Archive for category Reid McCarter

SHOOTER Release Date and Website

Shooter Book Cover - 800 x 1200 (300 DPI)

So, last December I announced SHOOTER, a collection of criticism about games with guns, here on Digital Love Child (and posted an older, slightly different version of its cover). Now, after many further months of work, we have a release date!

SHOOTER will be available to purchase on June 2nd, 2015 at

It includes 15 chapters from a diverse group of some of the best videogame critics around, accompanying illustrations by (the nastily talented) Paul Sousa, and a foreword by (professional smart guy) Clint Hocking, Creative Director of Far Cry 2 and Splinter Cell.

It’s an electronic book (or “e-book” if you’re cool) and available in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI formats.

I hope you’re as excited to read it as we are to finally release it!

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Bloodborne and the Battle Between Mystery and Rationale

LighthouseFogSomething like gods exist in the world of From Software’s Bloodborne. They’re hanging out in ruined chapels and atop castle walls, often just waiting for the hapless player’s Hunter to stumble upon them. Some of these gods are gruesome beasts–the kind of unthinkably horrible, bizarre things that inspire a genuine sense of awe. Others are humbler creatures, taking unassumingly human forms. Whatever they look like, the power these beings exude is felt constantly in the game’s setting, the city of Yharnam. Despite the intricately crafted mechanisms and finely detailed buildings that suggest the application of advanced, scientific human knowledge in this city, unknowable forces are felt in the margins of even the most recognizably familiar of the game’s environments.

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Subverting the Surveillance State in République

CameraThere is a sense, in the modern world, that we are always being watched. Our web browsers, our phones–nearly everything we do in our daily lives is monitored to some degree. For the most part, we manage to push this knowledge aside by making jokes (“I just said ‘bomb’ on the phone: they’re listening now”) or supposedly acceptable rationalizations (“I don’t do anything illegal online anyway”).

But then something happens that forces us to reevaluate. Something like Edward Snowden revealing the staggering breadth of the NSA’s international surveillance practices in 2013 demonstrates the frightening extent to which the average, supposedly private citizen is being watched. When we’re reminded that we’re living in a world where so much of our lives are recorded, tracked, and monitored, the effect is chilling. We are forced to confront the fact that true privacy is gone–that it seems to have vanished without us truly noticing.

Camouflaj’s République is meant to shake us in this way. It’s meant, in the tradition of all dystopia fiction, to show us how bad things could be if the reality we live in was exaggerated by only a minor degree.

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NaissanceE, Alien Architecture, and Terror

Naissancee3There’s something nearly sacrilegious about trying to describe the sensations involved in moving through NaissanceE‘s world. It is a game of measured exploration–of private, lonely introspection. Whether squeezing past low openings in piles of cube-shaped rubble or dropping from one barely visible precipice to another down an enormous grey-scale pit, the pace of understanding and navigating the game’s bizarre architecture is slow. And because NaissanceE‘s setting is comprised of such unearthly sights and sounds, the time it provides for personal reflection often leads the player’s mind to strange, numinous places where awe and terror commingle.

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Growing up with Ocarina of Time

OcarinaofTime3DI first played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when I was 12 years old–still very much a child. It was the first Zelda game I went through on my own, which was a very different kind of experience than trying and failing to penetrate the 8-bit dungeons of the series’ debut one week at a cousin’s cottage. Ocarina of Time, its colourful world rendered in (what was then) astoundingly full three-dimensions, was a more inviting kind of adventure. Its version of Nintendo’s grand monomyth dropped the player in a land where strange fantasy creatures and secret temples hid beneath placid lakes, behind cracked stone walls, and on plateaus that hung just out of reach overhead. Exploring and uncovering this world was the draw back in 1998.

Now, returning to it almost 20 years later, Ocarina of Time feels like a different game, appealing for very different reasons. After brushing away the cobwebs of nostalgia that covered the first few hours, Link’s journey to save Hyrule (yet again) from the evil Ganon+ is filled with less of a sense of environmental mystery–it’s tough to see beyond the mechanical framework of the world design as a grown-up–than a bit of commentary on the process of growing up.

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SHOOTER Announcement

Shooter Book Cover - 3200 x 4800

After months of sorting through (largely excellent) submissions and dreaming up unbelievably exploitative contracts for our lovely contributors to sign, Patrick Lindsey and myself (Reid) are finally ready to announce SHOOTER.

SHOOTER is an ebook that digs into the wide array of meaning we find in first-person shooters, whether through gameplay construction, mechanical subtext, or the larger implications of a game’s setting, characters, and themes. Rather than a history of the genre, SHOOTER is a collection of diverse criticism centred on various games where shooting is the primary gameplay mechanic.

The book’s writers have offered unique viewpoints on the games they’ve chosen to analyze and discuss. Our hope is that, taken as a whole, SHOOTER will provide a broad picture of how different people react to an immensely popular and culturally influential style of play.

In the near future, we’ll be posting a table of contents that provides a full list of the games discussed by SHOOTER‘s writers.

SHOOTER is set for release in early 2015.

UPDATE: SHOOTER will be released on June 2nd, 2015 at

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The Witcher 2 Holds a Mirror to Polish History

PolandSovietMap[This article discusses the entirety of The Witcher 2‘s plot]


There’s a brief, computer-generated video that plays after The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings‘ credits have finished rolling. In it, a rural man collects wood in a forest glen. He spots a rabbit hopping through the brush and following a (much appreciated) fade to black he heads back home with the now-dead animal hanging from his belt. As the man starts to cross a wooden bridge he hears the thunder of approaching horse hooves, and a group of mounted knights in black armour ride pass him. The man hurries onward to his village only to find it burning and a sea of troops marching toward it from across a river valley. The game pulls out from the scene to show a map of the area and the sweep forward of the invading Nilfgaardian Empire’s army. Coloured a menacing black, the Empire’s borders extend upward to swallow the regions to the north of it, shading their multicoloured nations with darkness.

This moment sounds innocuous outside of the context of the game–it’s one fantasy nation taking over another. Those who have played through the previous twenty-odd hours of The Witcher 2 and invested in its fiction are more likely to understand the dramatic import of the moment, though. Players who think back on the history of Poland–the home of CD Projekt RED, the game’s developer–may react even more strongly.

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