Indie games roundup!

Zoya Street

The best from the independent dev scene Read the rest

This week in games: inactivity, brutalism, The Witness and more

Zoya Street

Zoya Street, curator of Critical Distance, offers slow reflections on the fast-paced world of digital play… Read the rest

Black women are already superheroes

Sidney Fussell

What can game developers do to better represent black women in games? Read the rest

Networked gaming is the new social media, and it's a boys' club

Mimi Ito

Earlier this fall, Pew released the results of a new survey documenting how digital networks are key to how teens connect with friends. What was most striking was the gender disparity. Girls socialize via text and social media, and boys tend to connect with friends through video games. Read the rest

The best games about home are the ones that make you leave it

Laura Hudson

There's something comforting about games that mirror the everyday rituals of departure and return, the rhythms of our real lives. Read the rest

A chess set that could teach aliens how to play

Laura Hudson

What if you could learn how to play chess simply by looking at the pieces? Read the rest

Cibele and the end of an era for internet lovers

Leigh Alexander

Nina Freeman's heartbreaking, intimate new game about young love in an online game points to fast-disappearing strangeness in virtual spaces. Read the rest

Why Bob Ross is the perfect gamer hero

Leigh Alexander

Could this gentle painting teacher have posthumously inspired a generation of gamers to try art? Read the rest

Meet the secret new horror mistress of video games

Leigh Alexander

The delicate, literary works of Kitty Horrorshow are some of my favorite discoveries of 2015. Read the rest

Can diverse character art invite you into a game genre you normally avoid?

Leigh Alexander

Strategy games can be forbidding, but these striking character designs send a considered message of welcome. Read the rest

Aurion imagines a new history for Africa, free of its imperial past

Laura Hudson

Investors may have balked, the internet at large has proved more open-minded about opening the wallet. Read the rest

Black characters in video games must be more than stereotypes of the inhuman

Sidney Fussell

America’s “vision” of the Black male body is one of threat, menace, and labor. Unfortunately, that's exactly how they end up represented in games. Read the rest

I can't believe how much I like this visual novel about playing Starcraft 2

Laura Hudson

You don't have to care about a sport to care about the people who play it. Read the rest

There's never been a better time to take an adventure 'round the world

Katherine Cross

80 Days' latest update, which coincides with its release for PC and Mac on Steam, richly and lovingly highlights the game's best qualities—the sense of adventure it offers alongside truly unique and diverse characters. What makes it so special? Read the rest

The Beginner's Guide is a game that doesn't want to be written about

Laura Hudson

The co-creator of The Stanley Parable has a new game that uses game design space in expressive, subversive ways. Read the rest

Wheels of Aurelia, a girls' road trip, may be my favorite game of 2015 so far

Leigh Alexander

The driving hardly matters at all. I love Lella. If I'd known her I would have gone to France with her in a heartbeat. Read the rest

Read Only Memories breathes life into queer characters in Neo San Francisco

Katherine Cross

The forthcoming game Read Only Memories stars a queer guest from the future who finds hope amidst a cyberpunk dystopia. Read the rest

In Undertale, you can choose to kill monsters — or understand them

Laura Hudson

What if your enemy doesn't want to fight you? Read the rest

Panoramical will change the way you conceive of sound

Leigh Alexander

More than a "music visualizer", the widely-anticipated new project by David Kanaga and Fernando Ramallo is practically synesthetic, treating sound as a place to explore and customize Read the rest

This adventure game about a strange clown is absolutely brilliant

Leigh Alexander

I've fallen for this strange new adventure game about a horrible, balloon-like clown with a gaping maw full of yellow teeth. Read the rest

Remembering Syberia, an adventure game about a woman finding herself

Katherine Cross

This classic point-and-click game gives its lead character, Kate, a life that few games offer women: one where she grows. Read the rest

Your Super Mario Maker level has no chill

Laura Hudson

It's fun to design your own games, but here's why you should slow your roll. Read the rest

How to make great levels in Nintendo's Mario Maker

Leigh Alexander

Level design is its own kind of playful art: part theatre and part architecture, you’re making spaces to challenge and delight other people. Read the rest

Is Metal Gear Solid V as big as David Bowie right now?

