Tag Archives: anthropy

One Measure of Bit.Trip Runner

The other night, I picked up Gaijin Games’s Bit.Trip Runner for WiiWare. This game is the best example of pure, brilliant game design that I’ve seen in a good while. This is the game designer as teacher and leader; it’s what Anna Anthropy calls design as sadism:

As a designer and as a domme, I want the person who submits to me to suffer and to struggle but ultimately to endure: I challenge her while simultaneously guiding her through that challenge. The rules of the game and the level design carry that idea.

Runner does this through the gradual layering of new game elements, high challenge with low punishment, and optional bonus goals. Most of all, though, it guides through repetition. This is a game about rhythm, after all. For my favorite example of this, let’s look at a single measure of rhythm from the game, no longer than 2 seconds, that appears everywhere.
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Hope for the Future

Premier video game industry news site Gamasutra just released their top 5 indie games of the year. Number one is Daniel Benmergui’s wonderful “I Wish I Were the Moon,” which I’ve mentioned before. Number two is “Everybody Dies,” third-place winner in the 2008 Interactive Fiction Competition and a game I’ve yet to play. These two selections give me a great deal of hope for the future of interactive entertainment.

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The Goo Variations and Jill Off Harder

My latest column is up at GameSetWatch. It’s entitled “The Goo Variations” and it describes a game design pattern that I’ve dubbed “Variations on a Theme,” as demonstrated by the incredibly stellar World of Goo.

Additionally, Anna Anthropy released an expanded version of her cruel-in-a-nice-way Mighty Jill Off last week, and it’s now clear that she has a spike fetish. Highlights of the even harder Second Tower: when the level decays as if the cartridge has been loosened in the slot, the (Jesse-Venbrux-inspired?) segment where the player must die and trust the game to take care of her, and the absolutely adorable alternate ending cutscene.

Games As Art

Anna Anthropy, who I’ve been referencing far too much lately, posted about a discussion she attended on indie games. She mentions her irritation at Jason Rohrer, the artsy developer of “Passage” whom everyone loves to flame:

[he] kept steering the discussion back to roger ebert and the discussion of whether games “can be” art. jason rohrer clearly feels as though games need to be somehow legitimized by an outside force – that we need to prove to roger ebert that games are capable of being classified as art.

I find this question annoying. The answer to “can games be art” or “are games art” is yes, by any definition of the word “art.” I can express myself with games. Games can have messages. Great. Let’s move on and discuss games as art. It seems like those who ask if games can be art are actually asking permission from society. “Can you please call games art?” It reflects an essential immaturity and adolescence to the game-discussing community.

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