Highlight Reel

Some work is best understood in its original context, which is why I’ve provided links to every site for those inclined to explore further. But the best work demands your attention regardless of where you find it. Here, then, is my best.

Last One Out, Get the Lights

This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper. But there was a bang. It lasted several weeks, in fact. There were exams. There were term papers. There were late-night study sessions with large groups of people. Everything had this sort of frenetic buzz about it, as if some small child had found the hive and decided to throw rocks at it to see what would happen. Near the end it was almost impossible to find serenity–harder still to find sleep. Everyone knew what was about to transpire, but there was no prophet to tell us how suddenly it would overtake us.
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Why Oedipus is Funny

I wrote this late the night of November 9th, 2008, after attending a variety show fundraiser. Since then my appreciation for the ideas I here express has only grown, as has my conviction that the best stories are the ones we feel least comfortable about when they happen.
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Dear Verizon

Several weeks ago, our contract expired, leaving me free to abandon your services. As I stepped towards the door, you shouted out (in typical Shatnerian style), “Wait! No! Come back!” and offered me a shiny new device. “New every two,” you called it–a reward for 24 months of fidelity. I stepped back toward the counter, interest piqued. “Alright, show me what you’ve got.”
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Puppets and Their Masters

About a week ago I had lunch with a new friend, and what began as the usual discussion over petty things with which we define ourselves evolved into a conversation about core beliefs and principles. We eventually debated free will and predestination, and as each spoke in turn I finally had the “aha” moment and said “oh, i don’t believe in the total depravity of man.” That was it–we both realized precisely why we were coming close to one another’s arguments and then missing the point. I then asked her: What makes you think we’re fully depraved? She may as well have countered: What makes you think otherwise?
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Review: L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire doesn’t really work as an open-world, story-driven game (and I’ll join the crowd saying such a game is inherently impossible). As a story, it works only as well as your interviewing prowess can take it — if you can get all the interview questions right, you’ll get a lot from this game. But Rockstar has given something else, too, which is incidental to both story and game and yet makes all the difference. They have provided a working replica of a real city in a real time with a real history, and they have offered you a chance to explore it at your leisure.
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E3 2011 “Big 3” Press Conferences

Though not listed under my archive (as the original articles were published under “The Editors”) this constitutes my coverage of last year’s major E3 press conferences for Game and Player. Though the work is competent and thorough, bear in mind that this was one-third of the outlet’s entire coverage and thus other angles were left to my co-editors to consider.

“Intelligent” Design

A few months ago Nathan Riley touched on why games as ostensibly immersive as Assassin’s Creed eventually fall flat: their worlds, while sprawling, are dead. Seemingly thriving cities are stripped of their facades by discerning players to reveal a complicated clockwork, but clockwork nonetheless. We know precisely what the “people” of Florence will say if we kill someone in front of them. Eventually, we have memorized the entire list of merchant lines by heart. I’m inclined to agree with Michael Ubaldi’s response: games must move in a more improvisational direction. And while it’s impossible to tell precisely what that fruit will look like, I think the seeds have already been planted, if in radically different places.
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Suicide on Demand (part 2)

Recently, Charles Onyett over on IGN gave up the swan song for disc-based gaming wherein he implied that A, the industry will soon be following the casual gaming model of pricing and distribution and that B, this is a good thing. Eventually he concluded that the best solution for the gaming industry will be a move to download-only delivery. I have a lot to say about both topics, so to keep it simple I’m splitting them up into two articles. This is part two, and I’ll concentrate on the dangers of a purely digital future.
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Rocksteady made the bad kind of headlines yesterday with its announcement that the playable Catwoman content which they’ve been bragging about (and marketing the game with) for months is only accessible with the use of a code that’s included in new copies of Batman: Arkham City, which comes out on Tuesday. I’d like to discuss two things that came about because of this news: the reaction it prompted in the gaming community, and the alarming trend of which this announcement is only the beginning.
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The Creed

The misguided Templars of the Assassin’s Creed universe provide a wonderful cautionary tale for modern believers. In our efforts to spread the gospel and reshape society to reflect God’s kingdom, we must never try to force our beliefs on the unwilling. Free will is part of our imago Dei; to suppress or deny it is to deny the face of God.
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