Well, now I’ve really gone and done it. I’ve been published in Playboy. Quite proud of this one. Certainly achievement of the year, so far! And yes I’m still talking about video games. Specifically how Wolfenstein: The New Order’s narrative centres on the struggles between the older and younger generations, and dealing with the pace of change.
The Wolfenstein games have always had an endearing simplicity to them. They are games that largely consist of running through rooms with a machine gun, gunning down Nazis. With the Axis powers being modern history’s most popular monsters, these games never needed any narrative justification to push players onwards. The Allies won the war, and Wolfenstein 3-D was created to allow the player to win the war.
This is not the world of Wolfenstein: The New Order. The game’s protagonist, B.J. Blazkowicz, is a man struggling against a current that threatens to engulf him. After a battlefield injury leaves him in a vegetative state he awakens years later in the 1960s. He is faced with a terrifying future more closely resembling the world of Philip K. Dick’s The Man In The High Castle (in which the axis powers won and now rule the United States) than the world war he left behind. The American heartland has been sliced up and shared between the prevailing Axis powers, and the Allies consigned to the history books as the losers who were always destined to be slain.
You can read the full piece here!
It’s that time again, to flog an issue of Unwinnable by virtue of it containing words written by yours truly. This time I stray away from video games, but not too far away! The essay centers on Lucio Fulci’s horror classic The Beyond. I argue that its violence, structure and narrative actually ties it closer structurally to a video game than other films. If that sounds like it’s up your alley then give it a read. Also it made the cover, which means we were treated to a great image of a zombie fighting a shark. Delicious!
It was one of our impromptu movie nights, crammed into someone’s prison cell-like room in one of the university’s residence halls, and something wonderful had just happened.
I just saw a zombie fight a shark.
I repeated this fact out loud a couple of times. More than anything else, I was seeking confirmation that everyone else in the room had just seen the same thing. It was true. We had all witnessed a man dressed as a zombie fight and allow himself to be carried about in the mouth of a very real shark. It was a remarkable introduction to gory Italian horror cinema and the work of the famed director and eye-gouging enthusiast Lucio Fulci.
You can read more of Gazing Into The Beyond and purchase the issue here!
I present a quick look at how games fail to make death meaningful. Iron Sunset may be the focus of the piece but there’s a wider issue at stake here.
Read it HERE YO!
Many games would have you believe you are nothing more than a weapon. In a sense this is all part of a game’s remit to sell the power fantasy so many of us crave. People are imperfect. They make mistakes. A gun, a sword, or any other number of destructive devices do not make mistakes. If a gun is fired or a sword is swung, it must be what had to be done, by the player within the game. Weapons aren’t complicated. Be a weapon. Weapons are absolute.
Game players have been a lot of weapons over the years. Our view of the world poking out over the top of the barrel of a gun in the centre of our screens, urging us to move forward and kill. Yet even in Wolfenstein 3-D there was the semblance of a character. We knew of a man named BJ Blazkowicz. We knew what he looked like and we knew of his proficiency for killing nazis.
I’m incredibly late putting this up, and if you have me on either Facebook or Twitter then in all likelihood you already know the news. It bears repeating though. SHOOTER has been released! Which technically means I’m a published author. This, if you did not know, IS VERY EXCITING!
So, have you bought your copy of SHOOTER yet? It’s jam-packed with excellent essays by a slew of fantastic writers about games that go “BANG BANG” and “PEW PEW PEW”. Not that I’m biased or anything, but if you’re looking for some high quality game criticism then look no further.
You can buy SHOOTER from Amazon here.
You can buy SHOOTER from Gumroad here.
There’s more info on the book over at shooterbook.com
Also since I last updated this blog, Unwinnable released an anthology featuring some of the best writing from the magazine’s first year. I was humbled and honoured to find my early piece, Rapture, included in amongst all the other wonderful writing the collection contains. Unfortunately it was exclusive to the StoryBundle, but if it becomes available elsewhere in the future I’ll be sure to let you know.
And hey, how many other people can say their writing was introduced by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way (that’s still bizarre to me).
Following on from my chapter in SHOOTER, which centered on the representation and often demonisation of Germans in World War 2 games. I take a broader look at representation in WW2 games, and the bold streak of American heroism that often forms the narrative bedrock for such games.
This piece also marks the first time I’ve been published in VICE. Which is a pretty cool thing to be able to say.
You can read the article here: Video Games Have Sapped The Spirit Out Of World War 2
Here’s an exciting turn up for the books. If for some bizarre reason you still haven’t procured a copy of the literary magnum opus that is SHOOTER, Story Bundle has you covered. It just happens to be included in their new video game bundle which is very exciting. For the low low price of $3 you get it and three other books. There’s some other awesome looking books available but for now I think I’ll just leave a link and the page’s extract here.
The Video Game Bundle 7.0
The Video Game Bundle 7.0 continues our tradition of offering smart, interesting and readable video game culture & history books for at a price you set! Once again we asked industry expert Simon Carless to curate these eight books, and he’s done a fantastic job choosing some acclaimed titles we’re sure you’ll enjoy.
In this bundle, we have Boss Fight books’ tomes on Metal Gear Solid & Baldur’s Gate II, 1983 Young Adult book Video War from Stephen Manes (banned from the B. Dalton book chain for foul language!), and Stay Awhile and Listen: How Two Blizzards Unleashed Diablo by David L. Craddock. In addition, we also have Jeremy Parish’s Game Boy World 1989, HG101’s Unofficial Guide to Konami Shooters, and Mona by Leigh Alexander and Emily Carroll (a ‘tribute to Silent Hill 2’), with bonus audiobook. The bundle’s charity benefactor is Prisoners Literature Project, which sends much-needed books to U.S. prisoners.
I prose a simple solution to instilling Skynet’s minions with a sense of threat and purpose that has long since been sapped from many a Terminator video game.
We pull an Alien: Isolation.
Click On This Link To Fear The Future