Virginia, The Uncanny and Lynchian Dreams

“There’s always fear of the unknown where there’s mystery” ~ David Lynch

virginiacoffee

I played Virginia this week and to the surprise of no one, I loved it. However, I’ve been struggling to think of something coherent to say about it for a review. I’ve decided instead to discuss the game through the lens of ‘the uncanny’, and compare it to the work of David Lynch. Virginia has been compared to Twin Peaks a lot, and I’ve no doubt the developers are Peaks fans. In stating this comparison so often without explaining it, I feel we lose a way of understanding the weirdness of this game, especially for those too young to be aware of the TV series or its cultural impact. Please note, I’ll try to avoid it, but there may be some Virginia *spoilers* here, so you have been warned. Also I highly recommend listening to this while reading this post, taking a break every so often to sip your coffee, stare off into the distance and click your fingers along with the music. David Lynch would approve.

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Fire, Watch With Me

My twitter has been a-buzz with various gaming news sites all confirming that beautiful indie game, Firewatch is to be brought to be brought to the big screen. Yup, this is another stab at reimagining games as movies, which as we know hasn’t worked out too well in the past. Details are pretty thin on the ground at the moment, but I thought I’d share some of my initial thoughts with yous.

(In case you haven’t heard about this, read this Hollywood Reporter article to fill you in on what little information we have at the moment. )

My first concern is that, historically, the moves adapted from games have managed to miss the mark more often that not. There seems to be a gap in translation between what makes a good game and what makes a good film. However, most movies have been inspired by games in the “action”genre (I use that term broadly).

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Faith in Dark Souls: Praise the Sun!

In this series of blog posts I’d like to explore the importance of religion, and especially faith, to the inhabitants of the dark souls world. Initially I will be focusing on Dark Souls III as the most recent game, but I would like to go back and examine the other games in this series too. See this post for an introduction and overview of faith in Lothric, and this post which focuses on the dark covenant the Mound-Makers.

praise-the-sun

The sun and all its related symbology has been a favourite of mine in the Dark Souls lore, and I’m not alone. Personified by fan favourite Solaire there has been no end to images and discussions amongst fans about the Sunlight Warrior and his object of worship. However with the release of Dark Souls III debunking the long held theory that Solaire was Gwen’s son, lore theorists have been working hard to come up with new ideas about the sun worshiping knight. One that caught my eye and inspired me to write this post next was this video by The Ashen Hollow. This video hypothesises that Solaire was more self serving than pious, something I strongly disagree with. To me, the sun in Dark Souls represents hope, and Solaire’s quest for the sun is a tale of the strength of faith.

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Sunday Swatch

If you’ve been following my Dead Easy series, then I’m sure you’ll like this post by Problem Machine. It touches on some of the issues faced by developers when creating various difficulty levels and how they can impact the game design. I think this is an important consideration when thinking about adding in easy modes. For non-game devs/average consumers, it can be easy to assume that developers can just add things into the game without any problems at a moments notice (see No Man’s Sky and multiplayer nonsense). However, adding in an easier game mode could require a LOT of work to re-balance the game. It’s easy to approach these kind of issues from a consumer point or view and disregard the creator’s side, so I’d definitely recommend this post as good input into the whole conversation.

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Dead Easy: Is Art for Everyone?

This is the second post in a series of blog entries about the inclusion of an ‘easy mode’ in all games. The previous piece Difficulty and Design Intent focused on the argument that an easier mode in a game like Dark Souls, would ruin the experience intended by the game’s developers. In this I also give a little bit of background to this discussion, so I would recommend it as a starting point to understand the wider conversation I wish to contribute to. 

N.B. I want to make clear that this post is for now putting aside the issue that an easier mode in games would be beneficial to differently abled or disabled players. I want to look at the discussion regarding this in a post on its own – mostly because I would like to research this topic in more detail so as to be more educated on the matter. Therefore, the arguments presented here relate mostly to players who can’t play games due to their skill level, although I am sure there will be some cross-over.

We are incredibly lucky today in that there are hundreds of games out there for us to choose from. From role playing games, to racing, to visual novel to first person shooters – there’s something for everyone. As a gamer you don’t have to like every single genre of game, or even every single game out there. You can pick what appeals to you and play that – just like you can pick what kind of movies, books or films you like. One thing that has occurred to me when considering the idea of whether there should be an easy mode in games is this: maybe a game where difficulty is part of the design, isn’t for everyone. And if this is the case, does it need to be?

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Throwback Thursday: Dreamcast and Sonic

In this series of posts I want to explore games from my past. In doing so I aim to not only highlight pieces of game history (good or bad), but also examine my personal relationship to gaming. In this post I want to focus on a games console celebrating its recent birthday.

dreamcast

Last week the Sega Dreamcast celebrated its 17th anniversary, making it the perfect subject for this fortnight’s Throwback Thursday.

I actually never owned a Dreamcast, but my pal did and I remember the jealousy and wonder I felt towards it. I didn’t own a Playstation at this time, I was still playing games on my SNES. To my little eyes the Dreamcast was incredible -I couldn’t believe it existed.

I have a memory of playing the Dreamcast at my friend’s house and the game of choice was Sonic Adventure. If you never played this game, or don’t remember, let me fill you in on what made it so good: you could walk about the city. Not jump from platform to platform. Actually walk about an actual virtual, 3D city. If I thought the console itself was fantastic, then you can imagine how my mind was blown by this game.

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Update

Hi guys, just wanted to make a little post to say, despite the lack of anything going up last week, that I’m still here. I said in my last Sunday Swatch that I was unwell, and I ended up getting more unwell… I am completely better now. And to make up for the lack of posts, I’ll have a few going up this week, so keep an eye out for an active week. I’ll have some Throwback on Thursday relating to a certain console that celebrated an anniversary recently, my next part on Dead Easy, and Sunday Swatch. Thanks pals, and see you soon.