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Michael Abbott
Indiana, USA
I write and host the Brainy Gamer blog and podcast.
Recent Activity
Thanks for the kind words, Korbin. Why am I not surprised you managed to squeeze in a MM shoutout? :-)
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2013 on Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 42 at Brainy Gamer
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I'd say your best bet is to hold off listening until you've finished the game. We steer clear of spoilers for the first part of the conversation, but from there you'll probably find the remainder of the show most interesting if you've already played the whole game. Hope that's helpful. Thanks for listening.
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2013 on Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 42 at Brainy Gamer
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Well, if you listen past that point in the show, you'll discover I wasn't being exactly serious about that secret panel. :-)
Toggle Commented Sep 4, 2013 on Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 42 at Brainy Gamer
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In this episode I make my guest Steve Gaynor squirm uncomfortably in his seat. Of course, we also discuss his new game Gone Home, creating authentic characters, an important lesson from Ken Levine, and a secret room no reviewer has yet discovered. Plus other things. I hope you enjoy. Listen to any episode of the podcast directly from this page by clicking the yellow "Listen Now" button on the right. Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes here. Subscribe to the podcast RSS feed here. Download the podcast directly here. Show Links: Press Select The Fullbright Company Cameron Kunzelman's This Cage... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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Hi Kyle! Long time no see, eh? Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to say hi. I hope all is well with you.
Toggle Commented Jun 28, 2013 on The games we deserve at Brainy Gamer
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Everyone is some kind of ignorant. Even you. Even me. None of us are the same age. There are various types of maturity and varying levels of each one. There are a lot of things to learn, and varying levels of knowledge in each of those things. Thank you for this, Matthew. As we forcefully demand rights for those unfairly denied them, we must acknowledge our own limits and blind spots. A little humility goes a long way. As always, I greatly appreciate you sharing your thoughts here.
Toggle Commented Jun 27, 2013 on The games we deserve at Brainy Gamer
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Hi Marijn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree that outrage and heated dialogue are sometimes effective and can produce positive results. I don't see anger as necessarily destructive, and I hope my post doesn't imply we all must sit on our hands when we feel provoked to act for change. As you suggest, change often requires strong provocative action. Harvey Milk knew that Gandhi's strategy for achieving social justice wouldn't work in San Francisco. And he was right. I think I'm talking about something different. What I see online and offline is a notable uptick in hostility and intolerance that reflects a widespread social trend toward confrontation over negotiation and a willingness (even eagerness) to burn down the whole house, rather give an inch or, shudder the thought, work for compromise or consensus. I see it in Congress; I hear it on the radio; I see it on bumper stickers and t-shirts. Everyone, it sometimes seems, is itching for a fight. I'm glad Gabe at Penny Arcade apologized, and I won't impugn his motives. But for every such capitulation, I see a dozen instances of discourse that descends to ugliness in the wink of an eye. It's become such a familiar trajectory that I think many see it as a kind of default mode of communication. My students, for example, are more geared (and oddly better prepared) for confrontation than collaboration, at least when conflicts arise. I may be wrong or too pessimistic - not my nature, by the way, I'm a pretty sunny guy. Maybe things are improving, and I'm simply not seeing it clearly. I hope so. Others are likely to have a better read of the zeitgeist than me. The real reason I wrote the post was to address what I see as a general lack in our community of simple skills that can turn conflict into something positive and productive. I see a "teaching moment," I guess you could say, and I'm hard-wired to seize it. I honestly don't know if what I'm offering is the right medicine or pedagogy or whatever. It's what I have to offer, and if it helps even a little, I'll be happy.
Toggle Commented Jun 23, 2013 on The games we deserve at Brainy Gamer
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What is a good man but a bad man's teacher? What is a bad man but a good man's job? If you don't understand this, you will get lost, however intelligent you are. --Tao Te Ching, ch. 27 We hear it said that games need to grow up, but when I look at the fractious, often hateful community surrounding them, I wonder if that's likely. I've written about this before, dating back to '08, and have always seen reasons for hope. Now I'm not so sure. I think we're getting worse, not better. When we pillory critics for saying hard... Continue reading
Posted Jun 22, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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Hi Matthew! Thanks, man. We're doing great. I hope all is well with you. Ping me (or I will you), and let's catch up, ok?
Toggle Commented Jun 19, 2013 on A humongous adventure at Brainy Gamer
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Thanks, Plethora. You've been a regular reader for so long. I appreciate it very much. Yeah, there's something about this game that's worth analyzing in terms of gameplay, connectivity, and social (immediate and distant) interaction. It seems to me it's a case of getting a hundred little things exactly right, rather than leaning on a handful of "core mechanics." I need to think about it some more, which will require more play time. Oh, darn. :-D
Toggle Commented Jun 19, 2013 on A humongous adventure at Brainy Gamer
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Thank you, Rahul. I'll have that post up in a day or two. I'm enjoying writing it. Love this game so much.
Toggle Commented Jun 19, 2013 on A humongous adventure at Brainy Gamer
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I initially didn't want to think about it too much, but with time passing, I've come to appreciate how fortunate we were. Zoe doesn't know much about the anhydrous ammonia tank, and we're going to leave it at that for now. Thanks for the kind words.
