July 2015

Hello, my friends! In my continued effort to re-emerge from hiding after my (successful!) PhD qualifying exams, I am back with another month of LPs! Before we get started, I want to extend special thanks to Riley MacLeod for taking over in June and also for just being an awesome person.

There was a lot of great content this month, so let’s dig in and see what July brought us  This Month in Let’s Plays:

Systems and The Meanings They Create

In the latest addition to Stephen Beirne’s Two-Minute Game Crit series, Beirne looks at how menus work as a form of introspection that present information internal to the playable-character. In this video he specifically analyzes the menu options, and how they promote social engagement, in Persona 3.

Elsewhere, Heather Alexandra looks at Planetside 2 and its (intended or not) message about the value of life. Unlike Call of Duty or CounterStrike, Planetside 2 has no matches, and as a result, there is no start or stop to conflict. The constant respawns after death can make the player feel like they are trapped in a endless war where death is denied and life has no value.

This month, Cameron Kunzelman looks at two film-to-game adaptations (The Two Towers and Minority Report) to consider the practice of remediation. In one type of adaptation, the game focuses on adapting the content of the film into the game. In the other type, the game adapts the movie’s concept, but takes very little of its content. Kunzelman proceeds to discuss how each type of adaptation remediates the film experience differently.

Game Designers in Conversation with Games

This month, Kimberly Wallace of Game Informer sat down to play Gone Home with developers Steve Gaynor and Karla Zimonja. In addition to making sure Wallace didn’t miss any special gems, Gaynor and Zimonja discuss their design choices, where specific content came from, and other interesting tidbits about their creation process.

Elsewhere, Chris Franklin of Errant Signal analyzes The Magic Circle, a game aptly described as a game about game developers. Operating perhaps as an open letter to the game’s industry, Franklin notes that perhaps the games creators — alumni of Bioshock  and Dishonored — have some “battle stories to tell” with this game.

Due Diligence

Though this LP series of EpicNameBro completing Dark Souls began in Late June, it only came to my attention this month. In the series, EpicNameBro, who worked on two official guides for the game, discusses both lore and strategies for the game while playing. [Note: I have not watched all episodes for possible content warnings.]

Elsewhere, Noah Caldwell-Gervais provides a detailed analysis of the Homeworld series, spending time coherently summarizing its story elements and detailing the series’s missteps and successes.

Power Structures

Dr. Samantha Blackmon and Alisha Karabinus, two scholars from Purdue University, are developing a series aimed at discussing race in games. In this sample teaser for the series, the two analyze Destiny‘s character creation options and how they limit racial identity.

At Rock Paper Shotgun, Marsh Davis revisits Deus Ex: Human Revolutions to discuss how it and games in general promote an oxymoronic relationship to power, wherein the player holds all the power yet is framed as being oppressed.

Additionally, this month on History Respawned, co-host John Harney speaks to Boston University’s Dr. Renata Keller about Tropico 5, US-Cuban relations, and racial dynamics.

Religion, Not Sex, and TEETH

This month, our own Riley MacLeod sits down with a friend and talks about religion and religious identities in the queer community while playing Super 3D Noah’s Ark.

Elsewhere, Streamfriends Nick and Nico play The Stranger, a game that is – they assure – not about a sex act. The Stranger does however, and despite its fantasy/cartoon aesthetic, seem to exist in a universe that shares cultural references with our own, including Obama and Wayne Gretzky.

Bringing us to a close this week, Liz Ryerson looks at the implied narrative design, layout, and aesthetic of the Doom 2 Master Level called The Express Elevator to Hell (TEETH).

Be Excellent to Each Other

If you didn’t see your Let’s Play in this month’s roundup, remember that we operate via submission! Send your submissions to us via Twitter using #LetsPlayCD to designate them for this roundup, or  email us submission links. Please don’t hesitate to submit your own Let’s Play.

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