february review

mixed media

Some highlights from February:

Proteus by Ed Key and David Kanaga invites players to wander an island, generating visual and musical changes as a reward for doing so. Though I didn't spend a long time with it, I appreciate how it foregrounded elements left in the background of other games—the sun rising, stars, and the passage of time were all made salient and worthy of attention.

Rodney by Slashware Interactive has players hack through a dungeon to slay Rodney and whatever corrupted him initially. The optionally learned movement abilities were excellent at making combat more than just bumping into opponents. It's unfortunate that more traditional strategies such as funneling monsters through corriders provided greater reward.

League of Legends by Riot Games has all the fun of playing a team sport with friends but done online. Riot's interactions with the community on the forums are just as interesting as the game and its social aspects. At their best, they approach Mark Rosewater's articles on Magic: the Gathering.

The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia by Bernard Suits is a lovely book-length treatment defining games and arguing for their importance. The short definition, "playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles" (p.55), is pithy and yet contains enough substance to be examined in the rest of the book. Suits's definition is my current favorite, and I'd recommend this to anyone asking what games are.