"Don't be a dick." That simple notion is the first of Victor Lucas' 3D rules. The others? Don't dick around and don't hang out with dicks. Some would lead you to believe the games press is filled with dicks. It's not. With this in mind, I seek out the best games writing - from news to interviews to reviews and beyond - and highlight it here.

Theme by Andy Taylor, modified by Aaron Hudspeth.

 

Splinter Cell And One Of The Most Notorious Places in the World

Where is the game letting players go? I won’t say—it’s a spoiler—but the discussion Totilo starts is a worthy one; this is a case of developers taking players somewhere, then dialing it back.

Hollywood's Long History of Mostly Failing to Make Video Games

In the first of a two-part feature on Kotaku, superannuation tells the stories of Hollywood starting out to make videogames, then not doing so. It’s an interesting collection of stories that tie so well together, especially when you see the links with Vin Diesel’s studio, Tigon, that I can’t imagine them told on their own.

Collective failure or a collection of failures? It’s a point worth pondering.

Diversity in Chris Hecker's SpyParty

SpyParty is a game where one player tries completing spy-themed tasks in the midst of computer-run party goers and the other tries to shoot the first player. With a sniper rifle.

Speaking with Kotaku, Chris Hecker notes that the biases we possess—say homophobia—can be exploited by the sniper to identify the spy.

That’s actually a gameplay mechanic in my game because there’s a ‘Seduce Target’ mission and it doesn’t constrain you on who your target is. You just pick which target it is. Let’s say you were homophobic and decided if you were a male spy you would never pick a male seduction target.

"Let’s say you didn’t know this consciously; it’s just something that came naturally. That’s a bias the sniper could exploit. If they figured that out about you—that you always picked the opposite gender as the seduction target—then, boom! Half the [decoys in the] party eliminated right off the bat."

That certainly sounds interesting, and SpyParty’s characters seem diverse, going beyond colour and into other features as well.

A Eulogy to Sean Smith

Who is Sean Smith?

Stephen Totilo’s thoughtful and thorough eulogy to Sean Smith answers this question, highlighting Smith’s role as a husband and friend first, mostly through showcasing the man’s love of Eve.

It’s a beautifully written piece about life and not death.

The Game Savers: How A Tiny Company Gives Neglected Japanese Games New Life In America

Given how much I love The Last Story, you’d think I’d know a thing or two about the guys and gals that brought the game over to these shores when Nintendo would not. I did not, but thankfully, Jason Schreier has the story from the XSEED offices:

But while the bigger guys—giant game publishers like EA and Activision—duke it out over who can sell the most millions, Xseed is happy to stay small. They’re happy to focus on quirky Japanese games. And they’re happy to stick within their niche, even knowing that it won’t make them nearly as much money as they might make chasing after shooters and dubstep.

It’s not easy. Big retailers want nothing to do with them, passionate fans can be a little bit too passionate, and everyone in the company has to wear multiple hats every day. But Xseed keeps going. 

And an aside on the games you love:

"I mean, we take so much flack from our fans," he told me, "because they say they bought it and they loved the first one, and why can’t we bring over the second one? Well… Half-Minute Herowas probably one of our worst-selling games.”

Schreier, Jason. “The Game Savers: How A Tiny Company Gives Neglected Japanese Games New Life In America (Kotaku: December 28, 2012) <http://kotaku.com/5971695/the-game-savers-how-a-tiny-company-gives-neglected-japanese-games-new-life-in-america>.

How Diablo III Told Me My Marriage Was Over

Kotaku presented this interesting article a while back and it’s an interesting one chronicling the end of Tiffany Claiborne’s marriage.

Games were a big part of her and her husband’s relationship—she pulled out a DS anxiously on their first date—so it’s fitting that it was through games that she attempted to reconcile their marriage. Ultimately, one act proved to her that this was the end.

How Real Insect Warfare is Similar to Starcraft

The Zerg certainly seem like creepy-crawlies, don’t they?

Rajee Rajakumar highlights some of the similarities the Zerg share with real bugs, from tactics to appearance and beyond. It’s a neat read for those interested in biology, but anyone with even a passing knowledge of Starcraft will likely glean something.

Zerg rush!

The 30 Year Legacy of the Gamesmen

I can’t say much about this story. It’s best you go in with relatively little if you’re not from Australia. This is a story about the evolution of selling games. It’s a personal story. And, for most, parts of it—if not all of it—should feel foreign.

Phenomenal read.

http://www.kotaku.com.au/2012/09/the-long-way-is-the-short-way-the-30-year-legacy-of-the-gamesmen/

A Eulogy to the Wii

The Wii U is coming. 65 days now. It’s time to take the Wii out back and…you know.

