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  • By RuneX, in Frontpage,


    Happy New Year, AJSA! I hope you all had a fantastic Holiday season, received all the gifts you asked for, and rang in the New Year in a positive mood. This week represents the return to normalcy us the AJSA here on the Xbox One with Winter Break ending this Thursday and we're wasting no time in getting back into the swing of things. This weekend will usher in our first round of events for 2019 that will undoubtedly help set the foundation for us here on Xbox for the rest of the year. Not only do we have a fresh slate of events for you this weekend but we also have a community update concerning 'Weekly Events' and 'Game Nights' that we would like to report on and share to Xbox members. A new year means new projects and initatives! We hope you will join us in these months to come. Let's get right into it.
    Weekly Events & Game Nights Merging
    In 2018 on Xbox One we had two different sets of planned community activities called "Weekly Events" and "Game Nights". In the interest of efficiency and organization we are merging the two sets of activities into one definitive community activity. Going forward we will simply be calling our activities 'Game Nights'. Instead of having two different names for the same sort of activity we have decided to label all our events as 'Game Nights' to make it easier for both new and existing members alike to understand what we're offering. Game Nights is a universal term that can be understood by anyone and it will allow us to experiment more and better advertise the community.
     We'll still be using the term 'Weekly Events' in our articles to outline our activities for the week but there will no longer be two different sets of names and all official events going forward will simply be labeled as 'Game Nights' here on Xbox. Thank you!
    Top 10 Games of 2018
    Our community voted 'Top 10 Xbox Games of 2018' was published on December 27th, 2018. I want to once more THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to vote and writing their opinions. The article turned out to be a great success and it simply would not have been possible without the contributions of Xbox members. Your feedback helped us form those lists. Thank you again, couldn't have done it without you.
    January 2019 Outline
    Below is all the scheduled Game Nights here on Xbox One for January 2019.
    For information on how our Game Nights are structured and organized, please view our Xbox Community Information thread.
    Week One [January 11th to January 13th]
    Fri. Jan. 11th - Halo: Master Chief Collection - 7:30pm EST Sat. Jan. 12th - Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - 7:30pm EST Sun. Jan. 13th - Rainbow Six: Siege - 7:30pm EST Week Two [January 18th to January 20th]
    Fri. Jan. 18th - Red Dead Online - 7:30pm EST Sat. Jan. 19th - COD: Black Ops 4 - 7:30pm EST Sun. Jan. 20th - Fortnite: Battle Royale - 7:30pm EST Week Three [January 25th to January 27th]
    Fri. Jan. 25th - PUBG - 7:30pm EST Sat. Jan. 26th - COD: Black Ops 4 - 7:30pm EST Sun. Jan. 27th - Paladins - 7:30pm EST Please be aware that Game Night dates and featured titles are subject to change.
    Weekly Game Night Schedule - January 11th to January 13th
    How can I attend a Game Night? - For new members/first time Game Night participants, I highly encourage you to add all the hosts as your friend on Xbox Live (Gamertags are listed for every host below). We also encourage you to join the community Xbox Club (all hosts can be found in the Club roster as well). We use the Club for a variety of purposes to unite members of the community and play together. As an extra reminder for new members, please make sure to review our Code of Conduct.
    To learn more about the AJSA on Xbox One, visit out our Community Information thread.
    For Game Nights and other community activities we use the 'Xbox Live Party' that are created from the Club for communication, gatherings, and other purposes. In the case of an emergency where Xbox Live is down and we need to group up, we will use the AJSA Discord channel as a backup. In our parties we fully accept and make adjustments for people who are shy in groups and/or for people who have no mics.
    If by chance you do not have a Game Night host on your friend list, please message the host for an invite to the game/party during the Game Night and then exchange friend requests upon entry to the party. All Game Night parties will be visible to Xbox Club members under the "Looking for Group" section. You can join the party via the Club or through the profile of the host.
    If you would like to give advance notice to the host that you would like to participate in a particular Game Night, you are free to do so. If you have any questions, please reach out to any members of the AJSA Xbox One staff and we will be happy to assist you.
    All Game Nights are casual gatherings aimed at bringing people together to have a good time and enjoy their games in a group setting.
    --------------------
    Halo: Master Chief Collection - Game Night
    Friday January 11th - 7:30pm EST [12:30am GMT]

    Our first Game Night of 2019 will bring us back to Halo: Master Chief Collection this Friday. We're shaking off the rust and getting back into the action after about three weeks worth of holiday break. We hope you can join us and the Master Chief as we gear up to start another exciting year of gaming on Xbox for the AJSA.
    Game Night Summary
    - Activities -
    Custom game modes across all four Halo titles in the collection Online Slayer/Big Team Battle/Infection and other objective based modes - Xbox Game Pass Status: ACTIVE -
    Do you have a subscription to the Xbox Game Pass? You can download Halo: Master Chief Collection for free.
    - Date & Start Times -
    Friday January 11th, 2019 7:30pm ET 6:30pm CT 5:30pm PT 12:30am GMT Join the Game Night party via the Club or through the profile of the host to get started and invited to our lobby.
    - Host -
    Officer AwakeningRager [Gamertag: AwakeningRager1] --------------------
    Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 - Game Night
    Saturday January 12th - 7:30pm EST [12:30am GMT]

    Join the AJSA on Xbox One this Saturday night for an evening of fast paced and action packed goodness with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. Operation: Absolute Zero is still active and we're looking to help level up members to earn new gear and characters. Depending on the size of the group we have we'll likely split up into multiple different squads to take advantage of the modes available to us.
    Game Night Summary
    - Activities -
    Custom game modes to warm up/goof off and get squads organized Online TDM/Kill Confirmed/Domination Blackout [Battle Royale] - Date & Start Times -
    Saturday January 12th, 2019 7:30pm ET 6:30pm CT 5:30pm PT 12:30am GMT Join the Game Night party via the Club or through the profile of the host to get started and invited to our lobby.
    - Host -
    Commander Rune [Gamertag: AScapeRunePlaya] --------------------
    Rainbow Six: Siege - Game Night
    Sunday January 13th - 7:30pm EST [12:30am GMT]

    Sundays normally represent peace and quiet, giving folks a sense of tranquility after a long week. Rest, relax, and prepare for the new week. We here in the AJSA know that this Sunday couldn't be your average sort of day especially it being our first weekend back from break. We have to go all out to for our return and that is why we're featuring Rainbow Six: Siege this Sunday to welcome back members from Winter Break. Get ready for a wild ride.
    Game Night Summary
    - Activities -
    Unranked online matches Terrorist Hunt & custom games - Date & Start Times -
    Saturday January 13th, 2019 7:30pm ET 6:30pm CT 5:30pm PT 12:30am GMT Join the Game Night party via the Club or through the profile of the host to get started and invited to our lobby.
    - Host -
    Commander Rune [Gamertag: AScapeRunePlaya] --------------------
    Connect With the AJSA Xbox One Community
    Xbox Section of the Forums
    http://angryjoeshow.com/ajsa/forums/forum/32-xbox-one/
    Join the AJSA Club on Xbox One
    http://angryjoeshow.com/ajsa/forums/topic/37127-ajsa-xbox-one-club-how-do-i-join/
    Xbox One Gamertag List
    http://angryjoeshow.com/ajsa/forums/topic/38719-xbox-one-gamertag-list/
    Xbox Community Information
    http://angryjoeshow.com/ajsa/forums/topic/39605-xbox-one-division-information/
    More AJSA Community Content
    AJSA Twitter
    https://twitter.com/AJSAgaming
    AJSA Stream Team
    https://www.twitch.tv/team/ajsa
    AJSA Gaming Youtube
    https://www.youtube.com/user/AJSAGaming
    AJSA Community Content Area
    http://angryjoeshow.com/ajsa/forums/forum/42-community-content/
     

    By Legolas_Katarn, in Articles,


    Included in this article are some of the best and most interesting game related videos that I've seen throughout 2018. Put together with the goal of highlighting some of the best content creators and videos that can enhance your knowledge of or bring up interesting viewpoints on the industry, developers, events that happened this year, or on individual games.
     
    Each section might include a single video, a single video series, or videos that might be from different people but focus on a similar idea or subject. The ordering does not signify better or worse quality. All mentioned creators are worth following and all of them were likely to have produced other content worth viewing on their channel this year. Some videos are from older channels with a large number of followers and supporters, while some are new and could use more support. Many of them are able to work due to the donations of their Patreon supporters, if you enjoy the content and would like to donate this can usually be found in their Youtube video description or linked social media profile.
     
    The Best Games Writing of 2018 can be found here.
     
    Previous Best Video and Video Series Articles
    2016
    2017
     
    Storytelling
    Videos focused on analyzing and discussing the stories of games, their themes, the way they are told, and how and if their mechanics and interaction with the player helps to tell those stories
    "It's still relatively rare to see a game use their mechanical foundation the combination of interactivity and repetitive action to deliver an explicit message to the player, which is why NieR Automata is one of the most meaningful and moving games I've ever played. This game has already gotten lots of praise and even more analysis and critique, but 18 months after release I still haven't seen anyone fully explain just what makes this game so special. So here I am, I'm Michael Saba and I produce video essays about the transformative potential of games, movies, and pop culture, a series I call Dreaming In Neon. Come with me if you want to live, because this is a story about the joy of being alive, a story that could only be told by a video game."
    How NieR: Automata Tells the Ultimate Humanist Fable (By Michael Saba)
    Michael Saba's analysis on how a game of clashing tonal elements, references to and subversions of eastern and western philosophy, themes of attempting to find the meaning in existence, and an understanding that its perspective could only be expressed through video games became one of the best games ever made.
     
    "In this video, I'd like to take Rule of Rose and its convoluted and controversial narrative apart piece by piece. To unravel just how well thought-out, how consistent and coherent its narrative if, if you look at it up close and how much understanding and respect it actually shows for the disturbing themes at the heart of its melancholy tale. I'd like to show you that Rule of Rose is truly an underrated masterpiece of psychological horror storytelling that never stoops to exploitation of dark topics for mere shock value, but that was written with a message of compassion at heart; a message to survivors, to those who, themselves, might have been mistreated, disenfranchised or ostracized at any point in their lives. A message to all those who can find even a little bit of themselves in Jennifer." 
    A Journey Through Rule of Rose | Monsters of the Week (By RagnarRox)
    RagnarRox explains why Rule of Rose, one of the rarest PS2 games after a moral panic in Europe, is an underrated masterpiece telling a story through its design, writing, and world building focused on exploitative societal structures, bullying, and power abuse. A Lord of the Flies that not only shows the how but why.
     
    "Iconoclasts serves as a reminder of what Celeste aims to say. Celeste takes the player on a pilgrimage through which its protagonist comes to a realization of their personal spirit. Iconoclasts reminds the player that religion is really about that spiritual fulfillment on a person-to-person level."
    Peering Into Celeste and Iconoclasts | Expressions of Faith (By Hepyrian)
    Hepyrian on the ways that Celeste and Iconoclast explore the nature of faith.
     
    "So this frickin banana picker has no value to anyone in the game, it's all just the principle of the thing, and that's the entire plot of The Secret of Monkey Island."
    Three Short Arguments on The Secret of Monkey Island (By Innuendo Studios)
    Innuendo Studios on the narrative themes and philosophy of The Secret of Monkey Island.
     
    "So seldom does a game aim to make the player feel a complex negative emotion. And I often think that this is what hold back a lot of video game writing, why video game writing has a reputation as being less serious than other mediums. Video games will often go for big operatic moments of loss and grief but they will almost never explore the tremendous damage that an empty promise in a misplaced trust can cause."
    Scars & Stories [Planescape: Torment vs. Torment: Tides of Numenera] (By Noah Caldwell-Gervais)
    Noah Caldwell-Gervais covers the themes and characters of the Torment games. 
     
    "Far Cry 5 doesn't have a view from nowhere, it's not a completely vacuous nothing, even though it's clear it wants to be that with how much it pulls its punches on its subject matter. But by focusing on empty surface level player empowerment and refusing to take a stance on anything, either through narrative or gameplay, Far Cry 5's more incidental ideas come to define the game's worldview."
    Far Cry 5 and the Art of Saying Nothing (Spoilers) (By Errant Signal)
    Errant Signal looks at Far Cry 2 and 5 and the things that a game ends up saying when it desperately tries to say nothing.
     
