A close-up from behind a robots shoulder as he holds up Roger Wilco, an ordinary-looking what man with brown hair, by his shirt. The robots arm is very shiny and reflects the purple of the planet surface. Roger is staring at the hand with a wide-mouthed, horrified expression on his face. The composition is unusually cinematic.

Line on Sierra: Space Quest III

September 19, 2016 / 4 comments

Welcome back! The ongoing Police Quest problem notwithstanding, at this point we are firmly within the Golden Age of the text-based Sierra games, and I am prepared to get pretty gushy about Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon. One thing about this game is obvious almost right away: compared to previous Sierra games, it looks fantastic. Space…

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Sonny stands by a trash can near the river. Game text reads: "You move the garbage around, but all you see is more garbage." There is a pool of blood by the river in the background.

Line on Sierra: Police Quest II

March 28, 2016 / 1 comment

After the series high so far that was King’s Quest IV, what better way to celebrate than to play another fucking Police Quest game? Guess what: I hated it! DAMMIT I forgot to hide the mouse before taking the screenshot AGAIN. As the presence of the mouse cursor suggests, 1989’s Police Quest II uses the same Sierra Creative Interpreter…

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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 / 1 comment

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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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 / 4 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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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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