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Lots of games are morally bankrupt, we get it

Mar 19 // Anthony Burch
Most games are horrifying celebrations of violence and empowerment that prioritize aggression over compassion, and competition over empathy. And that's completely fine. (So long as the game, and the audience, know that that's what is going on.) We all -- to some extent or another -- are aware that the art and media we engage with can often be full of shit. We often love our art for being full of shit! I love Doctor Who, and it's one of the most full-of-shit television shows of all time! It champions optimism and mercy without ever approaching anything even remotely similar to a real-life dilemma, and -- so long as you know that's what it's doing -- it's a perfectly fine bit of escapism. And so it is with violent videogames. Yes, it's really, really weird that you run around massacring orcs because They're The Bad Guys, and it's even weirder that we were more excited to massacre them in Shadow of Mordor specifically because they felt more human. They felt like people with lives and backstories and that made it way more satisfying to slice their heads off what the fuck. But! It's escapism. It's full of shit, but it's full of shit in a way that is decidedly fun and effective. Should we ask greater questions about why Shadow of Mordor is fun, and consider how its fun-ness might be inexorably linked to racism and classism? Absolutely. Should we stop playing Shadow of Mordor and paint everyone who enjoys it as an enormous pile of human waste? Of course not. Or, to quote Anita Sarkeesian: "It is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of its more problematic or pernicious aspects." (A quote that, if more people actually listened to, might have resulted in a way goddamn calmer gamer culture over the past few years.) So, it's okay to enjoy sadistic, weird, violent bullshit, so long as all parties involved know that that's exactly what they're doing. The only real problem, to me, is when that bullshit starts pretending to be about something else. Going back to Shadow of Mordor -- which was unquestionably my favorite game of last year -- I loved the over-the-top violence and the multitude of horrific things that you could do to your enemies. I distinctly did not love the story that tried to morally justify those things. The story of Talion's vengeance, and how justified he was in killing all those orcs because they are inherently "vile, savage beasts" (again, you should really read Austin Walker's article), is kind of nonsensical. It gets the player from A to B, sure, but it never stopped feeling weird for the game to paint Talion as a hero with one brush, and then allow you to decapitate an orc who is defined by a very human, relatable fear of fire moments later. But we've heard this argument before, right? Ludonarrative dissonance, blah blah blah. We've heard this argument so much, in fact, that it spawned an entirely new genre of games: the Violent Games That Criticize Violence And People Who Enjoy Violence genre. Anyone who has played Hotline Miami will remember the constant, enigmatic questions posed to the player by its cast of animal-faced murderers. "Knowing oneself means acknowledging one's actions." "You like hurting people, don't you?" "You're not a nice person, are you?" "Do you like hurting other people?" On its surface, these questions -- questions that many games pose to their players -- are deep, interesting queries. Functionally, though, they do nothing but jab an accusatory finger at the player. You fucking caveman, they shout. What's wrong with you? Why do you like this horrible, violent pornography? The answer to these condescending questions is simple: because these games are fun, and you know they're fun, and you spent hours and hours and hours of development time making sure I'd find them fun. These games never broach the actual social or biological reasons we find violence entertaining. Evolutionarily, it's to our advantage to find violence more stimulating and interesting than other aspects of the human experience, because a failure to find violence noteworthy can result in our deaths. Culturally, there are reams and reams of academic papers on violence as a (chiefly male) expression of worth and power that can often poison the aggressor almost as much as their victim. These games don't address that. Far Cry 3 says you like violence because you're a racist, simple-minded tourist (or at least, you have no problem taking on the role of one because, as a player, you're so eager to get to the murdering that your avatar is meaningless). Hotline Miami says you like it because you're kind-of-sort-of-bad-person-I-guess-but-maybe-not-really-I-don't-know. Spec Ops: The Line suggests you've just never given any thought to what the hell you've done as a player of games. These games chastise the player for enjoying consequence-free violence, right before offering them a smorgasbord of beautifully rendered, lovingly visceral consequence-free violence (Spec Ops less so, as it actually gives a shit about the choices you made in the story. Additionally, it forbids the player from being as graphically sadistic toward his or her enemies as FC3 and Hotline Miami). This is kind of weird, right? This is a hypocritical way of having your cake and eating it too -- of pretending you're making a grand statement about violence, without actually saying anything of note beyond -- bizarrely -- blaming the player for buying your game. If a game truly cared about exploring violence and its consequences, wouldn't it bake that into its game systems? XCOM, to me, is a greater treatise on violence and death than any of the other games I've mentioned because its systems force the player to make real, consequential, dynamic choices about the value of life. Should I put my elite assault trooper into the path of a crysalid if it means that he'll be able to save two or three civilians? Is it worthwhile to use my rookie to draw a sectoid's fire, just so my sniper can get a shot off? How much do I care about "winning" versus being a good person? What is the actual, financial cost of a human being? XCOM, while seemingly just a silly game about marines fighting aliens, directly engages with these questions in a way that the Hotline Miamis and Far Crys of the world never do. (And what's more, they do it without relying on gore for spectacle's sake). The answer for that is, perhaps, obvious: because it's hard. Because to do so is expensive, and means you're making a mechanically complex game in a time where it's easier and cheaper and often more profitable to make simple games. But if you're going to make a simple game that casts the player in a simple, hyperviolent role, why pretend to be an exploration of violence when your game mechanics obviously aren't? Why not go the other direction? Why not celebrate the fact that you're, to be brutally cynical, kinda full of shit? That's what Borderlands 2 was about -- from my perspective, at least. (It should probably go without saying, but a TON of people worked on Borderlands 2, and though I wrote about 90% of the dialogue, that dialogue makes up a comparatively small percentage of the overall Borderlands 2 experience. I can only speak for myself, and my own frame of mind when I worked on the game.) Early on, after the player kills a few psycho bandits, I had Claptrap comment on the battle: "Minion! What did you DO?! Those people had LIVES, and FAMILIES, and -- nah, I'm totally kidding. SCREW those guys!" As a joke, this line of dialogue isn't great. It's too long, its punchline is obvious, and it's just plain not all that funny. But nonetheless, this was a line I found myself coming back to as a thematic touchstone for the series as a whole. Yes, you are a murderer. Yes, you only exist to kill people and rob their corpses so you can kill more powerful things and rob more shiny stuff from their corpses. But it's all bullshit, so don't sweat it. Don't forget that you're being kind of a murderous antihero, but have fun with it! It's entertaining to be a murderous antihero. Don't pretend you're something that you're not (a hero), but don't beat yourself up over your antiheroism -- revel in it. There was a bit of internal worry about casting the player as such an amoral mercenary, but by making the bad guy an even bigger asshole, and by surrounding the people with (hopefully) charming, equally amoral good guys, everything basically turned out okay. We didn't, to my recollection, get any letters about how horrific it was to play as an antihero -- if anything, people seemed to enjoy that Borderlands was so jovially honest with its players about what it was and what it asked them to do. Saints Row works for exactly the same reason. The first two Saints Row games can often veer toward the horrifying, as the player upholds "values" like loyalty (which manifests itself in the player brutally murdering Julius, the founder of the Saints who rats on them in an attempt to bring peace back to Stillwater) and justice (which sees the player kidnap an unarmed woman, lock her in the trunk of a destruction derby car, and trick her boyfriend into ramming her to death as a means of avenging one of their fallen comrades). But Saints Row 3 and 4? The games where the franchise fully accepted just how batshit insane its players, characters, and world are? God damn, those are some good fucking videogames. Yes, your only method of interaction with civilians sees you punching or bludgeoning or shooting them. "Fuck it," the game says -- "let's incentivize that kind of behavior by making civilians drop health when you kill them." The moment Saints Row stopped trying to make serious statements about anything was the moment it reached its full potential. It accepted its own ludicrousness, and in so doing became the most honest videogame ever made: you play like a psychopath in these games, so we'll cast you as a mass-murderer and have everyone talk about how hilariously fun it is to be a mass-murderer. Fuck it, we'll make you president because you were so good at being a mass-murderer. Sure, the Saints Row games aren't "deep" (except for the fact that they totally are, thanks to their treatment of sexuality), but they're honest. Their messages, such as they are, match up perfectly with their mechanics. In my dumb, ex-game-dev opinion, XCOM and Saints Row represent the two best ways of actually tackling violence in games. Either build your systems around violence and its consequences -- actually force your players to answer questions of morality and power for themselves --  or just throw up your hands and create a world where the player can have fun being a total piece of shit. Above all, just be honest in what you're doing -- don't pretend your game is about How Bad Violence Is when it's really about How Awesome Pixelated Blood Looks.
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Now move on, already
With Hotline Miami 2 recently released, I realized I am really, really tired of games that belong in its genre. When I say "genre," I refer not to "action games" or "indie games" or even "violent games," but a subtler, more h...

