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Screenshot: Indie games growing in Iowa

Skull Shot

For the past several years, gamers have been in the midst of what will surely be looked back on as the heyday of independent gaming. The number of available indie games continues to increase, in large part thanks to online distribution and crowd-funding sources like Kickstarter. But if you find yourself, a couple years from […]

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Screenshot: An ode to the days of cheating

Nintendo Power

There are some things missing from most games these days—elements of gameplay that were once essential parts of the home gaming experience. Extra lives, for example, are a thing of the past, obviated by the ability to save one’s game, and by the ubiquitous “autosave.” With extra lives, so too goes the “Game Over,” the […]

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Screenshot: The art and politics of Grand Theft Auto

Screenshot

The highly (and happily) controversial series Grand Theft Auto (GTA) just expanded on Sept. 17 with GTA V for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3. The number V, as with the nominal before the decimal in a software program, is meant to indicate some essential changes in the way the game functions. For gamers with […]

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Screenshot: The rules of the game

Madden 25

September rolling around again means not only the return of professional football, but also of professional football’s most popular simulacrum, the Madden video game franchise. EA Sports has been releasing a Madden game every year since 1990, though the first game was published in 1988, making this year its 25th; yet, because Madden is typically […]

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Screenshot: The cutscene effect

Man of Steel

Let’s be honest: Video game cutscenes—those moments when control is taken from the user so that story information can be conveyed through a cinema-style sequence—almost always disappoint. Dialogue is often stilted and the voice acting is subpar; character expressions are muted at best and immobile at worst, sticking them firmly in the “uncanny valley” of […]

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Screenshot: Why can’t there be a good Star Trek game?

Star Trek

To accompany May’s release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Paramount released a Star Trek video game as well, developed by Digital Extremes. While the critical reaction to the film sequel was middling (as a lifelong Trekkie, I thought it was just fine, but then these new movies are barely Star Trek at all), the critical […]

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Screenshot: Thrill of the Hunt

Tomb Raider

Crystal Dynamics’ new game Tomb Raider (2013) adopts the strategy of the film Star Trek (2009) in using a prequel-cum-reboot to revitalize a franchise that had run out of steam: You play the game as a version of Lara Croft far younger and less experienced than in her previous 10 iterations, whose experiences in the game are meant to be her “formative” experiences… […]

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Ron Gilbert’s The Cave further blurs the line between video games and art

The Cave

Once upon a time, media were supposed to be mediums, agents for revelation. Aristotle defined classic tragedy as a way to trigger catharsis, while Plato believed in poetry as a pedagogical tool that would lead people to virtue. Now there is an attitude that some media are only vehicles for cheap entertainment and alienation, especially TV and video games. But, while I can’t speak to television, video games can in fact be a path to epiphany and enlightenment—the way every art form should be.
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