Worth Reading

You can’t accuse the video game industry of being a boring place right now. It may be turbulent, its future uncertain, and market forces are stretching in new, untold, slightly scary directions, but there’s plenty to talk about. We’re only a few weeks from the biggest E3 in years, and the 2013 edition is the one we’ve promised ourselves will show us brand-new video games. It’s a new cycle! More money! Yeah! Increasingly, I’ve found myself shrugging at the prospect that a transitional E3 is the solution. More accurately, it’s not where I expect to find the solutions that fit my tastes.

I’ll most certainly be playing plenty of AAA games in the years to come, but if my top ten list from last year was any indication, it’s not where games are resonating for me anymore, so why should I worry so much about it changing?So…I won’t! Worst case scenario? It’s business as usual, and at some point I end up tweeting about the amount of guns and violence for the upteenth time. (I’ll try not to.) Best case scenario? I’m surprised at the interesting risks video games are taking on a large scale, and we’ve all come out ahead.

Hey, You Should Play This

Anyone that tuned into Spookin’ With Scoops experienced what this is all about. I’m not going to say anything. Download this game, and come to learn who Mr. White Face is. I do not like him.

If you told me Mr. Rescue was a long-lost game from the 16-bit era, I’d believe you. Mr. Rescue has players running around an excellently pixelated series of burning buildings, putting out fires, and tossing people through windows–you know, rescuing them! The controls are tight (I couldn’t seem to climb up ladders on a gamepad, though), and the multiple game systems–water control, heat management, crowd panic–play off each other to create a deeper game than it first seems.

And You Should Read These, Too

Brendan Keogh, author of Killing is Harmless, does an excellent job introducing the queer games scene. Papers, Please and Cart Life have taken the most credit for evoking empathy from players, but it’s been happening in the queer games scene for years. Playing Anna Anthropy’s Dys4ia was particularly powerful for me. Growing up, I watched a close friend’s sibling have similar experiences with gender, and Dys4ia helped answer the questions I was too afraid to ask.

“I’m really good at luring gamer nerds in, then surprising them with a discussion about gender,” she says with a sly smile. “I think making things that look like video games and play like video games and are very ‘video gamey’ video games is a really good way to trick people into becoming more enlightened, educated human beings.”

When news about a Shadow Warrior reboot broke, it sorta broke my brain. Who wants another Shadow Warrior game? I might’ve enjoyed its blatantly over-the-top nature when I was a teen, but it didn’t take many years to realize how sexist and racist the game’s “humor” was, and none of that would fly in 2013. It’s interesting the producers of the game decided this would not be part of the new Shadow Warrior game from day one, and are focusing on the game’s other elements. Are those enough to support a brand-new game?

“We said look, there is some baggage with the original game, but we thought the elements that I described were worth it. It did some neat things, and had a very rich setting, and we were going to discard [the racial and sexist humor] elements of the original game. If some fans don’t like it, that’s unfortunate, and we think we can win them over with the other parts of the game,” he continued. “In fact, those things were, in our minds, detrimental to the original. We’re reinventing it how we think it needs to be done. If they miss that, we’re not going to be sorry, or anything like that.”