Ms. Pac-Man Is a Feminist, and Three More Daring Video Game Arguments

This has been a very good year for video games, but it has been an exceptional year for books about video games—surely the best ever. I can’t tell you who will win the prestigious BAGOTY award for 2015, but Cara Ellison’s Embed With Games, Simon Parkin’s Death by Video Game, and Michael W. Clune’s Gamelife are all… »11/17/15 5:30pm11/17/15 5:30pm


What the New Assassin's Creed Gets Wrong (and Right), According to a Historian

Bob Whitaker, a historian of modern Britain at Louisiana Tech and the host of the YouTube series History Respawned, recommends Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, the entertaining new Ubisoft game set in Victorian London. He likes the way it successfully captures the feel of the British capital in the 19th century, and he… »10/30/15 10:00am10/30/15 10:00am

Three Minutes of Fighting Over a Half-Naked Man in Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Where is a guy supposed to dump a body around here? Here is a three-minute video—taken from a late-game mission but devoid of spoilers—from Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, a game I quite like. The setup: Jacob Frye, the assassin I’m controlling, has just knocked out a British royal guardsman and stolen his uniform. Next,… »10/23/15 6:00pm10/23/15 6:00pm

Prison Architect Devs Wonder if Their Game Should Have Looked Less Like America

People are interested in Introversion’s very good sim Prison Architect because it tries to model the complexities of life inside a penal institution. People also seem to be tougher on Prison Architect than they are on more frivolous games, for the very same reason: it attempts to simulate the complexities of prison… »10/16/15 10:40am10/16/15 10:40am

SOMA Is Scarier When The Monsters Aren’t Around

This picture of a mouse might be the scariest thing I encountered in all of SOMA. Now that I’m not playing the game, I can see that it is not, in fact, scary. Out of context, you might even find the picture funny. Yet while I was immersed in the game, feeling like I was Simon Jarrett lost in the wreckage of the … »10/02/15 6:30pm10/02/15 6:30pm

A Former Heroin Addict’s New Memoir About Video Games

“When it comes to probing questions about their intimate life as computer-game players, most people don’t have much to say,” writes Michael W. Clune in his absorbing new memoir Gamelife. “They’ve never thought about it. Or they’ve repressed it. Or they’ve forgotten. Or they’re embarrassed. Society has convinced them… »9/25/15 11:00am9/25/15 11:00am

A Metal Gear Solid Primer in Podcast Form

I just played the first 30 minutes or so of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and I’m hooked. I’m also slightly—emphasis on slightly—less confused than I otherwise would have been, because I asked Jason Schreier of Kotaku and Ashly Burch of Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? to talk about why they like the Metal Gear Solid »9/02/15 6:40pm9/02/15 6:40pm

Dishonored Co-Director: It's OK for Games to Be Mean to Players

Sometimes I think a golden age of DLC was kicked off by The Ballad of Gay Tony for Grand Theft Auto IV. Minerva’s Den for BioShock 2, Freedom Cry for Assassin’s Creed IV, Left Behind for The Last of Us, and maybe even Burial at Sea for BioShock Infinite were all expansions that matched, or even exceeded in some ways,… »8/27/15 2:25pm8/27/15 2:25pm

Stop Pretending Games Can't Harm You, New Book Argues

Are video games bad for you? Could they even kill you? That’s the kind of rhetoric we’re accustomed to hearing from cable television, not from one of the best journalists and critics who writes about games. Simon Parkin’s terrific new book, Death by Video Game, ends on just that note, however. “No, video games won’t… »8/19/15 2:15pm8/19/15 2:15pm

The Mainstreaming of Esports Is Slow, Sure, and Not Over Yet

As a good American I was filled with a jingoistic fervor after the triumph of the Evil Geniuses at The International, the world championship for Dota 2, this past weekend. I like video games. I like sports. But I’ve never watched esports, not a single match of Starcraft 2, Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm »8/13/15 11:30am8/13/15 11:30am

A Tractor Beam, a Flying Rock, and BioShock Walk Into a Game

On the most recent episode of Shall We Play a Game?, my podcast with former NPR producer and correspondent JJ Sutherland, we review The Magic Circle, a game with a whole lot of BioShock alums in the credits: The Magic Circle’s lead designer, Jordan Thomas, was the creative director of BioShock 2, and he also led the… »7/22/15 2:15pm7/22/15 2:15pm

Podcast: LifelineFallout Shelter, and Learning to Love Waiting

On the most recent episode of Shall We Play a Game?, my podcast with former NPR producer and correspondent JJ Sutherland, we review Lifeline, a game designed for the Apple Watch, and Fallout Shelter. I also talk to Cara Ellison, a game designer and critic, about working on Grand Theft Auto IV and Dishonored 2. »7/14/15 3:44pm7/14/15 3:44pm