Pain like a branding iron: How art can save your life

Ever heard the song Rise by Public Image Ltd? It’s one of the groups most recognizable songs, with its glittering guitar spiraling through the track and a rousing bass line that stomps to an almost orchestral climax with punk legend John Lydon chanting “Anger is an energy!” like a mantra. The song is about setting aside your differences and using the anger to build, rather than destroy, collectively. Hearing a song like that in 2018 and you risk the charge of trying to snake-charm the anger of our times into quiet, blinking submission. That assumption is only partially true, though – You can use your anger as an energy – but first, you need to acknowledge that your strategy for expressing rage might not be working out the way you planned.

Continue reading “Pain like a branding iron: How art can save your life”


Far Cry 5 and the moral quandry of player freedom

Resting in the rolling valleys of Montana lays a small, picturesque farm. Armed men roam the farm picking at their skin, occasionally kicking cages that contain ravenous killer dogs. They chat amongst themselves, load and unload their rifles as a church hymn plays over a loudspeaker, followed by a dramatic sermon by one of the Seed brothers. This is the death cult at the heart … Continue reading Far Cry 5 and the moral quandry of player freedom

NJPW’s Strong Style Evolved: Should the McMahon empire be worried?

A thrilling turnout

It must be rough being a wrestler signed to WWE these days – all you have to do is look over your shoulder to see how much fun Indie wrestlers are having before floods of green envy fill your veins. These days, if you want quality wrestling entertainment, WWE is really stuck in dead last. A combination of terrible booking decisions and a lack of organic spontaneity have alienated all but the most very casual of fans away from the American giant.

Continue reading “NJPW’s Strong Style Evolved: Should the McMahon empire be worried?”

Disconnect – How solitude can kill off Social Media

Heading into the city on January the 8th, you’ll still see the old Christmas lights from December 2017 suspended over The Strand, or maybe you’ll see some old, cheap lights in the windows of people’s flats, one or two every five minutes, who haven’t quite let go of the winter season yet. Those old flashes of love, slowly fading away, where the pulsating heartbeat is now a low hum. As 2018 rises from its slumber the internet seems to scream for a better world. But here on the rickety old busses of London Town, in the decrepit flats and apartments we cohabit, the stillness and imperfection of it all are mildly reassuring.

Continue reading “Disconnect – How solitude can kill off Social Media”

Anger is an energy – but don’t stab each other in the back.

If there’s anything we can take away from 2017 it’s our constant, enraged reactions to the inhumanity of our godless world. With the year finally behind us like some repugnant bowel movement, looking back at ourselves during 2017 is a bit like staring at an old drunken photograph of yourself mid-blink. It’s shame, it’s misery, it’s embarrassment. 2017 was the year we loved to let ourselves down, again and again, with constant disappointment. But if there’s anything I know about outrage it’s that eventually, that anger, that bile – it just becomes white noise. Was 2017 the year outrage lost its edge?

Continue reading “Anger is an energy – but don’t stab each other in the back.”

How long is too long?

After pouring 100 hours into the incredible CRPG beast Divinity: Original Sin 2, I regret not being able to finish the game. I was in love with the characters, and though the story was atypical fantasy fare it was incredibly well told and my handcrafted path through the narrative had lead me down 95 hours of challenging, deep RPGing. But 100 hours later and the excellent characters, great storytelling, deep punishing systems becomes an overwhelming weight on my shoulders. Perhaps ending at the 100 hour mark would have been a perfect length. I’d have left the game feeling incredibly satisfied. But getting that awful fatigue and not being able to push through to the end felt like a lot of time had just circled the drain. I was running on empty. Original Sin 2 is an absolutely fantastic game that reinvigorates the classic CRPG formula – a genre which had been dormant for many years. It’s sheer breadth and depth belied a game of fantastic variety and complexity, where everything you did felt important – where your own input felt important. You were at the heart of the story. As it stands, Original Sin 2 is easily one of my faveourite games of the year.

Continue reading “How long is too long?”

Pewdiepie is a symptom of the internet’s Pandora’s box: social media

For as long as I can remember, over the course of fifteen years of online gaming one thing has been certain – encountering gamers online has always involved having to wear your thick skin and endure a potential barrage of misery. I can remember as far back as Counter-Strike 1.6 where it wasn’t uncommon to hear racial epithets screamed at the top of someone’s lungs, or to see a degree of abuse that in the real world would be borderline abusive and violent. For better or for worse, the internet is a Pandora’s box for the digital age. In bringing us closer together it’s also given us a glimpse into the psyche of humanity, and sometimes what we see is too ugly to bare.

Continue reading “Pewdiepie is a symptom of the internet’s Pandora’s box: social media”

Mainstream developers can and should learn from modders

I have a little story for you. Cast your mind back to the early 2000’s, back to Half Life, Unreal Tournament, to Quake 3 Arena. Aside from being great games, they drew the wide-eyed gaze of new and old modders alike. All of these games enjoyed a thriving, popular modding community and for all the quality mods that came from these games, it sometimes felt like perusing an exotic bazaar, with mods of all shapes and sizes finding their own little niche among the horrific baubles and outcast fare. Mods were fan made modifications using in game assets from particular games – games that tended to come pre packaged with development tools. In my case, I was obsessed with the seminal science fiction epic Half Life and even though Half-Life will be remembered for its groundbreaking storytelling and incredible level design what I remember Half-Life for was the kaleidoscopic variety of the modding scene.

Continue reading “Mainstream developers can and should learn from modders”

Immersive Simulators: Our Greatest Gaming Asset is Cruelly Undervalued

This suit I’m wearing is an awkward fit.

After peeling the suit jacket off the cold body of an FBI agent, I gingerley squeeze myself into it knowing full well it’s a size too small. In the next room is a notorious south American crime lord and he lives in luxurious americana; the leaves here are greener, the sun shines brighter, and the local jogger slowly struts by with a genuine smile. Dogs potter outside and roll in the grass and bark at the garbage men doing their usual rounds. The birds outside chirrup and tweet, a delicate morning song to end someone’s life to.

Continue reading “Immersive Simulators: Our Greatest Gaming Asset is Cruelly Undervalued”