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Timruk explores the layers of historic violence beneath its beauty

Pages contain bodies and blood both literal and metaphorical. Illustrations and text occupy a confined world of disarray, littered with skulls. Among this is the beauty of rain falling and of bright wallpaper colors. A world where your hands are not your own. This is a world of contrasts, the world of Timruk, the world of Somewhere. Studio Oleomingus is simultaneously in the business of beauty and violence. Its latest game is called Timruk, which is a fragment of the larger upcoming videogame project Somewhere, following on from the studio’s previous off-shoot, Rituals. All these games have in common a thematic basis in colonial India but Timruk…

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Article

SUPERHOT and the unique temporality of videogames

When the Wachowskis transported bullet-time over from Hong Kong cinema to The Matrix (1999), mainstream western audiences were wowed. This was the beginning of something new for action cinema, the ability for the camera to pivot around action, playing a moment from a multiplicity of angles that stunned and awed in equal measure. The camera was unhinged from static points, instead echoing the orbital movement of a clock or pendulum. In the years following, slow-mo sequences in games misguidedly attempted to convert what was so fascinating about that spectacle into something the player could experience. Instead, it only introduced the…

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Article

Playing Paris like a game

I have never been to Paris. In my provincial life I’ve never even left the United States. Despite or, perhaps, due to my localism, I was beguiled by the vision of the city given by Luc Sante in his 2015 book The Other Paris. Sante provides an underground history of the city, of its crime and prostitution, its low-wage work and lowbrow entertainments, its intoxications and insurrections. As fluent as he is with tales of murderous gangsters and wayward streetwalkers, what really comes across in The Other Paris is Sante’s deep mourning for the lost topography of the city. The…

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Article

Go Sunset a Watchman

This past summer saw, within a month of each other, the arrival of two of the year’s most unwanted works: Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and Tale of Tale’s Sunset. No one asked for, and no one is celebrating, Watchman’s publication. Leaving aside the troubling context surrounding the “discovery” of the book’s manuscript and the alleged role Lee’s caretaker had in its release, there is always an uncomfortable silence after the shattering of an idol. That’s despite the deconsecration of Atticus Finch being especially timely in the context of, say, the swell of the Black Lives Matter movement. In…

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Article

A model for referencing videogames in literature

Generally when literature alludes to other media—Facebook, texting, film, the song “Hey, Soul Sister” by Train—my first reaction is to cringe. At its worst these mentions feel unnatural, lazy—the author’s gawky attempt to connect to the modern world or to an artistic tradition by simply referencing it. But even good media references can be jarring. Haruki Murakami’s thoughtful incorporation of jazz and classical music into his work, for instance, still has a weirdness to it. Perhaps this can be pinned down to degrees of separation from reality. When reading a work of fiction, it is typically odd to see mentions…

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Feature

The Dismal Western Front of The Grizzled

The First World War is often referred to as The Great War, due to its immense scope, as it incited all the world’s national powers and resulted in a devastating death toll. Set within this war is the tabletop game The Grizzled, which makes no attempt to capture such scale, and instead hones in on a small squad of French soldiers whose camaraderie is their greatest chance for survival. In this, The Grizzled prompts comparison to Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which describes the war through a concise and emotional narrative. The story follows…