[Tales of a Scorched Earth
Thursday February 15, 2007

Another Easy Sell For Apple

Written by gatmog at 11:03 PM
Categories: game culture, ipod, the cultural gutter

The extent of my gaming lately has been on my brand new, 5.5th generation 80 GB iPod. Despite its initial appearance as an unnecessary gimmick (as if Apple needs any help selling iPods), there are some surprisingly playable games available that aren't named Pac-Man. In this month's Cultural Gutter article, I take a look at a few.

Saturday December 23, 2006

But Will Your Parents Play?

Written by gatmog at 05:29 PM
Categories: game culture, the cultural gutter

Having been out of the gaming loop since say, October, I was fascinated by a conversation I had with my Aunt and Uncle at a recent holiday gathering, where they recounted their experiences with Nintendo's Wii. I just had to write about it. My latest article at The Cultural Gutter explains how Nintendo is changing the face of gaming.

Thursday November 23, 2006

Everybody Dies

Another extended absence, another post somewhere else. I've done next to no gaming in the last two months, but I made time for Introversion's DEFCON: Everybody Dies for nostalgia's sake. See, WarGames is probably the only movie that got computers right in making them incredibly cumbersome and boring. There are no 3D interfaces or flashy animations when you check your email. Well, unless you're using a Mac and have no attention span. I was suprised by DEFCON, but not because the game was actually good compared to Darwinia. It's a game that asks some important questions of the player, and does a chillingly effective job of simulating modern warfare compared with any low-level first person shooter. My article at The Cultural Gutter explains.

Saturday September 30, 2006

Keep Playing, It Might Get Better

Written by gatmog at 10:31 PM
Categories: fps, game culture, pc gaming, the cultural gutter

I often questioned my motivations for making my way through the entirety of Prey. I knew it was awful the moment I stepped through the asshole - so why did I keep playing? Was it to write a complete and fair review? Was it because I had been waiting along with everyone else for the last eleven years? Motivations for playing a game can vary from genuine interest to just wanting to kill some time. But what about playing a bad game? Is that reserved for the masochist, the same person who spends time reading bad weblogs? My latest article at the Cultural Gutter tries to explain.

Thursday August 03, 2006

Click. Kill. Reward.

Written by gatmog at 12:14 PM
Categories: game culture, pc gaming, rpg, the cultural gutter

I love (love?) Titan Quest. I am still playing Titan Quest. While the quests are not randomized and the areas not re-constructed between playthroughs like Diablo II, I still gain enjoyment from the basest desire to collect a coordinated set of gear and a weapon that does massive amounts of damage. This bait to keep playing is also what drives every single MMORPG. It's a predictable, well-worn formula that has remained the same since the days of Rogue and Nethack. Why does it still work? This month's article at The Cultural Gutter assesses this unhealthy fascination with clicking a mouse.

Thursday July 06, 2006

What Happened to the Arcade?

Written by gatmog at 05:44 PM
Categories: arcade, game culture, gaming, the cultural gutter

After exploring the relationships formed by console gaming, I thought about the place of the arcade in the evolution of the bonds shared by gamers. The friendly competition established by beating a high score in Galaga or mastering the moves of Street Fighter II seem like such simple pursuits when compared to the complexity of multiplayer gaming today. The Internet, voice chat and anonymous challenges have supplanted the community building that took place inside the local arcade. While a form of this pastime may have made its way onto home consoles, it's hard not to lament the loss of these hallowed dens of gaming. This month's article at the Cultural Gutter tries to figure out what happened to the arcade.

Thursday June 08, 2006

revisionist fantasy

Written by gatmog at 01:29 PM
Categories: game culture, gaming, the cultural gutter

With the success of Grand Theft Auto III and its many skins, or more recently the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, you'd almost get the impression that more open-ended gameplay is a requirement to be worthy of critical acclaim. In a completely original setting, this is easily accomplished. But what about movie or book adaptations? Is a move towards player freedom a necessity in these games that are heavily dependent on narrative that has likely already been experienced by the player? How can a movie adaptation be made so that it isn't simply a passive experience hampered by the constraints of a story, and actually empowers the player? In this month's article at the Cultural Gutter, I delve into this matter with a certain game in mind.

Thursday May 11, 2006

the not-so casual gamer

Written by gatmog at 12:12 PM
Categories: game culture, gaming, the cultural gutter

What is a casual gamer? It's a term that gets used a lot more lately, as a larger audience is introduced to the world of games. It's also become a very lucrative demographic, because console manufacturers and game publishers aren't interested in selling their product to existing customers. They are in the business of making money, after all. And that includes reaching a wider audience. As games become more accessible, the definition has been muddied somewhat. Is a casual gamer someone who is content to play solitaire on a Windows 95 desktop? Or Diner Dash for days on end? What about sports gamers, who ground themselves in some form of reality instead of the blood and guts escapism of first person shooters? What about players of flight simulators?

In this month's article at The Cultural Gutter, I examine that the casual player of flight simulators may not be so casual after all.

Thursday April 13, 2006

teaching the value of human life

Written by gatmog at 12:06 PM
Categories: fps, game culture, pc gaming, tactical fps, the cultural gutter

Once again I'm exploring SWAT 4, a game that is in need of more attention than it ever got in the year since its release. This time it's in the context of one of the most powerful choices the game offers players: do you take the life of a criminal or do you subdue them? Do you run the risk of killing your entire team because you assumed the last gunman would give himself up? It's an essential part of the strategy presented in SWAT 4 and its recent expansion, and this feature is unfortunately drowned out by the game's more marketable contemporaries. This month's article at The Cultural Gutter reveals why some games don't teach killing, but how it can be avoided.

Thursday March 16, 2006

The Time Machines

Games may be accepted by mainstream culture as a medium for entertainment, but as a learning tool for something besides killing your fellow man I think society at large would have words to quickly refute the possibility. I've considered myself a casual student of history for the past few years, and I can easily attribute my interest to a simple catalyst: games. Whether it was the rise of my German Empire in Civilization III or storming the beaches in Allied Assault, both games got me interested in the facts behind the gameplay. My latest article at The Cultural Gutter explores history and gaming, and why we still have a lot to learn.

Thursday February 16, 2006

A Just War

What is the allure of the World War 2 shooter, exactly? As someone who's unapologetic about supporting this genre, it's a topic I enjoy exploring. You know, instead of just sitting around and complaining about how many were released last week (and by the way, that joke never gets old). Obviously there's something about them that resonates with gamer culture, though I'm sure with casual gamers to a greater degree as they are only exposed to the ones that get the most hype. And developers still manage to come up with new ideas for interactive war experiences, because they keep selling. An article I wrote over at The Cultural Gutter attempts to coalesce some of these thoughts.

Also, from this point on I'll be supplying material once a month for the video games section at the Gutter. Though I don't expect this to affect anything around here.

Thursday January 19, 2006

welcome to Azeroth

I consider myself off the skag that is World of Warcraft; I have had enough of a break from the game that I can view my experiences with it objectively. I've got an article over at The Cultural Gutter that is an attempt to capture the essence of what is arguably the most popular MMORPG in existence right now. With an expansion looming in the distance that tears my heart in two, and holding on hope for the last three patches that something might actually be done to deepen the experience, I consider the article a purging of that other life.

in my new pattern shirt