Rethinking the shooter for the VR age

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// Header illustration by Gareth Damian Martin Although videogames have been around since the early fifties, the first known electronic shooter actually appeared in 1936. The Seeburg Ray-o-Lite, best described as a sort of proto–Duck Hunt (1984), was a light-gun game utilizing a photosensitive vacuum tube and a moving target painted to look like a duck in flight. Whenever the player pulled the trigger, a beam of light would issue from the rifle controller; if she managed to hit the sensor…


Competitive Overwatch is about to get a lot more balanced

Yesterday, Blizzard published patch notes for a major Overwatch update they’ve been rolling out across their public test servers. The developer reveals a host of significant changes coming to the game’s competitive mode, not least of which involves limiting character selection to no more than one of each hero per team. If you’ve ever gone up against half a battalion of Bastions, a full crew of Junkrats, or an all-Torbjörn team on defense, you know how quickly things can go sour. I once saw a Twitch broadcaster lead a team of six D.Vas to an almost effortless victory in a…

IT Simulator

IT Simulator aims to bring absurdity to a boring job

Rebecca Cordingley is a 28-year-old English expat who recently quit her job as art director for Schell Games to pursue her own projects. Her upcoming solo debut, IT Simulator, promises a simulation brimming with “frenzied physical humor” and minigames involving IT tasks like defragmenting hard drives, ridding browsers of pop-up infestations, and buying office upgrades in the role of manager. “I’ve always loved playing videogames, but I didn’t always know that I wanted to make them,” says Cordingley. “I dabbled in a lot of interactive projects when I worked at a design agency, and that slowly turned into a focus on game development. Despite being on…


Fulcrum aims to capture the grace and freedom of snowboarding

When FRACT OSC (2014) creator Phosfiend Systems’s Richard Flanagan met up with Ben Swinden at the 2015 Toronto Game Jam, they found serendipitous inspiration in their shared love of snowboarding. The two quickly came up with the idea of an infinite, looping mountainscape, full of “branching pathways, hidden areas, and other secrets”—a low-poly love letter to their favorite sport. The prototype that resulted from the jam was rough, and difficult for many players, but they knew they’d hit on something meaningful. For now, they call it Fulcrum. “Snowboarding has been a big piece of both mine and Richard’s lives. It’s…

Night in the Woods

Night in the Woods is looking like a glorious interactive cartoon

There’s something special about the breezy wit and innocence of a great cartoon. An animated comedy, or funny graphic novel, or Sunday-morning comic strip has the advantage of telling the truth from behind a window of playful distortion—no doubt that’s why we love them the way we do. They’re funny, sure, but they’re also honest. Nobody cuts to the heart of our financial woes like Mr. Krabs; no one understands our pain like BoJack Horseman. Night in the Woods, a game that’s been in development since roughly October 2013, when it was announced on Kickstarter, looks to capture some of…

Lone Light

Lone Light teases out the complex symbiosis of light and shadow

Hessamoddin Sharifpour’s upcoming game Lone Light draws its puzzles from the timeless dance between light and shadow, telling the story of a lone light finding its way through the cosmos. Sharifpour is an Iranian programmer living in Toronto; come September, he’ll be attending the University of Toronto to study computer science. At 19, he is already the recipient of two awards—Best Idea and Jury’s Special Choice—from the 2014 Iranian Indie Game Developers Festival, as well as nominations for Best Indie Game of the Year and Best Design. there will also be hints of evolving cosmologies This early recognition for his…

New Dawn Fades

Joy Division lyrics become a virtual landscape of memory

Some songs stay with us, permanent signposts along the pathways of our memory. We revisit them in different contexts as time goes on, hearing the bass line or the lyrics or the production anew, reflecting on the significance of the moment from the comfort of the familiar. Ansh Patel, an interdisciplinary artist who received his MFA in game design from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, recently released an experimental “interactive poem” on itch.io that he calls his “most explicitly autobiographical work,” combining fragments of memory with the music of Joy Division. “appealed to the unrelenting burden of expectations I felt growing up” Set to the…


Star Wars fan uses VR to make his lightsaber dreams come true

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// Star Wars and videogames have had a long, fairly complicated relationship. What began with the Kenner toy line of 1978 ultimately grew into an unprecedented licensing juggernaut. The Parker Brothers’ scrolling shooter The Empire Strikes Back brought the movie franchise to the Atari 2600 in 1982, followed shortly after by the Star Wars (1983) arcade cabinet and the multi-platform Return of the Jedi: Death Star Battle (1983). To date, there are more than 70 electronic games taking place in some iteration of…


SUPERHOT VR might end up being the most meta VR game yet

The Superhot Team announced SUPERHOT VR for the Oculus Touch this week, a project that’s been in the works since late 2013. Anyone who’s completed the original game, released earlier this year, will surely shiver with anticipation at the countless storytelling possibilities this virtual reality endeavor presents. If, on the other hand, you’re someone who avoids spoilers and has plans to play the current build of SUPERHOT, you should probably read no further. SUPERHOT is a special experience—one that owes much of its brilliance to VR-centric cyberpunk works like The Matrix (1999) and William Gibson’s Sprawl sequence. An inventive, tongue-in- cheek critique of traditional first-person shooters, SUPERHOT introduces…