The Cultural Gutter

taking trash seriously

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

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 […]

The Romance of Indie Games

A screenshot from Bontãgo, a finalist in the Independent Games Festival.

I came across Ernest Adams as the writer of a column for the excellent gamasutra.com, a website dedicated to “the art and science of making games.” Adams’ column, The Designer’s Notebook, discusses some of the arcane and complex issues facing game designers in language understandable to people outside the inner circle, managing to be rigorous […]

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    Friend of the Gutter, Will McKinley writes about his past as a soap opera fan and the return of a classic soap opera, The Doctors, and its significance for the genre.

     

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    Action choreographer, director and stunt performer Panna Rittikrai has died. Films Panna worked on, whether as a choreographer, director, producer and/or actor include: Born To Fight / Gerd Ma Lui (1986 and 2004), Tom Yum Goong (2005), Chocolate (2008), Spirited Killer (1994),  Power Kids (2009),  Dynamite Warrior/Khon Fai Bin (2006), Bangkok Knockout (2010) and all three Ong-Bak films (2003, 2008, 2010).  Film Business Asia, The Bangkok Post and Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal have obituaries. City On Fire and Far East Films also remember Panna. Here’s an interview with Panna from Thai Indie.  Panna kicks ass in this tribute video.

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    Actor and singer Elaine Stritch has died. Stritch worked extensively on Broadway, but she also appeared in September (1987), Small Time Crooks (2000), Monster-In-Law (2005), the British television series, Two’s Company3rd Rock From The Sun, My Sister Eileen and 30 Rock. The New York Times Variety and The Detroit Free Press. Saara Dutton remembers Stritch in her piece, “In Praise of Broads.” Here Stritch performs, “Zip” from Pal Joey, “Why Do The Wrong People Travel?” from Sail Away and “I’m Still Here” at the White House. Here she is in a 2008 production of Endgame. And here she is on Theater Talk.

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    Actor and producer James Garner has died. Garner is probably most famous for his role as Jim Rockford in the tv series, The Rockford Files, but he also starred in Maverick (the tv series and the 1994 film), Support Your Local Sheriff (1969), Marlowe (1969), The Great Escape (1963),   Victor/Victoria (1982), Move Over, Darling (1963), My Fellow Americans (1996), Space Cowboys (2000), God, The Devil and BobDivine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002),  8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter and The Notebook (2006). The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Variety have obituaries. Here is Garner in what is reportedly his favorite television series, Nichols (1971). And here Garner talks about acting.

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    The Projection Booth watches Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires with Troy Howarth.

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    The Comics Journal takes an in-depth look a Tony Wong Yuk-Long, Ma Wing-Shing and the massive Hong Kong comics publisher, Jademan Holdings Ltd., and Jademan in North America: “He is a showman, this Tony Wong–a real Stan Lee, though I would argue that he is more interesting than the American model.” (via Kaiju Shakedown).

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