The Cultural Gutter

dangerous because it has a philosophy

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

Maybe the Grendel just needs a hug

Grendel learning

Every April at the Gutter we mix things up with the editors writing something outside their usual domain. This week Screen Editor alex writes about video games. The last time I wrote about video games, I detailed my failures as a creator in the original Creatures artificial life computer game. I mocked myself for the […]

Vengeful gods and other simulated
life failures

norn hatching

When it comes to raising a child who can use words and interact with other humans, so far I seem to be succeeding, but I have to admit that my track record prior to this was not exactly promising. Aside from managing to keep an egg safe for a week in middle school, my first […]

Retrospective: Vive Le Gutter!

jim munroe thumb

The Cultural Gutter turned ten in May, 2013 and we didn’t make much of a fuss about it. But ten years ago this week, Jim Munroe posted the manifesto that’s guided The Cultural Gutter, even as each subsequent editor has joined the Gutter and added their take on our mission. We thought this would be […]

Naked Woman (Steep Hill)

Naked Woman menu 2

One night, when I was poking around on the internet for something mindless to play, I stumbled across a game called Naked Woman (Steep Hill). The description: “Control the fate of a naked woman riding down a steep hill. 20 options decide her doom. Feel free to suggest any other fates she can face!” My […]

the lego mind-set: what would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

atari

When I was a kid, my parents got me a later model Radio Shack Trash 80 (TRS-80)  computer, but what I really wanted was an Atari. All my friends had them, so I spent hours in other people’s basements, pushing that one red button and twisting the joystick as we navigated pixellated characters through two-dimensional […]

Cinematic Narrative and the Ethics of Slaying Monsters

In 1988, I spent more hours of my life than I care to recall playing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link on my original 8-bit Nintendo. Combined with Ridley Scott’s Legend, Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, and Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, it gave me a soft spot for sword and sorcery. Playing Shadow of the […]

The Plague of the White Knight

Carol is editing the Midnight Madness and Vanguard Programme Blogs for the Toronto International Film Festival. She will be back next month. This week, Guest Star Clarice Meadows writes about games. (Note: There are mild spoilers for the mid-point of the game Max Payne 3 and the end of Bioshock 2 and Halo 3.) I […]

Chasing the High Score Dragon

I’m not hardcore. Admitting that, opens up a world of possibilities, and closes no doors. Labeling yourself as such opens a Pandora’s box of criticism from people who live and bleed what you think you do. So I’m not going to make any outlandish statements, and start to think that I’m hardcore because I’m ranked […]

Don’t Let The Sheepinator Fool You

sheepinator sheep.JPG

Does being amused by turning non-ovine creatures into sheep make you a bad person? It doesn’t seem like a serious question, but appearances can fool you. Especially, according to Plato, if you are a fool. I think it’s safe to say that there would have been no video games in the Republic.

Ghostfaced Killer

kratos 80.jpg

Sing, O Muse, of a man of twists and turns, driven off course time and again. Of hacking and slashing and blowing shit up. Of a man who tears enemies in half and twists off their heads. Of saturnine goatees. Of blood red tattoos. Of a moon pale man. A psycho, a murderer, a ghostfaced […]

Do You Want Fries With That?

A brief history of advergames

Last year when I heard that Burger King was planning to release a series of video games for the Xbox 360, I thought the game industry was headed for a new low. To me, this went way beyond the shameless hordes of promotional tie-ins to popular movies and TV shows, and seemed more inappropriate than […]

The Long Road Back to Gaming

Guys night out in Azeroth

For the last nine months, I considered myself a non-gamer. Not a reformed gamer, mind you, but someone who just hasn’t had the time to dedicate to playing games or keeping up with the industry. I had been adapting to the life of a new parent; I had been forever transformed. The days and nights […]

Gaming in a World of Grown-Ups

Gamers with Jobs

Every gamer thinks about gaming at work. Unless they review video games for a living, and then perhaps they dream about sitting in front of excel spreadsheets all day. The ridiculously absorbing MMORPG formula has players planning out their character’s next level or what equipment to buy, surfing the official forums for hours on end […]

Another Easy Sell for Apple

Gaming on the iPod

With the advances made by casual gaming in the mobile phone market, one could safely assume it was the portable gaming platform with the largest user base in the world. But what about the iPod? It certainly is the most advertised, most talked about and most lucrative piece of personal electronics ever to be released […]

But Will Your Parents Play?

