Games)

League of Legends and the problem of online communities

If you liked what you read, why not back us on Kickstarter? Early last Friday, just before the opening remarks of “Tribeca Games Presents: The Craft and Creative of League of Legends,” I sat next to a young man named Will, who told me he had come all the way from Daytona Beach, Florida. I asked him if it was a business trip; this was the first time Riot and Tribeca Games had ever put on an event like this. There were a few hundred people present; it’s not the sort of thing I would expect fans to pilgrimage over. “No,”…


In praise of Mega Man X

Going fast is easy—the challenge is in reacting to the unwritten near-future while maintaining environmental awareness to avoid running into shit. For all the risks to life and limb, the human brain and body craves the thrill of speed. As such, even relatively primitive virtualized acceleration titillates. In the 16-bit era, games like Sonic the Hedgehog and F-Zero managed to create a placebo of velocity; my muscles tingled at every near-miss and last-second pass, or more often my ears throbbed with the rage of repetitive crashes. A lack of larger peripheral vision is what held back the otherwise stylish and…


Against child protagonists

Videogames don’t like people. Of that, the overwhelming amount of fantasy, war and sci-fi games, the ones set around goblins, androids and super-soldiers—the ones patently uninterested in real human beings—are proof enough. But even when games profess an interest in personhood and human experience they avoid substantive fiction. Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture seems to focus on a village in England, and the relationships between the people that live there, but the people are all dead and instead of seeing them and how they interact with one another you find, merely, their ghosts and some recordings of their voices. Gone…


Oneohtrix Point Never talks futurism, nostalgia, and the videogame music that haunts him

A computer doesn’t forget, it deletes. Its memories do not drop off the candle’s wick. Everything discarded is done so by some purpose, the will of the user or an overloaded failure of the hardware. People’s sense of memory can be more convenient; we can amplify the emotions of one moment to captivate the entire chapter. For many, the past becomes nostalgic: it’s easier to snip out the details we’re more often consumed by in the present. Even our feelings about computers gets nostalgic. Garden of Delete, the new album from Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, doesn’t forget. It…


The story behind Downwell, one of this year’s most delightful surprises

Downwell might be a perfect game title. Not only is it short and pithy, but it serves as a perfect summation for what developer Ojiro Fumoto has created. It’s a game in which a young boy is continuously falling down a well, avoiding enemies and purchasing upgrades along the way. But it’s not a hopeless endeavor. Armed with Gunboots firing from his feet, the boy is able to defend himself during his descent. The result is the type of sweat-inducing adventure that threatens to do water damage to your smartphone or controller, a game whose red and white character models…