    "But in the end, ultimately, this is yet another testament to the author's ability to effectively draw horror from real world issues most games would never dare to tackle. Because why invent monsters, when life is already full of them."
    The Cat Lady and the Parasites of Mental Health | Monsters of the Week (By RagnarRox)
    RagnarRox on the psychological horror game The Cat Lady. He covers the story, themes of depression and anxiety, how the game's villains and fear inducing elements are grounded in modern society, and the design choices that improve the mood and narrative of the game.
     
    "David Cage is a bad, thoughtless, irresponsible writer. He takes ideas and imagery with deep history and meaning behind them and incorporates them into his story at the most surface level possible and then turns around and says that it doesn't mean anything at all because he's not actively trying to send a message. The problem is he's sending one anyway, a muddled one to be sure, but a really really bad one, precisely because there's no thought put into it."
    Detroit: Become Human - The Worst Civil Rights Allegory (By Mother's Basement)
    Mother's Basement covers the themes, misuse of imagery, irresponsible messages, simplicity of gameplay, and general lack of understanding of world events both in game and in real life found in Detroit Become Human, as well as examining David Cage's own contradictory words regarding his work and the need for writers to have some understanding of the context of what they are writing.
     
    "Where we live will always define our lives to a sizable degree, one way or another, and cloud bank is begging us to ask the question, 'What would happen if the culture of where we live were democratized?' And the answer it comes back with is that culture of such a place would always be changing on a dime to suit the majority, but that also means, by definition, the culture will always be ephemeral, just a temporary distraction before the next thing takes its place. Imagine how often culture changes over decades in the real world, building and expanding on itself until the public fascination with it begins to fade before being inevitable lost to time. Then picture all of that occurring within days of each other. We don't know how many different cloud banks there have been. This is a town that has no history because everything that could denote its history has been painted over a million times."
    Transistor & How Change Prevents Change // Codex Entry (By Codex Entry)
    Codex Entry discusses the narrative, themes, and setting of Transistor and what you have left in a world where nothing ever changes.
     
    "We are granted intimate knowledge of Nico's life and it breaks down normal barriers we may find in a game that doesn't break the fourth wall at all. The lines between the reality of the game and what you're doing sitting behind the computer are rather blurred at this point, making it easy to find ourselves incredibly attached to young Niko after the time we've spent with them. This is similar to how people have grown attached to characters like Sans in Undertale or the Judge in OFF, often growing attached to characters that they've spent a lot of time with. This can even help change a person's perspective on the world at large if your media is far reaching enough."
    Parasocial Relationships in OFF, Undertale and OneShot (By Red Angel)
    Red Angel explores the topic of Parasocial Relationships. How players and characters develop their relationship with each other and the world they inhabit in games that address the player as a separate entity from the controllable protagonist.
     
    Interviews and Documentaries
     
    "Intrigued Stein tried the game for himself, he wasn't a gamer, but he couldn't stop playing Tetris. It was a surefire hit, he immediately went to the director of the institute and inquired about licensing. But the director sheepishly admitted that the game wasn't theirs. If Stein wanted to license Tetris, he would have to make a deal with the Soviet Union, but that was easier said than done."
    The Story of Tetris | Gaming Historian (By The Gaming Historian)
    The Gaming Historian tells the story of the creation of Tetris, how the game spread, and the battle to secure the rights.
     
    "The crunch on Darksiders 1 was something I don't ever really want to repeat. Now I look back on it certainly with some fond memories because it was, it was a bit like going to war and winning the war. I think that's what it had felt like, if we had shipped a game that didn't do well or flopped or wasn't something that everybody as a group was collectively proud of it might have felt like going to war and losing and maybe the complete opposite feeling. I think that's always what kept us going was even in the darkest busiest dreary eyed hour was ok it's gonna be a good game we just got to get it out the door."
    Darksiders: The Documentary | Gameumentary (By Gameumentary)
    Gameumentary's Darksider documentary looks at the making of Darksiders 1 and 2, the creation and concepts behind them, how members of the team got into games, the art, and the long hours spent by the young team to ship the final product.
     
    "It seems the government is content to let the people of Havana operate SNET as long as it doesn't abuse its privileges. The "alcohol in a paper bag" of connectivity."
    Cuba's Underground Gaming Network (By Cloth Map)
    Cloth Map travels to Cuba to learn about their internet and the free home made and maintained network that gamers have created.
     
    "At that same time I remember one of those guys, they came to the studio, they did the tour, they looked at what we'd been building, and his reaction was interesting. It was, this is the best looking free to play game I've ever seen, you will fail."
    Warframe Documentary Series (By Noclip)
    Noclip's documentary on the history and survival of studio Digital Extremes and the creation of the sci-fi phenomenon that nobody wanted.
    "The first Larian team was built in '97 in a small electronics shop which had no windows but one, the entrance window, I wouldn't want to go back there. And our furniture was made of Coca-Cola boxes with the wooden planks on top of it. That was the benches, and we always joked that that was our reserve cash, because you could take the bottles and bring them to the supermarket and they would give you some money for it, and we actually had to use it once."
    Divinity: Original Sin Documentary | Gameumentary (By Gameumentary)
    Gameumentary's documentary focuses on the struggles faced by Larian Studios and their work on the Divinity series over the years before moving onto detailing the creation of Original Sin 2.
     
    "Behind closed doors, Nintendo knew the end would be near for the 8-bit Family Computer and NES, but that the 16-bit machine was not yet ready. So Nintendo of America, with a completed game in hand, spent 1989 rolling out a plan to promote Super Mario Bros 3, in sever stages, for an entire year and release the game in 1990, by which time awareness of the game would be very high and demand for a video game, would be the highest ever."
    The Story Of Super Mario Bros. 3: 30th Anniversary Retrospective - Gaijillionaire’s Club - GTV (By Gaijillionaire)
    Gaijillionaire researches the history and stories surrounding a variety of games, consoles, and other forms of entertainment. For the 30th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros 3 he talks about the game's development, Nintendo's brief switch to disks instead of cartridges in the mid 80s, how it was marketed in Japan and in the US, its original US appearance on the PlayChoice-10 arcade system, Japanese myths that influenced parts of the game, and the game's legacy over the past 30 years.
     
    "I reach out to Valve a few times but never heard back. Nobody responded, but I got the message. Half-Life is a difficult topic for them, unfinished business, a story left untold, and asterisks that qualifies everything the company has achieved since. It sort of hangs over their legacy like a rotten smell that just won't go away but the influence of this series won't go away either. It radiates outwards from the blast 20 years ago and its effects can still be felt today in the design of countless games, the work of modders, the legacy of eSports, and the passions of a fandom that still persists today, in spite of the deafening radio silence from its creators. So then i thought, "To hell with it," let's just do the documentary anyway. If we can't talk to Valve then let's talk to all of those people whose lives were changed by Half-Life, the contemporary developers whose work was inspired by Half-Life, and the crazy ones who are attempting to finish the story themselves."
    Unforeseen Consequences: A Half-Life Documentary (By Noclip)
    For the game's 20th anniversary Noclip dives into the legacy of Half Life and the community it created that was inspired by it and that keeps it alive.
     
    Systems, Level, and World Design
    Videos focused on the design, mechanics, and worlds of games and how they get the player to interact with them
    "Not only do I think title is a reflection on a grief told through the story of a world you failed to save, but it also presents an optimistic vision of a post-post apocalyptic world you could choose to build - in one of the games finest side quests From the Ground Up. Of all opportunities in the game this is one that guarantees that, even once you're gone, there is a piece of you in Hyrule left behind."
    A Tale of Tarrey Town (How Breath of the Wild Builds a Better Future) (By GAMESD)
    GAMESD looks at how Breath of the Wild bucks the trend of post-apocalyptic fiction with its most thoughtful side-quest.
     
    "And this is where I hope the epiphany occurs, in Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy frustration is the intended aesthetic goal. You play Getting over It to experience frustration in the same way you read a tragic novel to experience sadness or watch a scary movie to experience fear. Negative emotions are a integral part of artistic experiences, so why can't frustration be as well?"
    Getting Over It | An Exercise in Compassion (By Eric Taxxon)
    Eric Taxxon on the games Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy and Celeste, player experienced frustration being a part of the artistic experience, and the message of Getting Over It and how it motivated and inspired them.
     
    "The remake changes the tone, both in the sense of changing the quality of the colors in hue and shade and in terms of the more evasive mood in melancholy. The remake is warmer, more inviting, it asks you to be in awe of it, to photograph it and to share it. To be a tourist in The Forbidden Land."
    What the Shadow of the Colossus Remake Doesn't Understand About Art [siegarettes] (By siegarettes)
    Amr Al-Aaser on how the changes to mechanics, collectibles, controls, and art style frame the world and characters of Shadow of the Colossuss (2018) in a different way than the original game, how it causes you to experience the game with a different mindset, and what obsession with new tech and remakes can mean for art history.
     
    "And it feels so hollow. And the game does all this to be honest with you, and to show you just how fragile you are. What these fantasies are built on is so simple, so easy to exploit. So if everything about the player stays the game but the game just doesn't pat you on the head, what does that effect, what changes? Well, pretty much everything, it would seem. What reward can you give yourself? Can you provide your own reinforcement if one of the of this scale just stops pretending? Can you do this on your own? To say that this gets to me is an understatement; this game scares me. While barely ever breaking the fourth wall, it aims right at me. It feels so intimate, so personal. It understand me and how precious I am with this medium. It feels like it looks me dead in the eye while it covers us both in gasoline, lights a match and says it won't flinch if I don't. And, my God, I think I'm a coward."
    Ico and Mechanical Connection, Colossus and Narrative Construction, and What Walt Williams Taught Me (By Micah Edmonds)
    Micah Edmonds' series of videos on the connections games make with the player, both through mechanics and control and through narrative. He covers the mechanical connection the player has to the characters of Ico and the narrative construction for games and the premise and approach Shadow of the Colossus takes to connect the player to the game's world and its character. Micah also talks about game writer (Spec Ops The Line) and author (Significant Zero) Walt William and what he learned about game creation, player fantasy, and the relationship between player and designer from his work and book.
     
    "It's at this moment you realize that the world of Dark Souls is very different to most other games. It's not a linear series of zones - but a complex, maze-like world that branches off into different areas, than loops back around on itself through shortcuts and elevators. It seems to snap together like a fancy 3D jigsaw puzzle, and exploring this world feels like navigating a Metroid map, or a Zelda dungeon."
    The World Design of Dark Souls | Boss Keys (By Mark Brown)
    Mark Brown talks about the world design of the first Dark Souls and how it causes the player to explore and get to know the world that they inhabit and the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of world design.
     
    "In each situation, you're presented with an inherently comedic contradiction, meaning that the game's sense of humour isn't purely a product of Peter's charming witticisms-it's in your actions as well, how you physically navigate Spidey through these moments, serving as a reminder that writing in games goes beyond the text on a screen; it's in how everything surrounding those words is contextualized."
    Spider-Man: Bringing Joy Back to Games (By Writing on Games)
    Writing on Games discusses how Marvel's Spider-Man and the way that you traverse its world helped rekindle his love for a medium that he had been growing tired of.
     
    "For many people, videos games are one of, if not the, primary source of their media consumption and in-turn is a critical pillar of their cultural awareness. When we consider that games could be the first medium through which younger generations are informed about the events that transpired in the great wars - plus the likes of Vietnam or even the Gulf conflicts - there is a responsibility to acknowledge the very politics of those events and make an assertion as to the ethical and moral issues throughout. This industry's adoration of violence can be problematic, but if it is framed to better inform us of the consequences of such action that can be progressive and in-time a positive for our cultural understanding. While I was rather surprised by how well some of these games managed to address this, I fear it's something that will only get worse over time."
    Disposable Heroes: Designing AI Characters for War Games | Design Dive (By AI and Games)
    With the arrival of the 100th armistice day, AI and Games looked at the depiction of AI controlled characters in games based off of real world military conflicts and discusses how these kind of depictions can be framed in a way that can enrich cultural understanding. 
     
