The Cultural Gutter

geek chic with mad technique

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

Questing For Answers

The pass came with mardi gras beads, too.

While in New Orleans on a book tour, I noticed a fellow with a t-shirt that read: EverQuest Fan Faire, New Orleans 2004. Aw, I thought as the guy stepped onto the escalator, I wonder when that was? Kind of like seeing a show poster for a gig already passed, I presumed it’d already happened. […]

Hard Driven

You won

The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts, 2004) was making my hard drive complain. Not the usual grinding noise, but a louder, tap-knock, ominous kind of noise. I have had hard drives go corrupt on me before, so I powered down and switched a few cords. When I powered up again, I got a series of 01 […]

Player Hater

Swanky locales make you drool while you dribble.

“Vince Carter’s a dick,” Marty says when I choose him. “He’s from the Toronto team,” I say lamely. I’m not really a hometown booster or anything, I’d just been happy I’d been able to recognize any of the players I had to choose from. “Yeah, but he wants to leave,” Marty grumbles. This is why […]

Antagonistic Amusement

A biomod or two is OK, but the Omar go too far.

Now that the Matrix franchise has collapsed under its own hype and mystical mumbo-jumbo, it’s refreshing to see a well-executed cyberpunk tale in what is perhaps its ideal medium: the videogame. Because it’s not just about the style — the leather overcoats and the sunglasses — that shit was embarrassing in the ’80s when it […]

Sickly Doom

The writer on a better day of recreational decision-making.

When I was young, the ideal situation was being too sick for school but not too sick for videogames. So that after a good long sleep I could get up, get myself some toast, and play for a couple hours before my mom got home — and I was wiser to be back in bed […]

I Am Woman, Hear Me Purr

Daniel

When I got Sudeki for review, I sighed. An anime babe smiled out from the cover, her armoured boobs thrust forward and her arms upstretched as she cast a spell — presumably on the teenage-boy market. The following two strikes were the five-star recommendation from Maxim and the name of the game company (Climax). But […]

Cracking a Moral Code

Flatscreen monitor on a castle wall--does it get any cooler?

For those of you who paid for your copy of Tony Hawk 4 (Aspyr, 2003) on the PC, here’s what you missed. Running INSTALLER.EXE in the pirated version brings up a window that shows a flat-monitor screen hanging painting-style on what looks to be a castle wall. A bouncy-yet-mournful synth tune plays in the background. […]

Consoling Jim

Sweet sounds from an instrument cheap and obsolete.

To create what The Onion called his “wispy, quirky, homemade folk-pop,” Toronto musician Jim Guthrie uses sounds from everything from mimeograph machines to the elbows of evestroughs. But it’s his use of the Playstation 1 game console that has attracted the most attention. There’s not a lot of it on his most recent album, but […]

Geeky Secrets

A hissing dot-matrix bomb in the hands of our children.

Everyone loves getting in on a good secret. The same feeling of invulnerability and anonymity that makes email flaming such a big part of the internet encourages the trading in verboten information. It’s been going on for a long time, as least as long as the BBS scene in the ’80s. I recently came across […]

Mario’s Pain

Jumping on monster heads all day takes its toll.

A man is having his first physiotherapy appointment. A woman comes in wearing a white doctor’s coat. Their conversation begins on a clinical level, the doctor asking the man about how he sustained his injuries. The man explains that he works in the videogame industry, and in fact has come from work. She assumes that […]

How to Spoil a Game

In Sanitarium, you have a godlike view of the nuthouse.

You wake up in a centuries-old asylum. Your face is in bandages and your memory is in tatters, only coming back to you in black and white cinematic flashes. As you walk around and talk to people, you solve puzzles and unearth the mystery of your identity, travelling to different places that may only exist […]

Well-rendered Television

The show’s opening sequence starts with a woman in a black bodysuit facing off against a hulking monster. When she finishes him off with a jump-kick, the music swells and the words “Game Over” come up. “Did you ever wonder what happens after the game ends?” a voice reminiscent of Laurence Fishburne intones. “Welcome to […]

The Name Game

Ubisoft

While I wait in the lobby of one of the largest game studios in the world, I watch someone go through to the inner sanctum. The shiny barrier, with transparent doors that whir apart at the wave of a card-pass, looks familiar — I think I’ve seen the devices being used as turnstiles in a […]

Read Only Memories

I’m fairly suspicious of nostalgia, and I hate how advertisers leverage our emotions to sell us the same products twice. So while I’m happy that people are rediscovering videogames from their youth, and that the games and their blocky aesthetic are mushrooming up all over the culture, I wonder about the retro-gaming phenomenon. Are these […]

The Power of N

This freeware indie game is pure N-joyment.

N (MetaNet Software, 2004) is a perfect pop song of a videogame, an addictive platformer in which you use three keys to direct your ninja towards the gold and away from the robots. Its two-dimensional and mostly two-colour simplicity lure you into its cunning level designs and give you an appreciation for the subtle characterization […]

No Love For the Glove

The line between gimmick and innovation is sometimes hard to draw. Game purists look down on specialized peripherals, and while I like my shotguns and dance-pads in single-purpose arcade games, I rarely think they’re justified in a multi-purpose home system. Maybe I know too many people who bought the Power Glove. This Mattel peripheral was […]

Going Public with our Joysticks

Mister Bonnie solders together an Arcadian

One of the biggest contributors to videogaming’s nerd factor is that it’s most often a solitary act. The bepimpled teenager channelling his angst through a controller in the darkness of his parent’s basement is a cliché with more than a few grains of truth. But it hasn’t always been so. Before the home entertainment system’s […]

Blaspheming in the Church of Zelda

The promo art for Zelda should have tipped me off.

When I posted my bad review of Zelda: The Legend of Windwaker(Nintendo, 2003) to this site it immediately inspired a flood of outraged comments. Twenty-eight in total, and if you count the side discussions on other sites, over 8,000 words about a column that was about 800 words long. One comment insisted I “never write […]

Simple Pleasures

Looking back to a simpler, ostrich-flying time.

Jeff sent me an email a few days ago. Subject: Fishy. “Maybe you should consider writing a column about this awful, far-too-addictive game — if you do, my advice is to write about it without actually playing it, because if you start playing it you will never get around to writing the column.”

The Way We’re Being Played

The Silent Hill 3 protagonist recoils at the thought of buying another video card.

Here’s how I learned to stop worrying and learned to love the console. For years I’d thought it was a sucker’s game to buy a dedicated machine when you could play on your multi-use PC. I looked on the proliferation of PlayStations in the ghetto as electronic malt liquor: sure, it was only $300, but […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Friend of the Gutter Less Lee Moore interviews friend of the Gutter Colin Geddes about his work on the new horror streaming service, Shudder.

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    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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