War without war: The depoliticised conflict of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Five minutes into his half-hour interview with NoClip’s Danny O’Dwyer, Brendan Greene drops an pertinent piece of biographical information. In response to the query, “how does a kid from Ireland grow up with such an affinity for military simulators?”, the man better known to the gaming world as PlayerUnknown details a childhood as an “army brat,” raised on a military base by his soldier father. Isolated from other kids and his friends at school, he spent most of his downtime doing “obstacle courses and watched army people play with guns, which was great”; a little different from the experience of most Irish kids during the Troubles, it’s safe to say.

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Podcast SPECIAL Episode: Game Of The Year Edition

The Bleeping Sickness podcast is back baby. It’s good again. Awoouu (wolf Howl). Grab a pew and join us for a discussion of our favourite games of the year in a special episode that, whilst not as far-reaching as the marathon end-of-annum podcasts put out by some gaming websites, is already being called “too long” by some critics. Thrilling! On a more serious note, this episode is dedicated to the memories of those who lost their lives in the Great Ape War. Godspeed.

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Actual Play: Prey

Actual Play is where we actually play games and then review them. You know, sort of like most video game sites do.

Available platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 (played), Xbox One
three star

Whether or not a game necessarily has to be “fun” is a debate, I think, that’s worth having. So to is the ongoing conversation about fetishising difficulty and the ability of players. The times I struggled with Prey, though, were not borne out of a challenging stretch or the moments of gut-wrenching tension. It’s when it felt like a slog.

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Save scumming as radical self-care

Bloodborne is one of the most frustrating, maddening, fantastic games I have ever played. It also, somewhat paradoxically, helped me manage my IRL anxiety. That is not a sentence I expected to write before booting up my first From Software game, from which I peaced out around Shadows of Yharnam because I had other things to do with my life than spend hours on a bullshit three-on-one boss encounter, but I nonetheless thoroughly enjoyed the time I did sink into it. Even that kinda seems like the wrong verb to use for a Souls game: enjoyed. The difficulty level, patronising simplicity of the “YOU DIED” Game Over screen and general inscrutability mean that, largely, the language we use to describe playing a game by Hidetaka Miyazaki and his team it supposed to be more akin to some kind of a trial, a challenge, something you persevere through. In actuality, I found it pretty comparable to my own coping mechanisms.

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Actual Play: Butterfly Soup

Actual Play is where we actually play games and then review them. You know, sort of like most video game sites do.

Available platforms: PC, Mac
five star

The history of gaming has brought us many memorable button prompts. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was widely derided for requesting we “Press X to Pay Respects” during a funeral scene. Arkham City took that ball and ran with it in a section where you could direct Batman to do the same in some alley. That same button allows the player-controlled waterfowl to violently honk in House House’s highly-anticipated Untitled Goose Game. Yet never have I been more excited by the potential outcome of one of these prompts than when Butterfly Soup offered the option to pet a dog at a baseball game.

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Killing Nazis

It’s not been a great year, huh? On both personal and political fronts — and if there were anything separating the two before, it has surely been eroded now — there’s been considerable cause to despair. I’m sure that’s the case for many people reading this, faced with unceasing inequality, the unabated devastation of climate change, continual widespread bigotry of all kinds, war, terrorism, and the resurgence of fascism in the western world. There has been one bright spot amidst all this darkness for me, however: videos of Nazis getting knocked the fuck out.

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Podcast Episode #7: The One About Sequels

This might seem like a direct follow-on from the last episode, regarding remasters, but looks can be deceiving. Episode seven is an entirely new instalment which carries on the story from last time but with better graphics, gameplay, mechanics, and a whole lot of new bells and whistles. Well, not really. But the new edition of the Bleeping Sickness podcast is about sequels! Join us, won’t you?

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The game I most want to play this year doesn’t even have a name

My name is Tom and I am the idiot who sees a Reddit thread titled “what is the creepiest unexplained thing that’s ever happened to you” at 1 AM, home alone, and thinks that yes, that seems like a good thing to click on. These places are mostly repositories for repurposed urban legends, and the occasional half-baked creepypasta, but nonetheless: some of these stories stick with me. One that continues to trouble my memory centres at inopportune moments goes something like this. A man (I think he might have been an ex-marine) was driving on some rural highway late at night. He turns a corner and sees a car, stationary, in the middle of the road, with two people lying on the ground outside of it. It doesn’t look like an accident. It looks staged. He trusts his instincts and guns it past the bizarre scene and then, when he checks it out in his rearview, the two people stand up, and are joined by another dozen or so individuals who emerge from the bushes either side of the road. Fuck every single part of this story, and David Lynch and Mark Frost for reminding me of it.

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Podcast Episode #6: The One About Remasters

Back once again it’s the videogame remasters! The sixth episode of the Bleeping Sickness podcast is all about HD remakes, SD remakes, ports, cash grabs, whatever you wanna call the thing where they put an old game on your new console and expect you to be excited about it. And sometimes it is exciting! Full show notes under the jump.

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