Super Mario movie photo
Super Mario movie

Why the Super Mario movie is an underappreciated masterpiece


There used to be dinosaurs in Brooklyn
Feb 20
// Anthony Burch
[Ed. note: El Great Burcho published this on February 2007. It's one of our Golden favorites.] No, I'm not being ironic, or corny, or funny. Neither am I drunk, stoned, nor under the influence of outside forces requiring me t...
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Haggar for President

Citizens, unite: vote Mike Haggar


Ten Reasons Mike Haggar Needs to be the Next President of the United States
Apr 13
// Anthony Burch
[Another gem from Destructoid's Golden Archives, this our most popular story of April 2008] As you’ve no doubt been following the prospective U.S. presidential nominees, you must be asking yourself several question...

The ten most meaningful videogame quotes of all time

Mar 02 // Anthony Burch
10. "John Romero's about to make you his bitch" Hubris. It invariably arises manifests in the top personalities of any profession, and the games industry is certainly no exception. Prior to the release of John Romero's Daikatana, the long-haired developer -- still riding high from his Doom and Quake successes -- released a rather striking, minimalist, full-page ad in multiple gaming magazines. It read: "John Romero's about to make you his bitch." And nothing else. Well, nothing else other than Ion Storm's logo and an equally pompous urging that gamers "suck it down."  From there, everyone knows the story: Daikatana was delayed, then sucked complete balls upon release, and Romero faded into relative gaming obscurity. His fall, and the arrogant advertisement which started it all, nicely epitomize developer douchebaggery moreso than any other single sentence in the English language. Whether we're talking about Derek Smart touting Battlecruiser 3000AD as "the last thing you'll ever desire," or George Broussard's hilariously silly and underwhelming "trailer" for Duke Nukem Forever,  or Julian Eggbrecht's suggestion that those reviewers who hated Lair actually weren't playing it correctly, big egos, big gaming budgets, and big failures often go hand in hand.    9. "You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike." Simultaneously immersive and frustrating, beautifully worded but logically irritating, this one line epitomizes both the strengths and flaws of the classic text adventure. "You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike" is -- if you'll permit me to be absurdly nerdy for a moment -- a very well-constructed sentence. It is a statement of mystery and ultimate possibility. It's brief, yet descriptive enough that your mind can fill in all the blanks: the details of what the maze looks to are ultimately up to you, but you're given enough information about the current location to make an informed gameplay decision. Sort of. Because, when you really get right down to it, "a maze of twisty passages, all alike" is a horrendously confusing thing to read when you're trying to make your way out of a maze. How many passages? Alike how? What the hell am I supposed to do? It is this mixture of attraction to the language, yet utter confusion in conquering it, that makes me give up every text adventure I can find after ten minutes of play.   8. "You were almost a Jill sandwich!" Gamers are no strangers to horrible, horrible dialogue; whether we're getting haphazardly-translated Engrish from our friends in the Orient or simply suffering from lazy writers, awful dialogue and videogames tragically tend to go hand in hand. I find it hard to pick just one example of horrendous writing to stand for literal decades' worth, but, if only because I'm loathe to give "All Your Base" any position on any top ten list, Barry Burton's famous line from the original Resident Evil will do. If you ever wonder why so many gamers have a hard time taking interactive storytelling seriously, "you were almost a Jill sandwich" is the reason why. Far more irritating than those games which simply elect to have no story whatsoever are those which try to be entertaining, terrifying, or cleve but fail miserably in the attempt -- namely, games like the Resident Evil series.  Ben Croshaw partially covered this in a recent video, but consider the ridiculousness of a survival horror game which, despite containing insanely supenseful gameplay, has one of the most laughably convoluted and poorly written plots in gaming history? Where, after almost being squished to death, a character responds not with a relatable statement of surprise like "JESUS CHRIST ARE YOU OKAY WE NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE," but by making a snarky joke about sandwiches? The adorably bad writing found in so many, many, many videogames serve as a constant reminder to better, more story-conscious game developers: this is what you need to be better than We'll never be truly rid of horrendous dialogue and plot -- every storytelling medium has its share of lazy creators -- but it's nice to have cringe-inducing lines like "Jill sandwich" to remind us that games could, and should, be much more than just decently entertaining gameplay wrapped around an irrelevant or stupid story.   7. "That's the second biggest monkey head I've ever seen!" This is the single best quote in all of (non text-based) adventure gaming. Period. Spoken by Guybrush Threepwood upon seeing an absurdly large monkey head idol (which, over the course of the series, he tends to do more than a few times), it epitomizes the brilliant writing found in some of the best games of the adventure genre's heyday.  Leisure Suit Larry dealt with sex jokes, Sam and Max dabbled in anthropomorphic absurdity, and the Monkey Island series, with its insult swordfighting and fiendishly difficult puzzles, nimbly jumped back and forth between the high- and lowbrow. In many of the most popular franchises during the late 80's and early 90's, adventure fans experienced a quality of humorous or dramatic writing which, to my mind, has rarely been matched in the years since. When the player wasn't scratching their head over how to get past one of any number of frustratingly difficult puzzles, they were rewarded with some of the sharpest, most clever writing in the history of videogame storytelling. From a writing point of view, everything the Monkey Island series is -- and everything the best adventure games were -- can be found in this quote.   6. “Didn’t we have some fun though? Remember when the platform was sliding into the fire pit and I said ‘Goodbye’ and you were like ‘NO WAY!’ and then I was all ‘We pretended we were going to murder you’? That was great." Remember how I was talking about adventure game writing of the late 80's and early 90's? Remember when I said that the level of hilarity achieved in those seemingly simplstic games had rarely been matched since? Portal is why I used the word "rarely." Portal fever swept the Internet literally overnight after its release. Less than 12 hours after the Orange Box hit Steam, you could find gamers singing the praises of the Weighted Companion Cube, showing appreciation for the snarky-yet-scary characterization of GLadDOS, and chanting "the cake is a lie" as if it were scripture. Apart from containing a technologically astounding gameplay mechanic, Portal helped remind gaming cynics like me that games can not only be fun, innovative, and challenging in today's world of endless sequels and ripoffs, but friggin' hilarious as well. GLadDOS constantly drops darkly humorous hints considering the character's past and future. The player is forced to care for a cubic hunk of metal as if it were the love of his life. The final showdown with the evil AI constantly jumps back and forth between the suspenseful (as you attempt to defeat her before she floods the room with poison gas) and the hysterical (as one of her personality spheres recites a recipe for cake). If we're lucky, future game writers might take a few cues from Erik Wolpaw and learn that where humor is concerned, we gamers are much more likely to latch onto dark, witty irony than idiotic machismo. Portal's writing doesn't quite match the level of a Monkey Island or a Sam and Max, but it gets close enough in a time of awful one-liners and obvious jokes that it is, in its own way, slightly more uplifting and meaningful.   5. "Hey dudes, thanks for rescuing me! Let's go for a burger...Ha! Ha! Ha!" Ah, the mid-to-late 80's. A time of relative innocence for the videogame. Before the time of Mortal Kombat or Hot Coffee, when arcade games still came equipped with "Winners Don't Do Drugs" disclaimers, absurd fun was the name of the game.  Anyone over the age of twelve can nostalgically remember a time when videogames, despite being considered an exclusively "nerd" pastime, had a happy-go-lucky quality to them. You could inextricably describe a game's plot and story in a single sentence ("you're a chef and you have to make hamburgers by running over the different ingredients and avoiding bad guys"). This was the time of the arcade; the time where you had to actually go outside if you wanted to play something new and awesome.  The quote which defines this era will differ for each gamer according to which game he or she played most frequently. For my money, though, the final lines of Bad Dudes will never be matched, in grandeur or hilarious tone, by any other game from the period. Or ever.    4. "Prepare for unforseen consequences." Half Life: Episode Two taught me that videogames can be better than movies. They can elicit a greater emotional response, and, given their extended running times, the player can get more of a chance to become attached to his or her NPC co-stars. Originally spoken to Eli Vance just moments before first entering the test chamber at Black Mesa, the G-Man's mysterious message to a then-unconscious Alyx Vance actually gave me the goddamned chills.  