How videogame fashion inspires real-world styles

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Fashion designed for the 3D world of PC games is sparking couture style trends, opening new possibilities for cross-industry collaboration. Hoodies and t-shirts from alternative clothing store Hot Topic, with silkscreen depictions of popular and indie PC games, were once the fashionable dress code for anyone steeped in gaming culture. That began to change when high-style brands began connecting with game developers. Every year at New York Fashion Week (NYFW), it’s increasingly evident how technology is digitizing the fashion world with innovations spanning electrified dresses to virtual reality (VR) runway experiences. Beneath the fashion-tech…

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Magic and gender in Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI (1994) is deeply concerned with the relationship between human beings and technology. The game liberally borrows elements from Western heroic fantasy and science fiction, yet the story and action are centered around two young female protagonists, Terra and Celes, who are variations on the “magical girl” and “beautiful fighting girl” archetypes of late-20th century Japanese pop culture. Placing Final Fantasy VI within the broader context of Japanese society in the 1990s can give us a new perspective on a classic and iconic videogame while also enhancing our understanding of many of the narrative tropes and conventions of…

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Looking back at the Met Gala’s evening of technology-age fashion

Fashion, like everything else in the age of technology, is about fear—fear of what is coming next; fear of looking silly in the long run; fear of trying something new. How else to explain the often-underwhelming interpretations of “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” theme for last night’s Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Technology is complicated, and a little scary. To be fair, dodging the theme is a Met Gala tradition. Like a Top Chef contestant who can turn any prompt into a crudo, designers will always find ways to subvert the event’s…


Videogames and the digital baroque

During the 17th century in Europe and her colonies, mankind was forcibly removed from the center of the universe and cast adrift in an indifferent cosmos devoid of greater purpose or meaning. This was accomplished not by any supernatural power but by advancements in technology, particularly optics: telescopes could chart the motions of previously obscure celestial bodies while microscopes could, for the first time, see the living cells that made up human bodies. Earth turned out not to be the center of the universe but one of many planets that orbited the Sun; an average star among countless others in…


Final Fantasy XII and the glory of the grind

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here.  /// The first time I played Final Fantasy XII (2006), I didn’t get it. I liked it, I think—there was something unusually elegant about the game’s stern, philosophical conversations about honor, and the long loping lines of its battle system—but I got halfway through, hit a boss battle of five little goblins that wrecked my shit with a panoply of status effects, and called it a day. I believe winter break was ending, anyway. I mused over my failure…


Virtual reality showrooms turn your living room into a universal storefront

How much are you willing to pay to be a loyal customer? For me, it’s $100. I pay Amazon $100 a year so that I can buy things from them without feeling guilty about paying for shipping at checkout. I haven’t actually taken the time to do the math and figure out if this is saving me money in the long run—I have a sneaking suspicion that I won’t like the answer—but it makes me feel better about using their service. If a Prime membership cost $700 instead of $100, though, I’d be having second thoughts. Which is to say,…


Finals Fantasy creates game design lesson plans anyone can use

As tablets continue to move into schools and games like Minecraft (2011) are repurposed to educate, the idea of gamification, or using games to teach students about the world, has been gaining popularity as of late. However, as an increasingly diverse artistic medium of its own, others are developing new ways for students to learn about games themselves. Described as a series of “speculative projects for game art students,” Finals Fantasy has gathered together a small group of notable artists, educators, and critics to challenge and expand how game design is taught. (Oh, and so you know, Kill Screen founder Jamin Warren…


Beautiful African fantasy RPG Aurion comes out April 14th

In 2011, Elder Scrolls took players to the overtly Scandinavian nation of Skyrim. This week, Fire Emblem Fates will welcome Western players to the heavily Japanese Hoshido. And now we know that, on April 14th, 2016, Africa will finally get it’s due when Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan opens up its Cameroon-inspired planet of Auriona. Aurion aims to do for Cameroon what Never Alone (2014) did for Alaska’s native Iñupiat people. It’s to be the first installment in its local developers’ planned Kiro’o Tales, which hopes to advocate for African culture through games, comics, and cartoons. Last September, Aurion earned $50,000 in a…


The brilliant cruelty of Bravely Default’s nonlinear narrative

If I started this article at the end it probably wouldn’t make much sense. There’s a reason most writers put words and events in chronological order to tell a story. Some stories, however, are best told out of order. Charlie Kaufman’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) works this way as it uses the chaotic scrambling of the nonlinear narrative to explore the limits of human memory. So too does a recent episode of Doctor Who, “Heaven Sent” (2015), which uses a repeated narrative to highlight the stubbornness and fortitude of the Doctor’s character. For videogames, taking these same…