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spec ops the line

October 7th

the universe drop down around you like a shroud.

But we shouldn’t let that cloud our entire week, as devastatingly depressing as it is.

I don’t have a good transition here.

Anjin Anhut’s “A Man Chooses A Slave Obeys” is a brilliant close reading of Bioshock and critical-favorite Spec Ops: The Line. Anhut focuses in tightly on what it means to perform an action in a game, and comes to the conclusion that maybe we do actually need to turn the machine off sometimes (also, the graphic design in that article is stunning. Go look.) Anhut starts…

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January Roundup

…challenge can also rely on the affective state of the player, such as in horror games or the ‘psychological shooter’ Spec Ops: The Line. Some of the difficulty in Mass Effect comes from the torture of choice (or “die Qual der Wahl” as I heard it in high school), even when the consequences of choice are obvious.

Mark Filipowich sees difficulty as a glue that holds narratives together, whether it’s Luke piloting an X-Wing down the Death Star trench or Link snagging Ganon in the groin with a hookshot. Winning does feel good, and beating a hard challenge feels…

April 14th

It’s time to pay our dues. Pull up a chair, dig out last year’s receipts, and bust out the reading glasses. It’s This Week in Videogame Blogging!


At Unwinnable, Brendan Keogh sits down with the Konrad to his Walker and has a long conversation with Walt Williams, lead writer of Spec Ops: The Line. Over on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Nathan Grayson puts the finishing touches on a three part series of interviews with Walt Williams and Far Cry 3 lead writer Jeffrey Yohalem.


You might recall when Mike Rose modeled

May 5th

…out some basic information while pleading for a move to critical and specific history. More contemporary: read the story of Jager and how they came to develop Spec Ops: The Line. At Eurogamer, Craig Owens delves into a forum community obsessed with doing design archaeology of Shadow of the Colossus. Finally, Joel Cuthbertson tells it like it is: “The Boston Bombings Are Not A Meme.”

Video Games Are Serious Business

Chris Bateman posted about the problem of “fiction denial” in games. Steve Wilcox interviewed Jesper Juul for First Person Scholar.

Design Time

Over at Unwinnable, George…

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August 25th

…this past week: on the foolishness of being loyal to corporations, especially your employers.

Design Notes

Xander Kish writes about Kane and Lynch 2 as an anti-shooter and a forerunner of Spec Ops: The Line.

Videogame narratives rely too much on the Christ archetype for their protagonists, Richard Clark writes on Christ and Pop Culture. He offers one possible solution to this problem.

Following on this deep analysis of the first Mother on Nightmare Mode, Goblet Grotto co-developer Kat Chastain lays out an excellent thematic reading of Mother 2 (Earthbound) and Mother 3.

On PopMatters,…

June – July Roundup: ‘VINPCs’

…calcified; a long march through a hellish city stuck in a purgatorial loop of violence, death, and rebirth that mirrors the aesthetic of internet snuff.”

It’s really interesting how Dog Days was excoriated on release, but many critics are now discussing it as a “proto-anti-shooter” in the vein of Far Cry 2 and Spec Ops: The Line. I guess the question is when a game is being intentionally “oppressive”, and when it’s just shit.

Dakoda Barker is attached to their players in Football Manager 2014, everyone’s favourite mod for Microsoft Excel. I’m working on the next issue…

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July 9th

…systems themselves—and not the characters within the game—lie to the player.

Moving on to the subject of morality and ethics, the ever readable Richard Cobbett gets on the Eurogamer soapbox to write about the games which get players to feel implicated in the actions of their characters even when the choice isn’t theirs. He has some interesting thoughts about the morally grey shooter, Spec Ops: The Line.

Kill Screen’s Yannick LeJacq also shares his views on the aforementioned game, extrapolating on the themes from Cobbett’s piece rather well.

There would be little point in ethics or morality…