80 Days writer thinks you should stop playing the hero

“Protagonists have had their way for too long,” declared Meg Jayanth, the writer behind 2014’s 80 Days and a contributor to last year’s Sunless Sea. At her GDC talk on Monday, Jayanth took the stage to instruct a room full of game designers to transgress one of the most fundamental conceits of their craft: “Forget your protagonist,” or, in other words, forget the player. Almost since their inception, videogame worlds have bended backwards to the whim and ego of the player-protagonist, leading to conventions like leveling up and the Badass Anti-Hero With A Gun cliche. Of course, arguments against the classic power fantasy narrative aren’t new, either. You don’t even have to…


Watch Naughty Dog give a fascinating peek into the AI of Ellie

One of the best sessions I attended at GDC this year was on the AI pathfinding of Ellie, everyone’s favorite surrogate daughter from The Last of Us. Admittedly, “AI pathfinding” sounds sedative, but actually proves to be enlightening. It turns out the way Ellie’s movements, shooting abilities, and bad jokes respond to Joel were a large part of why you kinda almost felt paternal or maternal for a game character. I wrote about it here.  Not that that matters anymore, as now you can go watch the whole thing at Gamasutra, who released the video from the paywall today for…


Guys like playing as girls in World of Warcraft; girls, not so much

The female population in World of Warcraft is a lot smaller than you think, as the game is populated with guys moonlighting as girl characters. This is the takeaway from a new study on the realm of ogres and magic pandas, which found that while 26 percent of male players chose the opposite gender for their avatar, only 7 percent of females played as males. The study also noted some unique behavior among males posed as females, such as more frequent use of emotional phrases and emoticons. Another interesting tidbit is that these guys were much more frolicsome than the…


Watch out, Juggalos: GTA Online now tracking psychos

You might want to think twice before repeatedly running over the driver of that car you just carjacked in Grand Theft Auto Online, because the game will let other players know that you are a psycho. After installing the new High Life update, released today by Rockstar, your behaviors are officially being monitored by a stat that keeps tabs on your mental state.  The way it works is that now those little blips on the map that show you other players’ locations will turn brighter red the more mentally unstable they are deemed to be. You can think of it…


Watch how a Japanese villager is replacing the dead with real-life NPCs

Take a moment and watch this micro-documentary on a 64-year-old Japanese woman who is sewing elaborate dolls, leaving them in the place of departed neighbors from her dying village in the valley of Shikoku. For the past decade, Ayano Tsukimi has been repopulating the remote village of Nagoro with arts-and-crafts people, sewing buttons on their eyes and coiffing their hair with yarn, because her home is becoming a ghost town. Why? Well, because, as we learn in the video, her village has dwindled down to 36 residents and doesn’t even have a general store or local school, though at one…


Playable Claptrap is a good way to get us excited about a new last-gen Borderlands game

Claptrap was a pretty outstanding non-playable character. In the first two Borderlands, he was sort of a curt, demented WALL-E. He made you laugh. He made you cry. OK, really he just made you laugh, and doled out some side-missions. But in the new Borderlands game announced today, we get to see what it’s like to take control of the top-heavy, uni-wheeled robot with a bit of a superiority complex. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (that’s not me blanking on the word prequel, that’s the name), coming to old-gen systems this fall, will let you be Clappy, along with a few new…