“A Different Kind of Dreamer”

Videogames and the end of sleep

In 2005, following the public outrage over the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the research group Gallup organized a survey to gauge Americans’ attitudes towards the “enhanced interrogation techniques” employed by intelligence services in the War on Terror. When presented with descriptions of such methods, including waterboarding, mock executions, religious violation, and the threat of attack dogs, the overwhelming majority of those polled rejected them as morally impermissible torture. But a single practice, sleep deprivation, was deemed acceptable by half of all respondents on the basis that it doesn’t constitute torture, per se, but “psychological persuasion.”…


Why videogames love Alice in Wonderland

The bed is on the ceiling. The faucet is dripping up. A fish floats above you, bleating sonorous pun-filled pronouncements: “The sweet scent of bile hangs like a condemned man.” In the center of the room is a tiny door; on the table, a potion. “I’m constantly observing my declining behavior as if through a looking glass,” the protagonist mutters to himself. I think you might know what happens next. Why do videogames love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)? Again and again they return to it as a reference point, regardless of genre, regardless of style. What I just described…


Remembering the beautifully boring MMO Star Wars Galaxies

There aren’t many games where the player can be a club dancer, strapped-for-cash and performing for tips in a sleazy bar. There are fewer where that bar is filled with fish people and space bears. When Star Wars Galaxies first released in 2003, it did so under the tagline “Live in the Star Wars Universe.” A simple slogan that could initially be read in a number of ways, but one that turned out to be diametrically opposed to the rest of the Star Wars game library over the title’s lifetime. As opposed to the epic quests of games like Shadows…


Fallout 4: Return to Junktown

For more in-depth game writing, back our Kickstarter! Here comes the trashman! He’s strutting down the highway in his scrap metal suit, tin cans rattling up and down its legs, soda bottles and glue dispensers falling out the cracks between its plates, cereal boxes bobbling on the tips of his metal fingers. He’s blasting “The Wanderer” with no headphones on and waking the mole rats up. He’s bounding downtown like he owns the world. He intends to put all of it into his pockets. He works fastest indoors: his vision jumps from floor to desk to shelf, hunting for the…


Skyrim mod turns its highly-detailed fantasy world into a cartoon

Skyrim, the fifth installation of the long-running Elder Scrolls series, is known among other things for its intensive, high quality graphics and level of visual detail. Even then, it’s common for players on PC to install several graphical enhancement mods for even more realistic lighting, water, and textures. To run Skyrim on max settings is a badge of honor for those who spend a lot of money on their rigs. Less frequent, but still just as awesome, are mods like Toon Skyrim from UniqueUses, a “potato texture mod” that turns the game’s highly-detailed environments into cartoonish landscapes. According to the…