Archive for Other literature

“Daily” Linksplosion: experiential games writing

absolutely robbed from Stu Horvath, by Stu Horvath

Some time ago I stopped understanding how to use the cron; I’ve consequently relaxed in culling roundups of games-related writing I like. This, I think, is bad. I wonder how much terrific writing is slipping past me.

So I am back with an all new, not-automated Linksplosion.

By the way. It’s Death Week at Unwinnable, and I am very proud of its EIC, Stu Horvath. His piece, “On Death and Gaming,” was reprinted today at Kotaku.

The column stands on its own, but the explosion of reminiscence and reflection in the comments really underscores what cathartic, nourishing work Horvath has done.

There is a style of good experiential writing, and maybe it takes a certain type of experience, then, to know it when you see it. When people know it, though, they are on the same page. They gush. Check the comments. (Also, see the story’s second half. Also, there is newly a third act, which is the most fascinating of all of them, to me, except it waits until its very last paragraphs to even acknowledge video games. I think this is fine.)

The allure of “retro gaming” could well have a great deal to do with memory, with remembering where you were and what you were doing when you felt this one thing. I could make so much more fuss over why video games and death and loss and loneliness are all so connected, but I will stay simple, recommend that you read Stu’s articles, and encourage you to think about how video games connect to your own sense of grief and loss. Because it’s there, it’s there, even if you haven’t connected all these intermingling narratives yet.

I am also into emergent gaming and, uh, agoraphobia.

This is why I really appreciate writer Shaun Gannon’s piece “Professional Gamer.” Gannon has been experimenting with some different types of writing, and this one is maybe like a poem about fearfulness. I bet you’ll like it.

I shouldn’t try to explain anything else, and anyway, you people are not dense.

The website Critical Distance recently invited games writers to discuss “being other.”

Kotaku Australia editor Mark Serrels was up for the challenge, and his “Meeting My Daughter for the First Time (In the Sims)” really struck me.

I am scared of babies, but I am getting to the age where I ought to reconsider my worry, too. But there is a bigger thought, here—about avatars, about artifice, simulacra, that movie Synecdoche, NY—that also occurred to me. I like thinking about how we do and do not resemble our own avatars, about how self-perception is so skewed. But Serrels’ essay goes a step further.

I have heard of people using video game sports simulations to play “future games” and estimate sports brackets, as if sports video games could be accurate ecosystems anyway.

But suppose you were able to use a game to simulate your future son or daughter? Suppose you were secretly and grimly terrified about seeing the outcome? Suppose you played The Sims and discovered your own sense of relief? I am all for existentialism and all its blues, but this was a surprisingly pleasant column.


Alec and Shanna starring in: What


There is so much more where that came from, if you can stand it.


Dr. Mario on health care

For nearly two decades, I have been a resident doctor at the Mushroom Kingdom Hospital, in the Division of Virus Research. Patients depend on my Megavitamins to eradicate a seemingly never-ending stream of horrible viruses. Under a microscope, the viruses appear multicolored, with gloved hands and feet. Sometimes, they appear to have demonic faces. In my nightmares, they laugh at me.


Usually, I try to post things I assume we citizens of the Internet have not yet seen—fan art, for instance, or dopey YouTube videos from three years ago. But I do love McSweeney’s, both print and online, and especially when it acknowledges its secret and undying love for videogames.

Therefore, even though you have already read it, I cannot sideline BoingBoing for its most excellent discovery, that of Marco Kaye’s Dr. Mario Weighs in on Universal Health Care:

“Consider the hostile planet Zebes, which the female warrior Samus liberated many years ago.” Kaye is right! Despite Samus’ work, Zebes is totally teeming with viral wildlife. I could easily catch an X Parasite there! Well, I’m convinced; I’m moving to Mushroom Kingdom.

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“An interview with the designer of Braid”

Chainsawsuit is a pretty weird comic. It isn’t specifically a comic about video games, but its author does play games. He also thinks about cooking, doctors, and Superman.

This strip is from last week. I like it a lot.

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Yummy pixel art abounds in Super Oors World

Super Oors World, a comic strip that makes use of adorable pixel sprites and backgrounds, is the twisted (but lovely) work of Jonathan Silvestre. Each “comic book” is presented as a PDF download. This method of distribution irked me at first—I’m a little lazy and prefer browser-based whatevers—but I soon realized I liked the almost-tactile comic book feel of the PDF as I scrolled through. Shows me!

The hero of each strip is a grumpy, sleeping bear. The first episode, Princess SOS, is really terrific and hilariously twee. Here are frames from Princess SOS’s introduction:

Super Oors World, page 1

Super Oors World, page 2

Super Oors World, page 3

From there, our ursine hero embarks on an epic quest to rescue the princess, who is locked in a tower at a Bowser-like castle. Will Super Oors succeed? Only your computer’s copy of Adobe Acrobat knows for sure!

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1-Up MegaZine #3

Raina Lee introduces issue #3 of 1-Up thusly:

Welcome to 1-Up MegaZine, Issue #3. For those new to 1-Up, our publication represents the ghost of video game future; a world where secret golden coins and power-ups emerge out of the ruins (broken blocks), and everyone can live as many lives as they earn.

It’s a good introduction, encapsulating the dreamy-eyed intellectualism of the zine as a whole—and, for that matter, shedding light on the wherefores of this very website’s title.

1-Up is targeted at, we suspect, a particular kind of gamer. She is a cradle-to-grave gamer, to be sure, but because of the videogame industry’s current climate, she is cornered into that horrible niche called “casual” (or in Nintendo’s lexicon, “latent”) gaming. She intellectualizes and externalizes the videogames of her youth precisely because they are so internalized: her individual videogame experiences are woven into her earliest memory.

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