As the shady, sallow asshole with the weird vocal rhythm leaned down to manipulate a character who I had come to admire and feel empathy for, I almost yelled at the screen. I wanted the G-Man to stay the f*ck away from Alyx. Not because it would affect the gameplay in any way. Not because I was worried about what it meant for the plot. Not for any number of legitimate reasons, other than the fact that I simply cared about Alyx. I knew what the G-Man represented, and I wanted him to stay the hell away from my friend. Upon hearing the G-Man whisper those words to Alyx, I suddenly understood that I had been wholeheartedly enveloped by Half-Life: Episode Two's story and characters. I'm sure most gamers didn't get the exact same reaction out of this scene that I did -- to the best of my knowledge, I may be the only person alive who considered Episode Two the single best part of the Orange Box -- but no one who has spent several hours with Dog, Alyx, Barney and Kleiner can deny their personal, emotional attachment to those characters.  Additionally, this quote speaks volumes concerning one of the Half-Life saga's main themes -- namely, the constantly chaotic, unpredictable, seemingly contradictory nature of life. Everything the player does after first exiting the tram in the first Half-Life ends up having terrifingly far-reaching and unforeseen consequences. Gordon fights through Xen and destroys the Nihilianth, only to find that his initial actions in the test chamber may have summoned an even greater evil. Later, while under the thumb of the G-Man, Gordon kills Wallace Breen and seemingly harms the Combine -- and is suddenly robbed of his victory by being put into stasis once again. In Episode Two, Gordon is finally free from the G-Man's control and heads to White Forest...only to find that the G-Man actually wants him to go there. Is Gordon free, or a slave? Is the G-Man good or evil? No game series has ever had me so interested in the answers to the questions it posed.   3. "War. War never changes." Even after most of the world has been turned into nuclear ash, even after the world governments have crumbled and the social infrastructure decays into anarchy, even when, after the greatest and most horrible war of all, the human race has every reason to band together in an effort to save one another from total annihilation -- they don't. War never changes. Fallout may be one of the most cynical, nihilistic game franchises in existence, which also makes it one of my personal favorites. Rather than half-assedly cultivating a world-weary tone through a sepia color scheme and needlessly gruff-sounding protagonists (I'm looking at you, Gears of War), the Fallout series tells the tale of some people who try to act with common decency in a world utterly lacking in it, and who are subsequently tortured and killed and exiled for their troubles. Cormac McCarthy would be proud.  In the world of Fallout you can do varying amounts of good on your quest through the Wastelands but, more often than not, your efforts can be just as easily undone by bad luck or the corruption of others. You can save the Ghouls of Necropolis from starvation, only to hear of their slaughter at the hands of Super Mutants. You can help the Brotherhood of Steel find new technology, but they'll use it to further their war-driven, quasi-fascist agenda. And no matter how much good you do in the original Fallout -- no matter how quickly you save the denizens of Vault 13 from dehydration and destroy the Super Mutant base -- you will always be cast out by a hypocritical, bureaucratic Vault Overseer who claims that your heroism will make you a bad role model for the other Vault Dwellers. Without getting into a current sociopolitical discussion, let me just say that the themes suggested in Fallout (punishment of morality in an immoral world, the hypocrisy of authority, the petty and violent nature of humankind) can be seen quite clearly even today. Wars are driven by greed, necessity, stupidity, or fear -- and even after the cities have been burnt to cinders and the countryside irradiated, war will never change.   2. "...But our princess is in another castle!" Videogames, according to Warren Spector, are work. We enjoy playing them, yes, but they also take a great deal of effort and frustration to actually complete. Before getting our ultimate reward, whatever it may be (a cool ending, a beautiful cut scene, a clever bonus level), we actually have to work to reach it. This quote, repeated lord knows how many times throughout the original Super Mario Bros, represents this fun/work dichotomy better than any other I can think of. When working their way through a Bowser level in Super Mario Bros, a gamer's thought process goes something like this: "Crap crap crap crap crap JUMP wait wait wait JUMP run run crap crap crap run CRAP DODGE THE FIREBALL crap crap crap haha take that you stupid Koopa King woo this is awesome I get to meet the Princess HEY WHAT THE HELL." Perhaps it was my feeble, insipid, six-year-old mind getting ahead of itself, but I fully expected the Princess to be waiting for me at the end of every goddamned castle. Sure, she wasn't in the last one, but hey -- life is full of infinite possibilities, and a game this fun wouldn't dream of continually frustrating me over and over by dangling the carrot of possible victory in front of my nose, only to yank it away once I've seemingly reached my goal, right? Right? Wrong.  It was fun getting to the not-Princess every time, don't get me wrong, but after continually not-finding her over seven worlds of gameplay, the Nintendo Entertainment System began to feel a little bit like work. The kind of work I'd be absolutely ecstatic to go to everyday, granted, but work nonetheless.   1. "Would you kindly?" Not only is this a moving, shocking, and all-around incredible quote about the consequences of blindly accepting authority, but it also represents one of the single most insightful statements ever made about videogaming in general. Cut scenes are a form of gameplay slavery. They rob the player of control, take him out of the moment, and force him to passively witness as the events of the game -- the events he is supposed to have some degree of local agency over. Ken Levine knows this, and chose to exploit it in creating one of the most memorable story twists of all time. When the player finds out that he has been subliminally controlled by Atlas throughout the entire game, he or she experiences a very sudden, shocking reassessment of values. Having gone through the game thus far with the single-minded intent of beating Andrew Ryan to a bloody pulp, the player is suddenly forced to ask a question most other games would never dream of proposing to the player: "Why am I doing this?"  Why, upon first entering Rapture, do you inject a Plasmid into his veins for seemingly no reason? Why do you follow Atlas's every instruction? Why do you kill the innocent, nonviolent-unless-provoked Big Daddies? Why do you want to kill Ryan? The answer is depressingly simple: you did these things because you were told to. Not because you necessarily had any personal investment in the action, but because someone asked you nicely. Even after realizing this, the player remains completely powerless to stop himself. In an older article I wrote ("Exploring BioShock's storytelling flaws"), I had this to say about the final "would you kindly" cut scene:  Noninteractivity is used brilliantly within the context of the scene: for perhaps the first time in the entire game, the player doesn’t want to kill Andrew Ryan, but Jack’s violent nature and refusal to question his orders are too much and the player is forced to watch, horrified, as he mercilessly and uncontrollably batters Ryan to death. It stands as the single greatest noninteractive cut scene in gaming history. Ever.  As a storytelling device, noninteractivity is used as a weapon against the player: you don’t want to question why you’re doing what you’re doing? Fine -- you’re nothing better than a mindless, robotic slave, and you have essentially given up the human gift of choice. Having control taken away is, within the context of the story, a tangible punishment for accepting things on face value and blindly following orders.   BioShock wants us to question authority and instruction not just for the big stuff -- politics, work, education and so on -- but for videogaming, as well. When Cortana asks you to pistol-whip a bunch of aliens in Halo, why not stop for a moment and really think about why you're doing it?  One might suggest that questioning authority in a videogame, where structure is more or less mandatory and even the most nonlinear games still have an inescapably linear storyline, would be an ultimately meaningless gesture. But if you're willing to take everything a videogame presents you with at face value, how much more are you capable of accepting without question? If the player is asked to mow down armies of faceless baddies simply because they are "evil," what does that even mean? For these reasons, "would you kindly" is, quite simply, the most meaningful videogame quote of all time. It deeply affects the player on both emotional and intellectual levels; not only that, but the intensity of the former inspires the latter. As the player feels hatred and betrayal from his amiably-worded induction into slavery, he becomes much more likely to take Andrew Ryan's dying words to heart: A man chooses; a slave obeys.    Check out more classic Destructoid articles in our Golden Archives
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An exaggeratedly titled top ten list? On the Internet? Surely you jest!
[This month, Destructoid turns 7 years old! Here's the top article of this weekend back in 2008. You can browse more of these in our Golden Archives. Nostalgic yet? -Niero] Call me a weakling, but it's been more or less forev...

Six sinister things about Super Mario

Feb 24 // Anthony Burch
1. Where do mushroom powerups come from? Consider the following. The Mushroom Kingdom is so named because the majority of its denizens have very mushroom-shaped heads. Toad, and his hundreds of identical brothers who consistently manage to get kidnapped in Bowser's castles, have heads that are essentially mushrooms with eyes. But what about the mushroom powerups that Mario consumes in order to get bigger, or gain an extra life? What do THEY look like? Well, mushrooms. But where do these mushrooms come from? Even after jumping through more than half a dozen worlds in the mushroom kingdom, have you seen a SINGLE mushroom FIELD? One can then only conclude that these powerup mushrooms are not created naturally, but are in fact artificially made (and then evidently put into large question-marked boxes). What conclusion can we draw from these facts? Simple. MARIO IS EATING THE DECAPITATED HEADS OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE.     2. Super Mario Bros serves as an allegory for the Bolshevik Revolution.    This one we've all heard before. Red outfit, Stalinesque mustache, star on the flag, overthrowing an empire. Yeah, yeah. I only mention it to state that the kind of people who bring this up in regular conversation with their friends are probably the kind of people who get made fun of when they aren't around. So be sure not to do that.     3. Racism.  He's fat, he's a plumber, he's got a mustache, he speaks broken English, and he's pussy-whipped.  The only way Mario could be any more of an Italian stereotype is if he had to eat pasta instead of mushrooms, or if he shot people in the back of the head and dumped them in the Hudson Bay. Now, I can understand that Charles Martinet's voice acting can be pretty cute at times, but honestly. Despite what Nintendo thinks, there are Italians in America who are capable of saying "It's me, Mario" without adding the letter "A" to the end or beginning of every single goddamned word. And despite the fact that he's a plumber, has anyone ever seen him do any plumbing? At all? He can go down enormous, man-sized pipes, yeah, but he doesn't even carry a goddamn wrench, much less an assortment of tools necessary to perform any degree of adequate pipe maintenance. The job description just seems to paint him as another member of the stereotypically blue collar, working class immigrant population in America. Which says something about how Japan views the US. 4. This picture.   5. Mario is an addict.     It may have taken some of us longer than others to make the connection, but at some point Mario's innocent mushroom and flower powerups begin to take on a much more sinister, substance-abuse-related-meaning. Consider the mushroom powerup in relation to the famous drug-use song "White Rabbit": "One pill makes you larger     one pill makes you small"     And what about the fire flowers? Even disregarding the obvious drug implication, how was Mario supposed to use the flower to shoot fireballs? Did he just hold it? Eat it? Put it in his pocket or something? Or how about the leaves that turn you into a raccoon? Is there ANY connection between touching a leaf and turning into a raccoon that you can see? Anything at all? The only rational answer is that all of these "transformations" are nothing more than visual and auditory hallucinations, brought on by heavy drug use. The mushrooms Mario is so fond of are of the "magic," hallucinatory variety, the flowers he eats to produce fire are obviously some sort of illegal poppy blossom, and the magic leaves that make him turn into a flying raccoon...well, you figure it out.     6. Murder. See? Not so fun from the Goomba's position. Now, regardless of whether or not the Goombas are actually working for Bowser, they certainly don't seem like killers, or even soldiers. They walk around aimlessly, and if you touch them, you get hurt. Is that worth killing over? It's not even like they attack Mario once they see him: they just walk back and forth along a predetermined path, and if Mario touches them, it's his own fault. But, instead of doing the merciful thing and avoiding them, Mario takes it upon himself to stomp every last weaponless Goomba to death, for no good reason.  Actually, when you think about it, Mario's got it pretty easy: almost none of his enemies actively try to attack him, so the only thing he really has to worry about is falling down bottomless pits and getting hit by Bowser's traps. And, really, how hard is it to avoid non-sentient weaponry?  That being said, I shed no tears for the Hammer Bros. They can go to hell.    [Picture credits: The first, gross painting is from this guy , the burly Mario is from here , and the goomba comic is at Lifemeter . Everything else is either google searched, MS Painted, or really obvious. Update: Additional evil mario photos were added to the gallery.]
Mario is sinister photo
From Dtoid's Golden Archives: Dec 19, 2006
[Destructoid turns 7 on March 16, 2013! I'm celebrating early by repairing some of my favorite articles from our Wordpress days. You'll be able to browse this original collection soon -- "Destructoid's Golden Archives" is her...

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Ramblings of a colorblind gamer


Feb 10
// Anthony Burch
You may or may not know that I am red-green colorblind. Money looks grey to me, pink looks white, brown looks green. No big thing. Since I was born colorblind, I have no frame of reference for how the world is "supposed" to l...
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See you around, Destructoid


Apr 27
// Anthony Burch
I don't like goodbye posts, generally. I can't count how many obviously insincere farewell posts I've read on innumerable blogs, where people whine and cry about missing the community and the people and the fun while silently...
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Podtoid 148: Bob Hoskins is watching you f*ck


Apr 27
// Anthony Burch
The end, for now. Podtoid will be going on hiatus for a while. It'll definitely be back -- we're just not sure when, or how, or with whom. In the meantime, not-download a copy of the Super Mario Bros movie and enjoy.
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Tonight's Podtoid is a Super Mario Bros. movie commentary


Apr 26
// Anthony Burch
It will also be my and Aaron's last Podtoid as Host and Other Guy, respectively. I don't know if we'll have enough time for listener questions at the end, but I thought I'd throw this up on the off chance that someone asks a ...
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Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin: Sleep is Death


Apr 23
// Anthony Burch
Will you look at that -- it's the very first machinima episode of Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin. It is, perhaps unsurprisingly, about Sleep is Death. It is a game that you should definitely consider getting if you and a friend each...
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Sleep is Death is out, go buy it


Apr 21
// Anthony Burch
Jason Rohrer's Sleep is Death is now available to the general public. You should seriously consider buying it. I've talked it up before (twice), but now's as good a time as any to check out this improvisational two-player sto...
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Podtoid 147: Robocop killed Clarence Boddicker


Apr 20
// Anthony Burch
This episode of Podtoid includes a lot of discussion about games and stuff, but in reality it's mainly about Brad Nicholson's knowledge of Robocop (and, ironically, his complete lack of knowledge regarding Buckaroo Banzai). Also, the Big Looming Changes to Podtoid are announced a few minutes in.  
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Change will be a-brewing in tonight's Podtoid


Apr 19
// Anthony Burch
What will we talk about on tonight's Podtoid? I really have no clue. I know that certain secretz™ about the future of the podcast will be revealed, but I'm not 100% sure what news stories we'll be covering. The return o...
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Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin: Puzzle Quest


Apr 09
// Anthony Burch
My favorite thing about this week's episode of Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin' is that more than a few commenters have championed it as the best example of HAWP's newer, fresher style, despite the fact that we filmed it about a year...
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Podtoid 145: Adam Dork's Nature Show


Apr 06
// Anthony Burch
We talk about games and stuff in this episode, but the conversation doesn't really pick up until the final ten minutes. After the proper, let's-talk-about-videogames show ends, Adam Dork starts linking us to pictures of crabs...
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Monthly Musing: E for Effort


Apr 06
// Anthony Burch
Every month, the Destructoid Monthly Musing topic gives community members the ability to have their work posted on the Dtoid front page. Our own Josh Tolentino came up with this month's theme. Thank him if you like it, blame ...

