Explojan Horse

Just what the Trojan War needed: a huge, explosive gun

The Trojan War is a comedy and a tragedy, a series of deaths that history will remember by its errors rather its feats. When they teach the Trojan War, they talk about a beautiful woman whose face was enough for an armada to be launched and a large wooden horse that defeated an impregnable city. When Atlanta-based game maker cottontrek talks about the Trojan War, they do so in a series of explosions. Explojan Horse is not a game of subtlety. Constructed over a weekend for the latest incarnation of the Ludum Dare game jam, Explojan Horse is a cross…


My experience as a virtual war photographer in Battlefield 1

Heterotopias is a series of visual investigations into virtual spaces performed by writer and artist Gareth Damian Martin. /// What makes a battlefield different from any other place? Our towns, cities, fields, and parks are all potential battlefields, with lines of sight, choke-points, defensible terrain and no man’s land, all waiting to be activated. But how do you design a battlefield, balance the distribution of buildings, the flow of landscape, the arrangement of forms? It started as an investigation. I would trawl the lone map of Battlefield 1‘s open beta to try to catalog the space custom made for its warfare. Stripping the game of its HUD…


Killbox, a videogame about the true horror of drone warfare

Killbox is a game about drone warfare; about the experience of killing, of dying, and of the yawning expanse between the people doing those two things. It’s also a collaboration between US-based activist Joseph DeLappe and Scotland-based game designers Malath Abbas, Tom Demajo and Albert Elwin—one they hope will leave its mark on the people who encounter it. “At IndieCade we had a number of players cry once they realized the consequences of the in-game actions,” Abbas explained to me. Having played it I can see why. Killbox tries to get under your skin immediately, before you have time to…

House of Flowers

A videogame tribute to growing up around the Yugoslav Wars

Ivan Notaros appears in Issue 9 of Kill Screen’s print magazine. It launches on August 8th, but you can get 10 percent off before that date with the discount code RELAUNCH. /// Ivan Notaros is constantly flooded with new game ideas. It’s the result of endlessly tinkering with videogame physics and art styles, letting his curiosity spill out onto his humming computer—each click of the mouse could result in another potential candidate. In my time speaking to him over the past few months for Issue 9 of Kill Screen‘s print magazine, he has released one game, dropped work on a larger one,…


Valkyria Chronicles is a different kind of war story

We tell a lot of stories about war. The appeal is, in one sense, straightforward: war checks off nearly every box in the dramatist’s playbook, replete with high stakes, clear protagonists and antagonists, and themes of heroism and loss. But the pendulum swings the other way, as well: wars don’t just make for good stories, good stories also help us cope with war. In order to wrap our minds around these big, bloody catastrophes, fraught as they are with inscrutable ideological and economic motivations, we construct simple narratives to bring coherence to the incoherent. Videogames hold a particularly vested interest in…

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…


The videogame that dared to question the War on Terror

If we can associate genres and aesthetics with film-makers (John Woo and action movies; Stanley Kubrick and deep focus) IO Interactive, especially in its prime between 2002 and 2007, was a game-maker defined by concerns about player agency. By constantly placing her in restrictive and alien environments, the Hitman series challenged the player’s typical experience of casual and unbridled progression. Kane and Lynch: Dead Men (2007), starring two legitimately unpleasant characters, undercut the prototypical videogame hero narrative—rather than saving the world, cast as a selfish villain, the player committed selfish acts and with selfish purpose. “My name’s John Ford and…


The forgotten politics behind Contra’s name

Do a quick Google search of “contra.” Browsing the first few pages, you should see a saturation of links about the videogame—the now-primary version of the word—sprinkled with other definitions. Next in the deck is contra as preposition: “against, contrary, or opposed to,” suitingly enough. Then, a “contemporary New York cuisine” restaurant; contra-dancing, a folksy flirty form adaptable to many musical styles; the second album by Vampire Weekend; and eventually, peeking through before being closed out again, you’ll stumble upon the elephant in the room. Contras are the name of the group of soldiers from Nicaragua that Ronald Reagan cultivated…


The makers of Hatred’s next cheap shot takes aim at ISIS

Destructive Creations does not support ISIS. There is no reason to believe anyone ever suspected otherwise, but the developers behind the quasi-genocidal civilian shooter provocation that is Hatred (2015) aren’t taking any risks. In a Steam post, they say their latest game, IS Defense, is their “personal veto against what is happening in the Middle East nowadays.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNVmXt-H8AA Let us briefly set aside the fact that “what is happening in the Middle East nowadays” is not synonymous with ISIS, which is a concern in much of North Africa as well as Nigeria, and discuss how IS Defense exercises its veto. In short, it does…