"Hi," From The Two Sternest Motherfuckers You Know

Friday, January 27, 2012 at 9:00 am
This is Joystick Division columnist Aaron Matteson (left) and me (right). What you see here is a picture of us getting wasted together in celebration at a bar in Brooklyn, just after a series best-of-5 round of foosball. See, Brooklyn where he lives, and where I'm visiting right now. (Big deal, since I live in Seattle.) And this is the 2nd anniversary of my first column on the site -- now 1,153 articles later.

So, Aaron and I have been close friends and collaborative writers since about 2004, a year or so before we graduated high school together. You may know him from our brilliant Five Things weekly editorial. While we've been writing for Joystick Division for about 18 months together, this is the first time we've documented it and felt compelled to reach out to everyone and say "thank you" for being our followers and for reading our columns for such a long time. The consensus tonight, in all of this stupor, is that this website and the writers within it work hard to put out content for you to adhere to. And we love it to our very cores. And we love you.

That said, "Hi, there!" You marvelous, wonderful people. We look forward to all that's there in the future, and to what we can achieve together. 

MLB Featuring Ken Griffey, Jr.: A Love Affair, Rekindled

Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm


​By: Drew Paryzer

I declared myself done with video games early on in my undergraduate education. As I saw it, I had spent enough hours of my life rabidly pursuing secret levels and alternate endings and mini-games that - I proclaimed grandly, to myself, in my head - amounted to prolonged digital masturbation. (I won't mention my senior year relapse during which I performed such tasks as essentially being Super Mario World TWICE in a week, due to an accidental file erase.) I travelled for a year right after I graduated, and didn't touch a controller for that entire time. I got philosophical about it -- "Oh, my former self who built a bunker of Link and Yoshi to blind himself from the anxiety-filled ambiguity of modern experience yadda yadda yadda." I convinced myself that listening to Radiohead B-sides while looking at some dry mountains in Chile was what I should actually be doing.

When I returned to the States, I moved to Los Angeles with two actor friends and steeped my days in a soul-crushing mix of menial office work and hours of solitary, misplaced TV writing at assorted Starbucks'. It was soon into this debacle that one of my friends acquired his brother's old Nintendo 64. Larry David was probably somewhere in my peripheral vision the first time we fired it up, and the smell of Stouffer's Dog-Food Lasagna was most likely seeping out from our microwave. All I know for sure is when I wrapped my hands around that triple-stalactite of a controller, my liberal-arts pretentions melted away. I remembered that I LOVED VIDEOGAMES. Simply, truly, deeply. Deliberate identity formation, be damned.

More >>

The Bioware Method: Why Bioware's stories are so good

Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 10:30 am


mass effect.jpg
​With Mass Effect 3 just a few months away and Dragon Age 3 officially announced, not is as good a time as any to talk about Bioware. The company has long been lauded as one of the few developers that have put an emphasis on storytelling. Even their games that have featured largely unimpressive gameplay have been remembered as classics just because of how well the story was told. But with Bioware's latest two series they've found a very unique way of telling a story with the mechanics through each property's protagonists. Shepard and the warden are both vehicles for the player to act in a separate world and individual characters in their own right.


There are a number of ways RPGs can tell a story but for convenience's sake, we'll polarize them in a graduating scale with Elder Scrolls or Fallout style characters on one end and Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest on the other. Bethesda's RPGs feature a faceless set of eyes airdropped into a strange new world; in this world the player is free to wander and change the landscape and politics however they wish. The player and the protagonist are one, they share the same motivations and are driven by the same interests, they have the same knowledge and they are guided by the same morals. Opposite are the Square-Enix heroes that are fully written in a strict narrative. The player and the characters are separate entities experiencing a plot from very different perspective. No matter how convincing the cosplay, there is only one Cecil, and he is not the same person as the player that guides him.

More >>

The Top Ten Video Game Narratives Of 2011

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Witcher-2-1 (640 x 360).jpg
One of our chief editorial topics at Joystick Division is video game narrative. Many of us labor to understand and complicate the medium by looking into its brilliance, shortcomings, and the uniqueness of its narrative delivery capabilities, compared to art forms around it and examples of the past. In short, we try to appreciate the fiction of games, and how they work on a pseudo-academic, and very personal, level.

This year was particularly strong in terms of narrative content. Blockbusters and indie games took bold leaps into the fold of previously uncharted territory of creative game storytelling, by handing us dozens of beautiful, well-told stories that can move and change us. We've selected the ten that best represent 2011 as a whole, and the ten best that will go down in history as some of the best the medium has ever offered.

More >>

No Xbox 360 Controller Is Complete Without A Hot Pocket Holster

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 9:30 am


I say holster, because it steadies and readies that shit like a gun.

I don't have much more to say, except that I told you a few days ago I would be delivering news more and more frequently. And, if you're the kind of gamer that would've fit the stereotype in 1999, this shit is news to you. (Made by Ben Heck. Please fast-forward to the last two minutes if you want to see it completed and working. Before that, its just DIY.)

