Category Archives: Close Playing

Identifies a theme, undertone, or implicit cultural message in a game that has gone unremarked by most.

Close Playing: The Swapper

  I am the last undamaged consciousness. If I can even call myself undamaged. I am the sole survivor of a plague; I am the sole survivor of a machine. I am an avatar, generated from something meaningless, or something … Continue reading

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“You Presume Too Much”: Love and Sex in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

She said “my love.” I know she did! I didn’t dream it—at least I think I didn’t. It’s quite natural really: her Kingdom’s conquered, she has nothing, no one to protect her. She needs me! I can see it in … Continue reading

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Sadistic Design in Spec Ops: The Line

“Yet to go further in tackling these issues I’d like to look at them as symptoms, not as the problems themselves. There’s something wrong with our commercial games, and with the core audience that buys and loves them. There’s something … Continue reading

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Gotcha!: Pokémon and The Control of Abject Bodies

by Braydon Beaulieu Fire Blast. Thundershock. Giga Drain. Psybeam. These words drip with nostalgia for those who played – or still play, in my case, as with many others – the Pokémon games. They are attacks that expel elemental energy from the bodies of creatures that populate the regions of one of Nintendo’s most successful game franchises – a franchise that has blossomed into card games, television shows, films, manga, et cetera. Pokémon pervades the imaginations of people around the globe, and not simply children. You’d be hard-pressed to find a gamer who wasn’t at least cursorily familiar with the mechanics of Pokémon. Catch ’em, train ’em, become a master. The player improves his or her team of pocket monsters by battling them against other creatures with increasingly powerful attacks and evolutionary forms. The term used to describe unclean, out-of-control bodies is “abject,” a term that points to such bodies Continue reading

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Close Playing Baldur’s Gate: Still the Same Old Daddy Issues

While Baldur’s Gate’s game play is still clunky — I can’t count the number of times I yelled at my party: “You can’t walk through walls, goddammit!” — the themes it engages with are still worthy of attention, nearly a decade and a half later. I’m not going to drone on about the game play mechanics and how it revolutionized the arena of PC gaming or how the Dungeons and Dragon RPG style is or is not stale. Instead, I want to get at an issue that is important to me as an adult feminist, and how Baldur’s Gate functions as a beautiful example of this: that is, the identity politics at the forefront of the narrative. Continue reading

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On Unification: Tying the Room Together

by Lana Polansky Not long ago, Matthew S. Burns posted a very succinct, very apt response on his blog, Magical Wasteland, to Taylor Clarke’s now-infamous Kotaku piece, “Most Popular Video Games are Dumb. Can We Stop Apologizing For Them Now.” … Continue reading

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