After an incredibly short run, I’ve decided to shut down the Form 8 blog. In place of the blog, I’ve started a website called The Game Journal. You can check the website out at, you guessed it, www.thegamejournal.com. The good news is I already have more content on the new site than I do on this blog.

Why start a website when you have a blog that you barely contribute to? The answer lies within the question. Though it’s starting out as a one man show, I hope that The Game Journal will become home to a collective of talented writers. I hope to bridge the gap between the academic writing found on the blogs with the accessibility of a mainstream site.

I appreciate everyone who has supported form8. Please check out the new site, leave comments, let me know what I can do to make it a better website, let me know what you want out of a games criticism website. If any experienced bloggers would like to contribute, please contact me at hello(at)thegamejournal.com or at twitter.com/thegamejournal

I’d also like to say thanks to the Critical Distance website. Their linking to two of my posts was a great help in bringing readers to this blog.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Play For Absolution.

We met at the wrong time. I was heartbroken and depressed when I got to know her, afraid of opening myself up to the possibility of being hurt again. Patiently, she stood by me, sharing herself with me, waiting for my wounds to eventually heal.

I found her beautiful, intelligent and funny. We shared a lot of interests. Even if we didn’t necessarily agree on everything, we tended to agree on the important things. She loved me, and though I wanted to, I could not love her back.

Eventually I felt that, given my inability to reciprocate her feelings, it would be in her best interest if I cut the ties between us. At the time my heart and mind were not in the right place to romantically love anyone and I felt the only way to fix the hole in my heart was to do it alone. I told her that I wasn’t sure if I could ever love her. Though I was being honest, it was a terrible thing to say, especially to her.

She wanted to stay together. I told her I needed to find happiness on my own. I assured her I didn’t want to be with anyone else and told her that, when I felt I was ready to be with someone, she would be the first person that I looked to. I told her that if the opportunity presented itself, she would find the love that she deserved. Even if it wasn’t with me.

After a few months, I felt like my old self. I called her and left a message apologizing for my actions and asking her to call me. I received no reply until a month later, when she sent me an email. She explained that she was attempting to move on. I asked her for forgiveness, she explained that she could not grant me pardon without undoing all of the work she had done to get over us. She told me that she felt nothing for me and did not wish engage in further correspondence.

One day, she dropped in on me at work. I was overjoyed to see her again. She gave me a hug and asked me if I wanted to get together and talk. We made plans to meet that Friday. The timing was finally right. I was going to get the opportunity to start over and go about things the right way with her. I was ready to give her the love that she deserved.

Friday night came and went. She never showed up. I have not spoken with or seen her since that day at work.

Any opportunity I had to get back together with her has passed. Any chance to make atonement for my actions is gone. She had offered me her love and I had refused it. When I was finally felt that I was ready to love her it was too late.  She has moved on and, as much as I may want to, I cannot rewind time.

In Braid, you play as a man named Tim who, unlike me, does have the ability to rewind time and, by extension, the ability to fix the errors he makes in the game. The story is that he is trying to rescue The Princess, who has been “snatched by a horrible and evil monster because Tim made a mistake.” Though he has the ability to manipulate time, Tim is unable to use it to repair the damage he has done to his relationship with The Princess. Braid made me reflect on the girl who finds it too painful to forgive me for my mistakes. Though Braid made me feel remorse for the choices I have outlined above, and my inability to redress them, I appreciate the game’s power to make me contemplate such things. Even if I cannot turn back time and mend the wounds I have inflicted, I can learn not to make the same mistakes again.

Video games give us the opportunity to do things that we don’t get to do in real life. As great as it is to hunt for treasure in Tibet, destroy every man-made structure on Mars or do some detective work in Arkham Asylum, I am most drawn to the world presented in Braid, as it’s a world in which I may have the opportunity to obtain the absolution for Tim that I can only hope to someday be granted in my own life.


Filed under Uncategorized

You Can’t Count On Me.

I’ve been playing video games, off and on, for the last twenty years. You would think that, over the course of two decades of gaming, one would acquire an advanced skill set. Apparently, I haven’t. When I play a single player game I rarely think about my gaming acumen. A few exceptions aside, I make it through most single player campaigns without any hitches, but throw me into a competitive multiplayer mode and I’ll inevitably find myself near the bottom of the scoreboard at the end of the match. Granted, I’ve never been an elite competitor, especially when it comes to shooters, but it’s gotten to the point where, at the end of the match, I feel ashamed for my lack of contribution. Most of the time my unfortunate teammates are magnanimous enough to not mention my failings, but my pride does take a small hit with every death that goes unavenged.

You wouldn’t be out of line if you asked me why I continually set myself up to fail in a genre I lack skill in. The truth is, I love the feeling I get while playing a shooter. It’s the closest I’ve come, as an adult, to the thrill I would get playing hide and seek, as a child.

I’m currently in the beta for MAG, a competitive First Person Shooter by Zipper Interactive, the developer who created the SOCOM series on Playstation 2. In scope, MAG is a pretty epic experience. Where most console shooters have 16 or 32 players per match, MAG can support up to 256 players in the same match. From the outside a game with such a high player count may seem like a recipe for chaos, but Zipper has done an excellent job of placing objectives in front of the player, while encouraging a focus on said objectives by awarding more experience points to the players who stay on point than to those who decide to play the role of the “lone wolf.”

In spite of being segmented into squads of 8 players, I am  part of a larger team. My personal successes and failures have less of an effect on outcome of the match than they would if I were playing on a game with a player count of 16 or 32.

In a genre where finishing first is the primary goal, I take consolation that my failures on the battlefield of MAG are often insignificant.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Video Games: The Eighth Art Form

Video Games are an art form. I am not the first person to think, say or type this statement. Stephen Totilo has called video games the fourth medium. I’m pilfering this blog’s name from a presentation Dennis Dyack gave at Brock University entitled “Video Games: The Eighth Art.” We can argue about graphics, design choices and features, but when we can have emotional experiences with a controller in our hands, there is no argument. Games are art.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized