Episode 9: Life is Strange – Suicide Ain’t Painless

life-is-strange

Life is Strange is one of the stand-out games of the last few years. What makes it work so well, though? And what’s going on under the surface? Is there a difference between raising issues under-represented in gaming and actually dealing with those issues? We take a look at the subtext, the mechanics, the characters and the games it sits alongside.

Spoilers for the whole of Life is Strange, natch.

Cited works (in progress):

https://gomakemeasandwich.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/life-is-strange-and-the-importance-of-womens-stories/

https://mrpootler.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/life-is-strange-the-secret-to-its-success/

 

 

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Episode 8: Layers Of Fear – “Littered With The Corpses Of Once Beautiful Women”

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For halloween our intrepid heroes delve deep into the gothic with a look at Layers Of Fear. Beneath the game’s beautiful exterior lurks a dark, worm-ridden subtext, but like the best of the genre there’s a perverse pleasure in coming back for one more taste…

Spoilers for Layers Of Fear and its Inheritance DLC.

References and Recommended reading:

Carol J. Clover. Men, Women and Chainsaws; Gender in Modern Horror Film

Vivian Sobchack.  Child/Alien/Father: Patriarchal Crisis and Generic Exchange.’ in Close Encounters: Film, Feminism, and Science Fiction

Barbara Creed.  ‘Horror and the Monstrous-Feminine; An Imaginary Abjection.’ in  The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis

Linda Williams.  ‘When the Woman Looks.’ in Horror, the Film Reader

Barbara Creed.  ‘Dark Desires; Male Masochism in the Horror Film.’ in Screening the Male: Exploring Masculinities in the Hollywood Cinema

Peter Hutchings. ‘Masculinity and the Horror Film.’ in You Tarzan: Masculinity, Movies and Men

Brigid Cherry. ‘Refusing to Refuse to Look; Female Viewers of the Horror Film.’ in Horror, the Film Reader

Dale Townshend (Editor), Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination

Episode 7: Finding Something To Fight For – The Last Of Us

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We spent this podcast looking at the last 6 issues in relation to ‘The Last of Us’, so expect all the spoilers, some bickering, lots of pondering and thoughts on topics such as damaged dads, absent mums, patriarchy, narrative points, game play versus story telling, character point of view, and all the subtext, that’s right, all of it.

Spoilers for the games: The Last of Us, Left Behind DLC, Life is Strange, Gone Home, Bioshock Infinite, Walking Dead season 2, Witcher 3

Resources and Recommendations:

We Don’t Talk About Kenny: Telltale’s Walking Dead Season 2‘ by Innuendo Studios

‘The Last of Us’ by Errant Signal

The Last Of Us – The Movie (Marathon Edition)‘ by dansg08

The Making of The Last of Us‘ from PlayStation

‘Passionate Detachments:An Introduction to Feminist Film Theory’ By Sue Thornham

Episode 6: New Forms – EGX, VR, Ads

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Having braved EGX 2016, our podcasting heroes relate their tales of daring dos, some gaming dont’s, highlights of EGX, thoughts on VR as a new way of role-playing and their insiders take on the ASA investigation of No Man’s Sky.  Much beer is had.

Referenced and recommended resources:

‘Why is games TV advertising down year-on-year?’, Generation Media account executive Joe Phelan looks at the decline in games marketing so far this year and finds out in which sectors TV ads are concentrated.

Peter Molyneux Interview: “I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more”, By John Walker

Advertising Codes: The UK Advertising Codes lay down rules for advertisers, agencies and media owners to follow.

‘Advertising Standards launches investigation into No Man’s Sky’ by Wesley Yin-Poole

Reddit thread discussing the No Man’s Sky official complaint to the ASA

‘Kane & Lynch 2 too violent for telly’, by Wesley Yin-Poole

‘How not to advertise games on TV’, by Volker Dressel

From EGX 2016:

Relapse: A horror themed adventure game

Troll and I is a third-person action adventure game with melee and long-ranged combat, cunning stealth, and dual character control.

