The Cultural Gutter

building a better robot builder

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

“Ramirez! Get Your Ass Over Here!”

4:04 minutes of Ramirez getting orders shouted at him in Modern Warfare 2. (via Gamma Squad)

Recreating Aliens

Rock, Paper, Shotgun revisits the classic shooter, Aliens vs. Predator, and finds one moment to match the Aliens movie: “I don’t need to fight the Alien queen, to control a powerloader or take off and nuke the entire site from orbit — I just need to be the last Marine left alive, fighting to the […]

Games x2

Gamers With Jobs looks at the pendulum that’s swinging from fantasy back to science fiction: “After ten years of elves and magic, I could use a bit of a change.” And The Escapist is the new home of Shoot Club! Awesomely nerdy dialogue reproduced faithfully, and some insights too: “There’s nothing like bald math to […]

Hopped Up on Speedrunning

Keeping up with the Joneses in the fast lane

Shortly after 2 pm on the afternoon of May 18th, 2005, Brandon Erickson stepped back from the Star Wars arcade cabinet he’d been playing continuously, with no deaths, extra credits, or nap breaks, for the past 54 hours, having failed to break the Twin Galaxies record of three hundred million points in 49 hours established […]

Keep Playing, It Might Get Better

Why am I still playing this?

There comes a point in every game where the player asks themselves why they’re wasting time on a terrible game. It’s a scenario no gamer wants to be presented with – and it’s a developer’s worst nightmare. Depending on how the storyline is integrated with the game, a game’s quality can be easily determined within […]

Valve Turns It Up Another Notch

Portal is a thinkin’ man’s first person shooter coming out from Valve, the folks behind Half-Life 2. Talking about HL2, Episode 1 has exceedingly clever in-game commentary that is reviewed and excerpted at Waxy.org.

Teaching the Value of Human Life

Handcuffs or hand grenades?

When you’re put behind the crosshairs of a gun, do you assume you have to shoot to kill? Better still, do you have to shoot to win? For the majority of First Person Shooters, that is certainly the case. What if you were given the choice to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, but still be able to […]

The Time Machines

Appreciating history through games.

I hated studying history in high school. It was as if the curriculum had been designed to leave out everything that impressionable minds could possibly associate with, while making no provisions to seem like it was anything but handed down from an institution. However, in recent years it’s a totally different story. I won’t read […]

A Just War

Scripting the battlefields of World War 2

Every time a new World War 2 First Person Shooter is announced, the collective groans from gamers and game media can be heard for miles, as if nothing more could be possibly done with this setting. The genre receives a bad reputation mainly because of the sheer amount of mediocre copycat titles that seem to […]

Rethinking Brain Eating

If you had to deal with Stalkers, you

If he feels vindicated, he doesn’t show it. As Marc Laidlaw waits for his co-workers to finish a talk, we sit down at a table in San Francisco’s cavernous Moscone Center and talk about Half-Life 2 (Valve, 2004). Its 1998 predecessor is legendary for pushing the form both narratively (bringing atmosphere and intelligence to the […]

The Scientist-Hero Returns

They even get the suburbs right.

I was a little nervous as I waited for Half-Life 2 (Vivendi, 2004) to start. The original Half-Life (Sierra, 1998) is one of the reasons this column exists — the game brought atmosphere and intelligence to the first-person shooter without skimping on the visceral kickassocity, and brought me back to videogames after a decade of […]

War Reporting

Admit that videogames are a sport or the hostage gets it.

I know how Tim Carter feels. When I tell some people that punk rock saved my life, I get funny looks too. In his documentary about Counter-Strike (Sierra, 2000), Carter tries to make a connection between videogames and martial arts. I think he fails at this, but he makes a valiant and genuine attempt to […]

Is it possible to have too much fun?

Manny contemplates his low-class destiny.

Is it possible to have a pleasure circuit overload? “Girls are to be kept away from those activities of civilization that over-stimulate the imagination and the senses, such as fashionable novels, paintings, music, balls, theaters… as this can lead to uterine epilepsy, sapphic tastes, and nymphomania.” While this is Victorian-era advice, it’s reflective of how […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    An interactive sculpture of Hanuman made from 26,000 light bells made by Charuvi Design Labs. to promote their film Sri Hanuman Chalisa. Here is a video of the interactive experience. (Thanks, Beth!)

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    At The Daily Beast, Arthur Chu writes about GamerGate, Disco Demolition and Lilith Fair. “The biggest 1970s music bonfire was not done by a church, and the records they destroyed weren’t metal records. And they didn’t use kerosene and a match, they used explosives. And rather than singing hymns and being quietly self-righteous, the event erupted into an orgy of violent rage. I’m talking, of course, about the ill-fated promotion the Chicago White Sox ran on July 12, 1979, known as ‘Disco Demolition Night.’

    Yes, in an era where Christians literally believed rock bands were Satanic cults who used backward masking to hypnotize people, the worst violence against music was wrought by guys who just didn’t like disco.”

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    Actor Elizabeth Peña has died. Peña appeared in both film and television including, La Bamba (1987), Batteries Not Included (1987), Blue Steel (1989), L.A. Law, Lone Star (1996),  The Incredibles (2004), Justice League, Prime Suspect and Modern Family. NPR remembers Peña. The Guardian has collected clips of Peña’s work. Latino Review, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and  The Hollywood Reporter have obituaries.

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    The Book Design Blog has a gallery of Valeria Brancaforte’s hand-printed books.

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    Jake Adelstein has shared an unpublished chapter of his book Tokyo Vice online.  “This chapter never made the final cut of Tokyo Vice because it’s not about crime or the underworld. It is about the battle to tell the truth when it is inconvenient for the powers that be to have it known.  It could probably use some more editing but for those who feel like the Japanese government isn’t telling you the whole truth about the actual environmental damage coming from the Fukushima meltdown–which is still going on–because if they stop pumping in water, nuclear fission will start again, this should help make you even a little more paranoid.  Enjoy.”

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    “Lights Out, Please combines retellings of traditional ghost stories and urban legends, alongside new, personal stories from a variety of international authors in order to tell others about the kinds of fears we live with. We tell our stories as a ghost story or urban legend to get people to believe us.” Find out more here and then play it!

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