PlayStation 2, the videogame console from outer space

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// What makes a videogame console successful? Forget about software libraries and units sold, I’m talking about the design of the actual box that you hook up to your TV. At first blush, the Nintendo GameCube seems pretty notable. It’s downright adorable with its purple color scheme, cute miniDVD discs, and stout, blocky profile—and let’s not forget the notorious handle on the back to be used for carrying the console around like a Playskool oil lantern. The GameCube…

Bad Corgi

Bad Corgi lets you run wild as a mischievous dog

If you only know corgis as those cute dogs from the internet, Cowboy Bebop, or movies where someone visits Buckingham Palace, you might not know that the tail-less fuzzballs are actually bred for herding cattle. Having grown up with corgis as household pets, their herding instincts are often present, even in the absence of farm animals. When I’d attempt to slowly pull my car into the garage, there was typically a corgi blocking my path as if it wasn’t my turn to park. If I’d walk around the house barefoot, often one of the dogs would nip at my ankles…

The Life of Pablo

Kanye West is patching his latest album like a videogame

“Ima fix wolves,” tweeted Kanye West some four weeks ago in reference to a track that he was seemingly unsatisfied with from his most recent album, The Life of Pablo. Last week, in the second update Kanye made to The Life of Pablo (streaming exclusively on Tidal), he finally subbed in a new version of “Wolves,” now featuring more pronounced contributions from Sia and Vic Mensa. And this may not be the last update we see for The Life of Pablo either. Kanye has stated that he sees the album as “living breathing changing creative expression #contemporaryart,” implying that it may never technically…


Football players now use 360-degree video to improve their skills

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. A former NFL kicker is using cutting-edge virtual reality videos to help players and coaches train better, faster, and smarter. Last year proved to be a banner year for athletics-related technological advances. A slew of smart helmets and wearable devices are now helping athletes, and better player tracking and camera angles are bringing sports fans amazing perspectives on favorite players. While all kinds of sports benefited from many new technologies in 2015, Sports Illustrated named virtual reality the innovation of the year. Looking ahead, 2016 could see virtual reality technology become widely adopted across mainstream sports. Professional football players are already testing…


The unrelenting science of The Witness

When I played a demo version of The Witness at a Sony event in 2013, I was offered two approaches: 1) I could be lead through a basic tutorial of the way the game’s puzzle systems work, or 2) I could be left to wander around the island landscape and discover it at my whim. I chose the latter option, only encountered a handful of the game’s signature line-tracing puzzle panels, and spent the rest of my time gawking at the natural and architectural framework of the island. I strolled down to a seashore under a desert cliff where a…

The Witness

The Witness is videogames’ long take

There are all sorts of studies floating around about the human attention span, and usually about how it’s getting shorter. I’ve heard my fair share of anecdotes over the years from teachers, supervisors, and fellow artists about how long an average audience member is willing to engage with a piece of media. Five seconds for a painting. Six seconds for a single shot in a film. 30 seconds for a free iPhone game. The list goes on, but suffice to say, these soft rules are geared toward grabbing audience attention quickly in hope that they’ll stick around for much longer.…


The problem with empathy games

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. A niche genre of videogames hopes to inspire players to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, leading to an important discussion about how players experience empathy. Biofeedback videogames feed off players’ physiological responses, impacting gameplay in new and interesting ways. But what happens when developers create games designed to evoke a specific emotional or psychological response? Empathy games attempt to answer that question. These videogames aspire to enhance a player’s understanding of an outside perspective, particularly those pertaining to real-world struggles and inequalities, through interactive experiences. “You have to…


Groundhoth Day

Stage One They call Hoth “the ice planet,” because that’s exactly what it is. I found that out immediately upon arriving at the Rebels’ Echo Base mere days ago. The word “Hoth” even sounds frigid, like the exhale of visible breath in winter. We’re out in the middle of nowhere on Hoth, a tiny speck on an uninhabited world of permanent freeze. The remote location of Echo Base helps us to escape prying Imperial eyes, but as an extra precaution, the fort itself is dug out of snow and mountain rock, hidden from plain sight by all but the most…


Can Telltale game design and the Game of Thrones universe coexist?

On paper, Game of Thrones’ complex medieval intrigue and Telltale Games’ unique brand of choose-your-own-adventure storytelling is a perfect match. And in the final episode of season 1 of Telltale’s series, the stakes are the highest of the whole season, not only for the characters beset with the inevitably bloody dealings within, but also for a game design thesis that has continued to promise and remind players that their choices will matter, steering the plot and shaping the characters. But now with season 1 at its close, it’s worth asking whether a plot that the player controls is really in the…