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Brainy Gamer



Thoughtful conversation about video games



Updated: 2014-06-25T00:19:50-04:00

 



Please stop listening

2014-06-28T14:30:23-04:00

"You are shaping the future of Xbox, and we are better for it." --Phil Spencer, Head of Microsoft's Xbox Division One way to understand E3 is as a series of carefully timed PR blasts detonated in the epicenter of America's entertainment industry. No wonder game journalists and pundits talk in terms of "bombshells," "megatons" and which console maker "won" or blew away the competition.. E3 is an awkward mix of artistry, cutting-edge tech and old-fashioned hullabaloo, filled of grandiose proclamations delivered by hucksters with $200 haircuts. It's a thing to see. A more useful way to understand E3 is as...(image)



Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 42

2014-02-10T19:28:27-05:00

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...(image)



The games we deserve

2013-06-22T21:20:38-04:00

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...(image)



A humongous adventure

2013-06-18T23:23:13-04:00

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...(image)



Notes on Genre

2013-05-31T12:45:43-04:00

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...(image)



Shooter apotheosis

2013-04-11T12:47:47-04:00

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....(image)



Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 41

2013-03-26T18:47:49-04:00

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...(image)



Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 40

2013-03-19T12:58:46-04:00

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...(image)



Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 39

2013-03-15T20:06:38-04:00

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...(image)



Brainy Gamer Podcast - Episode 38

2013-03-11T15:38:08-04:00

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...(image)