Mother Russia Bleeds is a little groggy

VHS cassettes were the ideal vessel for horror. The seams between fiction and reality were somehow hazier, hidden behind scanlines and stretched tape, allowing my imagination to magnify the terror of Gremlins (1984) and the murderous doll in Child’s Play (1988). A film like Ringu (1998), in which those horrors literally came out of the TV to kill you, was inevitable. As VHS tapes warp and degrade they sully the story contained within, but also gain individual character. No two copies of the same film play exactly the same on VHS, especially as time lurches on. Eventually, the horror that…

Parachute Pete

Parachute Pete, a game about destroying planes in the bloodiest way possible

The game jam A Game By Its Cover 2016 is over, leaving behind many interesting and wonderful games. Inspired by fake Famicom game cover art, some of the games got weird, and that’s certainly the case for Parachute Pete. The game is immature in the best way, bringing together the terrifying majesty of a massive military aircraft and the brutality of chopping up bodies with giant engines. In Parachute Pete you control a tiny, weaponless green plane, with the goal of destroying aircraft (bearing a suspiciously familiar face on the tail) that are roughly 500 times larger than yourself. How do…


The videogame that will have you torturing Iraqi prisoners

Kaveh Waddell over at The Atlantic had the opportunity to interview the Pittsburgh-based designers working on a game that takes place in the infamous prison site of Camp Bucca, known for incubating a group of fighters who would later go on to form ISIS. According to the five designers (who remain anonymous because of the controversial nature of the game), the goal while designing this game is to give players the uncomfortable and up close experience of what occurred at the site. The game doesn’t appear to have an official title, but is referred to many times as simply Camp…


Fixing Australia’s game rating system for the digital age

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Australia is notorious for its strict approach to media bans and classification, coming down hard on videogames in particular. While the Australian Classification Board (ACB) has softened since the introduction of an R18+ adult rating in 2013, the list of banned games continues to grow. The more recent among them range from the hyper-violence of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, to the juvenile humor of South Park: The Stick of Truth. Aside from bans, many criticized the classification process itself, seeing it as a long and costly burden on creators and…


Hardcore Henry and the problem with immersion

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// A fight scene is a dance: not just between the characters in conflict, but between stunt people and the effects crew, between the cinematographer and choreographer, between the editor and sound designer, all of them moving together at once. The best fight scenes have a narrative arc, however slight or implied. Think of Bruce Lee adapting to and punishing Chuck Norris’s brute power in Lee’s 1972 The Way of the Dragon, or the feral, hallucinatory slaughter that ends Kihachi Okamoto’s…


The makers of Hatred’s next cheap shot takes aim at ISIS

Destructive Creations does not support ISIS. There is no reason to believe anyone ever suspected otherwise, but the developers behind the quasi-genocidal civilian shooter provocation that is Hatred (2015) aren’t taking any risks. In a Steam post, they say their latest game, IS Defense, is their “personal veto against what is happening in the Middle East nowadays.” Let us briefly set aside the fact that “what is happening in the Middle East nowadays” is not synonymous with ISIS, which is a concern in much of North Africa as well as Nigeria, and discuss how IS Defense exercises its veto. In short, it does so…


Revisiting the enduring horror of Far Cry 2

The Far Cry series has always dealt in discordance. Those hyper-saturated blues of travel agent brochures and the high-contrast greens of the indigenous flora, deliciously juxtaposed with the hyper-violence you were enacting on screen. It’s the calling card of the series, that contrast; travel fantasies gone wrong. But Far Cry: Primal, out in a few weeks, eschews that trait of the series in favor of a more muted palette. Its world is one untouched by pop culture aesthetics, it gets back to the dirt we supposedly rose out of in the hope that a retreat into our prehistory will rejuvenate…


The game design of the Hunger Games

Calling the design of the Hunger Games terrible is kind of missing the point, right? There’s no fairness intended, no logic, no rules. The “gamemakers” are industrial-scale butchers, striking a balance between mass execution and mass execution that’s fun to watch. They’re games only in the bread-and-circuses sense: distractions. Bloody spectacle. (The series’ ravaged, enslaved nation is called, in a Kojima-esque flourish, Panem.) Author Suzanne Collins famously says she came up with the idea for The Hunger Games books while flipping between reality TV and Iraq War coverage. That might be embellishment, but it’s also a cogent appraisal of the…