Month: January 2015

Abnormal Mapping 22: Lana From The Block

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The Mappers are joined in this January episode by one of the few games writers they’re genuinely intimidated by, and they go on a heady adventure into lands untold. How does anyone understand the landscape of a culture whose history keeps disappearing? What does it mean to want to work in a field and criticize works when every aspect of that production is increasingly devalued in both money and regard? What does it mean to explore the murky issues of consent in games? And how long can you exist on a ghostly train ride before it becomes a lens through which you view your own predispositions? All these questions and more are yours inside when Matthew and Jackson try their best to keep up with Lana Polansky in this heady, intense, appropriately metaphorical train wreck of an episode. Please enjoy!

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Our guest this month is Lana Polansky, who you can find at Sufficiently Human and on Patreon and Twitter.

This Month’s Game Club Gameoffɭine

Next Month’s Game Club Game: Yakuza 3

Music In This Episode

Blown Away by Kevin McLeod
the soundscape of offɭine by NAWKSH
Snowflakes by Shoji Meguro

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A&I: Healing, and Dreaming

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I can’t sleep.

At night, I lie in bed, eyes staring at the blinking red of the microphone I always forget to unplug. Despite this ache that spreads through every part of my being, despite this yearning for unconsciousness, I hold on to whatever it is that keeps the wheels of my brain turning. I wish I could apply such a strength to other areas of my life.

When I do drift away, the moments of peace are fleeting. After ninety minutes, I may wake up shaking, in the middle of a panic attack with some long forgotten cause. Memories and dreams become blurred, as I fight to keep aware of where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going. I exist moment to moment: I can keep up with my writing, I can go to the gym, I can get to all my appointments on time. But these days, I can’t afford to stop and just think. The true loss of insomnia is stability. (more…)

Let’s Play: Captain Toad

It’s time for adventure! Our intrepid band of speculative fungi roam the world in search for treasure and vengeance in a whole gaggle of adorable micro-levels. How much cute can one person take? Find out with Captain Toad and Toadette and friends!

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a 2014 Wii U game made by Nintendo. You can find out more at: http://captaintoad.nintendo.com/

A&I: Uncertain Futures

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I’ve spent the better part of the last week playing through every Tony Hawk game in rapid succession, so I’ve been thinking a lot about time. Those games function as a window into the rise and fall of a subculture, and when you speed through nine full years in four days, you are confronted with the impermanence of everything in a way that is easier to ignore if you never leave the Zeitgeist of the day to day.

This weekend, we recorded next friday’s podcast with Lana Polanksy, and talked for no small amount of time about the lack of understanding of history within games circles. In a field where it’s possible to be considered old by the time you reach 23, what hope is there of building an understood canon of works both artistic and critical? Will anyone remember the flame if they insist on allowing it to burn out?

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Abnormal Mapping 21: The Winter of Our Disk Content

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The Mappers return from the holidays to a heaping helping of holiday ennui, an alliteration obliterating miasma from which there is no escape. They soldier on, in this dark era where the PS3 has not ascended, trying to put together the pieces of a now uncertain future. What is around the bend?

It might be doom, it might be untold riches, but it’ll certainly be adventure. If only there were a … group? Of people who were dedicated to … exploring? Nah, that’d never work.

You can get our podcast on iTunes, on Stitcher, or you can download it directly by clicking here.

Games Discussed: Bayonetta 2, 80 Days, Batman: Arkham Origins, .error404, DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, How to Be a Great Artist in 10 Seconds, Star Trek Theme Songs, Sleeping Dogs, The Fall, Alan Wake, Final Fantasy 7’s Gay Sexual Tension

Next Month The RPG Explorers Club Returns with: Atelier Rorona Plus: The Alchemist of Arland

Music This Episode:

Blown Away by Kevin McLeod
Another Winter by Anamanaguchi
Digimon Main Theme by Paul Gordon

A&I: On Intimacy (And Video Games)

Problems And Solutions

Last week, I wrote a post that was half introspection and half criticism, a way for me to air my thoughts in a conversational and immediate manner, something that let me keep a record of where my head is at and talk about the games on my mind without needing to craft long, analytical essays. In an ancient and forgotten time, I believe this was known as “blogging.”

The upshot of which is: it was a success, so I’m going to keep doing that. Every so often (I’d like to say every week, but writing is too much hard work to force yourself to do it when you’re not being paid), I’ll be posting an update of sorts, a collection of short reactions to interesting games, accompanied by my (extremely) informal rumination on whatever topic’s been floating around the top of my mind. That’s this bit at the start, so I should probably get into it. (more…)

A&I: Small Writings on Small Games

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This post is a little of an experiment, something more casual than I tend to write, as you can tell by the fact I’m talking to you all conversational right now. Hey, hi, I’m Jackson, this is me writing some of the ol’ words about video games, come in and take a seat on the carpet.

We here at Abnormal Mapping are having a bout of intense video game apathy at the moment, Matt’s getting way into reading, I’m getting way into music. This is actually great because having wide interests is key in life; the insularity of games writing and culture (even the alternative and queer cultures that we tend to frequent, away from mainstream space), is often their achilles heel. With this apathy in mind, I’ve been a thinking about what to put on the site, because whilst I want to follow my whims and my heart in terms of where I place my time and energy, I also want to build upon the work of the last year or so, and write more here on Abnormal Mapping Dot Com.

Long term, who knows what that means, maybe I’ll be posting short-stories and experiments on other websites, hell, maybe I’ll still be posting them here. We’ve deliberately avoided having a considered editorial voice, because we’re close friends and chat about our opinions regarding the site regularly. It’s grown in interesting ways that we’d have never pursued had we set up some kind of agreed upon mandate as a duo upon starting. The future is vast and fascinating, and interest sets widening and evolving, however uncertain they make the foundations you create for yourself, should never be seen as a bad thing.

Short term, it means I want my games writing to reflect my game playing, which has shifted far more towards small art games you can find on itch.io or Game Jolt, works that I feel are not best supported by 1000-or-so word essays, a form of games writing that comes out of both old guard review style, as well as the current wave of academically influenced criticism. The latter of which is something a great many friends of mine on twitter are part of, their conversations attempting to build critical foundations in games that haven’t yet been formed. The work these folks do is important and thankless (go to our Reading List to take a look at a few of them!), but ultimately something I don’t think I’m a good fit for. When I write long form, I want to be personal, confessional, with an emotional rather than critical focus.

All of which is to say that I’m playing lots of these smaller games, these pointed works that convey a tone, or an emotion with honesty and simplicity, and wanted this week’s writing to reflect that. The entries on this list share no connection other they fulfil that exact criteria, and I’ve played them recently, and think they’re worthy of your time. (more…)