29: A magical realist point and click game, that follows the personal experiences of Bo and Ao: two graduates preparing to move out of their flat.

Aaliyah: 2D Point and Click developed by Jameela Khan as part of the NFTS Games project

The Circle: VR role-playing developed by Manos Agianniotakis  as part of the NFTS Games project

All the Delicate Duplicates: A transmedia project that narratively toys with the concept of time, offering a series of windows into the lives of its characters.

Episode 5: Parents – ‘Elizabeth, Why Is Your Mom A Ghost?’

lady-comstockIn which our heroes discuss the way parents are represented in recent games . . . or not represented most of the time, if they’re mums.  Questions on our minds were: how do divorce rates and single-parent families affect representation in games? Does the in-game patriarchy reappropriate ‘female suffering’? Daughters, hot or not? Do daughters sit in judgement on the decline of patriarchy, or inherit the power-baton from dear ol’ Dad?  What’s progressive about these games and what might they be saying about the role of women in hyper-masculinised landscapes?

Spoilers for the games: Last of Us, Witcher 3, Bioshock Infinite, Walking Dead 1 & 2, Dishonored.

Referenced and recommended resources:

‘Melodrama and Men in Post-Classical Romantic Comedy’, Kathleen Rowe, Me Jane: masculinity, movies, and women, ed. Pat Kirkham, Janet Thumin

Where are all the video game moms?’, Colin Campbell

‘Why Are All the Cartoon Mothers Dead?’, Sarah Boxer

‘They will remember this: How Telltale taught me to love and fear parenting’,

‘Putting My Girl Back Together Again’, G. Christopher Williams

‘Let’s Get Real about Fatherhood and Video Games’, Greg Pollock

‘The Last of Us, Bioshock: Infinite and why all video game dystopias work the same way’, Keith Stuart

‘Brutal:Manhood and the Exploitation of Animals’, Brian Luke

Episode 4: Romance – Massages, Moustaches and Macrame

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The relationship episode, which doesn’t contain any sex.  We discuss how relationship building in games affects our sense of character, and how our characters affect relationships.  Do predefined characters, such as Geralt in the Witcher games, encourage more meaningful relationships than ‘blank canvas’ characters?  And is ‘blank canvas’ character an expression of our wish fulfilment?

Spoilers ahead for The Witcher 3, Dragon Age Inquisition, Life Is Strange and the Mass Effect series.

Referenced resources:

Romantic Dilemmas – How Witcher 3 Builds Character through Choice – Extra Credits

How BioWare Elevated The Video Game Romance, by Robin Burks

Episode 2: Comedy – We’ve Got Dada Issues

goat-simulatorWelcome to our second episode, in which we learn just how hilarious analysing humour in games can be.

Discussed in this episode:

Comedy in games, featuring Headlander, The Stanley Parable, Jazzpunk, Grand Theft Auto series, Tales From The Borderlands, Goat Simulator, Skyrim, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Fable 2, Fallout series, Portal series and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.

Films: Ghostbusters (2016), Contact, Crazy in Alabama and In a World.

If you’re looking for the playthrough of the Hitman Gary Busey mission, head to our YouTube channel here.

 

 

Episode 1: Intro & Overview – Nose To The Dreamstone

Chris Riddell PicturesIt’s here! The very first episode of your favourite new videogaming podcast, presented by a pair of narrative junkies.

Discussed on this show are:

Develop Brighton, Unnamed Shakespeare Game, VR and Fragments of Him

Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons and Neverending Nightmares

Gone Home, Life is Strange and Oxenfree

Resident Evil 7 and Soma

Hitman

Southernrail Tycoon

Maggie’s Plan and Mud

For those wondering after the podcast, it’s the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. And you can find the clip of teen dialogue in Gone Home, Oxenfree and Life is Strange here.

The Conversation Tree Podcast: Trailer

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This is the teaser for our upcoming podcast. We’re a pair of Londoners caught up in the gaming scene and will be looking at how games impact on culture and vice versa. More chin-stroking than score-giving.

We’ll also take a look at films and events in and around London town.

We may also talk about booze. We’ll certainly be drinking it.