Life update: where I explain my absence to assuage the neverending guilt

I am now on the last leg of completing my PhD. I know I said that in my last “life update” but this time… it’s serious. All I do, all day, is sit at my desk and try and figure out why words have stopped meaning what they used to. By the end of the project I should have over 70,000 words ready for the nine people around the world who it will be relevant to.

As you might imagine, I’m finding it difficult to sit and type in front of a screen – who knew that there was a limit? – and formulating blog posts at the moment seems like an arduous, difficult task. I have to have… an argument? I have to have opinions? Sounds a bit too similar to the every day struggle of stringing together sentences that include words like ‘ontology’, ‘problematise’ and ‘heterogeneity’.

The plan is to submit by the end of July – yes, next month. To celebrate, I was hoping to indulge either by going on holiday or buying a Switch (preferably both) – but my funding dried up months ago so I may have to settle for a packet of crisps, a movie and possibly a phone call with someone who does own a Switch. They can talk to me about their Switch experiences and I can translate their experiences into blog posts that will rock the internet to the very core…!

I apologise if this sounds like my current situation isn’t any fun – actually it’s been good. After a hard day’s thinking, there’s always time to enjoy videogames. Videogames still make sense. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve enjoyed spending time with Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, Splatoon, Portal 2, Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment, and assorted Neo Geo games.

Anyway just to say thanks for bearing with me in this limbo phase. There will be a one or two posts coming your way, just not the usual weekly ones – I can’t wait to jump back on the blogtrain when the time is right!

final fantasy xiii

Looking forward to playing and blogging about more games from the backlog…

UK videogame retailers: Games Plus, Sparkhill, Birmingham

Games Plus is easily one of my favourite game shops to visit – and it’s also the least conventional. Like my previous posts on videogame related shops in the UK, I’m going to explain a bit about this shop and my recent experiences there. The first thing to say was that I found this shop by accident. I had heard rumblings of a game shop in Sparkhill, but with no website and Google Streetview not forthcoming, it seemed likely that there was maybe a shop there once upon a time. Continue reading

Rule of Rose (PS2): what really happened?

To ask “what really happened?” after playing a fifteen hour game may seem strange. You might ask “what do you mean, what happened? Can’t you tell?”, but horror often relies on ambiguity to create tension and mystery, and Rule of Rose is no exception. Rule of Rose is all about the unreliability of memory and the differing perspectives one has as a child and as an adult. I decided to write this post because of an analysis I read which I didn’t find totally satisfying. In reading the plot of the game on the Rule of Rose Wikia, I realised that my interpretation of events was rather different…*heavy spoilers up ahead* Continue reading

BoWlog #7: Replaying Breath of the Wild

If there’s one thing 100+ hours with Breath of the Wild has taught me, it’s that this game rewards curiosity and experimentation. I’d just beaten Ganon for the first time and seen the credits when I felt a curious urge: the urge to start Breath of the Wild over again and make a bee-line for Ganon. No Divine Beasts, no exploration… just the bare necessities. Why? To see if I could do it, of course! Continue reading

Rule of Rose (PS2): A loyal dog, a princess, and a rusty steel pipe…

A good horror experience will ask the important questions: what is the nature of evil? Is death ever truly final? What kind of hospital needs a zodiac sign puzzle-operated door? Amongst the various preoccupations of the horror genre is a longstanding fasination with children. Children are scary precisely because we expect purity and innocence from them, and yet they exhibit many of our worst traits unfiltered (cruelty, jealousy, narcisscism, idleness, fickleness…). I didn’t know I had been waiting for a game that explored the psychological dimensions of young girls’ friendships… until I played Rule of Rose. Continue reading

BoWlog #6: a new template for Zelda?

Eiji Aonuma, Zelda series producer, has suggested in a new interview that he wants the Zelda series to continue Breath of the Wild’s “open air” style (“open air” being Nintendo’s typically off-beat nomenclature for open world). I doubt this comes as a surprise to anyone given Breath of the Wild’s remarkable ambition and its critical and commercial success. It’s an amazing re-invention of the series, simultaneously recreating the familar world of Hyrule whilst adding a million and one new things. But what happens next? What does a sequel to a game of this size and scope look like?  Continue reading