Interview: Armor Games founder Daniel McNeely

Apr 06 // Anthony Burch
Destructoid: Could you introduce yourself, and what you do?Daniel McNeely: My name is Daniel McNeely, and I help run ArmorGames.com along with a host of talented game developers and web programmers. I'm responsible for the site’s day-to-day operations, as well as making sure it’s constantly updated with the best flash content out there.  With so many flash games being released every day and so many different portals for them, how difficult is it to excite people about individual flash games? It actually isn't as tough as it sounds. There are people all over the world looking to play free games online, and so no matter what genre of game we release, it seems to hit a certain demographic. The real excitement often comes in releasing sequels, especially after you already have a huge following for the original title, such as we had with This Is The Only Level and This Is The Only Level Too. We’ve already seeing this in effect for our latest game, 'Crush the Castle 2,' which is currently under production from Joey Betz and ConArtist. There’s already a significant buzz for the game, and people are really excited over it, kind of like you’d see in a full retail release. What sort of creative control, if any, does Armor have over the games it sponsors? We don't get much creative control over games we simply sponsor. In those cases, a developer approaches us with a game that’s already been completed, tested and is ready for launch. At times we'll ask for some UI changes, but we've never done a full overhaul. We like to let them retain their individuality and identity while still being part of Armor Games.  If the event we partner with a developer to make a game together, we get more involved in the creative process and try to offer specific feedback and testing at various stages of the development process. That way it’s very much a joint project that both sides feel happy with.How has flash game distribution changed, if at all, from the growing downloadable content market? If you've gotta choose between surfing Newgrounds for free and leaving the house to buy a $50 game, that's often an easy decision to make. With online-only alternatives like Steam and the App store offering relatively cheap games, has the market for free flash games changed at all?I don't think the market for free flash games has changed much. If I had the choice to spend $50 or surf Armor Games for free, I'd choose Armor Games more often than not. I do think flash game developers are looking for more ways to make money, which is evident by the numerous companies offering microtransactions in their titles. As a company that's probably seen and played every flash game out there, what are some common mistakes flash devs tend to make? What makes for a great browser game? One common mistake I see is in the UI design. Developers often forget to add the small things that make a game feel professional and polished and focus more on the game themselves. These things are relatively easy to add in, but forgotten easily. They be as simple as including a Mute or Pause Button, or as important as a skip button during dialog, or even a 'Retry' button for games that are level-based. Without them, the experience can become really un-fun, and players don’t have as much emotional investment in a game they’re playing for free, in a browser, versus one that they’ve paid $50 or $60 for.For me, a great browser game has the following.     1.) Great music.    2.) Intuitive and easy controls.    3.) Rewards (visual or auditory). The best example I've seen of this is in Peggle - every time you beat a level. Thanks for your time.
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I don't want to even think about the sheer number of hours I've spent playing flash games. Still, at least twenty percent of that time has been spent at Armor Games. From This is the Only Level to Infectonator World Dominator...

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Buy the Super Meat Boy Tiger Handheld Game, support irony


Apr 04
// Anthony Burch
Man rants about the App Store, complaining that iPhone versions of games like Street Fighter IV are just soulless brand-whoring like the old Tiger LCD games we played as kids. Company takes offense at Man's rant, removes his ...

Preview: Sleep is Death (Controller mode)

Apr 02 // Anthony Burch
Sleep is Death (PC previewed; also available for Mac and Linux)Developer: Jason RohrerPublisher: Jason RohrerTo be released: April 9th, 2010 (preorders only) April 16, 2010 (everyone else) I'll get into specifics in a minute. For now, let me just say: as much as I enjoyed playing Sleep is Death as a player in Jason Rohrer's story, I enjoyed it even more as a Controller. Part of that may be the weird sense of power I felt -- look, ye mortals, and despair at my ability to conjure a snack cart out of thin air -- or the fact that I was playing with people I loved. Whatever the reason, I didn't need Jason Rohrer hovering over my virtual shoulder in order for me to enjoy the stories I controlled. Well, maybe "controlled" isn't the right word. Though the Controller is in charge of all the scenery changes, object movements, and art modifications, it's not as if the Controller can (or should, at least) completely dictate a linear story that the Player dumbly suffers through. I tested the same basic starting story with both Ashly Burch and Ashley Davis (hereafter referred to as "Ash" and "Davis," for simplicity's sake), but I ended up with two completely different tales. I wanted to create a story frame that accomplished two things. Firstly, it had to be personally meaningful to myself, Ash, and Davis. Secondly, the frame had to give me an opportunity to create my own art, in order to test out SiD's sprite editor. It was for these reasons that I created a scene based entirely around Doctor Who -- specifically, the Tenth Doctor's regeneration.* I planned to trick the player into thinking I'd created a pathetic Doctor Who fanfic where they'd hang out with the Doctor and watch him regenerate, only to suddenly switch things up and reveal that they'd simply been a fangirl who had won a contest and been given the opportunity to shoot a scene with the Doctor Who production crew. As I'd imagined it, this story would have combined fantastical, nerdy silliness with a depressing, down-to-earth twist. I was totally, mindblowingly wrong about where my stories would end up. You can download both stories from here. Davis' story is entitled, "Davis vs Doctor," and Ash's is, "Guest Starring Ashly Burch." I'm not going to bother summarizing what happened in either story, so I'd highly recommend downloading and reading them for yourself before going any further. I'm not sure why the game is called Sleep is Death, but it could just as easily be called "Best Laid Plans." I tried to imagine every direction the story could possibly go, but surprisingly, wonderfully, I could have never predicted where Ash and Davis would take my relatively bare-bones plot. Before I get into the nuts-and-bolts of the