Sorry, You Can’t Have a Pink Lightsaber

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Something kind of remarkable happened last week in a completely not-that-big-of-a-deal way.

The video game Star Wars: The Old Republic — a giant, massively multiplayer online game (think World of Warcraft) set in the Star Wars universe — introduced “same-gender romance” options for players in its latest content expansion.

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The Rear-View Mirror on 2012, and Many Thanks

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Whoa. It’s 2013, and it’s been a crazy year. Seems like a mistake not to take a second and look back at all the cool things that happened, and the many reasons for which I have to be thankful.

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5 of My Favorite Game Soundtracks (of the Year)

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It’s been a busy week, what with holidays, a somewhat screwy work schedule, and a random head cold I picked up somewhere, so we’re keeping things light today. Earlier this week, over at Game Front, I published a big rundown of 10 great game soundtracks I’ve been listening to this year. There are quite a few quality entries, so I thought I’d share.

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Guns, Health, Politics, Media, Violence — Us

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I try not to be the kind of person who stumbles stupidly into a discussion without thinking it through, coming prepared, having done the research, or feeling that I have something to add. So when it comes to Newtown, Sandy Hook, tragedy and the like, I don’t always feel as though scribbling down some thoughts about doing this or doing that or who’s to blame — especially in this space, where I talk about movies, writing, dreams I had and video games — is prudent. Discussions are better when needless noise is kept to a minimum, and I prefer not to spout static. At least not right now.

But I have been reading what other people have said, and I think I can contribute to that discussion by pointing out a few of the more notable things I’ve come across. They, at the very least, are worth being added to the discussion. So here we go:

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Playing Video Games with Caitlin

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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.

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5 of the Most Important Songs of the Story

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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.

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Lt. Attlee, Open All The Channels

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This week marks my debut as a member of the team over at Koobismo, a group dedicated to creating comics — specifically, “Marauder Shields,” an alternative ending to the Mass Effect trilogy.

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Six People Only: The Stakes of The Walking Dead

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I’ve got my pick for my favorite game released this year, despite a few more titles trickling out in the next few weeks. It is, far and away, Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead adaptation.

The thing that’s remarkable about The Walking Dead is how well it tells its story. There’s the zombie plague, of course, but much more frightening are the lengths to which the remaining humans must go to survive. Sometimes they save and help one another. Sometimes they form unbreakable, close bonds. Often, they’re forced to be incredibly hurtful to one another, and undergo some incredible tragedies.

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In the Brainholes: Call of Duty, Works In Progress

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I’ve been playing an inordinate amount of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for the last week, both for reviews (I worked on reviews for both the Xbox 360 version and the PC version) and for various other reasons, like helping out Game Front’s video team as they try to make walkthrough videos.

The game is definitely not lacking for weirdness. Its story jumps back and forth between the Cold War and the near future, in which a revenge-driven Nicaraguan drug lord takes out his grudges on America and specific American soldiers alike. The villain, Raul Menendez, excels in being super-powered and apparently capable of seeing the future, and while the story isn’t always great, it gets kudos for going to some really dark places.

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