    "Places carry the weight of their past in their architecture and, somehow, Ueda has imbued a wordless history within his own surreal and inhospitable worlds."
    The Architecture of Fumito Ueda (By Jacob Geller)
    Jacob Geller heartfelt video on the architecture of the games of Fumito Ueda. Feelings evoked by the games, what they might say about the world, the longing for places that never existed, and why everything crumbles into the sea.
     
    Music and Sound Design
    "You experience Madeline's struggle in climbing the mountain through the challenging platforming, but the theme of anxiety is also explored in perhaps a less obvious way: the music. Composer Lena Raine has put so much of herself and her own personal struggle with anxiety into the soundtrack in order to tell Celeste's story through its music."
    The Anxiety of Celeste and its Music | Game Score Fanfare (By Game Score Fanfare)
    Game Score Fanfare on the music of Celeste and how it is used to enhance the themes of the game, the physiological effects of music and how Celeste creates a balance between being stressful and peaceful, and how the game's composer relates to the game's main character.
     
    "In a game, if we want to have the player thin more abstractly, a low frequency is going to be best. Hyper Light Drifter's soundtrack is electric and bassy, the low pitches invite you to reflect on what the wordless story is all about. Is it a statement on society, on the human condition, or simply a sad tale. It's up to you to decide, but the soundtrack will only encourage you to think abstractly about it. On the other hand, Braid's higher pitched violin might simply prime you to think concretely about its mechanics and focus solely on their utility."
    Why Frequency is the Secret of Adaptive Music | Psych of Play (By Daryl Talks Games)
    Daryl Talks Games channel focuses on the interaction between psychology and video game design. Here he covers the effect that adaptive music and frequency can have on how you play a game and what your focus is on while playing.
     
    "Known for scoring every Final Fantasy game up until 11, I would consider Uematsu to be right up there with Koji Kondo as the two pillars on which the entire culture of video game music rests. Basically, if Koji Kondo is video game Mozart, Nobuo Uematsu would be video game Beethoven. And like Beethoven, Uematsu music feels meticulously crafted to the point where every note feels like it's been placed exactly where it's supposed to be."
    Final Fantasy VI Analysis Series PART 1: Development of Melodic Ideas (By 8-bit Music Theory)
    8-bit Music Theory's covers the work of self taught composer Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Smash Bros Brawl, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey) in this three part series. Earlier this year, Uematsu stepped away from work to deal with an illness he has been suffering from.
     
    Designing Games
    Videos discussing the processes and theories behind game design
    "Miyamoto was one of the first great game designers to see Nishikado's breakthrough for what it was. In an interview with Time magazine, Miyamoto was asked which one game revolutionized the video game industry. His response was: "Space Invaders. Before I saw it I was never particularly interested in video games, and certainly never thought I would make video games." In his first game, Donkey Kong, Miyamoto put Nishikado's design structure to work, but he also made his own important discovery."
    The History and Evolution of Videogame Design - The Game Design Extracts (By Patrick Holleman)
    Cadences: Finding the Voice of Any Level's Design - The Game Design Extracts Episode 2
    Patrick Holleman spent seven years researching and writing six books on game design, this series looks to put the ideas that he discussed in those books into more easily accessible videos.
     
    "But your strongest frames are always the key frames, which act as the foundation for the structure of your animations."
    The Importance of Key Frames // 3-Frame Run Cycles (By Dan Root)
    Dan Root's channel focuses on discussing game animation, the above video focuses on the importance of key frames and how they can relay a feeling of energy and excitement that can be lost with more detailed animation.
     
    "Because when developers offer certain options or make certain design choices, disabled people can suddenly find themselves able to enjoy a game that would be otherwise impossible to play. Which means these often cheap and simple choice can open a game up to an entirely new audience of players."
    Designing for Disability (By Mark Brown)
    Mark Brown's Designing for Disability series focuses around ways to develop games that will make them more inclusive to people with disabilities. 
     
    Long Form Analysis
    Videos covering multiple facets of a game from its design, ideas behind and history of their creation, legacy, themes, narrative, and mechanics
    "Far cry 2 is not a game about Africa, so much as the amorphous Western idea of a mono Africa. Hazy and anxious and soaked to the bone in blood and sunlight. Not naming the country helps to solidify that dreams-cape sense of where you are, not a real place, but an artificial concept of a place. In this frame, the chaos of combat systems make perfect sense. Of course there are no civilians. Of course every car you encounter on the road pulls a screeching 180 to chase you down until you're dead or they are. Of course nothing you do makes a positive impact on the war if any impact is made at all. Of course your character choice doesn't matter, it could be anybody, it will always be somebody. We see Africa on the news, and it's always on fire, here in the digital dream world of Far Cry 2 we sit among the flames and burn with it."
    A Thorough Look At Far Cry (By Noah Caldwell-Gervais)
    Noah Caldwell-Gervais looks at the entire Far Cry series, covering Far Cry 1-5 and the spin offs Blood Dragon and Primal. He cover the ideas the games explore with their mechanics, design focuses, stories, antagonists, and by their stated authorial intent. How Far Cry and its Xbox port served as the foundation for Crysis and elements of it being a product of its time. The uniqueness and attention to environment detail in the programming of Far Cry 2, its subversive design, and why it ends up being the subject of academic papers and developer presentations. What happens when you blend the serious and subversive FC 2 with the fun focus of FC 1 to get a more easily marketable title with Far Cry 3, one where the developers now want to use the fun as the uncomfortable and subversive element rather than the mechanics. What the game says about masculinity, what it uses the game of Poker to say about its characters, and how it is remembered vs how the developers wanted it to be remembered. Blood Dragon's shift to a sincere 80's action nostalgia that allows you to have fun while maintaining a harmony of tone and action. How Far Cry 4 is the least ambitious but the most thematically consistent. The pulp horror of the Valley of the Yetis DLC. Why Primal is his favorite of the series, how it makes a graceful transition mechanically to its setting, the enthusiasm behind the game, and what you can do with the limitations of the medium. How Far Cry 5 attempts to bring together all elements of the past games which leads to a disjointed game that fixates on a broken America while refusing to name its subject.
     
    "Games with stories to tell - and I suppose it is a change of pace. No substitute for action, but there's no harm in an alternative. After all, the original Monkey Island came out at a time where most preferred the instant gratification of arcade-style games. The very idea of going for 10 minutes without shooting something was alien - until the precipitation of a new acceptance of adventure games. Ultimately, it's all thanks to Monkey Island, SCUMM, Maniac Mansion - and their creator."
    RetroAhoy: The Secret of Monkey Island (By Ahoy)
    Ahoy covers the adventure game genre, with a large focus on The Secret of Monkey Island and LucasArts, but also covering game development, sales and markets, developers, engines, companies starting to borrow from LucasArts' influences rather than Sierra's in their own adventure games and even in other genres, and gives some history on the rise and fall of genre and technological advancements.
     
    The Game Industry, Connected Industries, and Culture
    Videos looking into different aspects of the game industry, companies associated with it, discourse, Youtube, funding, hiring practices, etc
     
    "We keep hearing stories like this over and over again."
    Getting into the games industry (By Chris Bratt)
    People Make Games tells the story of one man's difficult journey into the games industry and where he ended up.
     
    "Gaming culture is largely unable to conceive of this level of socio-economic criticism, of analysis of systemic problems and wider issues with society beyond one person's individual failings, and therefore cannot accurately fathom exactly what is damaging the things they love. Instead, they have to fantasize about their very own Lisa hiding somewhere in EA, trying to kill art like some kind of fucking Disney villain. This is why people hate CAD so much. Not because it's bad, no, bad things come and go all day every day. CAD is such a focus and aggression with millions and millions of words written about how awful it and its creator is because it's an embarrassment, it makes everyone else near it look bad, because as bad as it is, it managed to be honest."
    CTRL+ALT+DEL | SLA:3 (By hbomberguy)
    While being hunted by an axe wielding creature, hbomberguy reflects on what art says to and about the people that consume it and the need for self criticism to be a part of media critique. He talks about gaming webcomics, how they can be written and consumed while often holding similar attitudes found in films like The Room, EA's business model, and the unreflective nature of gaming culture and what can be learned from it.
     
    "So, establishing the character isn't the same this as establishing a theme and, similarly, communicating the event of the story isn't the same thing as communicating a theme. Again, themes are the main ideas that text is trying to communicate, to use these terms interchangeably is simply bad practice and it predictably leads to this kind of confusion."
    The Most Abused Term in Videogame Criticism (By SolePorpoise)
    SolePorpoise discusses the original article that lead to the popularity of the term ludonarrative dissonance, what it meant in its original context, how it was frequently misused afterwards, how it contrasts with ludonarrative harmony, and asks if the term is now beyond redemption.
     
    "The true strength of Pathologic's nonlinear storytelling is how it manages to render "The Plague" itself, this ungraspable catastrophe of seminal proportions; a villain that utters no word and can never be confronted in a conversation or a confrontation. Pathologic makes this the actual central figure, the true protagonist and antagonist of the story."
    The Plague (and how it Scarred our Myths and Culture) ✯ Monsters of the Week (By RagnarRox)
    RagnarRox covers the history and effects of plagues and how they have influences our myths, cultures, games, and movies.
     
    "They've all made the same fuckin video. There were more Youtube videos made about these tweets than there were tweets. This outrage isn't real, it was constructed to get clicks using the oldest advertising trick in the book, 'Do what I say because someone you don't like doesn't want you to do it.' The psychology behind this meta outrage industry is pretty sad really."
    DOOM: The Fake Outrage (By Shaun)
    Shaun covers a topic similar to his Cuphead video that was included in last year's best of list. The industry of Youtubers and tabloid sites attempting to create fake outrage narratives surrounding gaming products, how they all copy each other, why they do it, what it leads to, and how games are marketed. Always a useful thing to be able to spot with Youtube's terrible search and recommendation algorithms. Those kind of videos best summed up by Venture Beat's Jeffrey Grubb, "This has led to a large group of creators on YouTube jumping from one controversy to the next. If they find a topic that reliably gets views, they stick with it until their audience grows old. Then they move on to the next one. If the next controversy doesn’t exist, YouTube creators manufacture one."
    "What is this "Great Assumption" I keep antagonizing you with? I hope it's obvious now that it's the paradigm of received knowledge which states that video games are first and foremost supposed to be ludologically gratifying and that a failure to uphold that promise is invalidating. But the more important thing, its consequence, is the inability to deal with the growing number of deviations video games are displaying which the universally accepted paradigm can't explain."
    Critical Values: In Defense of Prey and Those Who Made It | REVIEW/CRITIQUE (By Ludocriticism)
    Ludocriticism's critique and defense of Prey (2017) and how it manages to weave together the ludonarrative in a way that hasn't been done in the genre before and the culture of criticism that ends up hurting the ability of critics, players, and developers to critique, engage with, and create games.
     
    "One important thing to remember about art, in my opinion, is that it is not a passive reflection or document of history, but it is rather an agent of history, and the connection between the Hudson River School and Manifest Destiny is a prime example of that."
    How Red Dead Redemption 2's landscapes are connected to 19th century art (By Clayton Ashley)
    Polygon looks at the way art has influenced the romanticized image of the American West and how that influences games like Red Dead Redemption 2 by discussing The Hudson River School of Art, Luminism, and philosophy of the sublime with the associate curator of American Art at the New York Historical Society. This was done in the above video by Clayton Ashley as well as in an article by Arthur Gies.

    By DoctorEvil, in Frontpage,


    After nominations of 20 PS4 Games released this year, we opened up a ranking survey to determine the COMMUNITY TOP 10 PS4 GAMES OF 2018!  Included from number 10 to number one is the name of the game, it's combined survey ranking score (so you can see how close it was) and some remarks by nominators or survey takers why this game was one of their best this year!
     
