Every week in Revelations, Jordan Ekeroth sets about to unveil the top seven links of the past week, dealing with the convergence of videogames and issues like morality, religion, and the meaning of life.
1. Bioshock Infinite was, like, really violent
Chris Plante related, for Polygon, the story of how BioShock Infinite’s violence was too much for his wife to handle. After enticing her with its marketing and presentation of a mysterious, nationalistic, floating city in the clouds, the game drove her away with its over-the-top gratuity. While it is very important to continue discussing the influence that game violence can have on us subconsciously, it’s also still interesting to simply talk about the way violence makes us feel. If videogames hope to reach a wider audience with AAA titles, and not just Angry Birds, it is important to keep the diversity of that audience in mind. In Plante’s opinion,
“Violence doesn’t serve BioShock Infinite. It distracts from it.”
2. How a rough game demo made a games writer cry
Jenn Frank is recognized as one of the most prosaic and insightful games writers working today. She recently sat down to play a rough demo of That Dragon, Cancer, a game we’ve covered ourselves. After the demo, when asked to explain her opinions, she found herself moved to tears. I’m not even kidding, if you read nothing else on this list in its entirety, read this.
Before I sit, Josh Larson is careful to make one thing clear: “This is a game about Ryan and his wife’s four-year-old son, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer two and a half years ago,” he explains. And then this: “He’s still alive.”
I look around; Ryan Green has already slipped out of the room. I hesitate, then nod. I take my seat at the rickety desk and put on a pair of expensive noise-canceling headphones.
3. A game about when humanity breaks down
Metro: Last Light was playable at PAX East, and Penny Arcade Report’s Ben Kuchera was there to play it and preview it. He explored the uncomfortably dismal underworld that the game has created.
“This isn’t the game you want to play if you’re uncomfortable with human desperation. During one scene I met a convoy of travelers in the underground tunnels, and they discussed either continuing ahead to an ambush and sure death and torture, or returning from whence they came and facing a firing squad. I ran ahead for them, and found the men who were sitting up the trap. I killed one of them who was raping a woman. Last Light provides a profoundly uncomfortable look at what happens when society breaks down, and might begins to make right.”
4. Kenya’s indie gaming scene
Videogames are everywhere! Christian Donlan did some digging on behalf of Eurogamer magazine to discover if anyone in Kenya was making videogames. He unearthed a group of friends who have started the University of Games, and who claim to be Kenya’s first indie game developers. It’s a humorous, and, frankly, inspiring look at the dedication of a few men to do something that no one in their entire nation has ever done before.
After we chat, Blaise IMs me to inform me that the team has also discovered that people find the game incredibly difficult, and the studio will be trying to fix that, too. This stuff is so much harder to gauge when you’re the pioneers of a country’s entire indie scene.
5. The salvation of Dear Esther
If you’ve read this column before, you may have gathered that I’m a huge fan of the game Dear Esther. I won’t pass up a chance to share an insightful article about the brief, but provocative, title. Well this one, written for Unwinnable by Dan Crabtree, is the mother of them all. Crabtree thoroughly unpacks the symbolism of the game, which is full of Biblical allusion, and makes some beautiful points.
Now I’ll begin the long climb toward salvation, or the aerial of death.
There’s a chaotic level of intentional ambiguity built into the script of Dear Esther, an indie game by thechineseroom, which plays wonderfully against the serene environments and direct, simple controls. The narrative in Dear Esther doesn’t contain direct allegories, but rather sets up loose, extended metaphors that communicate tone and relative meaning without committing to either. However, I’m assuming that the correlations between the stories of Saul on the road to Damascus, the wife murdered in the car crash, the lonely shepherd and the journaling explorer (among others) were not accidentally placed into the narration, and as such have some significance in how they relate to each other and the stoic island. As the narrator says, “All these things cannot, will not, be a coincidence.”
6. How to write about videogames
If you want to write about videogames, Patrick Stafford has some advice for you, in the aptly titled “If you only want to write about games, please get out.”
Shortly after publishing the piece, Stafford tweeted his regret at having released it in such a hasty and impassioned manner. Perhaps the piece is rough in places, but the sentiment is a valid one, and one I will eagerly share with any prospective games writers.
7. The ten best games at GDC 2013
In case you hadn’t noticed our great coverage of GDC 2013, our editors, Drew and Rich, were there! They put together a great list for Paste Magazine of the top 10 games they saw there. Trust me, these are all worth keeping an eye on!
Did I miss anything? Is there something you want to see on here next week? Let me know in the comments or by tweeting at me!