Five Things We Learned From Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an exploration of whether someone is still human when they have sunglasses built into their face
As we continue the trend of expanding the "Five Things We Learned" series into this-generation territory, we now come to a game that asks important questions like, "Will Detroit still be a cesspool in 2027?" and "If you could shoot metal planks out of your elbows, would you use this power for good or evil?"

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (shortened to DX:HR because honestly, with an acronym that badass, why not use it) is the prequel to Deus Ex, which presented a vision of the future that tapped into the eerie atmosphere of those early days of the new millennium and is heralded to this day as one of the best video games ever made. I've expressed my love many times for the classic original, but did the prequel live up its roots? Can Adam Jensen adequately fill out the big coat of JC Denton?

Having just played through this game, I learned the answers to the above questions -- and much more. And even though I never asked for this, I ended up learning... a little bit about life.

More >>

Alan Wake's American Nightmare Release Details

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm


I am pretty pleased with my Alan Wake experience. Sure, Remedy Entertainment has a lot they could improve on when looking to a sequel, but overall the story of Wake and his wife was plenty suitable enough for a half-dozen hours of thrills and some unique story arcs. Which makes Alan Wake's American Nightmare a relatively pleasant and intriguing upcoming game.

From the looks of the trailer, Remedy set the original Alan Wake's octane to "high" and loosened up a bit from the slow-build plot unraveling that held tempo for the original narrative. From the soundbites in interviews, it sounds like American Nightmare will be more of a "fun" game to play, with more diverse enemies and modes to delight gamers who thought the original was a little lacking in the "options" department. For instance, an Arcade Mode is being introduced that promises to add a whole new dimension to the survival-ness of the horror.

I'm particularly excited to see how they spin urban legends into the build of the enemies. Mr. Scratch might be a little gimmicky, but from what I can tell, Remedy knows pretty well what they're doing and how to deliver. Look for the game February 22, 2012. It'll cost you $15 on Xbox Live Arcade.

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock Gets A Monstrous Trailer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 9:00 am


Not gonna lie -- I've never actually watched a single episode of any Doctor Who series. I think there's more than one, right? Like, an old one and a new one? Maybe a British one and an English  American one (don't drink and write, kids), or something? Yeah... I haven't seen either or any. However, I have seen a trailer for the upcoming PlayStation 3/PSVita game called Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock, which drops March 2012.

And if you click up there, you too can watch it. It showcases what are certain to be a few of the game's enemies; a series of creepy, crawly monsters that sport giant hands and wonky heads.

Now, as I am obviously a Doctor Who noob, I can't tell you how good this game looks from a fan's perspective. I do think it looks like a promising downloadable title, but I'd love to hear what die-hard fans of the franchise think. Any good?

Amy: Frustration Has a New Name [Review]

Monday, January 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm
Amy cover.jpg
Lana takes Amy by the hand and pulls her into a nearby room, the automatic door sliding shut behind them before a guard can take notice. Lana motions for Amy to stay put and the young girl nods in understanding. On the other side of the room, Lana finds a ladder leading up to a platform and starts to climb, a journey that takes a full seven seconds to complete.

Upstairs, Lana walks out onto a catwalk and is immediately spotted by the guard, despite the fact there is a solid metal surface breaking his line of sight. The guard runs up to the catwalk and positions himself below Lana, raising his gun into the air and bringing it down as if to strike someone standing directly in front of him. Despite the three feet of empty space separating the gun from Lana--not to mention that solid metal surface we were just talking about--the young woman crumbles to the ground, dead.

When Lana awakens from her temporary demise, she is standing in a hallway she last saw over half an hour ago. When she tries to sneak past the guards this time, it's likely that Amy will bump into some unseen surface and let go of Lana's hand at the most inopportune moment. Amy could run out in front of one of the guards for no good reason, or the camera may simply stop following the duo altogether.

Popping up sporadically, these sorts of technical hiccups are easily forgivable. In the survival horror genre, they can even be downright lovable; a wonderful piece of camp value fans can laugh about and reminisce over. But when these sorts of bugs infest every moment of gameplay and are coupled with horrendous design choices, they become downright insulting.

More >>

An Appreciation for Graphics and Technology

Monday, January 23, 2012 at 12:00 pm


Technology keeps evolving, speeding up to levels of advancement that we're sometimes not quite prepared for. When it comes to gaming, there are all sorts of advancements that can improve the simple experience of playing. While it seems that there are some hoping for the impending deaths of the PS3 and Xbox 360 in order to make room for the next generation of consoles, there are some of us just glad to be able to finally catch up and enjoy the experience with the rest of the kids in the crowd.


The sense of sight might be one of the most underappreciated, and yet also treasured, senses that people have. Images have the potential to give great pleasure and sorrow, or to drive us to tears even as they lift us up. The power of sight is one of the driving forces in our modern entertainment culture, especially in video games.

More >>