Controller interface, it's just worth mentioning that all the great stuff about the Player interface -- the sense of improvisation, of give-and-take, of safety and freedom -- is all present in the Controller experience. Unless you're a dick who refuses to allow the player to do anything they want, the Controller mode still results in wonderfully unexpected little moments of intimate brilliance. I could have never expected Davis would want to jump her car over the dying Doctor, but I knew that, once she had, she absolutely needed to make that same jump over an exploding TARDIS. It simply had to happen, and we both laughed our asses off when it did. Similarly, I couldn't have planned that Ash's final words of her story would be an incomplete attempt to type "regenerate." There was something oddly poignant about the character she'd created; a girl with such an inability to distinguish fantasy from reality that in her final, dying moments, she was unable to do the very thing that her hero was known for. Of course, Ash then fucked around some more by writing her little Porky Pig-esque coda, but even that felt hilariously appropriate. So, yes: in terms of personal interaction and story creation, Sleep is Death is just as fun from the Controller interface, without Rohrer's presence. The Controller interface itself is surprisingly intuitive. Pretty much everything is mouse-based, and, after viewing a short tutorial video by Rohrer, I was ready to start making stories by adding or removing objects, switching between scenes, and quickly editing sprites. I had to spend about an hour or two preparing my story before my Player even connected. Since I knew I only had thirty seconds to react to the player's actions, I wanted to have as much stuff completed beforehand as possible. Even though I couldn't have predicted where the stories would ultimately end up, the preparation paid off: if I needed to add a regenerating Doctor or a snack cart in the middle of a story, I only needed to drag and drop them from the archive of premade objects. Simple. Every time you play Sleep is Death with anyone, all the sprites they used will go into your personal, searchable sprite database. Thanks to this automatic archiving, most of the sprites I used were actually modified versions of sprites Jason Rohrer had already created: the "Ash" sprite you see in both stories, for instance, is just a female sprite Rohrer made with the hair dyed black instead of brown. At the end of Ash's story, the cops from my and Jason's tale showed up and menaced her with guns. Even if I needed to create something I hadn't made beforehand, like the exploding TARDIS in Davis' story, I could easily form new objects thanks to the game's paper doll-esque sprite system. Basically, every object is made up of many smaller sprites. Even though the Tenth Doctor looks like a cohesive image everytime you see him, he's actually made of several smaller parts: a head, a torso, and legs. There's no way to simply create one, large sprite of his entire body. At first, this irritated me: I couldn't find an easy way to compare the different body part sizes, so I had to keep tweaking the legs and rechecking how they looked in relation to his torso, then tweaking again, and so on. Once I started to modify the object, however, I understood the need for the sprite separation. If I wanted to change something small about the Tenth Doctor's sprite -- like, say, making him stretch out his arms -- I didn't need to create an entirely new Doctor sprite from scratch. I simply grabbed a single arm object, rotated it, and copied it twice before attaching the new arms to his torso. Though it took me a good half-hour to get the first Doctor sprite just right, all further modifications took less than a minute each. This meant that when it came time to animate Ash killing herself in her story, all I had to do was flip the gun sprite 180 degrees, then copy and paste some blood splotches onto her head. Simple, quick, and satisfying. Of course, that doesn't mean I never got overwhelmed, or that I never made any mistakes. I screwed up more than a few times in the course of telling both stories, but hey -- no big deal. The stories weren't ruined. We moved on. If I end up cloning a car or two in exchange for experiencing that wonderful sense of panic that Sleep is Death induces so effectively, that's fine. I'm more than willing to make that sacrifice. In the end, the Controller interface is pretty much everything I wanted it to be, and I don't just mean from a technical standpoint. Yeah, it's intuitive, and allows for lots of creativity, and that's great, but that's not what is truly surprising about the Controller interface. The Controller interface, even more so than the player interface, highlights the collaborative and improvisational aspects of a Sleep is Death play session. While I Controlled those two stories, I was constantly making quick, profound choices about my relationship to the Player, and to my own abilities as a Controller. Davis wanted to make her car flip over -- could I do that? Should I do that? Sure, I thought. It'd be hard, but it'd be worth it. Later on, though, Davis also wanted to ram the TARDIS with her car. I decided not to let her do that, because I thought it'd be more fun to flip her car over an explosion. The Controller engages in a constant, intense back-and-forth with the player where nothing is certain and, if the Controller is willing, damn near anything can happen. In fact, I was really worried that I simply wouldn't know what to create in Sleep is Death. When it comes to user-generated content, I'm not a particularly creative guy: my Spore creatures were all boring, and I never made a full LittleBigPlanet level in the entire time I had it. Sleep is Death, however, elicits a totally different type of creativity; you don't have to be a level design genius or a creative mastermind to get something useful out of a story, because you'll always have someone else to react off. I didn't have to worry about creating an objectively awesome series of levels or situations when I had people like Ashley Davis deciding to turn my story into a stunt spectacular. Even though my "you're a guest star on a TV show" plot was kind of dull, Ashly Burch's involvement turned it into something spectacularly funny, and cool, and personal. I would have never, ever expected that Ash's playthrough of my story would end with her dying and the Tenth Doctor regenerating at the exact same time, but that's exactly what did happen. And that's fucking incredible.   *If you don't watch Doctor Who, just know that the Doctor is a character who, when dying, will completely change his appearance and personality in order to save himself. Ash and I both cried like little bitches when the most recent Doctor regenerated.
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Summary time! Jason Rohrer's Sleep is Death is a multiplayer storytelling game. A Controller creates and modifies a world that the Player interacts with. I documented the Player experience in an earlier preview. It was a grea...