    Without further ado, THESE ARE THE COMMUNITY TOP 10 BEST PS4 GAMES of 2018!
    Number 10
     
    Game:  Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
    Score:  4.86
    Quotes:  " Because it’s a fresh take on call of duty and revived the franchise for me " - Anon
    "Enjoyable modes, inclusion of new mode (blackout) change in mechanics (TTK, self heal, team based game play)"  -  OdenShard
     
    Number 9
    Game: Celeste
    Score: 5.075
    Quotes: "Mechanically, Celeste is one of the best platformers I've played. It controls well, perfectly introduces each new gameplay concept, the stages are varied with their own gameplay elements with each one being enjoyable to play, and there are alternate more difficult versions of levels for those that want a greater challenge. Narratively Celeste has a well done portrayal of someone suffering from anxiety and the themes, plot, mechanics, and score all blend together perfectly. It does offers a variety of accessibility options that can be used to alter how the game plays if you want to play the game in a different way or a way that is more in line with how you want to engage with it." - Legolas
     
    Number 8
    Game: Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
    Score: 5.076
    Quotes: "Acts as a good send off for the character Kiryu and his story and features the perfect mix of humorous, heartfelt, and badass moments the series is known for. Probably the only game in the recent trend of "Dad games" to show a father/father figure engaging in activities that can mirror reality as well as showing the caring side of Kiryu that he is known for in a series that has always been focused on the people you consider family, as opposed to just being about another angry bearded guy with some kid following him around that they eventually grow to like or learn to show emotion towards." - Legolas
     
    Number 7
    Game: Shadow of the Colossus (remake)
    Score: 5.55
    Quotes: "While a bit of a cop-out due to this game having been released years and years ago, it still holds a wonderful place in my heart today and is only enhanced with its re-release. The graphics and controls are now all updated for a much better feel. And all the creatures feel just as large and in charge as they did back in the day." - Raxynus
     
    Number 6
    Game: Hitman 2
    Score: 5.64
    Quotes: "Hitman 2 include some of the best designed levels I've seen; with a lot of ways to kill your targets, to learn about the area and characters, and even amusing secrets and activities that can bring you closer to your targets. Continues with strong dark humor and a gameplay approach that acts more as a puzzle and social system than a traditional action or stealth game, all taking place in a huge playground. Made all the more impressive with what happened to the developer and them still putting out an improved sequel with as many features as this has." - Legolas
     
    Number 5
    Game: Detroit: Become Human
    Score: 9.17
    Quotes: "Great story with very realistic graphics. It seems like it could be an actual reality of our future. I love that the choices I made made a difference to the story and there were so many different outcomes and endings. " - Alana
     
    Number 4
    Game: Monster Hunter: World
    Score: 13.31
    Quotes: "It was my first Monster Hunter game, and I instantly fell in love with it. Unlike many of capcoms blunders with their other franchises they surprised me with all the free dlc, keeping the community alive. Every time I go and hunt an anjarnath or a ratholos the game surprises me everytime, to this day almost a year later. With the iceborne dlc coming in 2019, im hyped to see what more adventures the New World has for me. " - Anon
    "Just a very beautiful, BEAUTIFUL game. I love RPGs but the art style of it is just outstanding in my opinion and better compared to others. Plus the gameplay is great too. It has its own ways to be frustrating, fun and hilarious all at the same time. " - Alana
    Number 3
    Game: Red Dead Redemption 2
    Score: 21.25
    Quotes: "The story in RDR2 (and even just hanging around at camp) just makes you care for the characters so much, it really lets you get to know all the gang members and by the end of the game I was genuinely sad that I wouldn't get to play as Arthur Morgan anymore (outside of replaying ofcourse) Arthur has become my favourite character in gaming full stop, and these reasons are why I would even go as far as saying this is my favourite game of all time " - Anon

    "I had a great time doing the side stuff (taming horses,hunting,fishing) I also got completely sucked into the story and enjoyed almost every moment (Island section was kinda stupid though) besides that it was just straight up fun. Music was 10/10 aswell, and it has ended up being one of my favorite video games of all time." - Anon
     
    Number 2
    Game: Spider-Man
    Score: 22.66
    Quotes: "Out of all the games i personally played this year, Spider-Man did something i truly appreciate. It was a VIDEO GAME. Not a slot machine, Not a loot box generator and not a "Fee to play" game. An honest to god video game that has tight controls, awesome gameplay, a great story, a faithful depiction of one the best comic book heroes, beautiful graphics and content that you unlock by playing it. You can UNLOCK COSTUMES FROM PLAYING THE GAME. WHAT A CONCEPT. If this game came out 5 years ago i would still highly rate it, but in 2018? GOTY. " - Anon

    "Goes to show you can make a good super-hero game that doesn't have the name 'Batman'. The world is large, and fun to interact with. The core gameplay is solid and what really showcases this games abilities." - Stick
     
    Number 1
    Game: God of War
    Score: 26.29
    Quotes: "With as much as I favor RDR2 over God of War, it definitely deserves the top spot for me. With Sony stepping in to help development cost, a team that seemed on the smaller side, and the fact it came out roaring like a beast at the beginning of the year. It is not so much the better game, but the game that rightfully deserves top spot. It was more difficult, which was a good thing, along with being a bit more of an intrinsic story. Definitely no longer the side-scrolling adventure I never got into. There is almost nothing bad to say about this game. It's still a solid game to buy, even if you know half the story by now." - JT Scout
     
    "This was by far the most flawless of  all the games to come out this year, a re-birth of a franchise has never done it quite like God of War. God of  War's story, characters, gameplay, and development was spot on. Every inch of this game is made with heart and soul. It doesn't have any slow moments (Red Dead Redemption 2's slow beginning). The voice acting in this game is spectacular while it flows perfectly into the combat of gameplay." - Anon
     
     

    By Conan, in Frontpage,


    To start off the new year, we here at the EF are going to revisit Minecraft to continue our grand building project. Therefore, this Saturday, the 5th, we will continue where we left off during our last Minecraft building session, where we started to raise a mighty fortress overlooking the AJSA Community base.
    The event itself will take place on the AJSA Community Realm, which is available to both the Xbox One/Xbox and PC sides of our community. For the event itself you will need the Windows 10 version of Minecraft. Should you have the Java Version, you can claim a free copy by logging into your Mojang account, find and click on ‘Claim Your Free Copy’ to upgrade. At the event, you will be given an invite code to directly join the event. I hope to see you there!
    The event will take place this at 9pm BST/ 4pm EDT on our Discord Server.

    By Legolas_Katarn, in Articles,


    Rami Ismail and hundreds of developers create a game launcher that gives you one small game to play every day of the year, Ben Bertoli on Iran’s Growing Nintendo Scene, Austin Walker on how a year immersed in tactics games have him thinking about how to push through gridlock, New Frame Plus talks about his favorite game animations of 2018, Star Control Origins removed from Steam due to lawsuit with original Star Control creators with judge saying any harm done is Stardock's own making, Errant Signal on Dusk and the design of 90s FPS games, TazerHere builds a small town in Cities Skylines and reads the stories of the town created by his community, Jeffrey Grubb on the 2018 trend of the year being outraged fans discovering their power and Youtuber manufactured controversies, more of the year lists, interviews with Cory Barlog and Will Wright, From Software working on two unannounced games, and more.
     
    The Best Games Writing of 2018 article was recently posted, the Best Videos of 2018 article will be following soon.
     
    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)
     
    Persona 5 R Announced, But What It Is Remains A Mystery
     
    Chinese-only RPG The Scroll Of Taiwu has sold 1 million copies on Steam
     
    MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries: Showing Off Fog and Water Effects - IGN First
     
    The team behind Alto’s Adventure tackles skateboarding

     
    Celeste Developers Cancel Skytorn

     
    Cyberpunk sidescroller The Last Night runs into 'massive legal and funding issues'
     
    Star Control: Origins removed from Steam after DMCA takedown notice
     
    FromSoftware Is Working On Two Unannounced Games

     
    Athletes Don’t Own Their Tattoos. That’s a Problem for Video Game Developers.

     
    Ninja Responds to Backlash Over New Year’s Stream Ads
     
    BioWare founders awarded the Order of Canada for 'revolutionary' impact on videogames
     
    Activision Blizzard says it plans to fire its CFO for an unspecified cause

     
    Esports News
     
    Training For A Tournament With A Melee Pro Was A Rude Awakening

     
    Dragon Ball FighterZ Has Been Mysteriously Pulled From Multiple Fighting Game Events

     
    An Old-School Marvel vs. Capcom 2 Throwdown Was The Best Fighting Game Event Of 2018

     
    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)
     
    Games industry New Year 2019 cards and messages
     
    meditationgames
     
    In 2019, We Need to Learn How to Break a Perpetually Tied Game

     
    How Fallout lost its soul

     
    Iran’s Growing Nintendo Scene Pins Hopes On Smash Ultimate

     
    The Gamers Of The Year, 2018

     
    2018 was the year of outraged fans discovering their power

     
    Gamasutra's Best of 2018: The top 10 game developers of the year

     
    The 10 Best Mobile Games of 2018

     
    Our Favorite Games of 2018: Rob's Top Ten

    Our Favorite Games of 2018: Patrick's Top 10
    Our Favorite Games of 2018: Cameron Kunzelman's Top Ten
    Our Favorite Games of 2018: Natalie's Top Ten
    Our Favorite Games of 2018: Austin's Top Ten
     
    SWERY's Top 10 Games of 2018

    Jeff Gerstmann's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Danny O'Dwyer's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Soha E's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Chris Grant's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Dave Nillasca's Top 10 Giant Bomb Moments of 2018
    Trevor Strunk's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Scott Benson's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Lena Raine's Top 6 Games of 2018
    Erica Lahaie's Top 9 Soundtracks of 2018
    Ron Funches' Top 10 Games of 2018
    Alex Navarro's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Kenny Omega and Xavier Woods' Top 10 Games of 2018
    Greg Kasavin's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Dia Lacina's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Subset Games' Top 10 Games of 2018
    Mike Drucker's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Ed Boon's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Leon Chang's Top 8 Games of 2018
    Casey Malone's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Jason Oestreicher's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Jeff Bakalar's Top 10 Games of 2018
    Keita Takahashi's Top 3 Games of 2002
     
    DUSK and the Design of 90's FPS Games
     
    Telling Stories About A Decaying Small Town With Cities: Skylines
     
    My Favorite Game Animation of 2018 - New Frame Plus
     
    The Writing on Games "Top Five Games of 2018" List
     
    Looking Back at God of War (Almost) a Year Later with Cory Barlog - Beyond 572
     
    Will Wright On His Life After Maxis
     
    Things I Missed From Previous Weeks
     
    Rockstar's Game Design is Outdated
     

    By Legolas_Katarn, in Articles,


    2018 is coming to a close and I've put together a list of some of the best writing I saw throughout the year. Created with the goal of highlighting the work of some of the best writers and journalists in the industry and to share topics that can enhance understanding of the game industry, events of the previous year, and of the games themselves.

    These articles might focus on developer and game history, what working in the industry is like, what games make us think and feel, things that have effected the industry this year, the effects of games on people and culture, entertaining stories, and the lessons learned and connections that can be established through games. Links are included to author's social media accounts and it is worth following them and their work if you are interested in games and the industry. Many of these have been shared in my weekly This Week In Gaming articles throughout the year.
     
    The Best Videos of 2018 can be found here.
     
