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.


Xbox 360 console image

Jackson Tyler of Abnormal Mapping describes the emotions that come with packing away his Xbox 360, reminiscing about the days when he played it daily and the person he was back then. It’s a more personal piece that we’re used to but I think it demonstrates how videogames exist in the background of our personal changes in a way that, upon reflection, can prompt some deep thoughts.

Learn by Doing

Portal 2 tutorial

Game designer, writer and 3D artist Mahreen Fatima pens an analysis of tutorials in sandbox games for Haywire Magazine. According to the author, games like Portal embed their instruction manuals in the first levels organically, making a more natural flow into the game proper. For Fatima, the best way to learn a game is through incremental experimentation rather than through bulleted instruction lists. From the article:

Being engaged, interacting, and applying new information can lead to experimentation, which can allow for more memorable experiences. Figuring out new things by yourself makes the discoveries more personal—you figured out that technique, combo, or mechanic.

Off the Beaten Path

The Witcher III fire spell

Nick Keutzer guest posts at Game Church in a lovely piece describing the stories that emerge in The Witcher III every time he strays from the game’s path. It’s a brief article but it nails down exactly what the author finds appealing in the game and focuses on the relationship that play creates between game and player.

Elementary, My Dear…

Jenny LeClue Detectivù

Hello Good Games Readers. I have returned from a conference where I met many amazing folks and learned many amazing things. Near the top of that list is that I am generally unconditioned to the amount of beer one must ingest to participate in in post-panel celebrations. However, I have returned with more good games writing to share with you all.

I’ll get back in the rhythm of things by citing a review of the teaser demo for Jenny LeClue Detectivù by Lindsay Goto on Fem Hype. Normally we don’t share reviews, but this one is especially good because it not only contextualizes Jenny LeClue with a plethora of other games, but it ties the author’s experience into the prose which, for me anyway, always makes a game seem more human in review. Anyway, Jenny LeClue is available for pre-order on the official website along with the playable teaser that you may download for free and compare your own experiences with Goto’s.

New Team Member

Kingmaker Press Appoints Outreach Director

New Position Created to Strengthen Charitable Commitment

 Lethbridge, AB – Kingmaker Press, operators of and numerous upcoming projects, announced today that Joseph Knoop has joined the team to assist Kingmaker in developing its outreach programs, services, fundraising, and publishing that isn’t completed in-house. Joseph is the outgoing Editor-in-Chief of BYTE BSU, a student-led geek media publication hosted and supported by Kingmaker Press. Joseph will bring his experience as Editor of BYTE to Kingmaker to serve as the liaison between it and Kingmaker administration, offering insight and advice to the incoming team.

In addition to this role as liaison, Joseph will be tasked with helping to establish and support other student-led publications, guiding them through the intricacies of university/college approval, web hosting, and promotion. Furthermore, Joseph will aid in finding quality volunteer-run games websites in danger of disappearing from the Internet, providing resources necessary to preserve and host these websites going forward. Just this year Kingmaker Press began its preservation efforts by taking over the hosting of Kingmaker Press provides these services free of charge as part of its mandate to “Change the Discourse”.

Evan McIntosh, Executive Director of Kingmaker Press, said “Joe’s talent and passion shone through as the Editor of BYTE. We’re happy to add him to our roster in this new position. Joe will get a chance to expand the reach of Kingmaker Press into new realms, to support amazing projects and, importantly, the next generation of talented writers. We’re very fortunate to find somebody of Joe’s caliber to fulfill this unique role and help drive our organization forward.”

Joseph Knoop will report directly to the Executive Director, joining a talented team that includes Dylan Cole (Operations Manager), Aaron Hudspeth (Technical Director), and Lucas Guimaraes (Special Projects Consultant). The role of Editorial Director is yet to be filled.



D. Cole

Seeing the Appeal

Destiny landscape

I say this a lot, but Fem Hype is quickly becoming one of my favourite places to see writers talk about games. Jackie O, a life-long non-gamer discusses how she camp to appreciate the artform after watching her boyfriend play Destiny and Alien: Isolation. Sometimes games people can get a little too self-congratulatory when entering the “games-as-art” conversation, but this piece avoids a lot of the pitfalls of talking up aesthetic qualities. From the article:

I didn’t realize that video games had evolved into vehicles of intricate stories and creative gameplay. At the heart of these games were stories of resilience, hope, anger, and grief—expressed in a way that gives the player agency and responsibility.

The Beautiful Game Game

FIFA 2015 game start

Over at Memory Insufficient, Lucas Johnson details the fascinating history of John Green’s popular let’s play series of FIFA Soccer. Through Green’s series, Johnson discusses just how elaborate emergent narratives can become when the audience is motivated enough to turn data into narrative. Memory Insufficient is one of the best purveyors of criticism on the web right now and Johnson’s article really highlights the creativity and analytic skill that goes into making it.

A Family That Plays Together

Unwinnable issue 42

In issue 42 of Unwinnable, Andrea Ayres delves into how gaming with her developmentally disabled twin sister helped her grow individually and closer to her family, albeit with difficulty. Although Unwinnable is a subscription-based magazine, there’s a great preview available for everyone.