Author: Matthew Kaplan

Lost in translation?

Lost in Translation? Cho Aniki Zero-screenshot

Before today, everything I knew about the infamous Cho Aniki series was gleaned either from a cursory glance at Wikipedia or this Escapist article. It's part of the kuso-ge (literally, "sh*t game") class of hyper-stylized Japanese gaming, notable only for the use of kitschy humor. These obscure 2D shooters feature every not-so-subtle homoerotic undercurrent imaginable, from characters who shoot semen-like beams from their heads to greased men wrestling and evil phallic monsters.

What the hell is game studies good for?

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Screenshot

I know that this post's title may make it seem like I'm taking a page from Espen Aarseth's 2005 article of a similar name and Roger Travis' 2008 response to it. Trust me when I say that I'm casting my net a little wider than the design vs. scholarship vs. play disciplinary debate… not that that debate is irrelevant, but I'm simply responding to a different exigency.

The sincerest form of flattery

Dante's Inferno  Art

I'm currently making my way through the end of Dante's Inferno on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and I find myself enjoying the port much more than I thought I would. As a portable conversion of the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and 360 title, the PSP game impresses: There are audio problems in the CG sequences and some formerly playable sequences (none of them too important or sizable) have been changed to pre-rendered film, but on the whole it's about as detailed and playable a port of a full-sized, current-generation game as one could hope for.

A Sony PlayStation Portable Wish List

PSP Go Screenshot

We criticize the ones we love.

I consider myself an avid defender of all things Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), not because mega-corporation Sony somehow needs a small-time American blogging plebe like myself to come to their aid, but because the system sometimes get an unfair shake compared to Nintendo's ubiquitous DS and the only-marginally-a-game-system Apple iPhone.

How video games helped me to talk to my father

TV Sports: Football Screenshot

My dad isn't a particularly complex guy.  He believes in hard work and close family ties.  He believes in healthy marriages, tradition, and solid spirituality.  He enjoys retribution and cusses at frustrating phone calls.  He hates any movie that isn't a comedy; the Naked Gun films are probably the only ones he's seen multiple times.  He sings along to '60s tunes in the car.  He doesn't appreciate "art."  He hates crying. He loves sports.

Going through the motions

Microsoft Project Natal Image

As you probably know, Microsoft's Project Natal and Sony's Arc (rumored name) face inevitable launch this Fall.  Given the Wii's extraordinary success bringing affordable motion controls into the family market (using cheap airbag-style accelerometers, no less), it's easy to see why Microsoft and Sony are putting so much time and money into creating the "next generation" of 1:1 motion controls. But did either company ever stop to think whether these peripherals are really going to change the way consumers view their products? And have consumers figured out what exactly motion controls add to the gaming experience?

And now for a musical interlude…

Perhaps you've seen Sega's recent commercial for the game Bayonetta?

It's an oddly subdued (well, considering the subject) and classy commercial for such a bombastic game, and what helps it to achieve this effect is the music playing in the background: Skream's "Let's Get Ravey" Mix of La Roux's "In for the Kill."

I love game commercials. They usually represent everything BUT the game that is being sold, and this eerie accompaniment is no exception. The real Bayonetta includes an earful of bizarre J-pop.

Redefining property: The digital distribution dilemma

Lightningshirt

Imagine selling lightning in a bottle. It's a curious and somewhat paradoxical image, isn't it? Our heads can't quite wrap around the idea of packaging the intangible… of owning a fleeting moment in time that leaves behind nothing when it is gone. That's because lightning isn't an object. It's an idea. It's the way our eyes and minds make sense of natural phenomena, ionic polarization and discharge in the atmosphere. These phenomena exist in physical space, in our reality, but the visual impact of their interaction—the brilliant ghost image left in our heads, the multi-veined concept we call "lightning"—doesn't exist as we perceive it. Yet it exists for us.

Gaming and the academic job market

Heavy Rain Screenshot

How many lucky souls get the chance to do what they love for a living?

I love to teach. I love to write. And now I know for certain that I love to teach and write about video games. Teaching a Writing about Popular Culture course this past semester gave me my first taste of what it would be like to engage students on a topic that is truly meaningful to me, not just as a hobby, but as an intellectual interest and lifelong pursuit.