The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

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

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. Like this:Like Loading…

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 […]

the not-so casual gamer

When knowledge becomes an essential part of play.

As the game industry continues to expand at an alarming rate, the hunt for mindshare continues. Hardware manufacturers and game publishers don’t care about people like me, the guy that buys at least one game a month and considers part of their daily intake of current events visiting sites like Gamespot and Evil Avatar. I’ve […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Dr. Nerdlove takes a brief break from helping the nerd get the girl to address something that’s been bugging him. “Pardon me while I go off on a bit of a media criticism/ rant here. So I’ve been enjoying the *hell* out of The Flash lately except for one thing: Iris Allen. Her character is screen death; every time she’s around, everything comes to a screeching halt.

    The problem is: it’s not her fault, it’s the writers. Rather like Laurel Lance in the first two seasons of Arrow, she has Lois Lane syndrome. Her (like Laurel and Lois) entire character arc is based around being ignorant of events that literally everyone else in her life is aware of.”

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    Get your own copy of the Satanic Temple’s The Satanic Children’s Big Book of Activities!

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    At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about Dr. Doom: “Comics are so often seen as the province of white geeky nerds. But, more broadly, comics are  the literature of outcasts, of pariahs, of Jews, of gays, of blacks. It’s really no mistake that we saw ourselves in Doom, Magneto or Rogue.”

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    Actor Ken Takakura has died. Takakura starred in films such as Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965); Red Peony Gambler (1968); Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ichijoji (1955) and Miyamoto Musashi: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956); as well as in co-productions like The Yakuza (1974); The Bullet Train (1975); Black Rain (1989) and Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles (2005).  The Japan Times, The South China Morning Post and The AV Club have obituaries. Japan Subculture has an interview with Takakura. Here Takakura sings the theme to Abhashiri Prison (1965)

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    Producer, writer and director Glen A. Larson has died. Larson was responsible for creating tv series such as Battlestar Galactica, Magnum P.I, Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Quincy M.E., The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries and Buck Rogers In The 25Th Century, about which the Gutter’s own Keith wrote here. The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter and The AV Club have obituaries. Watch Larson’s interview from 2010 at “Battlestar Galactica: The Exhibition”.

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    At Re/Action, Maddy Myers writes about how important the Metroid franchise, in both game and manga form, and its protagonist, Samus Aran, were to her. “Samus still represents a breakthrough. She first took off her armor to reveal a woman’s form back in 1986, the year that I was born. Samus and I grew up separately, kindred spirits who did not find one another until 2007. A best friend, a fraternal twin sister, a clone separated at birth. Or so I felt, as I let myself slip behind that visor. I wasn’t Samus myself – not yet. I stood behind her, hanging back. Did I dare? Did I dare pretend, role-play, allow myself to act as Samus? Could I be that cool?”

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