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Game Reviews Games Gaming Consoles PS4 Games Video Games

Episode 72 – 16-Bit World

Our buddy Roo, host of 16-bit Gems and Way Games Work, joins us to explore a 16-bit universe. The 16-bit aesthetic has persisted well past it’s console era. The style has shown up in countless console games, the music is still ringing through tv speakers, and remakes of Super Nintendo era games are still big sellers. Why is this? What makes this style so acclimated to game development and does it still have a place in current game development?

This conversation morphs into a comparison between 16-bit RPG’s, early PS1 era RPG’s, and western developed RPG’s. Was there a heyday of RPG gaming or did each era bring their own unique flavor to the genre? How has Final Fantasy faired over the years and do the 16-bit versions overshadow the later and technically more impressive versions?

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Game Industry Games Gaming Consoles PS4 Games Retro Gaming RPG Games Video Games

Episode 64 – Violence in Context

There is a conversation in America about violence in videogames. While the cool-headed and rational among us don’t believe this medium signals the end times, the debate—or blame—rages on. And the points of either side rarely change. Yet the treatment of violence in games can be a constructive thing. It can emulate the sense of chaos and horror and confusion the average person would experience in a real life firefight, as Kane & Lynch 2 does.

The particulars or gravity of the situation may shift, but violence is also an inevitable part of any survival scenario. How far would you go to stay alive in, say, Fallout 3’s post-apocalyptic wasteland? Would you let your moral compass guide you? Or murder a stranger just because you want his cool hat?

Perhaps, as is so often the case, you’re the archetypal hero. One minute you’re riddling enemies with bullets— one cannon fodder target after the next in endless ways—then the story turns in on itself, forcing you, the player, to question who exactly you really are and what the consequences of your actions might be. Games  like Spec Ops: The Line, Shadow of the Colossus, Far Cry 2 and The Walking Dead make it impossible to separate violence from narrative, either forcing you along an unsure path or to shaping your experience, however unwillingly, into a personal psychological profile.

Let’s talk about violence. All of it.

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Games Gaming Consoles Video Games

Episode 54 – God and Gaming

Mythologies and religious stories can infuse a sense of familiarity and structure to a game’s narrative or moral discussion mechanic. It can inspire great things from a player or offer a sense of introspection. Matt and Rich are atheists. Their insight on this topic can be limited. To remedy this we invited Emily Jarrett, grad student of Divinity and host of PAX Prime’s God and Gaming panel, to offer a religious perspective on gaming.

We chat about these themes in Bioware games, Bastion, Journey, and El Shaddai.

Does religious inspiration in a game make it more inspiring? Does it add weight to moral choice? Why do we not see a lot of current western beliefs represented in games? Are the more tenants of ritual, pilgrimage, and sacrifice important to how we relate or react to games? One thing we know for certain, as Emily says, we can’t lose our stories.

Featuring music by Bear and Walrus from the album Lake Poems

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Games Gaming Consoles Kids Games PS4 Games RPG Games Video Games

Episode 56 – Transgaming

There are people in this world who aren’t comfortable the way they were born. Their attitudes and habits suggest that perhaps a woman can feel like a man, or visa versa. Transgendered people all over the world have lived through a lot. Torment, confusion, a staggeringly high suicide rate, and a society that would prefer to forget they exist.

Gaming has offered a world that can accept anybody, even those who feel unacceptable. As our guest, Morgan McCormick of TransLabyrinth, states that game worlds are crazy and it can seem that a person changing gender is certainly not the strangest thing that can happen. Games can then provide a safe and fun place for not only play to happen but perhaps, a introspection on who that person is and jump into the shoes of someone a different gender than they are. It can be a tool of self discovery as well as a way to blow off some steam.

But game communities are not the most empathetic group in the world, nor do game publishers and developers seem to pay any mind to the existence of transgendered people. Their presence in the game world is minimal and it’s time to change that.

Featuring music by Monodeer from the album Noise.bmp EP

On a side note – A big thank you to everyone in the subreddits r/transgender and r/transgamers for helping me navigate this complex and sensitive issue.

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Game Industry Games Gaming Consoles Retro Gaming Video Games

Episode 75 – Death Becomes Us

Death can either mean everything or nothing in a game. It can be the central obstacle to overcome or a minor inconvenience in a grand adventure. Whatever it means, it’s influence on how we approach and play games is undeniable.

We invite Stu Horvath, editor in chief of Unwinnable, to talk about this macabre mechanic. We talk about games that don’t make death a huge ordeal like Fez and the Lego games. How their focus on exploration and chance taking defines their place in games. We then move on to death teaching us the game, rogue-likes, retro games, and the rise of “hardcore” play-throughs.

We survived this episode, you can too!

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Game Industry Game Reviews Games Kids Games Retro Gaming

Spoilerific Ep 2 – Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption is Rockstar Game’s love letter to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone and American tales of Robert Ford framed as their signature open world. This episode I am joined by Tayo from the Dangerous Kids podcast to take this game piece by piece and analyse what we love and hate about one of our favorite games. From the beautiful scenery, to the nutjob characters, to the surprisingly engaging story, there is a lot of love about saddling a horse and taking a ride through this unique world. This may go without saying but: spoilers abound!

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Game Industry Games

Episode 80 – Gamers to the North

Canada’s game industry contributed 2.3 billion dollars to the country’s GDP, according to ESA Canada. Some of the best games of last year came out of Canada. The strongest development communities call cities in Canada their home. These are not insignifigant elements to making a stronger world-wide game industry.

We invite real-life Canadian and creator of Retro City Rampage, Brian Provinciano, on to the show to talk about indie development communities, solid game studios, and the Full Indie Summit. We also talk about how major game studios are positioning themselves in Canada and how it’s helping/hurting.

Brian also regales us with the tales of his nightmarish distrobution schedule and organization across platforms and regions. Important information for anyone looking to publish their game themselves.

Featuring music from Kris Keyser’s self titled album.

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Games

Episode 82 – Ready? RANT!

Matt was away all weekend so he took an off topic rant from the previous episode and chucked it against the wall of the internet.

It turned from a discussion of Steve’s latest piece on Medium into a conversation about game innovation, crowd sourcing consoles, companies that are taking chances, and the design philosophy of David Cage, head designer of Quantum Dream.

No music this time around, just rants. We will be back to our shenanigans next week!