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Ogmo from 'Jumper' confirmed playable in Super Meat Boy


Apr 02
// Anthony Burch
If you haven't played Jumper by Matt Thorson, I'd highly recommend it -- partially because it'll make you more excited about today's Super Meat Boy news, and partially because it's a spectacularly well-designed platformer. Og...
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Rev Rant: f*ck your story


Mar 31
// Anthony Burch
Every once in a while, Destructoid features editor Anthony Burch discusses game design and gamer culture in his "Rev Rant" video series. Firstly, this week's rant is about the arrogance of games who think their own linear, o...

Preview: Sleep is Death (Player mode)

Mar 30 // Anthony Burch
After a few technical hiccups (Rohrer deleted a resource but the game kept looking for it, which caused both of our programs to crash, or something), I connected to Rohrer through the simple process of typing in his IP address. I was greeted with the image of two policemen, standing by a squad car. "After 10 years of this," one of them said, "I still get nnnervous every tttime." I controlled the other cop, a gruff-looking sort with a handlebar mustache. In the upper left-hand corner, a bright red timer ticked down. Rohrer had set the scene. I had thirty seconds to respond. I really can't understate the suspense that characterized these opening turns. What did the Controller have planned for me, if anything? What was I about to see? With literally limitless options available to me, how should I proceed? If I wanted to, I could draw my gun and shoot my partner dead right here, right now. Should I act as I assume Rohrer wants me to act, or should I just dick around and try to break the game? Jesus, I've only got thirty seconds to act -- do something! Do anything! I grabbed a never-before-mentioned stun gun from the squad car before moving on. I wanted to experience whatever Rohrer had planned, but I didn't want to be a mindless pawn in his story. Grabbing the taser, I hoped, would introduce an element of chaos into the experience. If Rohrer tried to push me into a situation where I had to shoot someone or run away, maybe I'd just tase them. I wasn't gonna let Rohrer dictate my actions. Turns out, I needn't have worried. A lack of chaos was the absolute last thing our story would suffer from. The thirty-second timer means that you've gotta think fast, but it also, invariably, leads to both the Player and the Controller making pretty significant mistakes. But more on that in a bit. In my earlier news post about Sleep is Death, a few commenters asked how Rohrer's game was any different from pen-and-paper D&D sessions. The first and most obvious difference, the time constraint, essentially turns Sleep is Death into performance art. It's not about planning ahead, or achieving a set goal; it's about being quick, both mentally and physically. I often found myself rushing to move my character and type something clever and use an object with less than ten seconds left on the timer. It's a game of improvisation: how interesting can you be in thirty seconds? Where can you take the story? The second difference between Sleep is Death and Dungeons and Dragons is that I didn't have to look Jason Rohrer in the face as we played. The computer screens that separated us gave the experience both a sense of tangible believability -- I didn't have to feel like a dork pretending that my character is holding a gun, because I can see that he is -- and of blessed emotional distance, to some extent. A couple of years ago, I tried to play One Can Have Her with a group of friends and family. The experience was an awkward one. I had to make up stories about particular things happening to our characters while the people I cared about stared at me, trying (and failing) to take it seriously. Our proximity to one another, the immediacy of the situation, made the game embarrassing. We felt like a bunch of schmucks playing make-believe, and not in a fun way. With Sleep is Death, I felt none of that embarrassment or anxiety. I'm not even remotely comfortable around Jason Rohrer in real life, but I had no problem whatsoever role-playing a tough-talking, wise-cracking police officer so long as we had the game interface separating us. The anonymity of the screen gave me the freedom to let loose. To act without self-restraint. To use a taser on a Catholic priest. Rohrer suggests that the game is actually best when played in-person with someone close to you, but I think it works pretty damn well over the Internet, as well. The experience felt personal, without being awkward. That said, I began to fall out of love with Sleep is Death after about thirty minutes. The more I played, the less enamored I became with the story Jason and I were creating. After reading about the experiences that Brandon Boyer and Michael Thomsen had with Sleep is Death, I thought I was going to experience a story alternately touching and unusual. Something dark, and sad, and cool, and unclassifiable. The more I played, the more my story felt like a bad episode of NYPD Blue. I got to use my taser late in the game, but even this sadistic aside couldn't quell my ambivalence. I was in the moment, trying to keep the altar boy from dying and my partner from going insane, but I kept making dramatic mistakes. I forgot to lock the door to the police cruiser after shoving the priest into it, so he momentarily escaped and engaged in some awkward dialogue with me and my partner (whom I'd spontaneously named Frank). I accidentally hit the "end turn" button a few times when I wanted to drive off, leading to about ninety seconds where literally nothing happened onscreen. I felt dumb. Like either I'd ruined the story by not being interesting enough, or Jason had ruined it by not giving me enough opportunities to be interesting. Or, maybe, the thirty-second time limit just didn't lead to interesting drama, after all. My sense of wonder and curiosity slowly diminished, turn-by-turn, as I realized I was never going to get a Thomsen-quality story out of this playthrough. But. After we finished playing and had a short chat on the phone, I looked over the story we'd created. After every play-through, Sleep is Death automatically creates a flip book chronicling every single turn of the story from the Player's point of view. Still trying to assemble my thoughts and calm my nerves after a solid hour of time-constrained improvisation, I