BG 34 – Digital: A Love Story; Nostalgia, Irony and Cyberpunk

After a month’s break, Futurismic have my thirty fourth Blasphemous Geometries column.

The subject of this month’s column is Christine Love’s amazing indie (and freely downloadable!) game Digital: A Love Story and how some video games deploy nostalgia in a decidedly ironic register in order to both revisit the past and deconstruct our desire for a non-existent idyll.

BG 33 – Tell Your Own Damn Stories! Games, Overreading and Emergent Narrative

One of the most startling things about the opening to Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas is that the cut scenes are well-written.  Their characters are well drawn, their dialogue is consistently funny and their narrative arcs are drawn boldly and with a real grasp of human psychology.  In the world of video-game cut scenes such artistry is practically unheard of.  In fact, by and large, you are far more likely to remember a cut scene for its terrible dialogue or woeful translation than you are for its aesthetic quality.  Unfortunately, as far as most video-games are concerned, the problem stretches beyond a few laughable cut scenes and into the realms of systemic narrative failure: Like operas and porn films, video-games are universally badly written.

And yet games are more than capable of telling great stories.

My solution?  Hang all video-game writers and Tell Your Own Damn Stories!

My thirty third Blasphemous Geometries column over at Futurismic explains how.

BG 31 – Paying Attention is Not Fun : Crackdown 2

Futurismic have just put up my latest (and somewhat delayed) Blasphemous Geometries column.

The column looks at Crackdown 2 and wonders why its main narrative is so utterly incapable of maintaining our interest.  Is the problem bad writing?  Have our brains been re-wired by the internet as suggested by Susan Greenfield and Nicholas Carr?  And if it has, should we care?

BG 30 – Roleplaying Games and The Cluttered Self

Futurisimc have my thirtieth Blasphemous Geometries column entitled “Roleplaying Games and The Cluttered Self”.

The column is both a defence of Consumerism and an examination of the ways in which we express, formulate and find ourselves through the process of playing games.  It is also the longest piece of writing I have ever published, clocking in at over 6,500 words.  It is also the first piece of writing for which I took photos (the photos in question are of my old room at my mum’s house, which I have been clearing out over the past few months).

Aside from these minor formal experiments, the piece also marks something of a departure from my traditional critical stomping grounds and towards something a good deal more personal in that I try to use my thinking about games to shed some light on some thinking I have recently been doing about myself.  I’m not entirely sure how effective the experiment has been, but it was certainly an interesting experience trying something so different.

BG 28 – Dead Space : The Shock Doctrine Goes Interplanetary

Futurismic have my latest Blasphemous Geometries column.

As I promised last month, this column moves away from my recent tendency to use games as launching pads in order to provide a detailed analysis of one particular game – the zombies-in-space third person action game Dead Space.  This piece was quite a lot of fun to write, hopefully you’ll enjoy reading my analysis of what is possibly the most furiously Marxist video game ever produced.

BG 27 – Fantasies of Mere Competence : Football Manager 2010

Futurismic have my latest Blasphemous Geometries column.

It is a development of some of the idea expressed in this column from a few months ago but rather than looking at Fantasy as an avenue for escapism, I decided to look at the more modest and mundane ways in which people aspire and escape.  A trend embodied in TV programmes like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and games like Football Manager 2010.

I’ve also decided to take a slightly different approach with next month’s column.  Recently, I have been using games as springboards to look at wider issues.  This is partly a result of my own game-laying experience of late which has seen me bouncing out of new games and returning again and again to games I have already written about like GTA IV, Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age.  However, I think that it would be good for me to keep my feet on the ground with regards to writing about games so I have decided that next month at least will herald a return to a closer examination of one particular game.

BG 24 – We Are All Sheep : Avatar, Bayonetta and the Hypnosis of Low-Brow culture

Futurismic have my twenty fourth Blasphemous Geometries column entitled We Are All Sheep : Avatar, Bayonetta and the Hypnosis of Low-Brow Culture.  The column draws partly on some of the thinking I did for my recent Ozu piece and partly on some of the things I said about the Hugo awards last summer.

The piece was motivated by the intense and viscerally negative reaction I had to Bayonetta.  I hated it.  I hated it more than any game I have played in recent memory.  In fact, I hated it more than any cultural artifact I have recently rubbed my brain up against.  I was going to put together a hatchet job but then I took a step back and realised that my reaction to Bayonetta was no different to the one film critics have had against Avatar, and that my tendency to explain away the opinions of people who enjoy games like Bayonetta is disingenuous.  So, instead of saying that Bayonetta is low-brow or stupid, I thought I would put forward a way of looking at the process through which opinions are formed in the first place.