Jason Rohrer’s next game is a twisted take on child rearing

Jason Rohrer’s last game, the home defense MMO The Castle Doctrine (2014), revolved around protecting what’s yours: your family, your wealth accumulated through rounds of burglary, your carefully designed web of traps and defense. It was a ruthless world, a merciless place where your measure of success is how good you were at dismantling other’s work and stealing their goods. So it seems ironic that his next game (working title One Life) starts you off as completely defenseless and reliant on the kindness of online strangers. Enter the world in Rohrer’s currently unnamed MMO, and you find yourself birthed to…

Sense and Sensibility

The challenges of making a Jane Austen videogame

Fans of Jane Austen’s work have brought her world into almost every medium that exists—from radio, with the BBC’s six-part dramatization, to film, most recently with Love & Friendship. It was just a matter of time before someone decided that Austen’s novels would be great inspiration for a videogame. Judy L. Tyrer, founder of 3 Turn Productions, is that fan, and has just released a beta for Ever, Jane. It’s a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) set in Austen’s own setting, Regency Period England. To start, players arrive in the fictional English town of Tyrehampton, where they can gossip, attend…


How scientists are using MMOs to study sexism in videogames

For the past few years, one of the more common debates to be found on social media has been over whether women are discriminated against within videogames. This can relate to a number of factors, including skill, female presence in the community, and how women are represented within games, but conversations in these topics are often noticeably hostile and difficult to conduct. However, recent scientific studies on the topic have provided new insight into if and how discrimination presents a problem for women in and around videogames, as well as what difficulties sexism in games poses for women in tech in…


Did Rust just become the first transgender MMO?

Unlike many other online multiplayer games, Rust doesn’t give players any control over what their character looks like. Instead, it randomly generates a set of features and ties them permanently to the player’s Steam account. This means that, even if they leave the game, their character will look the same when they return. It’s a fitting choice, given how primal the world of the survival-based Rust is. Just as in real life, Rust doesn’t let you choose what you want to look like, but instead spits you out naked into its world with a body you had no say in, and tells…


A videogame about making the kind of game you’re not supposed to make

There’s a succinct piece of traditional wisdom in videogame development: start small. It’s common for nearly everyone who wants to make a game to have a great idea for a massively multiplayer online game, but if you’re just getting started, that’s a pretty tough project to get off the ground, to say the least. At the end of 2014, Aaron John-Baptiste made a game called TMO (Tiny Multiplayer Online) for the weekend-long game jam Ludum Dare. The jam theme was “Entire Game on One Screen” and the tiny MMO-maker plays like a small “clicker game”—you put down Level 1 combat…


The perverse ideology of The Division

In the first few hours of The Division, you will be bombarded with phone recordings, resources and consumables, an overwhelming litany of damage numbers and weapon mods. It puts you in such a constant state of information overload that after a while it’s easier to ignore everything but the essentials. You come to assume that, as long as you are shooting, progress is being made. Stalking the cold streets of an abandoned New York City, running missions to collect supplies for upgrades, assaulting strongholds and rescuing hostages, the rhythm of the game is a familiar one. It’s one that has…


Apocalypse Now (& Again)

In English, the word “apocalypse”—ety. Greek, n. apo (un-) + kaluptein (-veil)—has three non-exclusive uses. The first and most common is simply the end of the world, whether by divine punishment or whatever transpires in movies directed by Roland Emmerich. The second is any form of calamity, representational or real, man-made or no, that resembles the end of the world, like the 2010 Haitian Earthquake, Chernobyl, or the movies directed by Roland Emmerich themselves. The third is what the Greeks intended apocalypse to mean: the revelation of knowledge through profound disruption, which is why the final book of the New…