But, before we trade the old fellow in, let’s take a moment to remember the joy it brought us. Mr. Totilo, take us home:

The Wii is, nevertheless, the console that ran some of my favorite games, including excellent versions of MarioZelda andMetroid. Its weird games were among the best oddball titles any gaming console has had. And it remains an innovator whose imitators have yet to improve upon it.

Expanding the audience…

The Wii was the first video game console that anyone plugged into my parent’s TV since the Odyssey 2, the console my brother and I played in the Totilo household in the early 80s. We would plug an NES and then a SNES in a different room, where my my brother and I kept our toys. When we left the nest, so did game consoles. But in late 2006 the Wii was something my parents had to see. My father liked the bowling. We dabbled with tennis. I eventually bought my parents a Wii, their first—and probably last—game console. My dad liked it for Netflix.

A failure or two…

Motion control was supposed to be better than the Wii allowed it to be. Even the 2009 Wii controller upgrade Motion Plus offered less than the 1:1 association between character and a player’s hand movements that early Wii trailers implied we’d get…

Totilo’s essay is not meant to be read in snippets. It’s a read that’s simultaneously personal and personally divorced. His view on the seven best games on the system will be challenged by many. And the Wii’s legacy is as of yet determined. Still, a worthy read.

Totilo, Stephen. “Farewell to the Wii, A Great Gaming System After All” (Kotaku: September 11, 2012) <http://kotaku.com/5942101/farewell-to-the-wii-a-great-gaming-system-after-all>.

The E3 Chronicles

Some negative commentary (with positive spin) on E3 compiled. Two common threads—sexism and violence—emerge here just as they do in gaming at large. It’s predictable that E3 prompts these conversations, but it’s not going to go away. Sooooooo…

Kuchera, Ben. "Banning E3 booth babes isn’t good manners, it’s good business." (The PA Report: June 13, 2012) <http://penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/banning-e3-booth-babes-isnt-good-manners-its-good-business>.

The amount of female flesh on display before you even enter the show floor was impressive, and impossible to miss.

The message it sends is clear: This is a show for men, with advertising, promotions, and booth design aimed at grabbing male eyes.

Williams, Katie. “I Can Be Just As Capable. Let Me." (Kotaku AU: June 18, 2012) <http://www.kotaku.com.au/2012/06/513794/>.

Katie talks about the issues she faced at E3—where she wasn’t treated as an equal:

It continued to happen through the next few days of E3. Upon checking into a booth, I would often be asked by the PR rep whether I wanted someone to play my “hands-on” demo for me. During booth tours, I would more often than not be guided towards the Facebook games. Following demonstrations, I was often offered fact sheets just in case I didn’t “understand”. People would regularly take note of the publications listed on my badge and say, “But you don’t really play, right?” I was assumed to be eye candy, the pretty face of a publication whose content was provided by people with actual talent. Every time I protested, the offender would say — as if it were a proven fact — “Well, girls aren’t usually into this stuff, you know.”

Then there’s the violence…

Handrahan, Matthew. “A History of Violence: So Where Do We Go From Here?" (GamesIndustry.biz: June 12, 2012) <http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-06-11-a-history-of-violence-so-where-do-we-go-from-here>.

Violence has been a selling-point in games for as long as I can remember. I’m not so naive that I expect that to change, and I accept that others may see things differently, but I can’t recall a time when it felt so dominant, so unapologetically central to how these companies see their audience and judge the value of their products.

This was never more clear than during than  during the climactic demonstration of The Last of Us at the Sony conference.

Boone, Steven. “The Last of Us, and other video games that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination”. (Capital New York: June 20, 2012) < http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2012/06/6026394/last-us-and-other-video-games-leave-absolutely-nothing-imagination >.

Steven Boone compares videogame themes as they stack up to film. It’s an interesting analysis…

2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the second highest-selling video game of all-time in the U.S., was in many ways the Dark Knight of gaming. It solidified an ongoing franchise while exploring themes of terrorism and reprisal from the point of view of American protectors working Dick Cheney’s “dark side” to produce results. As Seth Seichel wrote in New York Times review of the game, “Basically, the player, in the guise of an American commando, can participate in a massacre of unarmed civilians. ‘It will cost you a piece of yourself,’ your commander says of the mission. ‘It will cost nothing compared to everything you’ll save.’”  

And finally, a chap that ignored E3.

Holmes, Dylan. “Why I Ignored E3" (Nightmare Mode: June 11, 2012) < http://nightmaremode.net/2012/06/why-i-ignored-e3-19796/ >.

 Most conversations in the gaming community take place about games that have yet to come out, and if you don’t follow the trending news, you won’t be able to participate in these dialogs. I think this is the chief reason why gamers flock to E3: it’s the most-watched event in the industry, and discussions of the games revealed and debates about the “biggest trends” of the show will dominate gaming websites and Facebook alike for weeks to come…

[T]his year, I chose to sacrifice the conversation.