The byline says Tom, but in fact this is the second post by Special Guest Jess, who you might have heard on the recent Overwatch episode of the podcast! Read their previous guest blog, on Gone Home, over here. It’s real good, and so is this.
Storytelling is not something you usually think is high on the priority list with first-person shooter games without a single-player campaign or concrete plotline, but Blizzard’s 2016 title Overwatch is a lesson in showing, not telling. The game’s primary modes do not move along a plot, nor do they reveal the story through unlocked cutscenes. Nearly all the storytelling elements are littered throughout as rewards for levelling up: unlocked items, maps, visuals and voice lines of the characters, as well as a whole stack of tangential media including comics and animated shorts. The type of gameplay does not lend itself to storytelling, nor do games of this genre usually tell stories (without a single player campaign) to the extent that Overwatch does. You get the feeling that it comes with a backpack full of lore, a sense of history and time, without ever progressing time or narrative with your player actions.
Continue reading Overwatch: What It Means To Tell A Story Without a Narrative
Overwatch, ever heard of it? For the fifth episode of the Bleeping Sickness podcast we (including Special Guest Jess!) chat breeze about Blizzard’s little-known class-based multiplayer online shooter starring a monkey, a robot, and Dick Van Dyke’s character from Mary Poppins reincarnated into the body of a time-travelling queer woman. Open up this loot box, chums, and it’s all friggin’ gold.
Continue reading Podcast Episode #5: The One About Overwatch
There are no monsters in this story, only men. Also, monsters. The fourth episode of Bleeping Sickness is about our favourite video game villains and what exactly makes a good bad guy! Is that a contradiction in terms? Meh. Full show notes below the jump!
Continue reading Podcast Episode #4: The One About Video Game Villains
Cahiers du Jeux Vidéo is a series of posts comparing the narrative mechanisms of video games and movies with (hopefully) a bit more depth rigour than your average commentator breathlessly comparing Halo preorders to box office receipts. It’s named after foundational French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma , because I’m a pretentious prick.
So: the whole conceit of this series is that we’re comparing video games to movies, and one of the key differences we’ve hit upon between the two so far is that playing a game is an “active” engagement with a piece of media, while watching a film is more “passive”; not a value judgement, but an important distinction. There are plenty of 1:1 comparisons between the roles of game development teams and movie crews, however. Environmental artists are not unlike production designers and location scouts. Those who work on character models are like hair and makeup, the costume department and casting directors rolled into one. Each form uses writers, directors, composers, producers, even actors. But the latter’s work appears mainly in cutscenes where the player cedes control of what’s happening on screen — that’s when games are most like movies. The rest of the time, the player has a part in this ecosystem. I put it to you: when you play a game, you are “performing.” You’re the star of this movie!
Continue reading Cahiers du Jeux Vidéo #2: LA Noire and performance
It’s the second of our Bleeping Sickness Bonus Episodes wrapping up the back half of the pre-E3 presentations! Did we almost write “12” instead of “2” in the title up there? You betcha, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is a dimensions where subjective linear time has no meaning and eSports is king. Chilling. Good thing we managed to condense it all down to an hour long show, eh. You can listen to part one here!
Continue reading Bleeping Sickness BONUS EPISODE: The Special E3 Episode, Part 2
Coming to video games when I did, in the late nineties/early noughties, there were certain enshrined truths passed down from the mount by journos: Miyamoto was a genius, but Iwata deserves his due; GoldenEye 007 is the multiplayer experience to beat; Suikoden II is a classic, and you need to shell out however much money necessary to play it; Beyond Good and Evil is one of the greatest games ever made, and perhaps as a result of this unlikely achievement, we would never ever get a sequel. These were all things that had been decided long before I arrived, and were simply to be accepted as fact.
Continue reading Beyond Good and Evil 2 is the cynicism-killer
As a b-b-b-bonus Bleeping Sickness only one week after the last episode, we gathered together some of the internet’s hottest #content #influencers to break down this year’s E3 conference: what worked, what didn’t, how we feel about the dabbing panda. Full shownotes/links to our Twitter shitposts below!
Continue reading Bleeping Sickness BONUS EPISODE: The Special E3 Episode, Part 1
In an unsure and chaotic world of video game podcasting, only Bleeping Sickness can offer a strong and stable collection of fucking nerds arguing about which Star Ocean game was the best. Maybe not that strong. Or particularly stable, since this episode we’re talking about the games we became dangerously, life-ruiningly obsessed with. Full show notes below the jump!
Continue reading Podcast Episode #3: The One About Games We Were Obsessed With
Memory is fucking weird, man. The other morning I woke up with “Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)” in my head, a song I hadn’t listened to willingly in at least a decade, and whose melody and “lyrics” I didn’t realise I had expounded precious grey matter to retain. On the other hand, sometimes I can’t recall the name of a friend I’ve known for the better part of ten years, which is as inexplicable a phenomenon as it is highly embarrassing. As with almost everything that goes on up in our craniums, nobody can quite agree on how memory works, or who we should trust when they start theorising all over the place: psychologists expound on short-term, long-term and context-dependent memory; neuroscientists put people into big machines and look at what parts of the brain “light up” when recalling particular subjects; and writers expect readers to pick up multi-volume reminisces about the first time they ate madeleine dipped in tea or got their end away. Memory in video games is a comparatively simple affair. Everything is remembered for you, whether it’s through a system of passwords or memory cards or auto-saves backed up to the cloud.
Continue reading The Persistence of Memory Cards
It’s 10 o’clock on a Saturday night and a man sat on the table next to me in the Manchester Piccadilly Starbucks is shooting people in the face. He’s playing a game on his iPad where you first select from a selection of rifles — hunting, military — and then aim them at medium-poly targets on what looks like an everyday city street. He drags his finger across the touch screen and pinches to zoom his scope at a target. He presses a button and the view switches, the camera follows the journey of the bullet through the air in slow motion. It sails across a road, over the tops of blocky parked cars rendered in simple polygons, and then tears through a man’s cheekbone. His jaw starts to fall off as a low-res cloud of gore blooms. WELL DONE! Says the game. ONE MORE CRIMINAL OFF THE STREETS! And I sip my cold cup of tea and wonder if there’s not something to this reactionary idea of video games deadening us to violence.
Continue reading Is it too easy to kill in games?