Leigh Alexander

The musical references of this year's most daunting commercial video game are resonating in surprising and brilliant ways. Read the rest

The queer masculinity of stealth games

Riley MacLeod

In games, men's bodies often represent brute strength. Stealth games are the focal point for an alternative masculinity: sleek, illusory, sensitive, and self-reflective. Read the rest

The millennials are all right, and so are their sex games

Laura Hudson

The sneering condescension and pearl-clutching panic about young people's relationship to sex and technology willfully misses the fruits of an impressive creative movement. Read the rest

A game-making app for everyone?

Anna Anthropy

Game-making apps tend to evolve into intimidating tools aimed at pros. Beginners need something useful to non-coders—and Nintendo has the right idea. Read the rest

China loves the lingo of games

Christina Xu

In honor of games' growing influence on contemporary Chinese vernacular, here are 5 translated phrases to Second Kill your English vocab. Read the rest

Piracy gave me a future

Daniel Starkey

Poverty traps its victims in intellectual dead zones. I don't pirate games anymore, but when I needed it, it gave me access to the literature and artistic inspiration of my generation. Read the rest

Interactive movies make their glorious return

Leigh Alexander

In the 90s, games grasped at maturity with "real" video and actors. It was a weird but cult-beloved wrong turn—and we found a game that's revived it beautifully. Read the rest

No girl wins: three ways women unlearn their love of video games

Juliet Kahn

My little sister just wants games to be for her exactly what they are for boys and men: easy to love. Why does that have to be so hard? Read the rest

Carry the frustration of injustice in this game about racist police violence

Leigh Alexander

Akira Thompson's striking work challenges one of the biggest misconceptions about police violence against black people in America, and offers privileged players the chance to experience the truth. Read the rest

Women take a place at the pinball table

Laura Hudson

What happens when female players slam tilt their way into the bright, loud world of pinball? Read the rest

The other side of Braid

Liz Ryerson

In this deeply-personal postmortem of her game Problem Attic, Liz Ryerson explores her relationship to iconic indie darling Braid—and what the game may say about the culture of development. Read the rest

How card games became cool again

Kim Nguyen

Wildly-popular card game Android: Netrunner has an exceptionally diverse and inviting lore and universe, but its community of players still has to push back against the social stereotypes of the traditional card game scene. Here's how they're doing it. Read the rest

War without tears

Maxwell Neely-Cohen

The relationship between video games and violence is healthier than we like to think Read the rest

How should we talk about Final Fantasy VII's crossdressing sequence?

Sarah Nyberg

A lot has changed since 1997. Read the rest

Her Story: a compelling murder mystery game with a tragic flaw

Laura Hudson

This mystery where you solve a crime with a search engine is brilliantly made—but it has one big problem. Read the rest

10 Comic-Con announcements that are actually about comics

Laura Hudson

The sun has set on San Diego, and we've put together the most interesting news that fans of comics -- you know, the books -- shouldn't miss. Read the rest

Why Final Fantasy VII matters

Leigh Alexander

Logos flicker on failing monitors, propped up in a quilt of urban junk. Light glitters on seawater beneath jutting pylons. Flowers swell up from the broken floorboards of an abandoned church… Read the rest

A comic about what happens when a magical girl team disbands

Laura Hudson

What's a team of cosmic high school superheroines supposed to do after they defeat the villain, go back to their normal lives, and start growing apart? Read the rest

The poetry in game-making

Katriel Paige

From the stylish and courtly competitions of old Japan to the vital and evolving independent game development scene. Read the rest

How we developed a black woman protagonist who mattered

Catt Small

Diverse characters are important, even in mobile shooters and other surprising genres Read the rest

Video games without people of color are not 'neutral'

