One of my favorite moments when starting a brand new video game is the second I take control; when the cutscenes are over, my mission is set, and I am left to my untold adventures. I set out on my quest, to vanquish foes and conquer the opposition, and as I take those glorious first steps…STOP! “Press X to Jump.” Video game tutorials are an important piece of any game. They teach you how to control your character, chain combos and maneuver the landscape. Continue reading

Two months into the life of the Nintendo Switch and we’re all still humming the same critical tune. “Where are the games on this thing? “Where’s the Virtual Console?” “Where’s the AAA support?” Lovers and critics alike have been chastising Nintendo’s newest console for these reasons since it was revealed in January, yet despite these concerns, the Nintendo Switch is still wildly successful. How can a console with a handful of games, no Virtual Console and no (current) AAA support do something so unprecedented?  It begins and ends with Nintendo’s ingenious shift in focus toward independent, retro/semi-retro and first-party AAA games. Continue reading

You know that phone in your pocket? The one you always carry with you? It’s being underutilized. People and smartphones are nearly inseparable yet video game developers have yet to unlock the full potential of this “second screen.” Removing busy user interfaces, preparing for game sessions away from home, even choosing your next move in a game of wits are all possible with a second screen. There’s one in everyone’s pocket already, right? Why not take advantage of it?

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I love playing video games with a big group of friends. Logging on, getting into a party chat, and diving into our favorite fantasy RPG or sci-fi shooter. After hours of dungeon crawling, of conquering hour-long bosses, we claim our loot and XP. Unfortunately, that is the only experience we will share. We will then go our separate ways to appraise our spoils and upgrade our respective characters. Don’t get me wrong, this is all a jovial experience, but why is it that the extent of our interactions are only in-game? Why does the cooperative element in video games feel so formulaic and shallow? Continue reading

2016 took us all on a very long, very welcome trip down memory lane and 2017 is doing much of the same.  Franchises like Crash Bandicoot and Parappa the Rapper are back and better than ever and a slew of other classic revivals are on the horizon. But there are still a few franchises out there that are showing no signs of coming back. I’ve compiled a list of a select few of those dormant franchises below, particularly ones that have made a significant impact in my life. Note that this list excludes any games that have been rebooted, are being rebooted, or are similar enough to titles that have been developed or are currently being developed. Examples include Quake, Banjo Kazooie, Silent Hill, Onimusha, etc.

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‘Little Inferno’ is a beautifully simple game with a beautifully simple premise: stay warm in a very cold place. What’s more is that in order to stay warm, you must burn items that you yourself purchase. That’s about it. The art style is similar to other games by The Tomorrow Corporation but there is something particularly special about this game. Although strange on the surface, ‘Little Inferno’ is a brilliant work of art whose atmosphere and simple mechanics reveal a message that can resonate with everyone.

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Think about your favorite TV show or movie. Think about a really good book. Now think about the characters in those media and how they interact with one another. One would hope that the dialogue they share is compelling and natural. The Cohen Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, Joss Whedon, they all work tirelessly to ensure that every spoken word in their films is perfect; that every spoken word is not only well written, but well delivered. Video games have come a long way in this regard. Continue reading

The Nintendo 64 was one of my first video game consoles ever. I begged and pleaded with my parents to buy me one and have since fallen in love with every single game my parents bought for it. But not a single game I played on it could compare to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was a game about good and evil, about a hero prevailing against all odds, and at such a young age, playing it was my first and only chance to feel like a hero. But as I grew older and matured, so did my taste in video games. Continue reading

The definition of a user interface (UI) is “the space where interactions between humans and computers occur.” Navigating menus, checking ammunition, and managing inventory are just a handful of ways players connect with user interfaces in video games. Unlike in movies and television, the user interface is pivotal to a video game’s overall design and can be the difference between a good and bad player experience. User interfaces can accomplish a lot of things, but the ultimate goal with any UI should be to provide a sufficient amount of information to a player without overtly distracting them.

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