Parody has been one of the pillars of cultural critique for as long as drama has existed. Decontextualizing critiques from their real life implications allows audiences to see the irony of situations that perhaps they were too close to see in the first place. Therefore, I would like to propose an idea of societal critique that uses aliens, cats, and dogs to comment on various topics.

In this interactive fiction the player plays as a space alien that is tasked with coming down to a planet and assessing whether the life forms that inhabit it are worth saving from planetary…

When game designers consider how to introduce a mechanics to a player, many designer will say Mario. Mario titles have always innovated in organic teaching. Shigeru Miyamoto, the lead game designer behind SuperMario 64 opened his game with a serene environment with zero pressure to do anything, but move. Movement was Mario’s core gameplay loop and Miyamoto allowed players to explore movement at their own pace & reason. Ever since designers have experimented like mad oil barons trying to concoct the most engaging means to teach players. Enter Thumper: a rhythm thriller that submits players underneath its imposing aesthetic and…

There are many games that seek to tell stories, stories that often times whisk players away to fantastical lands for glorious adventures. However, there are game designers who seek to place players in reality and communicate stories that ground players. Students at the University of Southern California have created just a game, one that places players within one the worst humanitarian crisis in the modern world. This game is known as “Darfur is Dying”. “Darfur is Dying” centers around the Darfurian genocide in which the Central Sudanese government and militia forces have been accused by humanitarian organizations of ethnic cleansing…

Since the inception of gaming nothing has highjacked the mind’s eye of designers quite like the concept of shooting. We see shooters in 20th century arcade cabinets such as Galaga and they have sprouted the legs to continue influencing contemporary design. Shooters live in a world all their own, with rules and laws all their own. However, war shooters should be seen as a different animal all together. War shooters contextualize the act of shooting in a way should seek to demonstrate the atrocities of gun violence. Some of the largest shooters in the market such as Battlefield and Call…

Glitches peel back the curtain on computer processing allowing users to see a distorted version of the intended outcome. If you’re really lucky these glitches will result in beautiful visual artifacts. And if you are REALLY lucky you might also find a glitch with both visual and mechanical consequences. Glitches as raw computational errors can even produce a profound narrative realignment from the games intended message. Thus, changing how we look at experiences entirely. As Matthew Fuller discusses in Software Studies “A glitch is stunning. It appears as a temporary replacement of some boring conventional surface; as a crazy and…

Games by their nature facilitate the reason for their existence. They facilitate the rules and means by which participants interact with them and they devise their own contextual framework. Be it entertainment, strategy, a-political, or otherwise. Traditional art forms such as cinema and paintings on the other hand facilitates the progressive rediscovery of its medium’s existence. Game culture by its design is rigid, commodified, and transparent with its motivations. However in recent decades artist have begun a culture of anti-gaming that seeks to penetrate deep into the identity of interactive experiences. These artist are using glitches and mods to expose…

There is a community of gamers who take first person shooters to a new level of intensity. These players will spend hours on a single massively multiplayer campaign, but only see actual combat for a few minutes at a time. This community of calculating tacticians center themselves around a genre of games known as Military Sims. Most players within this community enjoy the moments of quiet preparation before a massive fire fight and refuse to play shooters where every player is Rambo himself. “Sqaud” is one the premier military sims available on steam, but in recent weeks has seen a…

Like 1993’s industry defining title Doom, Microsoft Flight Simulator has continued to expand our understanding of game engines. Published by Xbox Game Studios and developed by Asobo Studio, Microsoft Flight Simulator (MFS) uses experimental technologies to push game engines to their seams. Thanks to the power of Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure and tweaks to the Forza-tech game engine MFS is able to achieve graphical milestones that leaves it competitors in the dust. …

Defining technicity within a cultural framework can feel like a zero sum endeavor. In doing so, often we surmise the potential relationship technological mediums WILL have with culture. Looking forward to a time where this abstract question presents a definite yes or no. Yes technicity will begin to obfuscate perceived reality. Or no we will always have the beast by its chains. Dujanah is a game developed by Jack-King Spooner that seeks to address this theological conundrum. In the game Spooner abstracts many preconceived ideas of interactivity, often times blurring our understanding of what a game is. …

Leonard Garcia

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