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Zachary Alexander
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Chris, I think your language is a little out of place when discussing Omari's experiences. "At the border of paranoia" - Paranoia usually implies an unreasonable fear. Fear of being in a public space and acting strangely isn't unreasonable, as you acknowledge in the next paragraph. "there are more prosaic risks" - while it might be more prosaic for white people to walk into a tree or get hit by a car, the reality of police behavior towards black people is absolutely commonplace. just not commonplace for people like us. i otherwise appreciate the roundup! -zach
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2016 on Pokémon GO Round-up at ihobo
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I bought the game the minute it came out, played with it a bit (to like the 3rd or 4th level I think), and then read your review - I have to say it was pretty spot on. I agree with michael's core premise - i love world-building in games. The #1 predictor of how much I love a game is if it makes me feel like I am having an impact on the world around me. Flower was very good at this, with the world blooming and the music soaring and the potted plants blooming. InFamous and AC:Bro were also great at this, giving me missions and sidequests to clean up my city. UnderGarden is aesthetically very pleasing, but at no point did I feel like I was having a permanent effect on things. I felt like each level was indistinguishable from the last (again, in strict contrast to Flower, whose levels were aesthetically and thematically quite different), carrying around musicians playing the same song was a drag, constantly managing my pollen levels was a chore, and the complete lack of context to my actions (again! Flower had an abstract context but it was still very clear in the level's motifs and the transition between the window and the levels) were really making it hard for me to be empathetic to the cause of making things bloom. I really liked the game, and I certainly wouldn't hold it against anyone for being able to enjoy the neon colors and simple puzzles, but i never found the core gameplay to be that enjoyable, especially in comparison to other games where you affect the world around you.
Toggle Commented Feb 14, 2011 on Technicolor Lazarus at Brainy Gamer
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i mean yeah the art was nice. but the gameplay was mediocre at best and aggressively bad at worst. the levels looked pretty but the level *design* was mediocre at best and derivative and repetitive at worst. there were a grand total of, I think, 4 "fodder" enemies and then 2 boss characters who showed up twice, and the rest were one-off encounters revolving around "expose the weak spot/hit the weak spot". Apparently the robot revolution was foiled entirely by chest-high walls. and again, the character design was okay, and sometimes kind of nice. and I admit to enjoying the interactions between the characters when they weren't drooling on each other, and they're probably the reason I finished this game anyway. but these are all non-interactive elements. It was a Youtube game - if you want to see what was interesting, there's no need to suffer through a brawler with dumb checkpoints, shallow combat, repetitive enemies and an aggressively terrible camera. Just find the cutscenes on Youtube and take screenshots of the art. imo Bayonetta was a far superior brawler, and had a story & characters that wasn't straight from the pages of 1950s pulp fiction right down to the hulking anti-hero, "hilarious" sidekick and helpless woman assistant.
Toggle Commented Jan 12, 2011 on Enslaved at Brainy Gamer
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Yeah, one of the most valuable things about Game Informer is the direct and unforgiving insight it gives into the mind of the Hardcore Gamer (TM). The letters section is like a look right into the psyche of 18-26 year old males who play all the games I don't. It's like reading Politico - you get all the skeezy Inside Politics with the slavish worship of power unintentionally laid bare. It's from game informer that I learned that Dragon Age had "complex moral decisions", and Braid was "overrated in every respect", and girls should just shut up and take whatever abuse they get when they play online.
Toggle Commented Nov 12, 2010 on Covered in brawn, mayhem, and steel at Brainy Gamer
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It strikes me that in any other medium, authors define themselves by much quieter, much more subtle choices - getting the right energy from their actors, using a specific literary device, focusing on a certain camera angle, etc. And in games all the personalities are BIG personalities who focus on BIG choices. Its so exciting to see people forcefully advocating for their vision of games in strict oppositon to others. Its incredibly, wonderfully chaotic in the purest sense - the medium is still being formed, and we get to watch these people bring threads together that they've been working on for 10 years or more. PC Gamer once named Spector, along with Wright and a few others, a "gaming God". At the time it seemed like wild hyperbole, but now its becoming apparent how much potential games can have in terms of player agency and literacy. It seems appropriate to put Spector up as someone who looked at chaos and said "you know I think we can make something new out of this". Plus what he said about constraints - we made them so they aren't a burden - shows he's inlin with what some of the smarter people in the field advocate about design. No constraints are actually very bad for good design :)
Toggle Commented Nov 8, 2010 on Passion play at Brainy Gamer
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And why would we need to, when we have Ben Kuchera bravely pumping his fist and cheering every time he drops a bomb and bodies fly everywhere? When the first comment on this post is "nuke 'em from orbit, it's the only way to be sure"?
Toggle Commented Oct 17, 2010 on Far to go at Brainy Gamer
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I agree censorship isn't the answer, but come on. It's a terrible-looking WiiWare game. Why is it naive or facetious to assume the worst about it? What redeeming qualities do you reasonably expect from it that would make you overlook it's gross indecency? Last time this issue came up (A while ago there was a post here ( that discussed almost the same issue, except michael came to the exact opposite conclusion, saying we shouldn't call for censorship when a game about killing Muslims was released. ) I was kind of impressed at how much good faith we're willing to ascribe to game developers. The entire history of the FPS genre, with no exceptions I can think of off the top of my head, is about killing scores of nameless, generic enemies. Yet when someone puts a Middle-Eastern skin on those enemies, I see people flooding out to defend it saying "no, no, you don't understand: this could be artistic, it's about exploring our boundaries as gamers". It's a WiiWare game. It's a very terrible-looking WiiWare game. If it had aliens instead of Iraqis, it would be considered worthless shovelware. I will bet every dollar I own this game is not part of some scheme to import cognitive dissonance into the American gamer's mind about the brutality of war. It's a first person shooter. It is, by genre definition, a gross, monstrous, insensitive representation of violence that 98% of the time we ignore and live with because we're shooting aliens and demons and Nazis and nobody gets mad about that, probably because America isn't in the middle of 2 wars with Combine nations. Implying that as a video game it has a chance to further the dialogue about the Iraq war is like saying Team America furthered the dialogue about the War on Terror. All the evidence is against that being the case, and until someone makes a really thoughtful FPS that carefully explores the morality of shooting someone in the face of a rocket launcher, I don't see how this is void from criticism until we all have the chance to sit down and play it and verify for ourselves how terrible it is.
Toggle Commented Jul 26, 2010 on Arab shooting gallery at Brainy Gamer
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Jul 26, 2010