RE:BIND

Browsing category: Speculative

Big Robot Man Good – by Microsoft

The All Shooter is the most robust release of the year. The All Shooter is the monument to all of it’s predecessors, the cumulative achievement of every failed and successful design attempt alike to come before it. It is the first step forward to a bright gaming future, one in which The All Shooter is the final word.

The All Shooter has grappling hooks, it’s an open world game- but it has instanced segments and linear corridors. It’s an RPG, but it’s also a strategy game, it’s an immersive simulation describing every finite function of digital mass down to the faux-atomic level, it has fully developed ecosystems that react dynamically to the All Player’s presence, but exclusively for their enjoyment. It is the most difficult game, easy to play but hard to master. It is multiplayer, but it is also single-player, it is anything you want it to be. It has glory kills and executions, it has soft friendly mascots that reassure the anxiety of anyone who plays it. It has expansive levels handcrafted by the best minds the industry has to offer with lovingly detailed renderings of exotic and familiar locales, some of them are stealth missions, some of them are fetch quests, all of them are exactly what you want.

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WARNING: This article contains spoilers for DOOM 2016 and DOOM: ETERNAL. But who cares about the story anyway, right?

The videogame market has, for many years, engaged in a form of self-referential cyclicality, from indie games hearkening to the minimalist pixel-art design of the medium’s early forebears, to the current wave of PS1 aesthetic resurgence and the much-beloved resurgence of the “boomer shooter”, all the way to the DOOM series’ reflection on nostalgic memories of the hyper-violent and frantic action of 90s FPS titles. This is, of course, nothing unique to video games as one need look no further than the box office hits of modern Hollywood to see that reboots, remakes, and reimaginings are the order of the day.

Enter Jean Baudrillard and his conceptualization of “hyperreality”, the indistinguishable muddling together of reality and the simulated as originally explored in Simulacra and Simulation of The Matrix fame.

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(Sky: Children of the Light, thatgamecompany 2019)

Games as a Service has been a much discussed experiment established by the AAA industry, one that has been wildly successful. As the arms race of technical advancements forever bloating development budgets races onward and the tightening of development cycle lengths to meet growing profit demands continues, games release at a dizzying flurry that is at once suffocating yet celebratory. Each year, a new pantheon of titles are added to the record, miles of scripts that inspire and renew, or simply experiences that last wordlessly; a breeze of mechanics and flow fusing into a torrent of fleeting endless memories.

“But,” the corporate mind may ask, “how do we make this profitable for us, a massive corporation wielding the labor of hundreds within our hand? How can we ensure consumers will flock to our products and save their purchasing power for more of what we have?”

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It’s become something of an in-joke within the greater games community that Nintendo is not an entity to be trifled with. Between DMCA notices against ROM sites and fangames utilizing their IPs, attempting to tango with the corporate monstrosity has a predictable end. It makes sense from a business perspective: Nintendo doesn’t want anyone marring the oh-so-marketable franchises they’ve produced over the years, and they certainly don’t want anyone accessing their creations without paying for them, regardless of the ability people have to legally play them.

Enter the bootleg. Where demand was not met by the official channels of distribution, pirate groups took it upon themselves to fill the niche. Creating their own cartridges with ripped games implanted, these groups would sell their wares on a black market at a far more affordable price and with a greater selection than typically available in these areas. Naturally, the companies these pirates were profiting off of were none too pleased with their actions.

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The dudes big on discourse.
(Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Troika Games, 2014)

Just what is a Thin-Blood, anyway? According to some in the lore of Bloodlines, they’re fledgling kindred with a tenuous connection to their forebears, earlier generations of the clans aren’t just more powerful but necessarily more in tune with their origins and the primal energy that drives them. Bloodlines has it’s own in-universe equivalent stand in for the apocalypse for all kindred- the belief that the grand ancestors of yore will once again rise from their slumber only to consume their descendants as the blood runs so thin as to be impotent and dry.

Exhaustive repetition of a concept, once-unique traits with diminishing returns, the newest members inducted into invisible, involuntary social pacts with unwritten etiquette that has visible and harsh consequences for failing to correctly guess them, a paranoid fear of the end times, the belief that the most affected fledglings somehow portend such an ever-present, overshadowing threat. Petty politics, presumed loyalty to an unelected prince, anarchs running rampant, violent sabbat overthrowing all around them to establish furious fiefdoms. Is any of this sounding familiar? If not, it should- in a sense, we’re living it right now.

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Much of queer representation is often so sporadic and of dubious quality in popular media like games that those who wish to be represented find themselves hungry for almost any opportunity to feel seen or affirmed. This lack of imagery with which to identify perpetuates an inability to resolve the core issues that come with reconciling one’s identity with newfound struggles, due in no small part to how media in general and games in particular present a toolkit that many in the majority take for granted.

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CROSSNIQ+ from developer Max Krieger (@MaxKriegerVG).

At the turn of century, humanity began to panic as the future loomed.

Oncoming and unavoidable, the year 2000 was poised to be a time of great change, but much to our chagrin, it was a twist of fate that we had built our lives around such fragile technological marvels that would ultimately prove to be our own downfall. In our relentless pursuit of efficiency, systems built to house information containing dates would only register two numbers: the last two digits of the calendar year. As 2000 rolled in, a sudden fear began to arise that computers for governments or banks would be unable to distinguish between 2000 and 1900, causing irrevocable damage to our infrastructure and usher in an apocalyptic calamity.

These prophetic notions were predominantly held by the fringe of scientific research and society, exacerbated through outlets rapidly cycling through fear-mongering and misinformation. As society questioned the ability of corporations to address the issue in time, the Y2K fervor was the perfect encapsulation of a decade built upon pop culture that pushed hard into a fantastical vision for the future, with contemporary industrial design becoming the turn-of-the-century realization of what sci-fi had promised us in decades prior. Truly, the Y2K Bug is something of our society’s first watershed “cyberpunk” moment, with the misguided and shortsighted actions of the government and faceless corporate entities serving to endanger humanity, alongside an ever-growing online meta-verse, and the push towards a forward thinking “futuristic” visual zeitgeist.

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We’re at a point of complete global saturation. Pull up #gamedev on Twitter and look: endless, infinite talent, as far as the eye can see. How many of these people have you never heard of? How many of them still have relatively large fan followings? A body of work full of fresh ideas and plentiful things worth talking about? It’s far too common for many a creator to be overlooked in the sea of digital detritus. Other than providing platforms for their work, places of discussion and promotion, these multifaceted crowds can become a mass of the unknown.

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I sit on the side of I-5, the main highway running between Seattle and Portland. It’s nearly 19:00, the sun is quickly setting, and the wind has taken a sinister chill. My car sits, hazards flashing, on the shoulder in front of me. I’m flipping between tabs on my phone: my bank account, nearby mechanics, and quotes for towing companies to get me and the car back to my friend’s place. The bank account is thinner than I’d like, the mechanics are all closed, and the tow is going to drain me of the rest of my funds regardless of who does it. With a stiff gust breaking on my back, my hair flung into my face, I realize that this whole ordeal has a striking resemblance to my time spent with Jalopy.

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