Fear of a videogame dystopia

Some weeks ago, a piece of news shook my world. It wasn’t the primary election results, nor was it Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali’s passing—even though that one was really, really sad. Nope, it was a parrot. CBS reported on June 10th that Bud, an African grey parrot who kept repeating the phrase ‘don’t fucking shoot’ after his owner was murdered, could become a witness in trial. We all read bizarre stories online every day, but this one instantly reminded me of a Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2001) case, where a parrot testifies in court—and there’s more to the parallel too,…

God of War

Welcome to the age of videogame beards

Let’s face it: the renaissance of the full beard has been a thing for a while now. It came from fashion and now it has arrived in our videogames. It’s nothing to scoff at, either. The power of the beard has worked to change a 20-year history of smooth-faced Street Fighter characters: Ryu now has as much facial hair as Zangief. The same thing happened to Geralt in The Witcher 3 last year, and now the bald protagonist of God of War too: Kratos’s minimalist goatee has grown to a full beard for his next game, putting him in a list that I,…


The cyberpunk dystopia we were warned about is already here

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// It’s the Sunday morning following a busy week, and my wife and I are attempting a calm moment. She’s flying out in the afternoon for a week-long company retreat, so these last few hours together are significant, our chance to recharge batteries before entering the world of teleconferences and deadlines. Unfortunately, the routine business of maintaining a household—the multitude of obnoxious little tasks that make up most of our days—has gotten away from us over the course of the week,…


State of Mind combines transhumanism and a low-poly look

It seems like every other week we’re hearing about a new game that wants to use robots, spaceships and/or the concept of a digital future to make a larger point about the world we live in. Many of these games work well; others, not so much. The genre oversaturation ensures that any new game checking off one or many of these boxes needs some way to stand out from the rest of the crowd. And, lo, a pretty, low-poly contender just pushed its way to the front. Upcoming adventure game State of Mind explores transhumanism by creating two separate worlds:…

Long Gone Days

Long Gone Days imagines the world of war that’s coming for us

If a dystopian novel was written about the world that we live in right now, what would it look like? Chilean game maker Camila Gormaz wants to explore that in her upcoming game Long Gone Days. Unlike dead-Earth dystopias, where human society has overreached to such an extent that what remains of our planet is barely recognizable as the remains of what we see today, Long Gone Days takes place… soon. Say, the next 10 years. Rourke, the protagonist, abandons his post as a military sniper and ventures out into the world. He’s in an isolated area and the war…

VA-11 Hall-A

Play a day in the life of a dystopian bartender

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. VA-11 Hall-A (Windows, Mac, Linux) BY SUKEBAN GAMES If you want to get to know the character of a city quickly, check out its bar scene. There, you’ll find all the community’s hopes and issues under the same roof, sharing a stiff drink. That’s the idea behind VA-11 Hall-A, a dystopian “drink-em-up” where players serve the bar regulars and listen to their personal stories. By developing relationships with your patrons, you learn about the everyday struggles of a consumerist surveillance state. While light on mechanics, VA-11 Hall-A allows you to…


Glitch Noir looks into the corporate drone hell of our near future

The Candidate, director Michael Ritchie’s 1972 political satire, depicted an exaggerated political milieu in which even the most earnest of candidates is shallow and ultimately believes in nothing more than getting elected. Ritchie’s exaggerated world, in other words, is the world we now live in. Therein lies the risk and perverse beauty of genre cinema: sometimes a filmmaker’s transgressive vision becomes our everyday reality. Writer, director, and animator Cody Healey-Conelly’s Glitch Noir is a genre short whose dystopian future may imminently be upon us. It is about streams of information and the use of drones. More specifically, a major company’s…