Sidney Fussell

The myth of white neutrality persists in the world of gaming, where black characters in fantasy games can be deemed less "realistic" than dragons. Read the rest

The 10 coolest things from E3 that weren't video game sequels

Laura Hudson

A lot of exciting things happened at E3 that weren't big-budget sequels. Like yarn, robot dinosaurs, and a giant, awesome dog. Read the rest

The only things you really need to know about Sony's E3 press event

Leigh Alexander

Let's have a deep chat about the practical feasibility of getting our childhoods back. Read the rest

A brief history of yarn in video games

Laura Hudson

A charming game called Unravel stood out at E3 2015. But before that, there was the Nintendo Knitting Machine, and you've been missing out. Read the rest

The only things you really need to know about Microsoft's E3 press event

Leigh Alexander

Annual video game press conferences are often an assault on the senses, and on taste. We found the cool stuff for you. Read the rest

This American Indian Dungeons and Dragons lets you weave powerful stories

Daniel Starkey

Ehdrigor, a game created by a black, American Indian game designer, gently reflects the Native experience, and how that approach to storytelling differs from Western narratives. Read the rest

This game sheds light on human rights abuses in Azerbaijan

Leigh Alexander

The first European Games are kicking off in Baku, Azerbaijan. This tiny web browser game stands in protest, highlighting the unlawful detention of political prisoners in the country. Read the rest

What games must learn from children's books

Anna Anthropy

A designer studies her favorite works of play and picture to explain what's missing from many modern video games Read the rest

How hip hop can teach you to code

Shareef Jackson

The artist may change, but the template remains the same Read the rest

I didn't like shooting games. Then I fell in love with Splatoon

Laura Hudson

Nintendo's colorful, joyful new squid kid splatterfest is fresh as heck Read the rest

Home is where the future of games is

Leigh Alexander

Forget about the wasteland for a while. The best new games are set inside the places where you live. Read the rest

I clicked one of those 'sexy' browser game ads so you don't have to

Leigh Alexander

We've all seen them; Ads featuring computer-generated women (or occasionally Kate Upton), promising a uniquely sexy game experience. I tried it. Wanna know what it was like? Read the rest

All the women I know in video games are tired

Leigh Alexander

But it's not for the reasons you think. Read the rest

The vast, unplayable history of video games

Gita Jackson

We face a practical -- and cultural -- archiving crisis unprecedented in any other medium. It's time to change that. Read the rest

The whispery world of ASMR enters virtual reality

Laura Hudson

For the first time, ASMR experiences are pioneering beyond simple soft talk. Read the rest

The occult gambling game giving out amulets of real gold

Laura Hudson

What in the unknown world is Jason Rohrer up to now? Read the rest

How four keys can create a spectrum of feelings

Leigh Alexander

Arielle Grimes' What Now? uses constraint and glitch aesthetics to explore emotional overwhelm, care for oneself and others Read the rest

Wrong notes and syntax errors: The joy of improv in music and code

Maddy Myers

What can thinking like musicians teach us about game-making? Read the rest

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is forever

Leigh Alexander

Why the classic game still commands so much love (and money) Read the rest

Your cyberpunk games are dangerous

Jon Peterson

How roleplaying games and fantasy fiction confounded the FBI, confronted the law, and led to a more open web Read the rest

I've been texting with an astronaut

Laura Hudson

How a surprising iPhone and Apple Watch bestseller is pushing the boundaries of fiction Read the rest

I love my untouchable virtual body

Aevee Bee

Violent games can be excellent metaphors for interpersonal conflict. Read the rest

Edutainment failed me

Aroon Karuna

I wish they'd just teach Bloodborne in schools. Read the rest

Why Silent Hill mattered

Leigh Alexander

On the end of a great, mad era for video games Read the rest

The brain-tingling world of ASMR collides with science fiction

Laura Hudson

An inexplicably-soothing audiovisual phenomenon is making fascinating inroads toward interactivity, futurism and VR Read the rest

