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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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…

The Desolate Hope
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The many failures of the Five Nights At Freddy’s creator

On January 21, Scott Cawthon’s Five Nights at Freddy’s World (FNaF World), the surprisingly light-hearted role-playing followup to the popular horror series, was released on Steam, ahead of its announced February 19th release date. User reception was generally positive, but the drastic shift in style and tone left some fans confused, leading to an 87 percent user review rating. Not satisfied with an aggregated score of “very positive”, Cawthon pulled the game from Steam, promising to update it with new features and release it for free on Game Jolt once it was ready. In a post on Steam, Cawthon explained…

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Classic videogame worlds reimagined as subway maps

Few moments are more familiar in an old-school dungeon-crawler than the opening of a treasure chest, only to find a dungeon map. But if—for whatever whim of your fancy—you’ve been hoping instead for a subway map to unfold itself from those chests, you’re in luck: graphic designer Matthew Stevenson has created six sprawling “subway” maps, based on his favorite NES games. revel in these maps’ ability to evoke warm nostalgia Each map is unique, encompassing the specific visual appeal of the game they seek to compress. The Legend of Zelda (1986) subway map, for example, is intricate and sprawling—based loosely…

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Final Fantasy draws a line between games and high fashion

Fashion is basically LARPing at scale. You decide on an identity to take on for the next few hours—a functional person, a grown up, someone loveable, Matt Bomer’s character on White Collar—and then you give it the old college try. Results may vary. The connection between LARPing and fashion is apparently a two-way street. On Tuesday, Louis Vuitton and Square Enix announced that Lightning, the protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII, would appear in the promotional campaign for the former’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection. The two images released thus far show Lightning holding (“holding”?) purses (“purses”?) at the end of her outstretched…