    Previous Best Games Writing Articles
    2016
    2017
     
    History of the Industry, Developers, and Games
    Research and interviews examining the life and work of developers and studios and the games and franchises they created
     
    "From the Sword Coast to the Deadfire archipelago, Beneath a Starless Sky explores the making of the Infinity Engine RPGs, the history of Black Isle Studios, and the development of Obsidian Entertainment's Pillars of Eternity franchise."
    Beneath a Starless Sky: Pillars of Eternity and the Infinity Engine Era of RPGs (By David L Craddock)
    David L Craddock's 200,000 word feature chronicles the history of Black Isle Studios, the making of the Infinity Engine, and the games that they lead to and inspired. Book length and splint between 28 chapters, just some of what it covers includes engine design, studio culture, multiple classic games and their legacies, music, writing for the D&D settings, and multiple interviews with the lead designers and studio heads.
    “I remember sitting there with about 10 people watching Sony’s press conference and the $599 and laughing. Then the motion control thing. We were laughing about it at first and then it dawned on us, ‘Shit, [Sony is] going to make us use this,’” says designer Dubrofsky."
    Lair: What went wrong (By Matt Paprocki)
    Matt Paprocki covers the events that lead Factor 5 to working with Sony after their deals with Lucasarts and Microsoft fell through, the games that were shelved, the original pitch and ideas behind Lair as an anti-war game, the mistake of rewriting their old tools for the new console generation, trying to make use of motion controls, and the culture of the studio. Matt also talked a bit about the difficulty of writing pieces like this, finding places that will feature them, and the need for people to share and support quality content.
    "When Ken Williams, the chief executive of Sierra On-Line, brought the company's newest game designer to the office, some staff stayed home. Better to get in trouble with management than meet the man accused of fostering a culture of police brutality on a city-wide scale."
    How Sierra and a Disgraced Cop Made the Most Reactionary Game of the 90s (By Duncan Fyfe)
    Duncan Fyfe on the backstory of Police Quest: Open Season, how and why the studio head chose to work with a disgraced former police chief while ignoring the protests of his staff, and the final product being a piece of wish fulfillment from a man in disgrace.
    "‘Panzer Dragoon Saga’ remains one of the greatest video games of all time. Twenty years after its creation, it also remains nearly impossible to play, a cult classic whose elusiveness mirrors the misery that suffused its development, setting, and story."
    The Ruinous Road of Gaming’s Missing Masterpiece and Panzer Dragoon Saga: An oral history (By Ben Lindbergh and James Mielke)
    Ben Lindbergh talks to some of the people behind the development of Panzer Dragoon Saga and talks about his experience playing it for the first time 20 years after its release. James Mielke covers the oral history of Panzer Dragoon Saga and the studio behind it as told by 13 of the people that worked on it.
    "If it isn’t the women of Atari who paint a bad picture of Nolan Bushnell, it’s the culture he created there that, decades later, has mushroomed into something else. It’s a culture where bragging about “stacked” secretaries as late as 2012 garnishes Atari’s mythos instead of muddying it. It’s a culture where Carol Kantor’s groundbreaking research isn’t evoked as often as a hot tub purchased to lure in new talent. It’s a culture that, today, celebrates the sexiness of Atari’s early women employees more loudly than their contributions. If it isn’t the women of Atari who paint a bad picture of Nolan Bushnell, it is his braggadocio attitude, his carnival-barker hype with a chauvinist tinge, that does."
    Sex, Pong, And Pioneers: What Atari Was Really Like, According To Women Who Were There (By Cecilia D'Anastasio)
    Cecilia D'Anastasio discusses and interviews former employees about the culture of Atari in the 70s.
    "We don’t think of popular video games—the kinds that sell millions of copies—as peaceful or intimate. But with the beloved Stardew Valley, Eric Barone discovered the alchemy of quiet gamemaking. All it took was nearly life-ruining levels of obsessiveness."
    Valley Forged: How One Man Made the Indie Video Game Sensation Stardew Valley (By Sam White)
    Sam White profiles the developer of Stardew Valley, Eric Barone, and learns what it was like for him to develop Stardew Valley as a one person team.
    "It wasn't until her conversations with Xbox architect Seamus Blackley, J Allard (the "father" of the console's follow-up, the Xbox 360) and her now ex-husband Rob Wyatt that Chaudhari realized the hand she'd been dealt: The circuit boards, already manufactured and ready to go, were comically oversized."
    The story of the Duke, the Xbox pad that existed because it had to (By Timothy J. Seppala)
    Timothy J. Seppala on the origins of the original Xbox controller, the people that worked on it, designing it for comfort even with forced technical constraints, and Japanese companies and a Japanese translator's refusal to work with them.
    "On one bleary day among many during the development of StarCraft, Blizzard VP of research and development Patrick Wyatt, who ranked third in the company’s hierarchy, walked into the office of StarCraft lead designer James Phinney. “I came to ask him for some design clarification on something, and he’s like, ‘Hang on a second,’” Wyatt says. “He leans over, and he vomits in a trash can because he’s been working so hard. And then he’s like, ‘OK, what was your question?’ So yeah, it was pretty physically taxing.”
    Good Game Well Played: The Story of the Staying Power of ‘StarCraft’ (By Ben Lindbergh)
    Ben Lindbergh writes about the creation and staying power of StarCraft to celebrate its 20th anniversary. What got the team started on the game, the E3 presentations that made them redesign everything, the long hours and delays during production, and finding success in Korea and with esports.
    "What happened? How did such a promising studio hit so many roadblocks? Since February, I’ve interviewed a dozen people familiar with goings-on at Hangar 13, all of whom spoke under condition of anonymity in order to protect their careers. They’ve told stories of Mafia III’s rocky development, of the studio’s troubled 2017, and of visions of a canceled Berlin spy game that might have made for a fascinating successor to Mafia III, if it weren’t reworked into something else entirely."
    How The Makers Of Mafia III Lost Their Way (By Jason Schreier)
    After developing a game that pushed the boundaries of game storytelling and acting with Mafia 3, Hanger 13 has lost much of their team and scraped ideas for future projects. Jason Schreier talks to Hangar 13 employees to learn about what has happened to the company in the last two years, as well as covering the creation of the company and their time and issues with developing Mafia 3.
    "Former BottleRocket associate producer Dan Tovar, who had been with the project from its earliest point, recalls that day: “What followed was one of the most unpleasant experiences I have had to date in my professional career.” Tovar continues, “There were grown men crying. [...] ‘Hellish’ doesn’t quite summarize it.”
    Splatterhouse 2010: What went wrong (By Matt Paprocki)
    Matt Paprocki learns about the origins and troubled development of 2010's Splatterhouse game.
    "When Laidlaw first joined Bell's call centre, he worked the phones. Later, he got promoted to lead a team on the phones, "which was somehow way worse than being on the phones," Laidlaw told me last March, the day after his star turn at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. "I went in and said, I'm sorry, I'm quitting. I'm not coming in tomorrow. They said, 'you can't quit two days before Christmas! If you quit you'll never work here again!' I said, 'that is pretty much the plan, yes.' So I walked out, and a bunch of people high-fived me because - yay! - I got out."
    Being the boss of Dragon Age (By Wesley Yin-Poole)
    Wesley Yin-Poole profiles former Bioware employee and Dragon Age lead Mike Laidlaw.
    "It’s 2000. A shiny new Ferrari pulls into the parking lot of Retro Studios’ enormous Austin, Texas headquarters. Founder Jeff Spangenberg steps out of the car. It’s the first time he’s been to the studio in months. He’s there to lay off people. A lot of people. He’s there to lay off half of the company’s employees. It’s not the only time this will happen."
    The rocky story of Retro Studios before Metroid Prime (By Blake Hester)
    Blake Hester tells the story of Retro Studios' early days.
    "The first time that Cyberdreams producer David Mullich showed author Harlan Ellison a page of the dialogue he’d written for the 1995 game based on his short story “I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream,” Ellison asked, “Who wrote this shit?” When Mullich replied that he had, Ellison got visibly embarrassed and apologized. “No, that’s all right,” Mullich replied. “It is shit compared to your writing. So, take it and make it better.”
    How Harlan Ellison’s Most Famous Short Story Became An Amazing Video Game (By Peter Tieryas)
    Peter Tieryas tells the story of the work done by David Mullich and Harlan Ellison to make a game based on I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream that would honor Ellison's original short story.
    "Myst really was outselling Quake; and the industry’s fear of the reality that this truth represented grew by the day. To many insiders, this was the reality of non-gamers, outsiders, people who didn’t understand quality, idiots, the unwashed masses banging on the hallowed gates. Reflecting on the 1997 performance of Myst and its sequel, a nameless staff writer for PC Gamer commented that “the hard-core gamers here at PC Gamer are still trying to figure out how the gruesome twosome of Riven and Myst continue to sell in phenomenal amounts.”
    Two histories of Myst (By John Gabriel Adkins)
    John Gabriel Adkins on the importance of Myst and the dueling narratives that arose in an attempt to explain the game's success.
    "The community view was, 'What the fuck is some American guy doing coming in and destroying our game?' I was even getting death threats on a daily basis from the community," Sharpe says. "We had one THQ actually turned over to the authorities because it was pretty violent what it said was going to be done to me." For a long time there was caricature of him going around the internet with the slogan "The Castration of Stalker". I see why Sharpe prefers life off the radar."
    The Californian sent to save Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl from development hell (By Robert Purchese)
    Robert Purchese tells how Californian, Dean Sharpe, was sent to save development of Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl.
    "Fans were happy, reviews were great, awards were given, and sales were strong. Obviously the team behind the game were elated, right? Well, not really. See, Blizzard Entertainment has shipped games before, like Warcraft 3, Starcraft, and Diablo. The difference between those game and World of Warcraft is they were done once shipped. Sure, Blizzard would offer patches and the occasional expansion, but the team had the ability to take a breather. All the WoW team had was panic."
    How World of Warcraft Was Made: The Definitive Inside Story of Nearly 20 Years of Development (By Mike Williams)
    Mike Williams speaks with the developers of World of Warcraft to tell the story of the game's development from beta to the modern day.
    "Sure, it made a lot of money. But it also rewrote the rules for what a superhero game could be. Here’s the story behind Treyarch's 2004 masterpiece."
    The Oral History of Treyarch's Spider-Man 2: One of the Best Superhero Games Ever (By Alex Kane)
    Alex Kane speaks with some of the developers of what is often the most fondly remembered and influential of the Spider-Man games.
    "It’s perhaps fitting that a game with the tagline “nothing is true; everything is permitted” emerged from creative director Patrice Désilets bending the rules. Assassin’s Creed began life as a Prince of Persia game, expanded and reimagined for a new generation of consoles. You might say it even ended up feeling like one, though Désilets’ creative interpretation of Ubisoft’s mandate layered on many additional challenges for the team at Ubisoft Montreal."
    Assassin’s Creed: An oral history (By Richard Moss)
    Richard Moss learns the history of the original Assassin's Creed from the team that created it.
    "Over the coming months, this series will explore the history and evolution of computer and console RPGs by documenting the milestones of the genre. The goal: To understand what it means to be an “RPG,” precisely, and how different designers have reinterpreted the concepts that D&D laid down. When possible, we’ve spoken to the people behind these landmark games to better appreciate the reasons they made the choices they did, and to better understand their relationship with the genre."
    History Of Rpgs (By Jeremy Parish)
    A monthly series of articles by Retronauts co-host Jeremy Parish that seeks to explore the evolution of the RPG genre and the effects they have had on the wider industry. So far he has taken a look at Ultima, Wizardry, The Bard's Tale, Dragon Quest, and Wasteland.
     
    Writing On Games
    Articles on the games themselves, effects they had on the industry, the stories they tell, how gameplay is used, deeper meanings of titles, etc.
     
