Featured Articles

Ask Not ...

"Social history and culture would tell us that it's perfectly healthy for a man to have an interest in sex, and probably for him to be interested in violence, too. 'Boys will be boys.' But women? One can hardly suggest in proper political correctness that a woman might be interested in a little violence. And God forbid a woman should want to play something to do with sex - someone call Nathaniel Hawthorne, stat. The whitewashed political world would have us believe that any woman who has an interest in such subjects - and it isn't a far leap to include games as a whole as well - must be some kind of deviant."

Erin Hoffman explains why sometimes it's hard to be a woman (in games).

Ask Not ...

"Many people still see virtual reality as a parody of itself; the goofy headsets and trippy virtual environments have inspired fads like the Virtual Boy and B-movies like The Lawnmower Man. But as a therapy tool, virtual reality has proven exceptionally potent. 'We found that people do get better using virtual reality therapy,' says Rothbaum. 'That it translates into real life.'

"Rothbaum points out another benefit of virtual reality: 'If you think about who the Iraq war veterans are, it's a very video-savvy, electronic generation,' she says. 'For people who don't want traditional therapy, the idea of virtual reality might be attractive. They might get curious and try it.'"

Lara Crigger speaks to researchers who are treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with video games.

Good to be Bad

"'The game primarily focuses on the giant shark that eats people,' Kadosca said without a hint of irony. 'But there are also many side challenges that provide ways for the player to try out the shark's various capabilities. There is also an underlying story that plays out via Story Missions: Environplus is disturbing the ocean life around Amity Island with the vibration of its oil drilling machinery. This makes the sharks more hungry and aggressive.' Jaws is an environmental crusader, eating people to save the world."

Shannon Drake speaks to the creators of Jaws Unleashed.

Good to be Bad

"'Know thy enemy, know thyself, know victory.'

As tactical advice, Sun Tzu's famous maxim applies to a majority of videogames. Knowing that Piston Honda blinks just before throwing an uppercut helps you know victory. Knowing that the mothership fires two small shots before throwing up its shields helps you know victory. Knowing how many whip strikes it takes to defeat Dracula helps you know victory.

But what about the kind of knowledge that transcends the tactical - the kind of knowledge that lets you truly understand your enemy's motivations and background, his hopes and fears?"

Kyle Orland plumbs the depths of evil in game characters.

Good to be Bad

"In 1985, noted philosopher Michael Ruse wrote an article entitled 'Is Rape Wrong on Andromeda?' In the article, he postulated that if intelligent alien species existed on other planets in the universe, they might have different notions of morality than our own. ... So, it stands to reason that extraterrestrial morality would be shaped by a set of different environmental pressures, and that an alien's resulting moral code may be quite different than ours as a result. ... How does this relate to games? To put it simply, the environments we experience inside games are other worlds, and many of the avatars we play in them are essentially alien creatures who may seem human from time to time but are not entirely so."

Bruce Sterling Woodcock explores the morality of alternate worlds, asking the question "Is Rape Wrong on Azeroth?"

Good to be Bad

"On that day I learned two things about myself that have remained true to this day. The first was that I am irrevocably a gamer. The second: When given a choice in the matter, I will always choose the dark side.
Sorry, Universe, their side goes to 11."

Russ Pitts escapes his trials and tribulations by crushing pathetic rebel scum.

Good to be Bad

"But why do we crave violent media? It's ingrained in not only our current culture, but past literature and entertainment. One need only flip through Shakespeare to appreciate that violence and death were par for the course in theater productions and books. Even with this, we appear to be living in one of the least violent times in world history. The murder rate in medieval Europe was eight times than that of today.

This, however, doesn't stop the crusade to purge our society of such entertainment, sometimes forcefully."

Tom Rhodes explores the minds of madmen: gamers.

Editor's Choice

"Innovation comes through art. Sure, there are scientists and technicians that aspire to discover new things on their own, of course. But there are also ideas and concepts that are so far-fetched, the only people who are capable of visualizing them are the dreamers, the painters, the writers or the videogame designers."

Greg Tito seeks out science fiction's role in making science reality - and great games.

Editor's Choice

"In the past few years, PC game journalism has been dominated by one thing: the sheer amount of time it takes to play massively multiplayer online games. Of course, you can go off and hide in a corner, pretend to be an expert in one of the many other genres that make up the great messy corpus of PC gaming, but you'd be kidding yourself that it was going to work out for you in the long term. Editors, sub-editors, writers, readers: They all want to know what is going on with MMOGs. Hell, they may not even care to play them, but they want reviews, anecdotes and flavors to be delivered by someone. They want to see inside and get reports from those virtual places. These internet explorations make interesting times for games, and even if you're not there to see it all, you certainly expect someone else to be. That someone has, for the last three years, been me."

Jim Rossignol goes on-location to the burgeoning, third-world melting pot of the game industry, the MMO.

Editor's Choice

"You could list a dozen ways Rooster Teeth's little operation in Austin, Texas won't undermine cable's dominance. That's not the point. This comparison illustrates how an indie (not to say 'amateur') sitcom, created in a videogame engine with practically no money or resources, is reliably building numbers that rival the lower echelons of cable TV."

Allen Varney talks to the makers of the breakout machinima hit, Red vs. Blue.

Editor's Choice

"Convergence can work in many directions and can be spurred by many different parties, but in the case of Madden, the NFL, ESPN and EA had constructed a holy grail, an irresistible package that would draw droves of football fans into the franchise. As [Henry] Jenkins states, 'convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek out new information and make connections among dispersed media content.' Madden provides the blueprint to that search."

Jon Schnaars examines the cultural impact of the venerable Madden game franchise.

Editor's Choice

"To state the obvious: The game industry is hit-driven. You've heard the statistics: Fewer than one in seven games actually turns a profit. But what, exactly, makes a hit? Investors regard the blockbuster game phenomenon with a sort of mystical awe, and part of its very definition seems to be invested in its unpredictability."

Erin Hoffman explores the mysterious role of the x-factor in the hit-or-miss world of game development.

A Blank Canvas

"'We were remarking on the rise of nostalgia [for classic games] in modern videogaming culture, from people wearing Mario and Zelda shirts to full blown cosplayers dressing up as their favorite characters. We then began to create sample art for our artist's alley tables, while finding out that many young, struggling artists have sketchbooks full of videogame character art done from the memory of a childhood spent playing videogames. ... There had been no place [where] all game characters were collected before Lifemeter.'"

The founders of Lifemeter Comics speak to The Escapist's Seth Robison.

A Blank Canvas

"The art has nothing to do with the gameplay. When someone discusses a game, they rarely say, 'The gameplay was crap, but the art was so good, it was totally worth the $60!' And yet, if the art was crap, there would have been little visual pull to the game and little reason to purchase it."

Mur Lafferty speaks to James Ernest, Cheyenne Wright and Matt Milberger about art in tabletop games.

A Blank Canvas

"'I've always wanted to be an artist professionally, I just didn't dream that many people would ever pay me to draw,' he says, describing himself as a fan of Disney animation. 'That was an early goal of mine: to be a great animator. Little did I know that my lazy California roots and lack of persistent training would prevent me from that kind of greatness.'"

Shannon Drake speaks to Earthworm Jim creator, Doug TenNapel.