Atum screenshot. A first-person view of a computer on a desktop. The computer screen shows a platformer game. The player character is holding up a lighter to the screen, which has set some barrels on fire in the game-within-the-game.

MIXTAPE: Fourth Wall Breakers

September 22, 2015 / 1 comment

I’ve always been attracted to media that break the fourth wall. In movies and TV, this can be used to resist the traditional philosophy that the equipment that makes a film is ugly and uncouth and should be treated as a silent observer of a spontaneous display of narrative. Turning and speaking to this stuff…

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Lolotte's throne room, set up for a wedding. One of the winged guards officiates and others line the walls. Rosella is passed out on the floor in a black gown. Edgar, dressed fancy, stares down at her in surprise.

Line on Sierra: King’s Quest IV, Part II

April 6, 2015 / 1 comment

Last time in King’s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella, I made it through the long, inventory-stuffing introduction sequence and out of the dreaded whale’s mouth. Now I’m ready to defeat evil and bring hope to the forces of good and WOW HANG ON LET ME EXPLAIN See we’re friends now! It’s cool! Everything’s cool! They’re…

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A close view of Rosella and Genesta standing together on a beach. They look very similar, except for Genesta's wings. Text reads: "Rosella looks awestruck at the fairy. She is stunningly beautiful! But still there is a certain sadness to her."

Line on Sierra: King’s Quest IV, Part I

March 23, 2015 / 0 comments

After another Space Quest and a highly unfortunate Police Quest, it’s finally time to return to the flagship series with King’s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella. It represents the biggest leap in graphical quality in the series so far, as well as a few other innovations I’ll get to later. For now, behold the glory of 320×200 resolution! It also represents…

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Extreme close-up of a Kodak slide projector.

Reading Mad Men: “The Wheel” and The Wheel of Fortune

February 27, 2015 / 1 comment

PETE’S FATHER-IN-LAW: Nixon didn’t stand a chance. The Browns trounced [Washington], 31-10. The result of that last home game has correctly predicted the last six elections. PETE: I wish someone would have told me that. [both laugh] PETE: …of course, it’s really a 50/50 chance of being right. The climax of “The Wheel” is an especially…

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Why Would You Call Someone a Sociopath?

January 26, 2015 / 0 comments

[TW: ableist speech] What’s the purpose of calling people sociopaths? Why use that word, in particular, versus any of the alternatives available to you in a heated argument? For example, you could use a typical curse word like asshole, which also implies that the target doesn’t care about people’s feelings. But cursing makes the speaker seem…

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This Is How We Forget History

January 5, 2015 / 1 comment

I’m usually patient with new TV shows. I’m a Fringe fan, after all: sometimes it takes a few episodes or seasons for a show to find its legs. So like, I was skeptical about AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, but willing to give it a chance. It’s set in 1983 and about the growth of…

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First person camera. A corner of a room covered in rich but peeling wallpaper in dark red and gold. A cloudy oval mirror with an ornate gold frame is on the wall. There is a pile of crumpled yellow wallpaper on the floor. The floor is bare wood.

MIXTAPE: Burn It All Down

September 19, 2014 / 0 comments

rat chaos (2012) j chastain So here’s how I assemble these mixtapes. I play short games all the time. If I notice several games with a similar theme, I throw the titles into an Evernote page and record the number of games. As I play more games that have that theme, e.g., games in which the game world falls…

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The control room. The gray-suited man lies face down by his chair. Roger lies in a mangled heap under the staircase leading up from the platform. Game text: "Well, Line, you've found one more way to snatch humiliation from the jaws of heroism."

Line on Sierra: Space Quest II

August 5, 2014 / 1 comment

After a soul-sucking experience as a fussy cop who can’t drive, Line on Sierra returns to actual adventures in Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge! Since this is a Space Quest game, “adventure” means dying over and over in ludicrous ways. Thanks to advances in technology, I was able to make this a much more embarrassing experience than before. The game…

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FRUIT MYSTERY screenshot. Background is a neon, glitchy-looking image collage. The only legible picture is of a smiling man in a blue polo shirt. A huge red X is drawn over the collage.

MIXTAPE: You Lose for Playing

June 17, 2014 / 1 comment

Execution, Jesse Venbrux (2008) Over the years, I’ve played or read about a lot of games that push the player to feel bad or conflicted about doing the things the game allows. The idea fascinated me when I first played Bioshock; by the time I watched my boyfriend play Spec Ops: The Line I had already tired of it. In between I played Execution, a game which presents the “you…

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A scene from Mad Men. Anna Draper, a blonde white woman in her thirties, sits on a couch in a pink bathrobe. She rests her chin in her hand as she looks down at tarot cards laid out on a coffee table.

Reading Mad Men: Introduction

April 16, 2014 / 2 comments

I’ve been wanting for some time to start writing about how I watch Mad Men. I liked the show well enough when I started watching it, but I didn’t love it. At that point, the emerging style of contemporary TV drama reminded me a bit of Oscarbait: respectable, polished, and unchallenging. But I enjoyed the difficulty of the…

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