Toggle Commented Jun 19, 2013 on A humongous adventure at Brainy Gamer
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Thank you. Me too! :-)
Toggle Commented Jun 19, 2013 on A humongous adventure at Brainy Gamer
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This is about a train, a game, and a girl. A few days ago I took my daughter Zoe on her first train trip. We boarded Amtrak's Hoosier State bound for Chicago at 6:58 AM. Zoe was exuberant, equipped with all the necessities for a 4-hour excursion: a stack of her favorite books, a bag of snacks, and her 3DS loaded with Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Zoe was eager to ride on a real train because lately she's a frequent traveler on the virtual train connecting her town to mine in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. We're both enchanted by the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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The term 'genre' eventually becomes pejorative because you're referring to something that's so codified and ritualized it ceases to have the power and meaning it had when it first started. --Christopher Nolan Here's what we think we know about genre: it limits creativity. It binds artists to tried-and-true formulas and encourages derivative work. A creator must be free to follow her muse, unhindered by prescriptive rules. An artist working on a genre-bound project is like a caged bird. She can sing pretty songs, but don't expect her to go anywhere interesting. Genres are agents of ideological closure; they limit the... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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Elizabeth: I can't believe you did that. They're all dead. You killed those people. Booker: Elizabeth, I... Elizabeth: You're a monster! Booker: What did you think was going to happen? --Bioshock Infinite Bioshock Infinite is a shooter with a problem, but the problem isn't the shooting. The problem is that Bioshock Infinite has nothing to say about the shooting. A game that earnestly tries to explore morality and personal responsibility ducks those questions by placing the player on a conveyor belt of hyper-violent sequences, shuttling the player from one narrative set-piece to the next. The shooting is what you do.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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This is the final episode in my series of conversations about the State of Games. I encourage you to listen to the first three shows featuring a variety of smart and thoughtful guests. In this edition I talk with Kirk Hamilton, features editor at Kotaku, and Brett Douville, Lead Programmer at Bethesda Game Studios.We discuss the impact of indie games on AAA developers, "Anita and the cesspool," and why now is the best of all possible times to be a gamer...among many other topics. I hope you enjoy. Listen to any episode of the podcast directly from this page by... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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This is the third in a series of conversations I'm hosting on the State of Games. I encourage you to listen to the first two episodes and stay tuned for the final installment which will appear in the coming days. In this edition I talk with Tom Bissell, essayist, critic, and most recently script-writer for the new Gears of War: Judgment game. We discuss writing for games, the perils of Metacritic, the future of storytelling in games, and many other topics. I hope you enjoy. Listen to any episode of the podcast directly from this page by clicking the yellow... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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This is the second in a short series of conversations I'm hosting on the State of Games. I encourage you to listen to the first episode and stay tuned for the final two which will appear in the coming days. In this edition I talk with Chris Suellentrop, video game critic for the New York Times, and Steve Gaynor of the Fullbright Company, an indie game studio developing Gone Home, a finalist for the Excellence in Narrative award at the Indpendent Games Festival later this month. We discuss the transitional state of the game industry, the relationship of the critic... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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This is the first of several round-table conversations I'm hosting on the State of Games, an admittedly unwieldy topic, but well-timed, I think, in this transitional period for games and the game industry. In this edition I talk with Leigh Alexander and Brendan Keogh, two of the leading critical voices examining games and the culture surrounding them. We discuss the "ecology of games," play as communication, the culture wars, and why we need to "talk about the tree," among other topics. I hope you enjoy. Listen to any episode of the podcast directly from this page by clicking the yellow... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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I don't often stray from video games on this blog, but sometimes my interest in games and my work as a stage director converge. My production of Richard Greenberg's Take Me Out opens tomorrow night, and throughout the rehearsal process I've been struck by the play's analytical, yet lyrical take on baseball as a game that's more than a game. Take Me Out (winner of the 2003 Tony Award for Best Play) tells the story of a Major League Baseball player named Darren Lemming who suddenly announces he's gay. The play explores the powerful aftermath of his decision and its... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
Welcome aboard, Gilad! Nice to see you again. I found this thread on GOG's site very useful. I think it will answer your question. http://www.gog.com/forum/system_shock_2/system_shock2_faq_patches_mods_recommendations/page1
Toggle Commented Feb 18, 2013 on Vintage Game Club: System Shock 2 at Brainy Gamer
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Hi Matthew. I think I like SS2 more than you, but I take your point. One of my hopes in playing through the game with a group of motivated players is that we'll engage these questions and fairly situate SS2 among other games that invite comparisons. SS1 is obviously one of those games. I personally find SS1's controls frustrating and its atmospherics less compelling...but it's been quite a long time since I played it. I'm guessing a fair number of people will give SS1 another go now that SS2 is in the limelight. If I can find time, I'll be one of them.
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2013 on Vintage Game Club: System Shock 2 at Brainy Gamer
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When we discuss great games, we often cite particular moments burned into our brains: seeing Hyrule Field for the first time in Ocarina; the chainsaw zombie in Resident Evil 4; the death of Aeris; "Would you kindly..."; "The cake is a lie"; emerging from the sewers to gaze on Cyradil for the first time; insult sword fighting; the final ascent in Journey; "Kick, punch, it's all in the mind." Those are a few of mine. System Shock 2 has many such moments, perhaps more than any other game. When devoted players discuss storytelling in games, someone inevitably declares System Shock... Continue reading
Posted Feb 14, 2013 at Brainy Gamer
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Some think the World a Mysterie Through which to blindlie blunder, Yet Wiseards since Prehistory Have sought to know its Wonder. --”The Wizard’s Companion,” Ni no Kuni A hundred years from now, when cultural historians and literature professors look back on the games we’ve played for the last 30+ years, they will see a renaissance age of Fairy Tales. They will study a deep catalog of storytelling games filled with heroes and supernatural helpers, anthropomorphic animals, magic potions, healing fruit and epic sojourns. Tales of fate, souls redeemed, loved ones lost and found. Nature as leitmotif. Wise trees, restorative stones,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2013 at Brainy Gamer