The forgotten politics behind Contra’s name

Do a quick Google search of “contra.” Browsing the first few pages, you should see a saturation of links about the videogame—the now-primary version of the word—sprinkled with other definitions. Next in the deck is contra as preposition: “against, contrary, or opposed to,” suitingly enough. Then, a “contemporary New York cuisine” restaurant; contra-dancing, a folksy flirty form adaptable to many musical styles; the second album by Vampire Weekend; and eventually, peeking through before being closed out again, you’ll stumble upon the elephant in the room. Contras are the name of the group of soldiers from Nicaragua that Ronald Reagan cultivated…


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…

Homeworld Deserts of Kharak

The inescapable echoes of Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak

It might have been the cruise missiles that triggered it. One of a string of upgrades nudged towards me by my commanding officer, charting the slow expansion of my carrier’s already formidable arsenal. It was the name— cruise missiles— that was so distant from science fiction, so connected to a sideshow of images of war. It would have been the 1990s when I first saw a cruise missile launch, the flashcut plume of smoke followed closely by the hammerblow of ignition—the camera whiteout as its automatic exposure struggled to account for the solid-fuel flare that drove the missile until it was a distant…


Metal Gear Solid V’s nuclear disarmament event begins

Nuclear deterrence has long been a subject of Metal Gear Solid games: the idea that if all sides of a conflict have weapons of mass destruction, then nobody will use them. But is that really peace? That’s what a special mission in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain hopes to address. A cutscene associated with the event was datamined from the game files a few months ago, but now Konami has officially kicked off the event itself, which invites Phantom Pain players across all platforms to dispose of the nukes they’ve built or work together to forcefully disarm uncooperative…


Why Fallout 4’s 1950s satire falls flat

War may never change, but Kill Screen does. Back our Kickstarter to help support our print relaunch! Fallout 4 takes us back. Back to the beginning. Back before the bombs fell, and before the world of the Fallout series took on its mutated, feral, apocalyptic form. But what did that world look like? The Fallout series has, since its inception, hinted at a world before nuclear annihilation that resembled, in its culture and its design, the 1950s, rather than the 2070s, which is the decade in which Fallout’s “Great War,” a two-hour series of nuclear blasts that decimated the planet,…


The Dismal Western Front of The Grizzled

The First World War is often referred to as The Great War, due to its immense scope, as it incited all the world’s national powers and resulted in a devastating death toll. Set within this war is the tabletop game The Grizzled, which makes no attempt to capture such scale, and instead hones in on a small squad of French soldiers whose camaraderie is their greatest chance for survival. In this, The Grizzled prompts comparison to Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which describes the war through a concise and emotional narrative. The story follows…


Stay a while and be a good gardener

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. A Good Gardener (PC, Mac, Linux) IAN ENDSLEY AND CARTER LODWICK Unlike games like Harvest Moon, A Good Gardener is not your grandma’s gardening game. Well, actually now that I think about it, the story of A Good Gardener might be most recognizable to someone like your grandmother. Set during WWII, the game puts the player in the role of someone planting a “victory garden,” which is the term the US government used to encourage citizens to join the war effort by growing their own food. In A Good Gardener,…


Relax during wartime by gardening in this upcoming game

Gardening has long been in videogames (I’m thinking Harvest Moon especially), but recently there’s been a sprig of interest in small, singular experiences that are concerned with nothing but the procuration of plants. This year alone we’ve had Viridi, Barmark, and Prune. Each of these find within the careful act of gardening a form of meditative progression; a oneness between nature and ourselves. A Good Gardener, another upcoming gardening game, seems to follow the same thinking as those that came before it. It started off as a game jam project made for Ludum Dare 32 but has since been cultivated…