A subjective response to the style of new games journalism

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ngj

On Wednesday 26 March 2014,  Jake and I went to a panel discussion about the new games journalism – the idea that games writing should be about the player’s experience, not the game’s mechanics. Here are some things it made me think about.

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Football Manager: What it Taught Me About Life

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TSG Hoffenheim's head coach Rangnick reacts during their German Bundesliga first division soccer match against Bayern Munich in Sinsheim

For all the pretensions I could contrive about gaming, I come back to a plain fact: games are regularly a form of fantasy-living  for me.

I write about games, think about games, and play a variety to both enjoy myself and fortify that writing and thinking. But when I think of the hours I’ve spent actually just playing games, most of them have been spent on sports simulation. Not even that, but something narrower: football simulation. And not even that: formerly Pro Evolution Soccer, latterly the FIFA series; and perhaps with the greatest level of immersion, the Championship Manager (or Football Manager) series.
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I Have Played: Brothers

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Brothers 2014-01-12 16-28-33-55

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game that I had been vaguely aware of throughout 2013, but simply hadn’t given any thought to. I think there was something about the promotional art work that put me off, I don’t know. I managed to ignore it right up until the end of the year, where it appeared on almost everone’s ‘best of 2013′ lists, saw it in a sale and flopped it right onto my hard drive. I was a fool for ignoring it for so long. Here’s why… Warning: there will be spoilers.
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Becoming What You Fear the Most: The Vicious Cycle Within League of Legends

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you fear the most

To me League of Legends represents a paradox of conflicting emotions that lie at extreme ends of the gaming experience.

On the one hand, it is an incredibly good video game. Some of my finest mouse-clicking memories have been created in it. It’s addictive, satisfying even when you’re losing and there’s always more to learn. Despite the fact that every game involves fiddling with an everlasting procession of guys that bundle down one of three lanes to their demise, it manages extraordinary depth. Continue reading …


I Have Played: BioShock Infinite

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Bioshock Columbia

Jake played BioShock Infinite and has now sat down to write most of the things that he could think to say about it. This isn’t a review. There will be spoilers in this article.
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Another World: The Art and Games of Eric Chahi

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AnotherWorld header

If, like me, you are a desiccated old fossil of a human, limping from one day of bone-creaking agony to another, you’ll no doubt remember both the Commodore C64 and the Commodore Amiga. These were ostensibly some of the first widely available “personal computers” for the average human being, and as such they also inevitably spawned thriving gaming communities.

The Amiga in particular holds a special place in my heart. The games were relatively cheap, and I knew a lot of other kids who had Amigas. Not to mention the relative ease with which Amiga games could be copied, if you were so inclined. Ahem. Thus my friends and I found ourselves almost swallowed up by a tsunami of pixellated joy one summer. I think I may have gone without seeing natural light for a week at one point in that frenzied formative headrush of gaming.

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I Have Played: Little Inferno

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burn us

What exactly is Little Inferno? Is it a fourth-wall-breaking analysis of modern throwaway consumerism, set against the all too familiar backdrop of a tempestuous environmental mutation? Perhaps it’s an existential commentary, an experiment laboured with the task of projecting the developer’s qualms regarding a detached and insular society onto an increasingly distant audience? Maybe it’s an attempt by Tomorrow Corporation to redefine meta-gaming as we know it into something tangential, something more self-aware, cynical and utterly satirical.

It’s certainly about burning things.
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