    "To defend himself from Ruvik, he made an unacknowledged alliance with another presence in STEM: the player. Sebastian and the player met through a virtual environment. To him, it was STEM. To the player, it was the game The Evil Within. Sebastian shared his mind and behavior with the player in every way that he rejected Ruvik's influence."
    A Memory of Fire (By James Howell)
    This long-form essay by James Howell discusses the meta-narrative of The Evil Within 2 and healing through reenactment.
    "There is a deep tragedy at the heart of the story of video games, an attempt at transcendence born from a tacky, clunky, consumer-based digital frame. We may have armies of employee footsoldiers working long hours to build robust digital infrastructures and simulated worlds in extreme detail. We might have incredibly smooth framerates and 4K definition. But there is no game maker who doesn't still struggle with how to make their game mean something."
    The Doom Mod That Best Describes Our Uncanny Reality (By Liz Ryerson)
    Liz Ryerson uses Doom and obscure mods as a starting point to discuss the medium and art subcultures.
    "When John Carmack coined the phrase “game engine” to describe the original DOOM‘s programming code, he meant it to evoke a car: a manufactured thing, assembled in sequence by multiple hands. Much like the rest of Carmack’s career, it was a deliberate attempt at image and tone control, as much a piece of social engineering as the game was computer engineering. It reflected his endless pursuit of building impressive hardware architecture to create super-efficient ways of thinking about very old representational problems and presenting them as innovative solutions. The small size of id Software’s team during DOOM‘s development means his ideas about engineering linger vividly in the game’s architecture to this day."
    “All Their Engines,” by Tara Hillegeist (By Tara Hillegeist)
    Tara Hillegeist writes about corporate branding and the use of the term engine as it relates to the Doom series.
    "These are important things to note and critique, but there is an additional element many players forget. While its basic themes are universal in nature, the presentation and dialogue of the characters in Catherine (as well as other titles headed by director Katsura Hashino, who’s become quite infamous among fans for his distasteful portrayals of minorities) is deeply Japanese. Despite the Western “flavor” of the almost six-year-old puzzler, the themes of these games are intrinsically Japanese and the reflection of Japanese ideologies are deeply written into the narrative."
    [Discourse] Catherine, Trans Identities, and Representation in Japan and Looking back at Yakuza 3 and its rare portrayal of orphans in Japan (By Kazuma Hashimoto)
    Kazuma Hashimoto looks at media through the lens of the culture that created it by talking about how Japanese society and cultural norms are reflected by the narrative of Catherine when it comes to transgender rights and the Yakuza series when it comes to orphans and what those series do with these topics. The website hosting the second article has gone down so it is represented by a screenshot I took before removal.
    "Imagine yourself in the shoes of a designer who’s just decided to make a game about everything. How do you even begin? What rules, what mechanics, what interface can you possibly employ? It is, needless to say, a daunting prospect. Game design being an art of the possible, you inevitably begin to pare away at your grand vision, trying to arrive at some core which you can actually hope to implement. In the process, though, you also begin cutting into the soul of the idea, until you arrive at a dispiriting shadow of it like Global Conquest or The Global Dilemma. Sid Meier, by contrast, never really decided to make a game about everything at all; his design just kind of went there on its own. Thus while Bunten and Crawford were cutting back on their ambitions, Meier was expanding on his."
    The Game of Everything, Part 1: Making Civilization (By Jimmy Maher)
    Jimmy Maher covers a variety of games, developers, and companies on his blog The Digital Antiquarian and it is well worth a look if you want to read more articles like this. In this series of ten articles, he talks about the creation and people behind the development of Civilization and how the games deal with the concept of progress, politics, geography, gameplay, religion, government, etc.
    "Eat Create Sleep aims to ‘ask tough questions with their games’; in this piece, then, I will turn the tables and ask tough questions of the developer, but also of myself, and my role as a critic in the West."
    On the Afrofuturism, Representation and Intent of Crest (By Seva Kritskiy)
    Seva Kritskiy on the problems with Crest claim to having an Afrofuturist aesthetic.
    "It’s alluring to escape into that world. To be transported to a place where you can completely invest yourself but still be safe, where there aren’t really consequences outside of a passing feeling of triumph or the bittersweet feeling of loss. The Show games let us do that better than just about any other sports game I’ve ever played, perhaps because the simplicity of baseball lends itself to convincing simulation in a way that football or soccer do not."
    'MLB The Show 18' Dreams of Escape from Politics, And Damn, It's Tempting (By Rob Zacny)
    Rob Zacny writes about the allure of escaping from the world and the portrayal and action of baseball that gives it the feel of a save haven.
    "Where Joseph Seed reacts to the futility of Far Cry's on-going war with righteous sorrow, the Jackal with grim horror and Vaas with a train of expletives, Far Cry 4's dapper tyrant Pagan Min is alone in seeing the funny side."
    Far Cry's villains are sick of Far Cry (By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell)
    Edwin Evans-Thirlwell on the villains of the Far Cry series representing the definition of insanity and your and the Jackal's failure in Far Cry 2.
    "Everyone, from the patriots of the US Army to the patriots of the militias to the patriot that is the cult-killing, order-restoring Deputy, has blended into a single, malevolent sickness that the game makes clear is distinctly American in character."
    “Far Cry 5 Militarizes Faith in America,” by Reid McCarter (Reid McCarter)
    Reid McCarter covers the only fully formed and compelling argument that Far Cry 5 makes by looking at the origins of the ideology of both the game's cult and the militia fighting them.
    "God of War begins with a handprint. A testament to where a woman—a mother—once stood and thought about her child. It’s a marker, we learn, that says “I was here to keep you safe,” as much as it hides “I was here to restrict you.” It’s our first taste of how, in God of War, mothers are interchangeably flat, and come in two varieties: dead or alive. But one thing remains constant—mothers keep secrets. In fairness, everyone in God of War is keeping some kind of secret. The narrative overemphasizes Kratos’ secret, but it is the secrets mothers keep that form its core."
    In 'God of War,' Moms Come Last (By Dia Lacina)
    Dia Lacina on the portrayals of motherhood found in God of War and her experiences with her own mother.
    "There are so many example of creators tackling new and challenging aspects of what robots and artificial intelligence mean for humanity, so many marginal and unheard voices struggling to carve a space out of a market crowded with stale ones, that all of the extra attached pain and humiliation that fueled the creation of Detroit feels that much more needless, and so that much more cruel."
    'Detroit' Siphons and Squanders a History of Marginalized Struggle (By Yussef Cole)
    Yussef Cole writes about Detroit's subject matter in relation to real world movements as well as the culture of the studio that created the game and the poor understanding and use of civil rights movements, stereotypical characters, and pop-culture caricatures of historic figures that Detroit takes from in order to tell its story.
    "The franchise was quite rare in that while it seemed like just more male gaze centered media that objectified women, it celebrated women’s sexuality in a way that hasn’t been replicated much. In a world that crucifies women for having lots of consensual sex while men who commit sexual assault get forgiven for it in less time than sending an email? Seeing a game that let a woman character off scot-free for casual sex was refreshing, and even the briefest of lovers were still treated like human beings."
    The Surprising Feminist Overtures of a Leisure Suit Larry Retrospective (By Rachel Presser)
    Rachel Presser finds more positive messages about the agency of female characters, consent, and the way sex in games is portrayed in a series usually looked back at more negatively.
    "Long before I sat down to play Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I was skeptical. But when I found out Jill Murray was tapped as Lead Writer, I remembered how impressed I was by Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry, which set players as the leader of a slave rebellion in the Caribbean. Hearing that the developers had added “Contact Resistant Peoples” to their vocabulary? That this game would feature an “immersive language” option where Spanish, Quechua, and Yucatec would be spoken by NPCs, and Lara Croft would finally have to wrestle with her actions—it gave me hope. Not much, but a glimmer."
    'Shadow of the Tomb Raider' Tries, but Fails, to Tackle Its Own Colonialism (By Dia Lacina)
    Dia Lacina's review of Shadow of the Tomb Raider covers the way the developers marketed the game and if they were able to tackle Lara's legacy and handling of other cultures better than her previous games.
    "The model of the humanoid used in modeling nonhuman life forms, as is the case with my Mass Effect crushes, strikingly tends to appear like a certain kind of human. A human upright with proper stature, fine and narrow facial features, a slim frame, uses standardized English, overly able. Gendered in a binary, too, and if a woman oversexualized, and if a man hypermasculine. Heterosexual, usually. This is not all humanity, these features of body and anatomy and desire presents no real universal. What, then, does my choice in romancing Tali say about my own desires?"
    All Too Human (By Marcos Gonsalez)
    Marcos Gonsalez thoughts on what compelled him as a gay man to romance Tali, unknown possibilities, and the limits of imagination when human aspirational norm is the model.
    "The denouement, in which the player learns that Henry was wrong (and doesn't even get the consolation prize of winning Delilah, the game's princess stand-in), can feel disappointing. Or, to frame it the way this article will, it feels emasculating within the context of traditional videogame constructions of masculinity. Here we have a hero living a modern version of cowboy life: a rugged loner in the Wyoming woods, an unacknowledged alcoholic trying to escape a tragic past, essentially a videogame John Wayne. But Henry's hypermasculine presentation is continuously undermined by the game's mechanics, story and genre. The character exists in an interesting relationship with his masculinity—he performs the motions but is thwarted by a game that disrupts hypermasculine performance at every turn."
    Walking, Talking and Playing with Masculinities in Firewatch (By Melissa Kagen)
    Melissa Kagen on how Firewatch problematizes toxic hypermasculinity through its use of a hypermasculine protagonist in a walking simulator, how masculinity is typically performed in video games, and how walking simulators in general reject or undermine power fantasies.
    "Life Is Strange effectively operates the same logic. Like this globalised 21st century capitalism, it places us in a world whose systems and rules we don’t fully comprehend. It continuously saddles us with ambiguous dilemmas that may or may not be significant. It claims to give us access to the insight and agency necessary to make wise decisions. It uses the concept of agency and free choice to make us responsible for problematic results. And, underneath it all, it ensures that the decisions which plague our conscience actually rarely matter."
    Choice, Guilt and Life Is Strange (By Jon Bailes)
    Jon Bailes reflects on how the design and choices in Life Is Strange mirror the real world beliefs that we are responsible for things that are out of our control.
    "It is defiantly slow-paced, exuberantly unfun, and wholly unconcerned with catering to the needs or wants of its players. It is also captivating, poignant, and at times shockingly entertaining. It moves with the clumsy heaviness of a 19th century locomotive, but like that locomotive becomes unstoppable once it builds up a head of steam. Whether intentionally or not, its tale of failure and doom reflects the tribulations of its own creation, as a charismatic and self-deluded leader tries ever more desperately to convince his underlings to follow him off a cliff. Paradise awaits, he promises. Just push a little bit further; sacrifice a little bit more; hang in there a little bit longer."
    Red Dead Redemption 2: The Kotaku Review (By Kirk Hamilton)
    Kirk Hamilton's eloquent review of Red Dead Redemption 2 focusing on the themes, gameplay, and feel of the final product and how it can be read as a critique of Rockstar's own culture and the human cost of making games.
    "To be clear, I don’t think that these little mini-quests (the man with the snakebite, the wagon with the broken wheel, the woman whose horse died miles from home) offer any interesting choices. But friction doesn’t need to be about choice, only effect and resistance. And like Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra, I think that, despite all of the marketing pretense about the game being a hyper-detailed wild west simulation, Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually more of a theme park totally all centered on you, the player. Unlike something like Crusader Kings 2, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series (especially when modded), or Dwarf Fortress, RDR2’s NPCs aren’t independent agents operating on the same “level” of the game as you are. If the game is a theme park, they’re the ride attendants. The thing is, the rides they operate are all about getting you into trouble, all about causing friction."
    'Red Dead Redemption 2' Is Defined By Its Rough Edges, It's Worth Keeping 'Red Dead Redemption 2' at a Distance, and 'Red Dead Redemption 2' Is a Game of Big Mistakes and Little Victories (By Austin Walker, Patrick Klepek, and Robert Zacny)
    Instead of a more conventional review, the editors of Waypoint (Austin Walker, Patrick Klepek, and Robert Zacny) share their thoughts on Red Dead Redemption 2 through a series of letters to each other. Through their thoughts on the games they each decide on one word to best sum up their experience, those words being friction, distance, and excess.
    "The contradictions of outlaw and institutional American violence are never resolved by the game because, ultimately, it’s honest enough not to offer a pat resolution for the horrors that birthed the United States and characterize the nation to this day. Still, Red Dead 2 is not content simply to wallow in the misery it’s quite right to identify as central to any Western story—or to let its protagonist reach the end of the plot simply as a melancholy sad sack, resigned to despondency because he’s recognized his part in it."
    “A Good Man,” by Reid McCarter (By Reid McCarter)
    Reid McCarter on the characterization of Red Dead Redemption 2's Arthur Morgan as a man wanting to do good in a setting that makes it seem impossible.
    "To make stories out of that type of pain is to accept them as true, and important, because they’re ours. Swery is not an openly queer creator, but through consultation and work with various queer people and a desire to tell a story that accepts people where they are, he and White Owls Inc. have crafted an experience that encapsulates everything I find valuable about depicting queer pain. This is not to praise Swery, exactly, or to elevate his work above the countless queer creators working in the same spaces with powerful intimacy. It’s simply to recognize when a story flirts so close to the mainstream while retaining these transgressive, powerful themes, whether those themes are broached on purpose or not."
    This queer horror game forces you to literally tear yourself apart (By Julie Muncy)
    Julie Muncy on the story and themes of Swery's The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories.
    "One reason I would encourage people to sometimes spill the beans on where their narratives are going is that only stories with plot points we know in advance can speak to the experience of encountering the inevitable in our own lives. The most unavoidable and perhaps most meaningful of these fatalistic events in our lives is death, and a story which lets any character cheat death or which cuts off before we see them have to face down their mortality can never speak to our experiences with the end of life. This is why, to be a game that stares death unflinchingly in the face, What Remains of Edith Finch must let its protagonist, and by extension, us, know that there's only one place they and the other characters can ultimately end up, and its the grave. What Remains is, for a perfectly good reason, a game which spoils itself."
    Epitaph: What Remains of Edith Finch and Death and Bonus Observations on What Remains of Edith Finch (By Gamer_152)
    Giant Bomb moderator, Gamer_152, on how spoilers and death are viewed and how What Remains of Edith Finch talks about death instead of just featuring it.
    "If you’re interested in understanding Valve, and, how, in turn, this led them to make Artifact the way they did, you need to look at the history and, in particular, its knack for finding novel ways to make money. Valve—which is not publicly traded, maintains one of the smallest workforces of any firm of its prestige, and is thought to have the highest profit per employee of any American company—is not like other game companies, and operates according to a different, but specific, set of principles. That fact makes Valve both fascinating and predictable."
    'Artifact' Isn't a Game on Steam, It's Steam in a Game (By Will Partin)
    Will Partin examines Valve's Artifact, not just as a game, but as a service, "a machine for capturing metagames."
    "Despite its superficial antiwar message, the game is obscenely pro-war. Each ‘War Story’ is showcases a highly specific way for a soldier to attain glory, the most important thing to achieve on the battlefield. Auxiliary to this are colonialism in Tirailleur and Nazism in The Last Tiger, mere narrative devices through which more soldiers get to experience the glory of war."
    Battlefield V: A corruption of history (By Ruben Ferdinand)
    Ruben Ferdinand on how we remember war and the way Battlefield 5 presents a war glorifying an apolitical history devoid of meaningful context. Inspired by one of last years best articles, Watching History Fade Away in 'Call of Duty: WWII' by Rob Zacny.
    "It's also revealing that battles about "historical accuracy" so often about race and gender, and never about things like armies of Ptolemaic Egypt looking more like they belong in Age of Mythology than Total War, or the fact that Battlefield V shows V-1 rockets being used as tactical support weapons in 1940? What's being protected here is not the actual reality of the past (few players complain when ancient combat is made so fantastical it looks more like Lord of the Rings or The 300) but a popular historical memory that has consistently valorized Great Men and Martial Glory and ignored just about everything and everyone else."
    How Historical Accuracy Became a Euphemism (By Justin Reeve)
    Archaeologist Justin Reeve discusses multiple games taking place in the past, what and who is represented, why that can be the case, the biases of recorded history and discovery new information, and how most historic liberties get completely ignored by the people most frequently complaining about historical accuracy.
     
