Game Engine

by Heather Chaplin

  • Sometimes You Die

    Ryan Green’s son, Joel, was diagnosed with terminal cancer just before his second birthday. There were surgeries. Chemo. Joel’s eyes turned in. He lost his hearing. After work done on his spine, he had to learn to walk again. But he didn’t die, and Green wanted to show the world “the miracle” that was his son. That Dragon, Cancer, due out later this year on the Android console OUYA, is hard to play. It’s not hard because the controls are difficult, or because there are millions of screens of data to manage or because of puzzles that hurt your brain…  Read more

    On Jul 17, 2014
    By on Jul 17, 2014Columns
  • Gaming the System

    Like their counterparts in film and music, game designers love a good award show. This year the International Games Festival awards were swept by a game that had critics raving all year and will surely go down in history as the first game to make suspense and heartache out of pushing papers and cross-checking documents. Lucas Pope, who left blockbuster studio Naughty Dog to go it alone, calls Papers, Please, his first commercially released game, a “dystopian document thriller.” On first glance, documents may seem like an odd center for a thriller of any kind, but then again in this…  Read more

    On Apr 28, 2014
    By on Apr 28, 2014Columns
  • Lose Lose

    When I was a kid I hated videogames. Taking the controller at Pacman or Space Invaders or Frogger or whatever, I became nearly paralyzed with anxiety. The game started, and there you were: Go! Perform! Win! Within seconds, I’d lost. Game over. Total humiliation. Try not to let the other kids see your shame. I was also the kid who rarely did homework and responded to every failed test with, “I didn’t really try.” In other words, I’ve had a rocky relationship with failure in my life. Where was Jesper Juul when I needed him? Juul is one of the…  Read more

    On Jan 17, 2014
    By on Jan 17, 2014Columns
  • Space Invaders

    In September, LA Game Space finally loosed Experimental Game Pack 01 upon the world. Fifteen bucks to Kickstarter, and you’ll find yourself in possession of 23 strange, disturbing, funny, moving, sad and psychedelic games from some of the world’s best and most promising indie designers. Back-story: It’s 2008. Two guys meet at a conference. The guys are Daniel Rehn and Adam Robezzoli. They’re thinking, you know what the indie game world could use? A space. A real-world physical location for exhibits and events, a speaker series, a research lab and an artist residency. Institutions such as the Museum of the…  Read more

    On Oct 21, 2013
    By on Oct 21, 2013Columns
  • The World Is Your Ouya

    E3 is the big videogame industry show, where all the console makers and big publishers show their wares for the year to come. The big news this year was the next-generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony. It was a week of epilepsy-inducing noise and lights and people shouting at each other about AMD chips, Radeon graphics processors, dualshock controllers and how the latest versions of Warfare this or that will blow your mind. The news that caught my eye, however, happened in a parking lot across the street from E3. But let’s start at the beginning. In 1977, Atari set…  Read more

    On Jul 18, 2013
    By on Jul 18, 2013Columns
  • Civilian Casualties

    I’ve been reviewing the fourth installment of Gears of War recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about military games. Gears takes place on a planet called Sera and you fight big locusts, so it’s not exactly the U.S. Army, like, say, Call of Duty, but it’s the same basic idea — lots of weapons, lots of choices of weapons and lots of killing. Now, people are always talking about “violent video games” and the harm they do to young minds, and this drives me crazy for two reasons. The first is simple: video games aren’t violent. They deal in representations…  Read more

    On Apr 23, 2013
    By on Apr 23, 2013Columns
  • Hard to Kick: On Videogames and Addiction

    February 12, 2014: It was something of a watershed moment last weekend when Doug Nguyen, creator of Flappy Bird, the world’s most popular free app, pulled his game from the App Store. The app was estimated to have generated for Ngyuen $50,000 a week in advertising revenue. The problem? The game, said Nguyen, was addictive. He told Forbes, “Flappy Bird was designed to play in a few minutes when you are relaxed. But it happened to become an addictive product. I think it has become a problem. To solve that problem, it’s best to take down Flappy Bird. It’s gone…  Read more

    On Oct 23, 2012
    By on Oct 23, 2012Columns
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