So You’re Going to Die in Tokyo: Devil Survivor

The Shin Megami Tensei series is unique in that it combines the common tropes of Young Adult literature with something only video games are capable of: it places the player in a situation and asks them what they want to do. Some of the series’ games tend strongly towards the mundane (Persona) while others go off the deep end (Nocturne), but they all feature regular people in insane realities.

Devil Survivor, though, manages to blend the tropes of YA post-apocalyptic literature and the Megami Tensei series’ twisted view of the mundane.  You embody a normal high school kid, and the game tells you demons are real, the city of Tokyo is locked down, and you’re going to die tomorrow. It tells you that and watches how you react.

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Taking Some of the Game Out of Videogame Sex

There’s a healthy amount of debate occurring in games criticism right now about how far the concept of gamification* should be implemented into our daily lives. It’s a rich topic that is as much about human psychology as it is about videogame theory — and one that much smarter people than I have already spent a lot of time intelligently discussing.

I’d rather try to look at it in a different way.

Not very long ago, sex was one of the big taboos in mainstream games. Although hyper-violent titles were slapped with an M rating and sent on their way to be readily devoured by audiences, trying to implement sex was frowned upon in general. This isn’t surprising. The North American entertainment model has always been quicker to accept violent content than sexual material, and videogames, a younger medium, have unfortunately followed suit. But as the main demographic of game players has moved away from kids and teenagers to a wider audience made up of varying age groups, the viability of sex as a game element has grown. This is just fine — except, sex in games still isn’t being handled properly.

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Uncharted 3: Drake’s Unapologetic Killings

The general consensus seems to be that Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception is a bit of a letdown when compared to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. I suppose there’s a whole, gigantic article to be written about why this will always be the case with sequels of sequels (and on and on) but, to be honest, I feel like I’ve been banging on about that kind of thing in a column I write long enough. Instead, I’d rather try to talk a bit about a problem with Uncharted 3 in a a different way.

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Love is a Game: Ico Revisited

Ico is a very good game. It is pretty, it is fun, it has a great (and understated) story and is a true artistic statement — a well realized vision that incorporates its theme in a holistic way, from its aesthetic straight on down to its mechanical structure.

It’s also old (almost 11 years old! A junior high student by now!) and was very difficult to find copies of until this fall when a remastered collection of Ico and its spiritual sucessor, Shadow of the Colossus were re-released as a single, lovely PS3 disc. I’ve just finished playing through Ico again thanks to this collection and was surprised to find that the experience held up as well as it did. Nostalgia has a way of colouring things, after all, and more than a decade of time has passed between playthroughs.

Like any good art, Ico also revealed far more of itself on a second time through than it did at first and the message it evokes struck home far more differently to my 25 year-old self than the 15 year-old version of me. Simply enough, going into Ico knowing what to expect (and having my reading coloured, no doubt, by emotional maturation) transformed the game from a lovably surrealist fairy-tale to a strangely impactful exploration of love.

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Skyrimming Part 2: (Unintentional) Werewolf Bar Mitzvah

This was originally meant to be the second installment in a long series of Skyrim-related posts, but it turns out that everyone and their mother has already written this game to death. This leaves the continuation of Digital Love Child’s inagural gamiary in a bad spot, further complicated by the fact that I no longer even want to play Skyrim much anymore. Why write more about something that’s lost its magic? Why add more text to an experience that everyone is already chronicling like crazy?

That idea, in itself, seemed like a good thought to follow through with. It only seems fitting to wrap up this miniscule, two-part series on Skyrim with a look at how I became a werewolf then because, if nothing else, this (maybe familiar) story and it’s details demonstrate why such an absorbing game can start to feel hollow after the passing of no more than a handful of weeks.

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Skyrimming Part 1

Play enough Skyrim and the game can start to convince you that it is not so much a collection of other people’s work but something of a personal toybox instead: a sort of fantasy madlibs creator. Every encounter, whether with monster or human or random item lying on the floor of a cave, wants to shape the story playing out in your game.

Bethesda’s latest — and maybe greatest — is the kind of game that seems tailor made for these Gamiary entries. It is a massive world that begs to have its dynamic narratives chronicled and shared (which is the point of this whole thing, after all) and is, luckily, also a stupid amount of fun.

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