Play in the beautiful, terrible natural world

Leigh Alexander

Part art, part science, Nadezda Suvorova's playful works celebrate the weird beauty of our reality Read the rest

'I make games, and now I don't need to hide anymore'

Leigh Alexander

Nina Freeman wants you to play what it felt like to be her as a little girl, even for a moment Read the rest

Subversive games about waitresses and hairdressers

Laura Hudson

I spent my 20s in the service industry, overworked and underpaid. Why, now, do these games help me relax? Read the rest

I'm afraid to die in games

Gita Jackson

We often understand failure in games through the language of death. Why? Read the rest

The clone that wasn't

Leigh Alexander

Can two designers come up with the exact same idea, entirely by accident? Read the rest

When fashion is frightening

Anna Anthropy

Nintendo's Style Savvy: Trendsetters is one of the scariest games I've ever played Read the rest

In Bloodborne's brutal world, I found myself

Laura Hudson

I've always wanted to know the difference between perseverance and masochism. This is the game that taught me. Read the rest

Feelings machines: games that capture a moment

Leigh Alexander

ceMelusine makes small, simple virtual spaces that feel as unknowable and vast as the human heart Read the rest

The many inglorious deaths of my virtual fish

Leigh Alexander

How an 'anti-nurturing sim' helps reveal the importance of mortality in games 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

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

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

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

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

In fantasy worlds, historical accuracy is a lie

Tanya D

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

We are not colonists

Gita Jackson

Minority voices in games and tech present a necessary challenge to our imagined community. Read the rest

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

Leigh Alexander

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

You have 20 minutes before the sun blows up

Laura Hudson

Explore the universe in Outer Wilds, a mysterious, award-winning game set in deep space Read the rest

What's it like to be a hole?

Leigh Alexander

Ben Esposito's Donut County will whet your appetite for compelling physics -- and consumerism metaphors Read the rest

Six Japanese Dating Sims to Fall In Love With

AM Cosmos

Welcome to Otome, visual dating games made with women in mind. They enjoy a healthy fandom, but many acclaimed titles remain in their native Japanese—frustrating, because romance and relationship games are more popular than ever. Read the rest

Punk Games

Zoe Quinn

Its time to break down the walls between games and other creative fields. Read the rest

Fantasy worlds that break history's back

Katherine Cross

Anything can happen in the world of pretend. Microscope is a pen-and-paper game of "fractal history" that forces us to reexamine the rules of the real Read the rest

Things got heavy when I played this animal-mothering game

Leigh Alexander

I haven't decided whether or not I'll become a mother. I'm at the age where I think a lot about it. It frightens me. Read the rest

The radical games event where the next speaker is you

Laura Hudson

Game makers find inspiration at Lost Levels, an intimate and involving gathering where anything seems possible Read the rest

Edgy sex games highlight intimacy, not conquest

Merritt Kopas

Unconventional titles that focus on consent, care, and collaboration offer a softer future—even if the spanking is very, very hard. Read the rest

The Sailor's Dream: a game of beautiful things with unfamiliar traits

Leigh Alexander

This mysterious marine adventure is for those with the sea in their hearts and an iOS device in their hands. Read the rest

Great ladies of history find a new home in strategy games

Leigh Alexander

Paradox Interactive creates elaborate strategy games that are unusually popular with women. Susana Meza-Graham and Sara Wendel-Örtqvist explain why. Read the rest

When Twin Peaks meets video games

Leigh Alexander

David Lynch's mysterious TV classic has inspired a wealth of indie games Read the rest

Want to make a game?

Leigh Alexander

Let these cool developers cheer you on Read the rest

A tale of two princess games

Leigh Alexander

At the crossroads of pampered and powerful, what little girl doesn't love a good dungeon crawl? Read the rest

A game you can only dream of playing

Leigh Alexander

More perfect for being unfinished, The Last Guardian is a a yearning soul-whisper for its sentimental fans, the lost game of a microgeneration. Read the rest