Category: Video Games & Narrative

XCOM 2: Sequels & Failure

I’ve put something like 40-ish hours into XCOM 2 so far, and I still haven’t finished my first campaign. Partially this may be because I suck – so I play half a battle, get destroyed, have to reload the battle and start again. Still, I think there’s a message there about the game. Usually when I’m playing things I like to have an eye towards an article to write about it. Not all of my games get articles, but it’s efficient for me if they do. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to write this one up since I started XCOM 2. It’s about the game’s introduction. (more…)

Dark Souls: Architecture as Memory

As part of a string of architecture books, I’m reading Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness right now. I’m not super impressed, all told – but there’s some interesting ideas. For example, he talks about home as a place “whose outlook matches and legitimates our own.” The basic idea is that buildings affect our thoughts – which is true. Buildings affect the way we think. They can make us feel claustrophobic or free and loose, they can make us feel contemplative or encourage activity. And they can help us create and support a sense of self. It’s a way of writing yourself into an environment, allowing us to “resume contact with a more authentic self”. (more…)

Assassin’s Creed III: Tree-Running

I’m playing Assassin’s Creed III at the moment, and good golly gosh it’s buggy. I was trying to climb up a wall, but I got stuck with an outcrop just above me. Instead of leaping up to it, as the character’s supposed to do, he was flung way into the air (and subsequently fell to his death). Pictures below. Anyway, I’m trying my hardest to get something out of this game other than an increased loathing of Ubisoft. There’s some interesting stuff cropping up about running through the trees – let’s talk about that for a bit.  (more…)

Dating Video Game Architecture

It’s just you and a Gothic Revival church, alone in a musky bar. Heh – no, dating as in telling when it’s from. One of the things about cities is that the buildings in it are from a bunch of different periods. If your city was built in the 1850s, like mine, there will be stuff that dates all along that line – there’s some stuff from the 19th century, and a bunch of 20th century stuff, and ooh just a little dash of 21st century magic. But there’s a spread, right. (more…)

Hurtin’ Protagonists

Film and video games have a visual similarity in that both of them happen on screens. It creates an issue for the way that we think about games, because we it’s very easy to think about them in filmic terms. That becomes a problem when things don’t translate well between the two mediums. For example, suffering. Because film is such a visual medium, watching the hero get beaten up is super gratifying. It’s appropriate to the form. That’s not necessarily true of video games.  (more…)

Literary Criticism: How It Works

So talking with some friends at work today, and the question came up as to what I actually do (or did, rather) in my English degree. It’s often something people ask as a quick and easy joke at someboy else’s expense – one of those low-hanging fruit reached for by those who don’t have the intelligence to get any higher. In this particular situation, however, the question was pleasantly genuine. It’s interesting, because beyond sort of high school, people might have very little experience with what we actually do. So I thought I might take a quick break from the usual stuff and talk about that for a minute.  (more…)