    Game Design
    Articles that focus on game design and the ideas and processes behind it
     
    "He runs what some call a “concept team,” a small, independent group that generates game ideas and designs, and then partners with other studios to see those plans through. While not a new approach, this type of team has become more common in recent years — especially among developers who have established a bit of celebrity, and especially in Japan."
    Directing from the sidelines (By Matt Leone)
    Matt Leone looks at the rise of concept teams in the Japanese game industry, focusing on developers such as Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Yoko Taro, Swery65, and Fumito Ueda.
    "From the animation to the art, from the gameplay to online infrastructure, from concept to marketing, there are many disciplines involved. That’s why we’ve put together this resource after chatting with people from all over the industry, so we can all better understand what it takes to make a video game and release it into the world."
    “Game design is like architecture” – video game jobs described by those who do them (By Kirk McKeand)
    Kirk McKeand talks to developers, from a wide variety of disciplines, about their role in a game's creation.
    "A writer's job is basically putting out fires every single day," Will Porter, one of the writers behind No Man's Sky (pre-patch) and Alien: Isolation tells me over coffee during this year's Game Developers Conference. "Everyone always assumes that like the end product is just the straight line. [...] [When] it's basically an ever-moving puzzle board, then someone shouts 'stop!' and you just have to hope that everything is in the right place." He likens writing for games, big budget ones at least, more to being a puzzle designer; the steward of spreadsheets."
    Out of the Wild West: Inside the Evolution of Games Writing (By Caty McCarthy)
    Caty McCarthy speaks to multiple writers about how games writing has evolved over the years in this three part article.
    "I know from working as a Lead Designer how much games rely on individual team members taking ownership over the parts they are given and making it their own. We all find it more expedient to credit entire projects to the figureheads in the media, but isn’t it fascinating to think that videogames are actually a huge melting pot of creative people? All making personal choices, all leaving their mark, all sneaking something that is uniquely theirs into the game. Just because it means something to them. Just because they think it’s fun and cool."
    Sneaking Things into Games (By Steven Thornton)
    Steven Thornton talks to developers about the kinds of things they sneak into games during development and why they do it.
     
    Working In the Game Industry
    Articles focused on what it is like to work in the game industry or in fields connected to the game industry.
     
    "Since I started nine years ago, finding audiences for games criticism has not gotten any easier – in fact, it might now be harder than ever. I say this after spending almost three years curating it every week for Critical Distance. So I’m going to use a series of blog posts to articulate some of the factors that make “real” games criticism relatively invisible."
    Hampering the search for real criticism: Discourse Empress of the World (By Zoyander Street)
    Zoyander Street, the Director of Content at Critical Distance, wrote a series of five articles about game criticism, why it can be more difficult to find quality criticism, barriers to critical writing, keeping publication going, and how the culture and algorithms of Youtube shape discourse.
    "These practices and attitudes that are so prevalent at the managerial level happen to fit hand in glove with the infamously poisonous behaviour of many gamers, who as a group have earned a reputation for their harassment of critics, dissident employees and anyone else they can target for blame for real or imagined slights. Harmful company practices, from crunch to mass layoffs, are so common as to be considered routine in the industry, whereas the incandescent rage that became so apparent during the height of Gamergate, is treated more like an embarrassing indiscretion of consumers that isn’t sanctioned by respectable corporate figures in the industry. But that’s a lie that has only become more obvious over time, especially as workers and marginalized people in the subculture have made their voices louder. Angry gamers can easily be understood as a pool of reactionary scabs that serve as a resource for videogame companies that prefer it when its workforce is afraid, quiet, and deprived of the leverage it needs."
    Worse than Scabs: Gamer Rage as Anti-Union Violence (By Lana Polansky)
    Lana Polansky reports about working conditions in the game industry using past events, developer stories, company statements, and other reports to discuss the usual tactics companies have to exploit employees, how companies make use of angry gamers against developers, and how the now frequent exposure to this has helped to unite more workers.
    "Work had become rote, and his coworkers’ persistent skepticism had eaten away at his own excitement to be working in the games industry. When he joined Virtuos in 2007, he was surprised to learn his first assignment would be working on EA’s Medal of Honor: Airborne, the same project his Russian employer had been working on, though there he was working on the game’s military uniforms and in Shanghai he’d be responsible for making the game’s vintage gun models. He’d come halfway around the world only to end up working on the same game."
    THE UNIVERSE HAS BEEN OUTSOURCED: (By: Michael Thomsen)
    Michael Thomsen talks to employees at one of the biggest outsourcing companies in the games industry.
    "I went to meet with another former colleague on the board," Kennedy added, "and said 'you're telling the team it's okay but it's not, this is the terrain warning on the plane saying 'pull up', and you have to do something. The response I got was 'everything's fine, everything will be great when we go to full launch, you don't understand how the company works any more'.
    Behind the sunless scenes (By Tom Phillips)
    Tom Phillips speaks to Failbetter employees about the complex picture of life inside the studio before and after a surprising announcement lead to layoffs at the small company.
    "The story of Telltale — its rise, decline, and potential reformation — is not just the story of the missteps of one studio. It’s a shocking window into the $36 billion video game industry (which is now so large and lucrative that it rivals the film industry), and how its worst practices can grind down and burn out even the most devoted and valuable employees."
    TOXIC MANAGEMENT COST AN AWARD-WINNING GAME STUDIO ITS BEST DEVELOPERS and THE TRAGIC END OF TELLTALE GAMES (By Megan Farokhmanesh)
    Back in March, Megan Farokhmanesh reported on how toxic management cost Telltale its best developers and how their story is also a window into the workings of the larger game industry. Six months later, after the sudden closure of the studio, she talks to former employees about the abrupt closure.
    "The aim of this post is to take stock of the current situation, briefly explore the history of unionisation in games and adjacent industries, identify the lessons that could be learned from this history, and propose a set of goals that the movement should aspire to."
    On the Path towards Unionising the Games Industry (By Seva Kritskiy)
    Seva Kritskiy on the path to unionizing the game industry, past attempts at unionization in the early days of the tech industry, and links to other stories with information on other countries, hiring practices, etc.
    "Every time, someone says something that makes me go think, puts into words a feeling I couldn’t articulate, or argues in a way that forces a re-examination of conclusions. The opinions of others help me better form my own. It’s a process built on my reaction, and the result is a delightful mixture. What’s important is the fluidity, keeping one’s mind open to the possibility of not only challenging a personal reaction, but willing to admit you could be wrong."
    I Really Like 'God of War,' But Reserve The Right to Change My Mind (By Patrick Klepek)
    Patrick Klepek on changing your mind about a game as you process your thoughts and the views of others and how a review can often only reflect a fixed moment in time.
    "For all the media talk of how much money the video game industry makes, the number of major studios in America is vanishingly small, and far flung. When it comes to blockbuster studios most towns, so the saying goes, aren’t big enough for the both of them. In five years, D’Angelo was forced to move between states no fewer than four times. “Some folks might be more comfortable with this type of lifestyle, bouncing around the country every year, but it wasn’t for me,” he says. At one low point, D’Angelo relocated his family to a more expensive part of the country for a contract role only to be laid off two months after arriving, in a sweep of cost-cutting redundancies. Locked into a rental agreement based on previous earnings, he burned through the family’s savings. In the twelve months it took to find another position in the area, he was forced to moonlight at a job in a local warehouse."
    The great video game exodus (By Simon Parkin)
    Simon Parkin talks to developers about the realities of working in the game industry and how it causes people to leave it behind.
    "So the problems our team of moderators faced were on multiple fronts. We had players who felt it was their right to offend and/or didn’t respect the rules that they agreed to upon making their account. On the other end we had our hands tied by management. We weren’t there to serve players, or deal with bad actors. We were there to service and maintain—“embiggen”—the Money Hose."
    Game Companies Can Serve Communities or Customers, But Rarely Both (By Christopher Williams)
    Former moderator Christopher Williams talks about his experiences working in the community management side of game companies.
    "It’s not unusual for a tech or gaming company to struggle with sexism and lack of diversity. In recent years, some studios have tried to reckon with that reality, taking steps to hire more women and making games that showcase more diverse characters. But at Riot, the fundamental values fueling its celebrated culture of “core gamers” and Riot devotees over the past decade may also be the root causes of an ingrained sexism that manifests in both blatant and subtle ways."
    Inside The Culture Of Sexism At Riot Games, 'We're Sorry': Riot Pledges Sweeping Changes To Address Accusations Of Sexism, and Riot Games Says It Wants To Clean Up Its Mess, But The People Who Made It Are Still There (By Cecilia D'Anastasio)
    Cecilia D'Anastasio speaks to current and former Riot employees about the culture of the studio. Her second article covers the response by Riot and links to former Riot employees (Meagan Marie, Yonah Bex Gerber, Katie De Sousa, Kristen Fuller, Barry Hawkins, and Zoë Curnoe) that expand on Cecilia's report by detailing their own experiences with the company. Her final article covers company actions shortly after and the problem with addressing problems when the people that caused them are all still there. Cecilia's initial article was nominated for a WGA award and Riot is currently being sued for gender discrimination and has had their COO suspended for misconduct.
    "They're our best — and often only — record of the human labor that goes into game development, serving not only as a reminder that games are made by people — sometimes lots of them — but also as a tool for developers to advance their careers."
    How bad crediting hurts the game industry and muddles history (By Richard Moss)
    Richard Moss on the way crediting is treated in the industry and its importance when it comes to issues of labor, history, and authorship.
    "Rockstar is usually a fortress of silence, a company which lets its games do the talking. But these past few weeks have seen the dam break and its staff speak out - some for the first time in their careers - about the sacrifices they have made and the fear they may have to do this again."
    Inside Rockstar Games' Culture Of Crunch and The human cost of Red Dead Redemption 2 (By Jason Schreier and Tom Phillips)
    Jason Schreier speaks with over 70 current and former Rockstar employees and reports his findings on the company's culture. Tom Phillips later spoke to some additional employees and posits that it is up to us to listen to them to change how games are made.
     
