As I attempt to stay active in the realm of creating stuff and talking about things, I’ve been doing some video game streaming on Twitch and posting the videos on YouTube. With the recent attention on Alien again thanks to Neill Blomkamp, I replayed Alien: Isolation for the third time.
Not too long into exploring the
Baron von Locked Door Mansion Spencer Mansion, players come across the room belonging to the mansion’s animal keeper, and a journal that includes what’s probably the game’s best writing.
So we’re just over a month past the release of “The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory,” and I thought I’d try something new from a promotional standpoint: a bit of interactive fiction called “Kobayanshi Marooned,” made in the platform Twine.
You can download it now from itch.io for free. http://philhornshaw.itch.io/kobayanshi-marooned
Age 14 was about the height of my love for video games, and at the time nothing seemed more amazing for a fan of games than the yearly Electronic Entertainment Expo.
E3 was always one of the craziest things about which to read — or more accurately, of which to see photos in glossy gaming magazines. Gaming’s biggest event seemed enormous, flashy and insane: Vegas for nerds like me, who found in video games both an escapism and some kind of cultural and social fulfillment that was hard to come by in the meat grinder of adolescence. E3 was always a thing I wanted to experience myself, where I could get an early taste of all the games I could play, and maybe a chance to speak with those people who managed, somewhat magically, to create them.
Just more than a decade later, I finally made it to E3 as a reporter for GameFront.com.
Welp, 2014 is at an end, and it’s been an intense year in which my blogging experiment was put on indefinite hold. A lot of stuff happened, most of it kinda … bad.
Eventually, I mean to maybe unpack all that here, including the things that I learned and the things that I struggle(d) to deal with. In the meantime, since I’ve been out of it for a while, I figure I’ll highlight a few of the movies, books, stories and games I encountered in the last year that I rather enjoyed.
Up first is what is quite possibly my favorite game of 2014: Alien: Isolation.
I stumbled back through Rapture last week in BioShock Infinite’s “Burial at Sea” DLC, and the game did that annoying thing where it talked down to me for playing it.
It’s one of those things that video games have been trying to do lately, and it’s kind of sort of infuriating.
Last year’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of my favorite games, largely because it left so much room for play sessions to turn into their own little emergent stories.
This week, a huge expansion to the game, called Enemy Within, was launched, and I’ve delved back into the game to try out the new stuff. The other night, I suddenly found myself playing until about 3 a.m. because one mission grabbed my attention and arrested my ability to think of anything else for a good hour — the emergent narrative, about my squad of soldiers fighting to repel an alien invasion of Earth, was in many ways akin to the horror and tragedy of films like Aliens.
Since it was so tense, my favorite experience with the game so far, I ended up laying it out on Twitter across something like 30 updates. I didn’t realize it would be as long as it was until I was midway into it, but I couldn’t just stop in the middle — I still found it too compelling. Because it seems like such a great example of some of the very interesting storytelling only games can do, I thought I’d put it up here, with a little more context.
In an attempt to get back into the swing of posting here, I thought I’d share an article I worked on for Game Front that gives a little behind-the-scenes treatment to how game sites go about putting together game reviews.
Not too long ago, the last of The Walking Dead: The Game was released. It became probably my favorite game of the year, all told, and since Caitlin is a fan of the comic series and the TV show, I thought it was something she ought to experience as well.
I write a lot about video games because, as a storytelling medium, I find it just as fascinating as film or literature. Much like film, games often mix music and visuals to create highly poignant moments.
Unlike films, however, songs that play over the credits (and sometimes during the endings) of games seem to have more of an effect, and often a longer-lasting impact. Where audience are often getting up to pee or whatever as the credits roll on a film, most players tend to hit the credits of a game and hang through them, reflecting on the experience they’ve just spent hours plowing through. For the most affecting games, these final moments of reflection can be extremely powerful — and music plays a big part in the experience.