Videogames are rarely above an inside joke. But can cheeky self-reference become a wolf in sheep's clothing? Lana Polansky on why good satire is hard to find, except when the game stars Charles Barkley.
In Vessel, you the player are aware that the beings your character wants to destroy are sentient. Do you continue playing and destroying these robots, in hope that your character will come to his senses?
Twisted Metal gets another sibling in its long familial line on Playstation. Through the game's noble attempt to shephard in new players while staying loyal to fans, Lana Polansky wonders if the game needed reinvention at all.
A collaboration between two of gaming's most esoteric creators, Terry Cavanagh and Stephen Lavelle, deals with child abuse, rejection, and death. But it's more broadly a short story about irreversibility. Lana Polansky explains how the game gets its hook in you in a matter of minutes.
This game about helping a family find itself wants to be lovable—yet is frequently the opposite. Lana Polansky explains how a few small, but resounding, design oversights brought the author's meaningful metaphors crashing down.
We say we "play" videogames, but that word doesn't always mean what it's supposed to. Lana Polansky traces the line between Street Fighter and just about everything else, and describes why practice is important.
Gaming's biggest hurdle may be to reach outward—beyond the masses, to the upper echelons of culture. Lana Polansky attended the Montreal International Game Summit 2011 and came back inspired, if not brimming with answers.
Can videogame characters be thought of in literary terms? How can our avatars become more than containers for our whims, biases and fantasies? How can videogame characters demonstrate moral ambiguity, subtlety and growth? Lana Polansky uncovers the layers of character in Bayonetta, a game whose protagonist has more in common with James Joyce than the sexual stereotypes which precede her.
A steampunk take on Sir Walter Raleigh and Jamestown is more than speculative history—it's a shared sensation. Read Lana Polansky's take on how the indie shoot 'em up Jamestown takes its genre conventions a step ahead of the pack.
Bennett Foddy's GIRP reminds us of the human instincts to survive and to improve. Lana Polansky explores how GIRP captures what it's like to feel over-exerted—and the sense of accomplishment that comes from outdoing one's own expectations.
The year is 2025. You're a detective, apparently. You specialize in data alteration, or something. Inexplicably, this phishing site called dénicheur.net has drudged up the embarrassing personal information of four old acquaintances, threatening an important event in each of their lives. Fred, Anaïs, Morgane, and Tom now need you to help them save their reputations by going back in time and saving their younger selves from the pitfalls of the Internet. How is this possible? That's on a need-to-know basis.
If videogames are two things, they are spatial and temporal: concepts a Kantian would say are human instincts. Likewise, poetry often uses space (imagery) and time (rhythm and meter) to magnify the emotional details of human experience.
Dinner Date poeticizes our small, unconscious tics. A tutorial makes it clear that I am not Julian Luxemburg, but his subconscious. I control his doubts and anxieties in response to being stood up on a date. I do not control the flow of the game. I can't alter Julian's script; I just provide an emotional framework.