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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Illustration of the facial muscles from Gray's Anatomy

The Lump in My Throat

March 7, 2014 / 3 comments

It starts up front. I push my tongue up slightly against the roof of my mouth and flare my nostrils a little, then draw the flaring motion upward to sort of spread out the muscles around my sinuses. I’m surprised every time by how much more easily I can breathe. The next step is a…

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The police station briefing room. Cops are standing at four tables. In the front of the room, the captain walks up to a podium. Behind him the blackboard reads: DRUG TRAFFIC MUST STOP!

Line on Sierra: Police Quest I

February 8, 2014 / 6 comments

I’m not going to beat around the bush here. I’ve played a lot of games over the past few years. A lot of them were hard to get through for various reasons. But I am confident in saying that Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel is the single most agonizing game I have forced myself…

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Gwydion stands in Mannanan's study. A trapdoor in the floor is open, revealing stairs down to the basement. A black cat sits nearby. Game text reads: "'Get lost, Gwydion, you creep!'"

Line on Sierra: King’s Quest III, Part 2

October 5, 2013 / 2 comments

As always, if you want to play along, the first three King’s Quest games are available in a package on GOG.com. When we last left Gwydion the Magical Orphan, he had turned his evil wizard captor / object of fascination into a cat, ending the first act of the game. The game so far had been such…

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Gwydion and Manannan in the dining room. Input text: "feed guy"

Line On Sierra: King’s Quest III, Part 1

July 3, 2013 / 2 comments

After a diversion into Space Quest, my chronological journey through Sierra’s Quest games returns to the flagship series. King’s Quest III is unusual among the games in this project because I’d actually played a version of it fairly recently. Namely, this elaborate fan remake by Infamous Adventures. The remake was an impressive undertaking, rendering the game in an…

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MIXTAPE: No Interaction

May 5, 2013 / 4 comments

Okay, let’s talk about non-interactive games. When people in a poorly written critical essay or internet comment get anxious about a Dear Esther or a dys4ia this is an accusation they often bring out, after all. It’s fine, you know, but it’s not really interactive. What’s the implication of that? It’s not interactive, so it’s…

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Game Change: Minigames and Narrative Arcs

March 13, 2013 / 2 comments

Often, experimental games differ from longer games by exploring a single idea in depth. Many well known art games, from Every Day the Same Dream to QWOP, use a limited set of verbs and give the player just enough time to feel their way around them. A subgenre of experimental games takes the opposite approach:…

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A large cartoon explosion that reads "KABOOM"

Line On Sierra: Space Quest I

March 2, 2013 / 3 comments

King’s Quest may have been the flagship franchise of the Sierra adventure games, but as a kid it wasn’t my favorite series. That honor went to Space Quest. Probably because gruesome death jokes and Star Wars references were my primary forms of communication in my pre-puberty years. And for some time after. If you’ve been following this fine…

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