Games that heal

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

How a small art team created Firewatch's beautiful environment

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 game's art -- layers of burnished color, stark vivid shapes, long shadows and the lonely outlines of endless pines create a poignant image of a world that invites the player. MORE

How to turn a chocolate bar into a puzzle game

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 a bar that looks like nothing's missing. MORE

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

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 a sense. MORE

A Zelda remix is the hot new song at the club

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 the whimsical "Saria's Song" from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. MORE

Virtual reality creator hopes to treat anxiety attacks

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

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

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

The divine witches of cyberspace

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

Let's go pioneering

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 long trek forward into the unknown, on the off chance you'll find water there? MORE

Fall in love with one special freeware arcade

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

Watch: DOOM MIXTAPE

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. MORE

Play it now: Monologue

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. MORE

Play it now: The Glorkian Warrior

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 sentient knapsack who is both weapon and friend. MORE

Tell these games what's wrong

New text-based browser games by Caelyn Sandel and Lydia Neon ask searching questions we may prefer not to answer. I have a hard time being honest with these bots, even though they promise to help. For lots of us, digital space is more than just a practical tool -- it's a sense of home. MORE

You can't 'just keep politics out of it'

Only in consumer video game fandom would there even be a debate about whether or not content "should be" political. MORE

In fantasy worlds, historical accuracy is a lie

The mythical realms of Dragon Age grow beautifully with the telling, including their representation of Earthly minorities. Even so, something's missing... MORE

Finally, a chainmail bikini you'll want to buy

The chainmail bikini has long been a symbol of the absurd ways women are depicted in media, but cartoonist Hazel Newlevant has transformed it into something unexpected: the title of a new anthology of comics about women in games. "Once you've identified something as a 'chainmail bikini,' you've noticed that it's laughably bad," says Newlevant, who is both editing the book and contributing comics of her own. MORE

Lo-Fi Let's Play: LOOM

Come along with me and revisit a classic Lucasfilm Games experience. There's a lot special about LOOM, which recently went on sale at the DRM-free digital store Good Old Games. MORE

We are not colonists

Minority voices in games and tech present a necessary challenge to our imagined community. MORE

Play it now: Bus Station Unbound

The ideal of "getting home for Christmas" is tinged with romance, conjuring images of rushing through snow and the chaos of transit to that ultimate family seat. For most of us, though, that holiday-card vision is a lot more complicated, and it's that painful, conflicting space that text game Bus Station: Unbound aims to evoke. MORE

A kids book about princesses who save themselves

If there's a kid in your life who loves princesses, consider getting them a very different sort of children's book: The Princess Who Saved Herself. As per the book description, it is "the story of an awesome kid who lives with her pet snake and plays rock 'n' roll all day to the huge annoyance of the classical guitarist witch who lives down the road. MORE

All you have is video of a woman talking to the cops. Is she guilty?

Sam Barlow's VHS-styled Her Story is a game about true crime, voyeurism, and the monstrous specter of women who kill. MORE

If you see something, play something?

TouchTone is a dark, smooth puzzle game about the surveillance state. The player manipulates simple, clean circuits of light -- and once they all connect, must review information logs and decide whether to flag them as suspicious. "What once started as a simple game jam prototype has evolved into a platform for our outrage at the erosion of privacy in this post Snowden era," says Greg Wohlwend. MORE

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