The BBC made a 'controversial' new game about Syria

Leigh Alexander

Games aren't just playful -- they let players inhabit characters, visit unfamiliar places or practice problem-solving within complicated systems. Read the rest

There's a Steven Universe RPG you can play on your phone

Laura Hudson

Last week, the Cartoon Network released a delicious Easter treat: an RPG based on Steven Universe that you can play on your phone for only $2.99. Read the rest

How Scandinavian players 'killed' LARPing to save it

Laura Hudson

When most people think of live-action role-playing, or LARPing, they imagine men battling each other with foam swords in the woods. But what if LARPing looked more like improv: thirteen friends sitting around a table, acting out a dinner party or a family reunion? In some places, it already does. Read the rest

Let go: this moving game about gravity will catch you

Katherine Cross

In most games, you live or die by your reflexes. In this one, you trust the universe to catch you. Read the rest

Radical sci-fi by social activists 'decolonizes the imagination'

Laura Hudson

Can science fiction be a form of social activism? Walidah Imarisha thinks so, and she's recruited everyone from LeVar Burton to Mumia Abu-Jamal to help her prove it. Read the rest

Anita Sarkeesian's new video is about what games do right

Laura Hudson

The Feminist Frequency videos typically focus on where video games go wrong with gender, but the latest episode by Anita Sarkeesian takes a different angle: the times when they really succeed. Read the rest

The creators of Rock Band made a dating sim for April's Fools Day

Laura Hudson

Sure, games like Rock Band and Dance Central are fun, but where's the romance? Today—April Fool's Day, remember—Harmonix announced their newest game, "a brief departure from the band game business in favor of the business of love." Read the rest

Experience a difficult night in the life of a teenage girl

Leigh Alexander

Freshman Year is the latest personal game from designer Nina Freeman. It's brief, and it tells an upsetting story -- a teen in college goes to the local bar to meet a friend, only to have an unwanted interaction with the bouncer (take care playing if you have a history with abuse themes). The player's […] Read the rest

Debate your friends on culture with this new card game

Leigh Alexander

Which lulls you into complacency: Leg warmers, or the font Helvetica? What's better proof of the way absolute power corrupts: The great Pacific garbage patch, or Labradoodles? Is brunch fraying our moral fabric? The Metagame is a clever, colorful set of tools that let you pose interesting questions to friends, and debate the relative merit […] Read the rest

Play Pac-Man in Google Maps today

Laura Hudson

Yes, it's almost April Fool's Day, the national day of acting like a jerk with impunity, but this is no trick: You can play Pac-Man in Google Maps right now. Just zoom in to your neighborhood or any interesting tangle of roads, click the Pac-Man icon in the lower left, let the game begin. You'll […] Read the rest

Read this comic about a girl falling in love with PC games

Laura Hudson

When cartoonist Yao Xiao fell in love with video games, she was a 12-year-old girl growing up in China. Group sports had become less welcoming in adolescence, but PC games "provided a new 'arena' where I could be free of my physical form," she writes. "Somewhere not to be not safe, not protected, and not […] Read the rest

Most users of online worlds do sex stuff

Leigh Alexander

My generation of girls grew up sneaking around online, pretending to be older, pretending to be supernatural, in order to meet strangers -- more important than the fleeting strangers, though, our Buddy List of names, was finding ourselves. These days, 59 percent of people who visit worlds like Second Life have engaged in sexual activity […] Read the rest

The existential dread of fighting games

Maddy Myers

All my life, winning was everything. These days I'm just proud I still show up. Read the rest

You're the writer of a terrible video game. Can you save it?

