It's time to snuggle up by the fire and take a few minutes for Worth Reading, our weekly roundup of the best games writing around.
Hey, You Should Read These
No one wanted BioShock 2 when it was announced -- the story seemed to wrap up just fine -- but 2K Marin managed to make a return to Rapture captivating. Though BioShock deserves plenty of credit for building the universe that allowed BioShock 2 to happen, the sequel seemed to better capitalise on its potential. As Richard Cobbett pointed out in Eurogamer, there's more humanity in BioShock 2. (And oh boy, did BioShock 2 have a much better ending than the original.)
Here's an excerpt from the piece:
Under Ken Levine, both original BioShock and BioShock Infinite offer effective emotional moments. They're a colder flavour of emotion though -- Nolanesque, if you will -- coming more from the head than the heart. Even ignoring the fancy speeches that inevitably accompany them, their reason is always to illustrate authorial points. That doesn't make them bad - many of them are very effective indeed -- but even a hammer with big sad eyes painted on its handle will always unmistakably be a tool.
BioShock 2 offers a more nuanced take. Take Augustus Sinclair, its Fontaine equivalent -- a ruthless businessman who makes no secret of his plan to pick Rapture clean for profit. By audiologs and his own free admission, he's a career bastard and proud of it. Even so, when you go up against an elderly rival called Grace Holloway who's both actively trying to kill you and previously gave him a bloody nose by kicking him out of his own hotel, he makes a point of reminding you that her beef with you at least is based on a misunderstanding rather than malice, and goes so far as to non-sarcastically call you a bigger man than him if you spare her.
It's impossible to measure the long-term impact that YouTube and other services are having on kids, but this LA Times piece by David Pierson, where his kids act out their own (imaginary!) YouTube channel, sounds farfetched until you read about it. I'm not surprised that folks like PewDiePie and other YouTube stars are taking over for, say, Disney Channel. As someone with kids on the mind for the near future, I can't imagine what the landscape will be like in five years.
Here's an excerpt from the piece:
My children are so captivated by unboxing videos that I'm scolded if I ever attempt to help them open a new toy. So I surrender the gift, which they put on the dining table for imaginary display.
"Hi, boys and girls, welcome to YouTube Toys," my daughter will say. "I'm Ella and this is my little brother Jack."
Come Easter egg hunt time, they do the same with the plastic eggs, describing to a camera that doesn't exist the tiny treats inside each egg they crack open.
By watching these unboxing videos, my kids stay informed about the latest toys. I was naive to think cutting our cable service a year ago -- and all the TV commercials that came with it -- would insulate them from marketing.
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Matt Sainsbury argued that the erotically-charged Gal*Gun is about helping men understand harassment against women. Well, that's a different take.
- Tyler Wilde researched how WASD became a standard on the PC.
- Dante Douglas wrote about how games with simple, repeatable rules -- games like Stardew Valley and Desert Golf -- let him escape.
- Kaitlin Tremblay explained how Battleborn is an overlooked story about kick arse women. (Poor Battleborn.)
- Holly Green walked people through the experience of covering E3.
- Bryant Francis found out how Mario Kart's drifting mechanics came about.
- Ryan Hamann outlined how the game demo has changed over the years.