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August 27th

…Sholars explores the diverging strategies of design between timeless Nintendo and current-cool Sega.

  • Three Years of Writing About Destiny | Kotaku Kirk Hamilton reminisces about three years of Destiny, including snippets and comments about articles, reviews, and how many of these articles were reflected in the developer and community movements at the time.
  • How the World’s Oldest 3D MMO Keeps Cheating Death | Waypoint Samuel Axom returns to a revived version of an old experience, Meridian 59, and finds its modernized revival fundamentally different.

    It’s a more modern design, and it may sound like a small

  • January 16th

    …with what’s wrong with Totilo’s conclusions [mirror]. Namely,

    My issue is not with Totilo’s behavior but with his conclusion that, because he can now enjoy some games without music, composers ought to be classified as “non-essential personnel.” Separating composers from artists and writers and sound designers in this way is bizarrely myopic, not just because it assumes his experience is universal but because it ignores the variety of ways in which games and music interact. For every game that can be muted without much harm, there is another in which the music is “essential.”

    Help us

    May 30th

    Both games seem to revel in [the] juxtaposition of an idealized American age with the ruin of society. The soundtracks of both games jarringly counterpoint the brutal actions of scavengers in the Capital Wasteland and Rapture…That both soundtracks are comprised of songs, which almost exclusively belong to a time associated with values, decency, and decorum, is, of course, intended to be ironic and also serves as a means of emphasizing just how rotten the world has become…

    This week Maher Sagrillo wrote about Alan Wake for his blog ‘Cosmic Maher’, and looked at the nature of


    …explores this in more detail [mirror], examining several specific instances of unique opportunities, NPC conversations and even sound effects that can only be discovered after defeating Giygas.

    Everything about that final boss fight is twisted, from RPG battle conventions to the grotesque background imagery and taunts. Under “Reader Feedback” for the Retronauts EarthBound article [mirror], Nick Fagerlund contributes his thoughts on this battle and recalls that “most astonishingly, it reverses the single most basic power dynamic in an RPG: Instead of the NPCs existing to support a small group of mighty heroes, the heroes’ only ultimate value is to

    Dark Souls

    …the player becomes an ‘archaeologist by looting’, uncovering Dark Souls narrative through items and the environment. Rich Stanton compares this minimalist approach to storytelling against that of Skyrim – a game released close to, but perhaps the antithesis of, Dark Souls. Approaching the game’s sonic reinforcement of a sense of place in “The Sound of Dark Souls“, David Canela explores how the binary nature of the music “helps communicate the dual structure of the gameplay”.

    In “Present Tension”, Jim Ralph explores how Dark Souls distorts the sequential grammar of experience.

    “Dark Souls adeptly conjures a living experience

    Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

    December 16th

    …do I look things up online.”

    Recovery Mode

    In what ways do games explore recovery? In what ways can they facilitate it? Four authors this week explore these questions via their own experiences.

    • Gris mirrors the stages of grief through art, sound and design – Polygon Ashley Oh follows Gris on a journey through depression, hope, and recovery.
    • In Love with a Dread Wolf | Ada Play Adarel roots for–and falls in love with–the villain. But is he?
    • How Pokémon Go Is Helping My Mom Quit Smoking – Videodame David O’Keefe documents…

    December 10th

    This week brings us a bunch of pieces of great critical writing on games, that put the medium into conversation with philosophy, history, and spirituality. First, this roundup starts with some reflections on old technologies seen in a new light.

    A new kind of power

    Two writers look into the significance of a game’s technical features.

    • Sounds in Super Mario Odyssey Harmonize with the Background Music | YouTube (video: auto-captions) Jalopes TL demonstrates a remarkable sound design feature implemented by Nintendo, a discovery which implies the presence of a fully-realised midi synthesizer operating in

    October 15th

    …“It’s a contrast that’s often reflected in the game’s terrific soundtrack. Many of the tunes begin with a simple melody plucked out on a down-home instrument like a banjo or piano, then shift midway through to a more synth-dominated, dreamlike sound. All the twee charms of a simple small-town life, but with a hint of something more.”


    These two pieces showed me new ways of making use of the absurd or illogical in critical writing.

    • This Game Wants to Prove That You Don’t Know What Soup Is – Waypoint Henrique Antero offers a…

    June 11th

    …communicates the stages of mourning through its stage design, puzzles and sound, which “demonstrates [that] emotion shouldn’t be suppressed or reveled in alone, but honestly and cathartically expressed.”

  • The Old Man and the Sea: Searching for reason in Rime|Thumbsticks (Spoiler Alert) Josh Wise takes a critical look at Rime through the lens of poetry, art and film in his third discussion on the game, as he sees it invoking the metaphysical by “[blurring] the boundary between realism and magic.”
  • “Rime is like a painting, not just in its visual splendour, but in its narrative. Sparse, beautiful,…

    Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

    July 30th

    …mean to be prescriptive here and say that tedium is never meaningful or valuable; I ask only that we dispel the notion that tedium is somehow intrinsic to the anti-shooter.”

    Inhabit the skin of the monstrous

    Four writers this week look at how games portray and respond to mental states; including a piece from Waypoint’s special week on incarceration, that considers the metaphorical prisons of the mind.

    • A Simmering Hum | Unwinnable Levi Rubeck’s analysis of sound design and soundtrack in Momodara’s Reverie is sensitive and illuminating.
    • Burly Men at Sea is a…