The Cultural Gutter

unashamed geekery

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

Fallout 4 and the Horrors of the Open World

Featured image suicide pact

Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 4, like its predecessors, surrounds the player with a retro-futurist, post-apocalyptic world abstracted from the good ol’, partially mythical USA of educational filmstrips, with sprinkles of that era’s sci-fi upping the ante. In due time, you’ll be battling through a harsh realm of mad science gone amok, repulsive and insane mutations, cruel […]

Reality is broken, let’s play games

Ingress portal thumb

Ask me whether I’d like x or y and the answer is frequently yes. Maybe it’s being a Libra, or growing up around my mother’s talent for creative problem solving, but when faced with a choice between two options one of the first things I ask myself is do I actually want to pick only […]

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 […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Los Angeles Times has an interview with Margaret Sixel, editor of Mad Max: Fury Road. “I wanted every single shot to progress the story. I don’t like repetition. And I think we applied that rule religiously throughout the film….I watched a film last night and they kept cutting back again and again and the expression on the actor’s face was exactly the same. I felt like, ‘You’ve used the shot three times already!’ That’s what I don’t like. There’d better be some progress.”

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    “During the 1970’s Black filmmakers found their voices by making films that spoke to urban audiences in a way that had never been done before. Films like Sugar Hill, Abby, The Zebra Killers and so many more packed theaters with audiences hungry for Horror Movies where the Black Guy didn’t die first. 40 years later, Black horror films have made a lasting impact within the Black community. These films are national treasures and should be a part of any film collection. The Museum of UnCut Funk pays homage to the Blaxpolitation Horror films of 1974.” Click through for more. (via @GrveyardShiftSisters)

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    Mubi has a collection of film posters designed by Eva Švankmajerová, Surrealist painter, writer and filmmaker. Learn more about Eva Švankmajerová with an posthumous interview with Gwendolyn Albert, the translator of her novel, Baradla Cave.

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    At The Toast, Mo Moulton watches Downton Abbey and discusses its portrayal of Neville Chamberlain. “Here, then, is Neville Chamberlain in 1925. He is fulfilling the expectations set by an extraordinary political family. His father, Joseph Chamberlain, ran a screw factory in Birmingham, where he became passionate about urban improvement as a method for bettering the lives of his workers. As Liberal mayor of Birmingham, he was an early, passionate proponent of what became known as “gas and water socialism”: he wanted to put those services within reach of every resident by putting them under the management of local government. So far, it’s hard to imagine the Earl of Grantham having much in common with this energetic, egalitarian entrepreneur.”

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    In honor of Black History and Women In Horror Month, Graveyard Shift Sisters take a look at Audre’s Revenge Film collective, which was founded by Monika Estrella Negra:  “Audre’s Revenge Film was created in order to promote visibility of womyn, queer, trans and intersex folks of color in the sci fi and horror universe.

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    Please enjoy an hour of rare Bollywood synth funk (and an interview with DJ Fitz who put the mix together). (via @BethLovesBolly)

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