    Life, Culture, and Games
    Articles on the meaning that games can have for people, connections they help create, how we look at them, how they influence people, and why they matter.
     
    "By successfully convincing video game writing of its automatic importance and making the former dependent on its existence, the blockbuster circumvents any need to justify its own existence. Safe from reproach, it laughs at any form of game lesser than itself for daring to think it has value. Only the blockbuster is deserving of any real attention, regardless of what it does to warrant that attention. “Behold!”, it announces to all it has forced to listen. “The nothing I proclaim is more important than anything you will ever say. My easily predicted failures will always be more deserving of discussion than the greatest success you could possibly muster.”
    The imagined importance of the blockbuster game (By Brian Crimmins)
    Brian Crimmins' essay on the unearned significance people give to blockbuster games and the historical importance of mods and bootlegs to both the companies that create them and the course of gaming's history.
    "In his talk, Cranford mentioned that people had sometimes approached him over the years and told him that The Bard’s Tale had really impacted their lives. This didn’t surprise me at all, of course. They were extraordinary games for their time, taking the barebones foundation of the early Wizardry games and bringing it to life. Cranford said that he wanted his talk to convey to attendees his philosophy for how to create games that might change people’s lives. I was intrigued. But by the time he was done speaking, I felt that his ideas about this were narrow, and belonged back in 1985 alongside his innovative masterpiece."
    The Past, the Present, and the Absent: Reflections on GDC 2018 (By Carolyn Petit)
    Carolyn Petit on GDC, gaming's past and present, a game she loved in 1985, a game she loved in 2017, and the games that don't get created.
    "God of War didn’t give me the numbness I’d wanted, but it turned out I needed the non-numbness more. When my dad died, I didn’t have any actual ashes to scatter or cathartic quests to undertake. I had a controller, and Kratos, and Kratos’s son."
    The Ghosts of ‘God of War’ (By Ben Lindbergh)
    Ben Lindbergh tells a personal story about his father and of his experience playing God of War.
    "For me, this is maybe the ultimate takeaway of this extended ramble through the history of the the critic and the reviewer. We don’t need help finding more good games—many of us have a virtual stack larger than we could ever play. What we do need is help figuring out what to do with this panoply of digital delights."
    The Reviewer and The Critic (By Eron Rauch)
    Eron Rauch looks at the history of review and criticism in a variety of areas and how it relates to video games.
    "I think the thing I really wanted from the Wii, more than motion controls or Miis or the ability to very slowly check the forecast, was a chance to feel like I was adequate. If Sony and Microsoft treated the “console wars” like an athletic competition, Nintendo saw it as more of a challenge in identity."
    What the Wii Meant for Me (By Matthew Koester)
    Matthew Koester on what the Wii meant to him and finding beauty in its limitations.
    "When one of World of Warcraft’s top ten guilds recruited Cam as their chief hunter, his suicidal thoughts surged. To earn the enviable invitation, Cam had spent 16 hours a day grinding on WoW, to the detriment of everything else. He told his father he’d scored a job at a local restaurant, but every day after his dad dropped him off at the McDonald’s across the street, Cam would hop the first bus home and log back on. There was no job. There would be no paycheck. Cam’s only obligation was to his night elf hunter, and it was an all-consuming commitment."
    The Truth About 'Video Game Addiction' (By Cecilia D'Anastasio)
    The World Health Organization’s recently approved the classification of gaming disorder, Cecilia interviews former gamers about their addiction to playing games and a psychologist that has been researching gaming addiction since 1999 to learn their stories and whether or not declaring someone addicting to games is likely to overlook larger issues that can be the root cause of their behavior.
    "It eventually became evident that I wasn’t looking for escapism with this video game, but rather enlightenment."
    How Night in the Woods Guided Me in Mourning a Friend (By Chris Compendio)
    Chris Compendio on how Night in the Woods helped them to navigate through the trauma of losing a friend.
    "What many who have invested their careers and identities into indie games fail to face is that legitimacy is never something that the dominant culture just gives to you. It’s something that’s earned over years and years of fights to change culture and values. Videogames may still be mostly associated with mindless and soul-sucking escapism for many, but in the meantime they’ve become an increasingly ever-present part of our culture. Youtubers and livestreamers who primarily play videogames easily have more viewers than any of the major networks or streaming services. Many on the outside will decry this as the end of culture, but they ignore that this just how culture works."
    There Are Not “Too Many Games”: What The Indiepocalypse Panic Ignores (By Liz Ryerson)
    Liz Ryerson's response to the article, "There are too many video games. What now?". Ryerson covers why the modern day industry is not like the industry of 1983, the wave of creativity that is taking games to places that weren't thought of or possible in the past, making games for the art of it, legitimacy, and games becoming an increasingly relevant and present part of culture.
    "A ComicBook.com article about Soulcalibur VI refers to Ivy as a “scantily clad boob monster” not once but twice. Metro’s coverage of the game described Ivy’s “design and attire” as “problematic” without mentioning the other female fighters, presumably because Ivy is the go-to example. In one Twitch stream that I watched of Soulcalibur VI, the hosts joked that Ivy Valentine was “not stream-appropriate” and didn’t select her, although characters like Talim and Seong Mi-Na didn’t seem to embarrass them."
    The Inexplicable Sexiness Of Ivy Valentine (By Maddy Myers)
    Maddy Myers on the attire of the women of Soulcalibur and how her feelings on the character Ivy have changed over time as conversations surrounding Ivy tended to be based around body shaming.
    "Mastering Pac-Man was more useful to me. I was becoming, years later, a scholar of mazes. This is the way out, Mr. Uston’s book said. It taught me that there was, in fact, a safe path through the labyrinth; that there was an opaque logic beneath the pixels. All I had to do was put in the time to study; study and learn, and eventually I’d be okay again. Study and learn, and maybe, against all odds, I’d find my way out of this."
    Video games saved my life (By Scott C. Jones)
    Scott C. Jones tells a personal story of childhood traumas and how games helped to guide him through them and to heal in adulthood.
    "I walk around the Solace and realize that all of this is now mine. I have a spacious office for business, a hanger with ships, a massive bridge full of consoles, and even a small bar. I am the lord of my very own castle. The proud owner of a huge starship. And I have nothing to do with it. All I can do is sit down in my lonely office and remember my now-absent friends."
    Looking Back On My Former Life In Star Wars: The Old Republic (By Heather Alexandra)
    Heather Alexandra revisits an old home in Star Wars The Old Republic and reminisces on what the game meant to her and the meaningful connections we forge in games.
     
    Esports
    Articles focused on the world of competitive gaming and companies and players involved in it
     
    "Tran doesn’t live in the mansion; he has his own apartment. Roston Yoo, the team manager, lives upstairs in a bedroom of his own. Yoo’s bedroom is the only one with a fully stocked liquor cabinet. “That,” Tran says, gesturing towards the bottles, “is how you make it four months with four days off.” Yoo, for his part, joked that whenever he’s had a drink in the past, he has “walked it off” whenever any of the pro gamers comes to his room in the middle of the night to tell him they had a nightmare."
    How Pro Gamers Live Now: Curfews, Personal Chefs, And All Of It On Camera (By Maddy Myers)
    Maddy Myers tours three esports organizations and interviews players about how they live, their schedules, how they keep healthy, their thoughts on unions and burnout, and how they can grow to see each other as family.
    "The complete story of how one of esports’s biggest franchises, rose, fell, and may yet live again"
    ‘StarCraft II’: How Blizzard Brought the King of Esports Back From the Dead (By Will Partin)
    Will Partin tells the story of the game that made him love esports.
     
    Game Industry Abroad
    Articles covering the game industry of different countries, mostly focused on the ones that we don't often associate with video games, or covering how the industry is growing and effecting people and places worldwide.
     
    "In Poland, being a supporter of the environment has been a [concern] of the Left. If you are pro-environment, you are a leftist, you are a hippy. We noticed that a lot of people are supporting the Polish government logging the forest, just because they don’t want to be connected to the leftists. The scientific community supports leaving the forest alone. We wanted to reach out to kids. They don’t have this polarised view of reality yet. We wanted to create a neutral ground.”
    How Minecraft helped save one of the world's biggest primeval forests (By Kirk McKeand)
    Kirk McKeand on how Minecraft helped to stop logging in the Białowieża forest in Poland.
    "Having traveled widely in Asia, I’ve yet to find a country where games don’t have a foothold. I’ve chatted about Overwatch with tour guides in Vietnam, and watched novice monks play Candy Crush in Thailand. In Namche Bazaar, a supply town sitting at 11,286 feet in the Khumbu region of Nepal, I met a young man who plays Clash of Clans. Mobile titles fit well into a life spent walking between mountain villages. But this Vietnamese poster was the first time I’d detected a religious backlash to video games. Intrigued, I started to dig, reading internet comments about phone-addicted monks. I studied interviews with the Karmapa Lama, the second-highest ranked Lama in Tibetan Buddhism—and an avid FPS player."
    In Thailand, Buddhist Monks Grapple with the Meaning of Video Games (By Robert Rath)
    Robert Rath discusses life, games, and reincarnation with Buddhist monks in Thailand.
    "As GDC approached, Ismail posted updates on Facebook asking if anyone could contribute. Soon, the fourth of his six panelists was prevented from entering the United States. #1ReasonToBe was quickly turning into #NotEnoughPanelistsToExist."
    Trump’s travel ban knocks more game developers out of this year’s GDC and #ThirdWorldProblems: How to not get a visa for GDC (By Imad Khan and Gwendelyn Foster)
    Imad Khan reports on the struggles of developers attempting to attend GDC and how the panel that was focusing on having developers from around the world telling their stories had more than half of its original panelists prevented from entering the United States. Gwendelyn Foster, one of the GDC speakers denied a visa, on being treated with diplomatic hostility in a global industry.
    "For two years, vigilante swarms of gamers have been picking through South Korean games professionals’ social media profiles, sniffing out the slightest hint of feminist ideology. Anything from innocuous Twitter “likes” to public pleas for gender equality have provoked harassment from these hostile freelance detectives. It doesn’t end at hate mail and online pile-ons; jobs have been put in jeopardy."
    In South Korea, Gamers Stage An Inquisition Against Feminists (By Cecilia D'Anastasio and Seung Park)
    Cecilia D'Anastasio and Seung Park report on human rights organizations findings in South Korea, the targeting of game developers that are found talking about women's rights by South Korean gamers, and the companies that give into gamer's threats.
    "Ecuador is not a place known for its gaming culture. Only larger cities like Guayaquil, Manta and the capital, Quito, have any substantial cyber cafe presence. And although these small, family-run establishments offer rental time on PCs and consoles, they pale in comparison to the massive, hundred-person LAN cafes and esports arenas that exist in many parts of Europe and Asia, where gamers pack in elbow to elbow for marathon sessions on high-end machines in smoky rooms."
    The video games of Ecuadorean fishing village Santa Marianita (By Kimberly Koenig)
    Kimberly Koenig visitis Ecuadorian fishing village Santa Marianita, discovering how people find ways to play games everywhere.