Data rot: Death and dying in the virtual age

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. Illustration by Gareth Damian Martin /// “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproaches and everlasting abhorrence” (Daniel 12:2). /// Fernando de Jesus Diaz Beato is sat rigid in an ornate wooden chair. The glazed look in his eyes could be explained away by the cigar balanced between his fingers. The truth of the matter is that he is dead. On March 3rd this year, he was…


Climb a mystical mountain in a game based on Tibetan Buddhism

In Tibetan Buddhism, the space between death and rebirth is called bardo, a liminal period containing six—or four, depending on the source or scholar—different states, experienced in phases from birth to death to rebirth. This “limbo” is a journey in multiple senses, both to a spiritual conclusion and to a physical resurrection. British developer Blind Sky Studios explores this in-between space in Mandagon, a freeware game released earlier this week on Steam. As detailed in a blog post, Mandagon was born as the personal project after one of the team members suffered a death in the family. The game shifted…

Don't Disturb

An upcoming game about a dog looking for its dead owner

Katabasis, a term describing a hero’s descent into the underworld, is seen often in Greek myth. Odysseus spoke to spirits during his voyage and was frightened by the looming depths. Hermes rescued Persephone from her unwilling marriage to the god of death, granting her half of every year above ground before returning to her husband. The tale of Orpheus tells of his folly in rescuing his wife Eurydice, who died of a snakebite: Hades and Persephone let him lead her out of the underworld on the condition that he not turn to look at her until they were back in…


Inside wants to devour you

Everyone who has ever played Éric Chahi’s Another World (1991) remembers the “Beast.” Emerging from a pool of water, you see a four-legged silhouette perched menacingly on a nearby ledge. The creature then exits to the right. On the next screen it appears momentarily in the background, but you’re distracted by the poisonous worms crawling towards you. By the third screen you may have forgotten about it altogether until crossing an invisible threshold triggers it to appear. It snarls. You run. It chases you. But you didn’t run soon enough, and it catches you, kills you, and sends you back…


Kologeon, the new roguelike-like-like for you to marvel at

The term “roguelike” was originally derived from the game Rogue (1980), a dungeon crawler that popularized procedurally generated levels and permadeath. Rogue spawned an entire genre of likeminded games. In the 2000s, game makers lifted inspiration from old roguelikes to craft wholly new generated experiences. If Derek Yu’s cult classic Spelunky (2008) was one of the first roguelike-like games to fiddle with the rules of procedurally generated levels and the notion of permadeath, then perhaps ChillCrow’s impending Kologeon is a fitting step forward, a roguelike-like-like. Resurrection retains a sense of progression within the game’s world On the campaign page for…


Mourn your favorite Game of Thrones characters in this virtual graveyard

Warning: this story will allude to events up to Episode 5 in Season 6 of Game of Thrones. Featured image is censored because I don’t want to get yelled at on the Internet for spoilers. What is dead may never die. Valar morghulis. Hodor. HBO’s bleak fantasy epic Game of Thrones, based on the book series written by George R. R. Martin, has a number of recurring mottos. All mostly meaning, or leading to, death. The show’s made headlines often for killing off beloved characters in shocking, gut-churning ways. From the tense betrayal in the Red Wedding of Season 3 that offed…


The many faces of grief in Fragments of Him

Content warning: Death, PTSD, graphic imagery I don’t have many memories from when I was eight-years-old. It feels so long ago, and if I try to think back on them now, they tend to blend together. But there’s one night I’ll never forget, even in the smallest details. We had pizza that evening. I got an A+ on my class project that day. My mom had the news on when I got home, and was staring at a routine story about a car accident with the kind of concentration usually reserved for medical breakthroughs and presidential scandals. It was the…


A landscape of memory; returning to Shadow of the Colossus

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// It’s hard to calculate the distance from the clifftop to the sea below. My body, my eyes, the trembling in my legs tells me it is far, too far. Yet I can make out the marbling of the dark water as the foam traces fractal patterns after every impact. The white spray flash-bulb frozen against grey stone. The glassy shapes traced by swirling currents. These details feel close, painfully close. Perhaps it is the rhythm, the yawning…

Sara and Death

Philosophical mobile game reimagines Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal

Rocco Salvetti might be not your typical videogame maker. After studying philosophy, he decided he wanted a new adventure in IT. “I had a good job, but curiosity took over. I left and started all over,” he said. He moved from Italy to England, finding in London the right place to settle down and to run away from the stillness of small towns: “I need a massive city not to get depressed and it has been four years now, maybe I should consider Tokyo.” It is this hunger for more that describes Sara, Salvetti’s alter ego, and the protagonist of his game Sara and Death. Available…