So how’s sudoku doing?

You might have noticed a dearth of articles this month. I will be fully up-front with you: I had no interest in engaging in the discourse around That Game That Came Out Last Week (Part II) in a format longer than a couple of tweets, and this month has just felt off in general. It really does feel kind of fucking pointless to talk about video games when people are putting their health and lives on the line to protest against police every day since May 27. But that’s not the only reason I haven’t

Resist Normalization

Despite my better judgment, I like video games a lot. When I play a good video game, I derive little a enjoyment from it, as a treat for me. When I play a great video game, I cement the memory of that experience in my brain forever. I don’t think this is an unusual occurrence or anything; I’m describing something very awkwardly that is a common experience for most people. It’s certainly not controversial to say “good thing… good?” And the reason I’m starting this piece off like so is because I’

Time Doesn’t Have to Be a Flat Circle

Hi y’all, I’m back from a posting break. I’d planned on getting something out earlier but a lot of things have happened over the last few weeks (and indeed are continuing to happen). I didn’t really think it was appropriate for me to wax poetic or melodramatic about the moment or, alternately, ignore it and write about video games. And since this blog concerns itself with the intersection of games and politics, I also knew I couldn’t sit idly by. The fact is, the Trump regime is trying to tight

The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games, Chapter Two: “A Toxic Culture”

Seasonal Book Club is a new recurring feature here at No Escape, wherein I try to get through a book about video games, one chapter at a time. This season’s book club entry is The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games: Why Gaming Culture is the Worst, by Christopher A. Paul. Hi folks. I don’t have anything interesting to say about this chapter that isn’t said in Liz Ryerson’s article above. Go read her piece instead. Black lives matter, fuck anyone who says it’s too difficult to find marginalized v

A rant about the media industry

Before I start this rant I want to head some counter-arguments off at the pass. Yes, I am fully aware that 30+ million people have had to file for unemployment since the start of the pandemic, and that has had an effect on the media industry as it has on literally every other industry. Advertisers have had to pull their ads from numerous publications, causing some to shut down, in many cases permanently. It is a rough time for everyone at the moment, but that’s why I felt the need to write this:

A Requiem for the Final Generation

The angriest game I’ve ever played is one in which you never pick up a weapon. You never kill anyone. You don’t even hurt anyone. Mechanically a first-person shooter, this game takes the gun you’d normally find in a title about the end of the world and replaces it with a battered old SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) camera that you cobbled together from spare parts and trash. You, by the way, are a courier for the Tauranga Express, a gig delivery service whose claim to fame is that it’s the fastest del

Battle the Beats and Beat the Gods in ‘Atone: Heart of the Elder Tree’

I don’t know why, but for a period between March and September 2015 I became obsessed with mobile rhythm games, like GrooveCoaster and the TapTap series. Maybe I was searching for a game that could scratch Guitar Hero‘s itch, a void left behind that few games can fill. I loved being able to use my personal music library to play, and I’m sure now this moment corresponded with my growing appreciation of electronic music like chiptune and synthwave. I did eventually drop off the bandwagon, and soo

‘Assemble With Care’ and the Right to Repair

Arriving with the first wave of Apple Arcade titles, ustwo games’ Assemble With Care tells the story of Maria, an itinerant tinkerer with a talent for fixing even the most complex items. She’s been traveling for an indeterminate amount of time, seeing the world and, most importantly, fixing the world’s antiques. With her trusty toolset and her expert skills, she arrives in idyllic Bellariva by train on the eve of a citywide food festival. ustwo is perhaps best known for the Monument Valley fran

Democratic Socialism Simulator is, uh, well, it’s a game you can play right now, for free, on your iPhone

So, maybe right now isn’t the best time for a game that imagines the first democratic socialist US president, but folks kind of brought that on themselves by saying, in real life, “now isn’t the best time for a democratic socialist US president,” so I can’t really fault Democratic Socialism Simulator’s developer, Paolo Pedercini, for just going ahead and doing the damn thing. And so what we have here is a single-player game (though I could honestly see it being bent into a fun casual local mult

Is Final Fantasy XV bad? I mean, it’s complicated

It’s that time of year where I barricade myself in my room and replay Final Fantasy XV, the 2016 finale to the dubiously-connected Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy series and my own personal contender for best game of all time (this part is a lie). This year, I have an occasion to do so: among people with money, time, and a PlayStation 4, Final Fantasy VII Remake has been the talk of the town, and with it, I noticed quite a few folks casting more than a few aspersions at FFXV. At first, I w

Do you have to play games to experience them legitimately?

Ever since I started writing No Escape (and honestly, well before), there has been a topic floating around in my mind that I’ve desperately wanted to talk about but haven’t really had the critical language to broach. Now that Final Fantasy VII Remake is out for PS4, I thought I’d try now. When we talk about video games, we instinctually use the verb “to play” to describe our interactions with the medium. Ludology is the study of games and the mechanics of play. Every review and critical analysi

Thomas Malthus’s Video Game Industry Simulator 2020: Part 1

What is the value of a video game? There’s this idea out there floating around that there are simply too many games in existence. I don’t really know where it comes from, but it seems fairly consistent over time. There have always been “too many games,” too many consoles, not enough quarters or hours in the day. And this is the basis of the worrying “indiepocalypse” notion. Who plays every game, though? Even if you found some perfect way to sift the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, how many

Prologue to Volume One

The video game industry brings in tens of billions of dollars a year. It’s more lucrative than movies, music, books or any other type of media you can think of. The stories the medium tells run the gamut of human emotion and expression, from whimsical fantasies to hardnosed military fiction. And all of it is political. Before we get too far into this project, we need to define terms. When I say “video games are political,” here’s what I mean. Politics is an ongoing conversation about how the

When All You Need Is A HAMMER, Why Not Treat Everything Like NAILS?

Despite never playing them until recently, I have adored the Yakuza series for a while. It’s uncomplicated: despite being a story centered exclusively around bad guys doing bad and serious stuff™, the Yakuza series freely skips back and forth over the line between overbearing dramatic seriousness and absolute gleeful tomfoolery. It doesn’t hurt that Kazuma Kiryu, one of the series’s main protagonists, is fundamentally a good person, even as he’s working so hard to become a yakuza. He walks aroun