Virtual war zones and the failure of the military shooter

In October 2008, chaos gripped Mumbai for four days as a series of coordinated bombings and shootings killed 164 people and injured hundreds more. All 10 attackers were highly trained and linked to a command center in Pakistan via VOIP technology. The command center, using TV and social media feeds as intelligence sources, gave the attackers a sixth sense in predicting security force’s movements and reactions. It was a grim portent of where we find ourselves in 2016—a place where the deliberate disruption and destruction of public spaces and networks is the latest tactic in modern warfare, a place videogames…

Long Gone Days

Long Gone Days imagines the world of war that’s coming for us

If a dystopian novel was written about the world that we live in right now, what would it look like? Chilean game maker Camila Gormaz wants to explore that in her upcoming game Long Gone Days. Unlike dead-Earth dystopias, where human society has overreached to such an extent that what remains of our planet is barely recognizable as the remains of what we see today, Long Gone Days takes place… soon. Say, the next 10 years. Rourke, the protagonist, abandons his post as a military sniper and ventures out into the world. He’s in an isolated area and the war…


A Star-Trek-style medical scanner could be here in the near future

A team of Stanford University electrical engineers have taken large steps towards creating a portable scanning device to detect hidden objects, with possible applications in the medical field as a detector of tumors in the brain. The team says the device could be ready for practical use within the next fifteen years, despite the technology sounding like something out of science fiction—specifically, the medical tricorder tool from the world of Star Trek. In the Star Trek universe, a tricorder is a handheld multifunctional tool used for data collection, sensor-scanning, and status analysis. Medical tricorders are used by doctors to scan…


Beg for your life in this experimental game about execution

We’re used to the first-person shooter being a series of gunshots executed through bared teeth. Bang, bang, momentarily duck behind cover to heal, bang bang. That’s the usual rhythm. They’re shooting galleries that throw bodies of various intelligence and armor at us to shoot. There’s little thought required from us when playing these videogames beyond whether or not we should reload or hurl a grenade over our head. This is fine. However, there are some shooters that have tried a more reflexive approach to this formula. They throw us into the lion’s den as usual, but when we emerge on the…


In the Game of Thrones season finale, you either win, or you respawn

Spoiler warning for everyone who is not caught up on season five /// A few episodes ago, in yet another classic Stannis-Davos argument, the false king declared his strategic position—while also basically summing up the entirety of the Game of Thrones fiction: “We march to victory, or we march to defeat. But we go forward. Only forward.” To a great extent, the forward momentum of the plot is how Game of Thrones sinks its hooks into us. As the titular allusion suggests, the fiction unfolds with the same kind of inertia as a game. The threat and possibility of winning…