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Triple-A Aesthetics and the Politics of Appropriation

February 5, 2014

By Joel Jordon


The history of games is now the history of videogames, as in these inelegant, strange, and often even monstrous things that took shape over the past fifty years. The aesthetics of triple-A games were molded by corporations and material circumstances—limitations of technology, capital, and profitability. It doesn’t matter whether we now find the forms of triple-A games that arose acceptable or unacceptable, moral or immoral, appropriate and befitting to the ideal of what we imagine “games” to essentially be or not. The only thing that matters is that triple-A aesthetics now make up the history of the medium.

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My Top 10 Games of 2013

December 30, 2013

By Joel Jordon

10. Bubsy 3D


Arcane Kids are my favorite new developer.
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Gone Home: Forms of Subversive Creation

August 22, 2013

By Joel Jordongonehome

Creation in the content of Gone Home (the “story”) often comes in a form that echoes the form taken by the game as a whole. Centrally, Sam’s struggle to assert her identity in a culture hostile to her is a struggle to create herself. The parents create, too, although not as effectively. The protagonist in Terry’s bad novels is a time traveler who saves JFK again and again. This almost obsessive return to the year 1963 implies Terry’s own inability to move beyond the tragedies of his past. Jan is a forest ranger in charge of “controlled burns”—evocative language that suggests how she lives her life. Her dull marriage leads her to feel passion for a fellow forest ranger, but the flames are put out soon enough: the forest ranger marries someone else, and Jan and her husband go on a retreat for couples counseling. Then there is the character you control, Katie, who has been called “boring” and whose postcards from Europe—among the very few objects belonging to her that you can find in the house—have been called “vapid.” These evoke little more than her family’s upper-middle-class status.

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