A Man’s Post-World

Fallout Shelter

On his personal blog, Eugene Fisher describes how a patriarchal system arises from Fallout Shelter‘s pregnancy mechanic even when women are, ostensibly, no different statistically from men. It’s a good analysis that shows how ideology slides even into the most benign design choices.

Whodunit

Her Story blurry

Jacob Doolin adds his own thoughts on this summer’s indie curiosity, Her Story for Byte, where he discusses the game’s place among the growing trend of mystery stories. Although murder mysteries aren’t new to fiction, with the recent releases of Gone GirlTrue Detective and now Her Story, Doolin seeks to find a place for the new game in light of the growing fascination with the murder narrative.

PitchJam 3

G-logo

Good Games Writing is proud to announce the third annual Pitch Jam to take place August 15 to August 16, 2015.

Are you a freelance writer looking to receive comprehensive feedback on your pitching skills? We’re assembling an expert panel of professionals (editors, freelancers, and more!) to give you a guaranteed critical evaluation in the name of building your overall skillset, but only if you submit your pitch on time. Last Pitch Jam, we critiqued a large number of pitches, and given the success of previous applicants, we anticipate a very large turnout this year.

That said, you absolutely must RSVP in advance to #PitchJam so we can gauge the number of participants. Got a feature explaining the connection between Gwent and tarot cards, a profile on an indie developer with the next big hit, or a ‘listicle’ on the best Splatoon loadouts? Hit. Us. Up. RSVP will be up starting August 1st.

As long as you submit your pitch within the 72 hour window of the event you will receive feedback on it. Simple, right? So don’t miss a great opportunity to learn from and connect with accomplished professionals! Games writing should celebrate self-education and professional development of new voices, and #PitchJam is here to make that happen.

Who: Developing writers OR established editors/freelancers/etc

What: Pitch Jam! Where developing writers get guaranteed feedback on their pitches and veterans critique as they hone their craft.

Where: Online with your standard email account and back-channeling with us on Twitter via #PitchJam

When: August 14 pitches will start being accepted until late on the 15th. Feedback will be received on the 15th and 16th.

Why: You want to get better, right? In addition to great feedback, this is an excellent time to network.

Questions? Hit us up at thepitchjam(@)gmail(.)COM

Catch Me a Dream

Dreamfall Chapters Zoe caring

Fem Hype writer, Ruth Wynne reflects on Dreamfall: Chapters episode 3 as a part of her ongoing look at the series. It’s not so much a review as an ongoing examination of the ongoing game in relation to its storied history and the genre at large. It’s as much an examination of what Dreamfall offers as it is of what we expect from densely narrative adventure games. Bonus points for writing such an analysis without including any spoilers.

Not like any Other

Dragon Age qunari

Elizabeth Sampat discusses the complexities of Dragon Age‘s qunari for Gamasutra. While most speculative fiction (especially videogames) props up an Othered race to guiltlessly give into a violent xenophobia, according to Sampat, the qunari are a case of ever-evolving nuance, where they are not treated as barbaric animals but as a complex and flawed society like any other.

Double Header: Making Better Open World Games

Batman_Arkham_Knight-coverart

Arkham Knight has been inspiring a lot of critical discourse, so here’s a couple of pieces that talk about just how tedious it can all be.

Writing on Kotaku, Nathan Grayson laments that “while there’s tons to do in Arkham Knight, a lot of it strikes me as filler—gristle and fat rather than meat”. Ouch.

On PCGamesN, Fraser Brown comments that Arkham Knight players are “faced with tasks ripped straight out of earlier games. It’s not just busywork, it’s busywork that we’ve already done. ” Double Ouch.

These are interesting reads because they take entirely separate paths. For instance, Grayson argues that the Dark Knight could maybe use a few new supervillains, ala Shadow of Mordor:

Shadow of Mordor was so good because the nemesis system tied the whole game together. Even when I was doing something I barely gave a shit about—wrangle mythological Tolkien monster X, find ancient weapon location Y, etc—there was almost always a chance that one of my nemeses would show up and crash my party, rain on my parade, and bleed all over my buffet table. And then suddenly, I’d have this awesome mini-story to think about or share with friends, who would invariably reply, “Please Nathan can we talk about anything that’s not orcs hey are you even listening to me nope you’re thinking about orcs.”

Meanwhile, Brown tears into open world games:

And then I wonder how many people would play a game like Her Story – a short, mechanically simple, fixed-in-one-place game that can be completed in an hour or two – if it had been £30? Would I have bought it?

How gloomy!

Open world games are certainly fighting to become the AAA standard. I suspect we’ll hear a lot more on this subject in the near future.

Chasing Goats

tototemple-starwhal

There’s no secret to it: We’re proudly Canadian here. Mark’s an Ontario boy. I’m a prairie farmer. We like Canada in all of its moose-y goodness. But it’s a little strange how little writing focuses on Canadian games and games makers given the country’s status as the third largest producers of games in the world, behind Japan and the United States. We’re happy to report that ookpixels is out to remedy that, and their first long-form feature is a good start to what we hope becomes a regular, refined home for Canadian voices.

Their first featured game? Toto Temple Deluxe.

Toto Temple (and its soon-to-be-released “deluxe” counterpart) is a multiplayer party game about holding a goat for as long as you possibly can. The opposing players will give chase, attacking with the aforementioned dash in an attempt to steal the goat away. The longer you hold the goat, the higher your score at the end of the round.

While a bit simpler than what Juicy Beast had originally aimed to do at TOJam, Toto Temple seemed to fit the theme of “uncooperative” quite nicely. They even managed to pay homage to the festival itself, and that homage will stay with the game through to its eventual home console release. “We wanted to fight for something, so we thought ‘let’s use the goat,’” says Yowan. “Every year they ask for us to add the goat to the game. It’s their running gag.”

There’s a lot of gamesy Canadiana in there, we know. But we think you’ll enjoy this long-read. We’re certainly eager to see more from the ookpiks.

Read the rest here.

Pistols at Dawn

Gears of War chainsaw duel

Boy have I ever been slacking off! Sorry folks. Today we return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Josh Snyder over at Theory of Gaming ponders the place of guns in videogame stories, drawing on a number of works in game and in film to buff up his argument. It’s a thoughtful read if you have some time to dedicate to it.

Games Just Wanna Have Fun

Bioshock fire

Over at Haywire Magazine, Salvadore Pane asks why he’s able to submit to a painfully unfun but intellectually stimulating film like Spring Breakers while being completely unwilling to engage with a game unless it’s fun. Fun is one of those recurring hot-button issues for those who want to seriously study games and usually the conversation concludes with some call for more than what fun can offer. Therefore it’s nice to see Pane frame the conversation from his personal experience as someone who both wants serious art and fun in his games and accepting that there may be no reconciliation between the two.

A Different History

Red Alert 2 chronosphere

In a preview for the latest issue, the bi-monthly games studies journal Memory Insufficient has released an article by Mark Johnson that examines superweapons in the first two Red Alert games in the Command and Conquer series. According to Johnson, the aesthetics of each piece of technology reflects how history remembers the allies and the Soviets, even though the games take place in an alternate history where the cold war heated up and prompted each superpower to pursue different kinds of superweapons rather than stockpiling the same one. A can’t-miss for those into war history or speculative fiction.