Xbox Avatars acknowledge wheelchair users at long last

Creating digital avatars to represent your identity was a big part of the Xbox 360 consoles, allowing users to customize their online appearance through a stylized caricature of themselves. With the introduction of the Xbox One, this feature was taken away briefly before being brought back with an updated design. And now, Microsoft has revealed that it will be adding wheelchairs as an option for the reintroduced avatars. Inclusion in our media is important, but society (and games in particular) seems to always favor those who are able-bodied. This is why people with disabilities (and their allies) pointed the oversight…


ReCore, robots, and us

ReCore belongs to a grand storytelling tradition. From Forbidden Planet (1956) to Big Hero 6 (2014), Isaac Asimov to Fallout 4 (2015), science fiction has long been preoccupied with the bond between humanity and machines. So have I, for that matter—my earliest memory is being hospitalized for pneumonia at age two and getting to interact with a remote-control robot in the hospital’s playroom. There’s something incredibly powerful about the notion that we’ll one day create automated beings with superior intelligences and mechanical bodies that’ll outlive us all. First announced at last year’s Microsoft E3 Briefing, ReCore is the story of a young woman named Joule Adams…

Eve Valkyrie

How virtual reality will push PCs to their limit

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Today, almost everyone can access entertainment on their PCs, consoles, tablets and smartphones. Anyone eager to own a new virtual reality headset, however, must first find out if their trusty computer is up to the task. Oculus released its computer hardware requirements for the Rift headset last May, which means many people need a new computer if they want to enjoy VR experiences like this thrilling roller coaster ride. “ As a VR device, the Rift (headset) will be capable of delivering comfortable presence for nearly everyone,” wrote Atman Binstock,…


This is probably the closest we’ll get to that Hunger Games videogame we want

When the reality show Survivor first aired on May 31, 2000, it almost immediately become a national phenomenon. Viewers tuned in to watch the drama of a group of supposedly average people trying to compete and survive in the harsh wilderness. Like loyal sports fans, they rooted for their favorites, and they cheered when their picks won the weekly immunity challenges, which prevented contestants from being voted off the show, which was the only real threat to victory the seemingly dangerous locales presented. Those immunity challenges, at their heart, were always a concession to morality. While people tuned in for…


Has Gears of War aged better than the song that marketed it?

Unlike movies, videogames rarely have memorable trailers. Most of the commercials created to show them off are either brief sizzle reels or prolonged, hacky punchlines. The TV spot for the original Gears of War was an exception, however. Undercutting the promise of apocalyptic alien carnage with the solemn baying of Gary Jules in his cover of “Mad World” led to a stop, turn, and watch moment. Somehow, the juxtaposition of a lone, bandana-clad bro running through a deserted metropolis with the melancholy musings of a piano and folksy singer-songwriter compelled a second look. Thus did it become, at least in…


Explore the limits of sight and empathy in Beyond Eyes

Beyond Eyes finally has a firm release window and its first comprehensive trailer after being showcased as part of Miscrosoft’s E3 press event. The brain child of Sherida Halatoe under her one-woman studio, tiger & squid, Beyond Eyes follows a young girl on her journey to find her lost cat in a world she can’t see. It’s to be published by Team17, and is slated to launch sometime this summer, arriving first on Xbox One followed by a PC version later in the year. As previously reported, Halatoe’s game makes use of an impressionistic style that allows the world of…