Laura Hudson

That's the premise behind the new interactive fiction game The Writer Will Do Something, which begins at a Monday morning meeting that's about to get ugly. Read the rest

Videogames for humans, a special book

Leigh Alexander

Games can be conversations, and a new anthology curated by Merritt Kopas called Videogames For Humans aims to explore those connections. She's gathered Twine game creators and critics to annotate and discuss one another's works -- the result isn't just a unique angle on games criticism, it's a gathering of many of the most prominent […] Read the rest

Watch: The rare Japanese Let's Play-ers

Leigh Alexander

Lots of young people are growing up watching strangers play video games. But while "Let's Play" videos are fairly common in the West (I even do a niche series of my own), for some reason the format as we know it apparently isn't big among Japanese. Japanese game makers and players have long been considered […] Read the rest

Shuffle around the family baggage in Aunt Flora's Mansion

Leigh Alexander

Aunt Flora's Mansion is a simple little block puzzle game from prolific designer and author Anna Anthropy. You might have played games like it before -- push a block thoughtfully and you can clear a path for yourself ahead, but shove them around in haste and you might block your own way, hey hey. It's […] Read the rest

How a small art team created Firewatch's beautiful environment

Leigh Alexander

San Francisco-based Campo Santo is an indie studio currently at work on Firewatch, a visually-evocative game about being a volunteer fire lookout in the wilderness of Wyoming, with a handheld radio and a mysterious supervisor your only companion. Recently at the Game Developer's Conference, the team's Jane Ng gave a fascinating talk about creating the […] Read the rest

How to turn a chocolate bar into a puzzle game

Laura Hudson

Puzzle games aren't just something you play on consoles, computers and smartphones. They're also something you can play with a chocolate bar. Next time you're hanging out with your friends, invite them to take the Infinite Chocolate Bar Challenge: try to remove one rectangle or square from a bar of chocolate, and end up with […] Read the rest

What happens when you don't let players pick their race?

Leigh Alexander

Plenty of people play games to escape their real lives, and the character creators some games offer let us imagine ourselves in whatever image we'd like: realistic or idealized, some version of ourselves. Or someone entirely other -- not just a chance to invent your very own fantasy character, but to live as them, in […] Read the rest

Virtual reality creator hopes to treat anxiety attacks

Laura Hudson

New methods for treating anxiety, trauma and mental illness are emerging at the intersection of games and therapy Read the rest

Games that heal

Soha Kareem

Making games in Twine has helped one woman cope with pain other methods haven't reached, and connected a community Read the rest

A Zelda remix is the hot new song at the club

Laura Hudson

When I think of Zelda, I think of lots of things: smashing pots, collecting rupees, throwing boomerangs, and dancing to sick beats. That last one is a pretty new addition to my personal Zelda memory palace, but it's stuck there anyway thanks to Hitmane's new mashup of Juicy J's "Bandz That Make Her Dance" with […] Read the rest

Let's go pioneering

Leigh Alexander

It's fun to feel you're a video games pioneer. The world sprawls out in front of you, in chunks of textured map-land, and you have to make often risky decisions about how to manage what lies before you. Will you spend time and precious energy stripping nearby plants for medicine, or will you make the […] Read the rest

Astonishing comics that 'save your game' when you turn the page

Laura Hudson

Jason Shiga's ambitious projects leap from one medium to another—and unite them. Read the rest

Fall in love with one special freeware arcade

Leigh Alexander

Tetrageddon Games is a multifaceted and delightful project from Nathalie Lawhead, one of the participants in my feature about digital mysticism yesterday. Read the rest


Leigh Alexander

Liz Ryerson is one of my favorite game critics -- she has a great eye for the alien and oddly-beautiful design harmonies of game landscapes, and she specializes in the 1993 classic Doom, particularly its mods and maps. Read the rest

Play it now: Monologue

Leigh Alexander

You, the mustachioed Wild West villain, have just tied your nemesis to the train tracks. Can you recite your entire evil monologue before the locomotive comes barreling down? You really need them to hear this. Read the rest

Play it now: The Glorkian Warrior

Laura Hudson

Several years ago, cartoonist James Kochalka doodled a picture of an alien on a piece of paper. Now the Glorkian Warrior is the star of two graphic novels as well as a new video game created by Pixeljam, where the three-eyed hero must defend an asteroid with the help of his sidekick Super Backpack, a […] Read the rest

The divine witches of cyberspace

Leigh Alexander

Fortune-telling games help us fumble toward deeper truths, at the junction of technology and mysticism Read the rest