Birthplace of Ossian

Birthplace of Ossian explores the artificiality of videogame landscapes

The mountainous terrain in Connor Sherlock’s exploration game Birthplace of Ossian isn’t of this world. I don’t mean that rather than being real, it is virtual—its disconnection has many more layers than that. For starters, its colossal landscape is based on Glen Coe in Scotland, a place that Sherlock has never been but feels connected to through media like Highlander (1986)—he’s actually named after the main character, Connor MacLeod. Sherlock wanted his recreation of Glen Coe to reflect his physical distance from it. “I wanted the space to be as distant an echo of the real thing as I could make it, like…

Walking Simulator

Photography project inspires a videogame about mountains

LA-based digital artist and photographer Carson Lynn is aware of the stigma behind the term “walking simulator.” It’s no coincidence that it’s the title of his latest project and also one of the most divisive terms in videogames. He knows that a lot of people shrug the walking simulator genre off as being games that are simply about walking—as if they were pointless, not even games at all. “I often get the same reaction when someone views my artwork since it’s abstract nature,” Lynn tells me. “Many people don’t want to stop and reflect and think about an artwork, they…


Take in the sights of Trackless’s surreal sci-fi world

You might not have heard of Aubrey Serr but it’s possible you’re familiar with some of his work. For the past eight years, he’s been a designer over at Wolfire Games, mostly working on the still unfinished Overgrowth—the game with the ninja bunnies—but also helped contribute to the studio’s 7DFPS entry Receiver (2012), which tried and succeeded to install more true-to-life complexity to gun handling in videogames. Now Serr has given all that up and decided to form his own studio, 12 East Games, and set out to work on a game called Trackless. It’s a game that’ll give you a phone…


Are relationships worth it or not? Find out in The Door

Your fingers hover above the keyboard, hesitating to type out a response to the enthusiastic bubble that pops onto the screen, asking about your day. It’s tiring, trying to keep up the charade. When did the shift occur? At what point did communicating become a chore as opposed to a treat? A lazy response is sent before you remove yourself, choosing instead to look at the framed photo of him on your desk. He wasn’t allowed to smile when the photograph was taken—regulations said so. The computer pings softly and your eyes dart back to the desktop. /// The Door…


Is it time to stop using the term “walking simulator”?

The history of the term “walking simulator” is short but heated. It’s only seen wide usage over the past few years and is often applied frivolously. There’s a lot of uncertainties around it but the one thing that’s for sure it it’s a divisive term. Some people see it as a useful way to bunch together a group of games with similar interests—typically slower games, ones about exploration and contemplation. While others abhor it and wish it would go away. But it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, at least, not any time soon. “Walking simulator” seemed to come into popularity around the…


Sacramento is way too darn pretty

Sacramento is a fleeting memory, a transitory moment for one to enjoy before life resumes its course. Creator Delphine Fourneau—who also goes by the name Dziff—describes the game as ephemeral; it’s the best word I could find to describe it, too. The scenes in Sacramento are snippets of Fourneau’s own memories of a train journey taken across the United States. She didn’t intend the memories to be literal, however—that’s not what Sacramento is about. Rather, it’s about the “impressions of these ephemeral places that leave you these sweet pictures in the back of your mind,” she said. In Sacramento, players simply wander—or “drift aimlessly”—through…


If a pixel-art kitty game doesn’t turn you into a cat person, nothing will

Let’s start off with a confession that’s sure to have my friends messaging me all day: I don’t really like cats. I know, I know—I’m nerdy, I’m introverted, I write about games on the internet, I’m queer. By all accounts, I should be queen cat over here. But ever since growing up with my adorable labrador retriever, Gretchen, I’ve always been more partial to dogs. I don’t particularly have anything against cats; I just tend to have a bit of trouble finding them cute. After playing ᗢ, though, I may finally be a convert. Created by duo katslevania and takorii,…


The Year in Feels

If we had access to some grand compendium filled with every single emotion that videogames make us feel, it would probably waste most of its words trying to describe fun. But as a concept, fun is primitive. Fun is escape. Like a dog chasing a tennis ball or a crow sliding down a tin roof, fun is intuitive. Fun is smashing your thumb down on the square button while Kratos slings around his orange blades. Fun is nailing that QTE and watching Kratos pull out the cyclops’ eye. Fun is when the red blobs come out and makes Kratos stronger,…