read through the story Jason and I had just made. And it was fucking great. I hadn't known it at the time, but we were making a comedy. A comedy where an altar boy gets shot and a priest admits to strangling a dozen people. My little rebellions against Jason's control, like when I made my character walk away from a Mexican standoff, became surprisingly funny and poignant once I examined them in hindsight. Even the mistakes I'd made no longer felt like mistakes. Not really. At the time, I regretted not locking the priest in the cop car. If hadn't made that mistake, however, then I wouldn't have had the opportunity to use my taser on the priest, which wouldn't have given Jason the opportunity to make Frank crack wise less than a dozen turns after shooting an altar boy in the face. All the little unexpected complications and fuckups that so tormented me during the act of play became downright profound, in hindsight. Hell, that moment where I totally, completely fucked up the pacing by hitting "end turn" too early, leaving everyone immobile for about three screens? In hindsight, that became my favorite part of the entire story. What felt awkward and stress-inducing during the actual play session transformed into this weird, Ricky Gervais-esque comic pause in the story. I actually laughed out loud when I re-read the scene. I don't necessarily think it's a flaw that I didn't enjoy the game while I was playing it quite as much as I did afterward. Had I known we were making a dark comedy while we were creating it, I may very well have behaved differently, and removed some of the magic from the experience. My mistakes weren't unfortunate digressions from some ideal version of the story; the mistakes, and complications, and weird little quirks and rebellions were the story. Maybe it's harder to appreciate the relevance of those moments while you're trying to suss things out from within the story itself, but that doesn't make those moments any less meaningful. It doesn't diminish the odd sense of pride and contentment that I feel when I look at the things Rohrer and I did. It's not that Sleep is Death is only entertaining in an unintentional, so-bad-it's-good sort of way. Not at all. Whether knowingly or not, Rohrer played off my own dark sense of humor, and I -- even if only subconsciously -- off his. Maybe you'll flip through the gallery below and find the story boring, or unfunny, and that's okay. I'm not sure that matters. It is, after all, my story. I helped create it. I helped perform it. It's tangible, and unique, and mine. No other videogame has offered me so much. Also, I got to zap a Catholic priest with a stun gun. That said, I've only experienced half of the game. Anyone can have a good time playing a game if they're playing it with its creator: the true test for Sleep is Death will be whether or not it can effect that same weird, improvisational, surprisingly personal magic without Rohrer's direct involvement. Consider this the first half of a preview, then: tomorrow, I will try to learn the Sleep is Death Controller interface. I will try to tell a story to one or two of my friends and family members sometime before SiD's slated April 9th release date, and I'll report my findings here.
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Jason Rohrer and I created a story together. Sleep is Death is a game in certain senses, and a tool in others. One one hand, the act of playing is fraught with suspense and discovery, forcing a level of quick thinking and qui...

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Podtoid 144: Lil' Scarface


Mar 30
// Anthony Burch
This is the Scarface video we're talking about: It's pretty awesome. This week, the regular cast minus Brad discussed PAX East, the 3DS, and a bunch of listener questions. Hope you dig it.
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Postpartum Impressions: BioShock 2


Mar 29
// Anthony Burch
[Editor's Note: We're not just a (rad) news site -- we also publish opinions/editorials from our community & employees like this one, though be aware that it may not jive with the opinions of Destructoid as a whole, or ho...
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This dude wants funding for an indie game documentary


Mar 29
// Anthony Burch
Well, not this dude, in the picture. That's Gregory Weir, creator of Babies Dream of Dead Worlds and I Fell In Love With the Majesty of Colors. He'll be in the documentary, as will Amon26 and Auntie Pixelante. Basically: this...
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Podtoid 144 has no method to its madness


Mar 29
// Anthony Burch
Podtoid records tonight, and the PAX East-attending members of the cast (Topher, Samit) will hopefully be joining us. I don't really know what we'll talk about. Maybe Cave Story, and how people who have finished the Hell level are cooler than people who haven't? Maybe we'll talk about our favorite Shakespeare plays. No we won't.
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Watch some GDC sessions online, for free


Mar 27
// Anthony Burch
At this year's GDC, I had the opportunity to give a brief talk at the Artgame Sessions, organized by John Sharp and Daniel Benmergui. That session, along with many others, can now be streamed for free at the GDC Vault. I have...
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Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin: 1 vs 100


Mar 26
// Anthony Burch
This week's Hey Ash Whatcha Playin' is more of a "hmm" episode than a "haha" episode. So long as you go into it knowing that (and also that our Dad isn't in it, because I was afraid of overexposing him) you may enjoy it. Than...
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Rev Rant: the freedom to be boring


Mar 24
// Anthony Burch
Every once in a while, Destructoid features editor Anthony Burch discusses game design and gamer culture in his "Rev Rant" video series. Are players inherently boring? I'm really not sure. On the one hand, you've got people ...
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Podtoid 143: anal tax bracket


Mar 23
// Anthony Burch
I (Anthony) don't show up until after the break, but I'm pretty sure that this week's episode is primarily about random news nonsense and an extended Games of the Week segment dealing with Metro 2033 and Splinter Cell: Conviction. Linde and Brad aren't around for this one, but Leray showed up. Enjoy.

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