A crucial turning point for video games.

Based on the reaction to the November launch of the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Wii through sales and media attention, it’s clear that gaming as a cultural phenomenon has cemented itself into the collective consciousness. Local news media observed in awe as the faithful lined up outside their local electronics retailer at midnight in order […]

Everybody Dies

Shall we play a game?

Introversion Software made their way into the spotlight last year with Darwinia (Introversion, 2005), an unquestionably unique take on the real time strategy genre. After winning the Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival earlier this year, they effectively became the poster child for independent game development and darling of the gaming media. And why […]

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 […]

Click. Kill. Reward.

The Hero

The mob of deranged and frothy beasts approaches quickly, my tower shield and fearsome-looking warhammer doing nothing to slow their approach. Blood is spilled as I dispatch the group quickly, their remains forming a pile at my feet. I loot the corpses, ignoring the broken weapons that were casualties of the skirmish. I drink a […]

What Happened to the Arcade?

Wobbly joysticks and grudge matches.

The arcade was a place of refuge for the outcasts of adolescent social circles, where time would be spent dumping quarters into some dumb machine instead of studying or playing ball hockey or parking their ass in front of the TV like every other kid. Communities were built among the cabinets with their sticky buttons […]

Revisionist Fantasy

What if Sauron got his Ring back?

Games are fantasy. Whether it’s casting a fireball spell or commanding thousands of troops on the rolling plains of an ancient battlefield, they allow us to do things that are otherwise impossible in real life. It’s part of what makes them so engaging. Games based on fictional events like movies or books often take liberties […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Bowery Boys Podcast dedicates an episode to New York City in the history of comic books. “In the 1890s a newspaper rivalry between William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer helped bring about the birth of the comic strip and, a few decades later, the comic book.  Today, comic book superheroes are bigger than ever — in blockbuster summer movies and television shows — and most of them still have an inseparable bond with New York City.”

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    Pornokitsch’s One Comic Podcast looks at Red Sonja #10: “To everyone’s surprise, despite some of the covers and the character’s reputation, this isn’t the exploitative boobs’n’swordplay production it could have been. How did it achieve that? Listen and find out.”

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    Los Angeles Magazine has a gallery of self-portraits of Bunny Yeager and a bit about the career of a model and photographer most famous for her pin-up photographs of Bettie Page. “Having dedicated her life to photography and modeling, not to mention publishing 30 books on the subject (one of which shares a name with the Gavlak exhibition), Yeager had an influence on a generation of artist-photographers including Diane Arbus and Cindy Sherman. Arbus even went as far to call her ‘The world’s greatest pin-up photographer.'” (Thanks, Stephanie!)

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    Arch Daily has a gallery of images of remarkable sandcastles built by Calvin Seibert. Smithsonian Magazine has more, including a 2012 interview with Seibert about his work. (via @lordwoolamaloo)

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    While playing Batman: Arkham Knight, Austin Walker wants to walk the streets of Gotham. “There are lots of different kinds of Batman fantasies–and I’m not looking to invalidate any of them–but throughout this four game series, the developers have largely given me the same one over and over. For once, I want a Batman game where I’m compelled to save the day not because of abstract threats, damsels in distress, or a desire for personal vengeance, but because the beauty of Gotham City compels me to protect it. Instead, I’m left for the fourth time with Batman and his playground.”

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    At Die Die Danger Die Kill, Todd thinks about Karel Zeman’s Vynalez Zkasy. “Vynalez Zkasy (released in the U.S. as The Fabulous World of Jules Verne) may represent Czech FX pioneer Karel Zeman’s quest to emulate the style of 19th century fantasy illustration—to the end of presenting the future through a Victorian lens—at its most extreme. That does not mean that it is any less fascinating than, nor nearly enchanting as, films like The Stolen Airship and Cesta do Praveku/Journey to the Beginning of Time. It only means that there is a vague miasma of obsession that threads through the movie’s general air of wonderment.” (The Gutter’s own Keith has posted images from Karel Zeman’s work here).

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