December 2011

The Critical Void in Gaming Journalism

An odd stage in an emerging form of media


There must be something about media institutions with three-letter names. They start off as great, breakthrough forces in their field, redefining what it means to like music or movies or games, giving fans new channels through which to absorb supplemental goodies for their favorite entertainment. Then that new countercurrent picks up revenue, starts to go mainstream, and the former supplier of real culture suddenly becomes mainstream and boring and useless. Instead of steering fans to the good stuff, it steers fans to the most advantageous places to spend their money. We've seen it with MTV (and Rolling Stone, etc.) in the music world and now we're seeing it with IGN in gaming.

Amy Seems a Promising Addition to the Zombie Genre

Upcoming survival horror game ought to make zombies scary again

Zombies are still a hot commodity in the gaming world as developers continue to come up with new channels through which players can shoot, slice, and smash the undead. I guess turning all the villains into brainless, disgusting humanoids is one way to make gratuitous violence in video games extra fun without making us feel at all bad about it. I am beginning to feel as though the zombie shoot-em-up genre is getting a little over-saturated, what with the Left 4 Dead and Dead Island and Dead Rising series all filling that niche rather competently. Maybe what we need is something with a little less gore and a little more heart. Maybe we need something like Amy.

The Four H's: Type-casting RPG Gamers

True Role-Playing Gamers are a unique breed...well, four unique breeds.


ole-playing games are a special classification of escapist fantasy, for a special niche audience of gamers. Sure, you can pick up a copy of Call of Duty and slog it out for hours with friends and complete strangers. However, the narrative is only as long as it takes to finish a multiplayer map, and the payoff is in the K/D spread, or the item unlocks. Battle gaming is a sitcom, easily digestible in small, convenient chunks. Likewise Civilization, Starcraft, and other simulator games put you in the driver seat, but the only narrative arch is what you find in dominating other civilizations. The payoff is in their destruction, and when you’re finally king, it’s time to start over with a different group.

The “Plants vs. Zombies” Computer Game vs. Apps

"It started out as a computer game, and its popularity skyrocketed through word of mouth."

PopCap created a modern classic with “Plants vs. Zombies,” one of the most addictive games ever created. Somehow cute, odd little zombies and adorable plants battle it out on your front lawn, and you must keep the zombies from invading the house and eating your brains! Don’t worry; it’s not graphic or scary. It’s more like cute and cuddly.
It started out as a computer game, and its popularity skyrocketed through word of mouth. It become something of a phenomenon with people even making fan videos of its catchy soundtrack. Eventually, it became available for several game systems in addition to the games for Macs and PCs. Finally it was released as an app for the iPod.