Like most people who’ve seen it, I’m feeling that the new Netflix series on the history of the video game industry is… lackluster. The problem is that it’s a history of the industry. The major points in the story are technological paradigm shifts, legal battles, and corporate marketing strategies. These highlights are filled in with personal stories from people who enjoyed the commercial product as kids, people who are overwhelmingly white or male. But even when the series manages to highlight contributions or experiences from a more diverse group – the Black engineer who developed the cartridge system, the woman who pioneered graphic RPGs, the gay man who made a pride game in the middle of the AIDS crisis – these just feel thin, like drops in the bucket that don’t capture what made video games important. Part of the problem is the storytelling, which seems to assume that its audience is simultaneously middle aged white men who grew up playing games or programming, and young kids who know absolutely nothing about anything. But the bigger problem is one of historical discipline – video games might be an industry, but they are also a cultural phenomenon, and their history has to be a cultural one.Read More
A lot more than names and dates. Read More
I played an amazing (and free!) mobile game a few weeks ago, and it helped keep me sane.
I recently played the puzzle platformer Gris, which has been hailed as a beautiful, emotional journey. I think it kind of falls short, but it prompted me to think about the larger genre of emotional indie games. Read More