13
Oct
2012

The Maturity of Tokyo Jungle

Posted by Cha

There's a lot of fuss about achieving genuine maturity in games. An uncomfortable amount of this discussion is coming from people who want to delegitimise games they dislike. But if they can use subjective definitions for their own purposes so can I.

My definition of maturity involves not caring what other people think. This doesn't mean taking the idea to its ridiculous extreme — you can still seek advice and treat other people well. But maturity is a particular sense of self that, at its heart, does not rely on how others perceive you. An identity secure enough not to amplify its own uniqueness either, just accepting it.

02
Oct
2012

The Hypercube Is Hollow

Posted by Cha

[This post contains spoilers for Fez, such as they are]

Fez reminds me of the puzzle books I used to enjoy as a kid. I genuinely delighted in unravelling the puzzle logic and secret places. This is pure, simple pleasure for me. Unfortunately, after collecting all 67 cubes (with some hints) I was left with a hollow victory. I loved playing Fez but sort of wish it didn't exist.

One major issue is just how deeply embedded Fez is in game history and culture. The blatant references to Zelda, Tetris and so on make it clear this is a game for gamers, in the most backward-looking sense of the term. Hey listen! It assumes its audience will appreciate a game reference on its own merits with no other reason for being there.

25
Sep
2012

Questioning "A Closed World"

Posted by Cha

Late last year, A Closed World attracted attention for its queer themes. It was a summer project by a group from the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab, so all credit to them for creating something polished and interesting enough to talk about. Unfortunately, it's not quite what it says on the tin and it's difficult not to be disappointed about it.

Initially, the description simply claimed to include "LGBTQ-friendly content", but they presumably got sick of people pointing out that the binary gender selection isn't exactly T-friendly, because now it just claims it "deals with queer issues". Queer issues… like suicide rates, unequal marriage rights, or discrimination in general? Apparently not.

04
Sep
2012

Pulling the Wings off Fairies

Posted by Cha

This post is part of Critical Distance's Blogs of the Round Table on the topic of "New Horizons".

In the pencil-and-paper roleplaying game Changeling the fae are threatened by the concept of banality. The real world is full of dull rationality which threatens the existence of these fantastical creatures formed from dreams. I imagine delicate fairy wings crumbling at the first sight of a Starbucks. Reality is infected, and fae must act carefully to survive in the mortal world.

I find this premise difficult to accept. People aren't some kind of imagination black hole, sucking in anything wondrous and spitting out spreadsheets. Real people are diverse and never stop surprising me. Rationality isn't really a human trait. We try hard for it sometimes, sure, but we're terrible at it. But imagination? Creativity? Call me an idealist, but I'm convinced those exist wherever people are found.

27
Aug
2012

"King's Field" Field Journal

Posted by Cha

It is with some trepidation that I set sail for King's Field, or King's Field II as the Japanese know it. Its legacy can be felt in the more civilised kingdoms of Dark Souls and Demon's Souls, but of King's Field itself I know very little. I intend to further study these primordial lands.

It has been smooth sailing since departing the trading port of eBay with my slightly weather-beaten (but still functional) disc. I wonder if this disc has facilitated a very long chain of voyagers before me? There's a poorly translated, buzzword-heavy blurb which could describe just about any dungeon-crawling roleplaying realm in existence. The travel brochure is missing, forcing me to rely on my own wits.

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