Last week I had a chance to hop on the phone with NPR’s Neda Ulaby to talk to her for a feature she was doing about cultural references. We had a nice long chat about everything from the Dreamcast to the N-Gage, and lots of stuff about the stratification of culture and the ways that gatekeepers of geek culture can still be a bit touchy about whom they let in.
Of course, this being a single NPR segment, only one part of that made it into the finished story. But hey, it was still cool to contribute. The segment aired yesterday on Morning Edition; you can listen to and/or read a transcript of the whole thing on the Morning Edition site.
After keeping it under our hats for a few weeks, Kotaku has finally announced our ongoing partnership with The New York Times, in which our writers will be providing the bulk of their game coverage. Our EIC Stephen Totilo will be writing more involved “Critic’s Notebooks” along with longtime Times writer Chris Suellentrop, and Kotaku will be providing abridged versions of our reviews for the back of the arts section.
Our first reviews went out in yesterday’s paper (shown above, since of course I bought a copy). I was really happy that one of my reviews made the cut–that review being a rundown of The Walking Dead‘s second episode, which you can read here on the Times website.
Since this is a partnership deal and the reviews are abridged copies of reviews we’ve already run on our site, we don’t get individual bylines. Which, yeah, is a bit of a bummer–it sure would have been nice to have my name in the NYT! All things in time, I suppose.
We’ll be providing reviews for the paper on an ongoing basis, so every time you see video game reviews in the Arts section, they were written by either me or my Kotaku colleagues.
It’s a really exciting time at Kotaku, and I’m immensely proud of the work we’re doing. It’s been a wild six months since Stephen took over as EIC, and we’re all working really hard to make the site the most interesting, entertaining and informative video game site in the world.
Thanks everyone for reading. See you in the Arts section!
The other week, I had the pleasure of going on Anthony Carboni’s Revision3.TV show “New Challenger.” The show aired in two parts–the first part was a review/discussion of Saints Row: The Third, a game which I had actually reviewed for Kotaku.
In the second part, we did a Q&A, and I took questions from twitter. I got to talk about: Jazz and Far Cry 2 (and my intense adoration of both of those things), how I became a games writer, what it’s like to work at Kotaku, and where to find the best sweat pants in San Francisco.
Here’s that part:
And here’s part one:
Hey, TV is pretty fun. Attention other people with TV shows: I will come on your show and talk about jazz and videogames anytime you want.
Thanks, Anthony, for having me on.
The Final Fantasy VII Letters continue over at Paste with Part Six last week and just today, Part Seven. That’s right, Leigh and I have officially written as many letters about FFVII as there had been games in the series up to that point. Maybe we’ll stop at fourteen. Or better, we’ll do what Square-Enix should’ve done and stop at ten.
Part Six dealt with the ever-opening world map, and how exploration in this game feels so markedly different than in western open-world games. Here’s Leigh:
The constraints of your travel were always really clearly delineated, and you’d see all these “what’s that over there?”-type intriguing zones that you would really patiently aim to ensure there was actually no way you could reach, enduring enemies and battles as, rather than move on to the next town or whatnot, you traced circles around some unreachable platform or walked a sprawling line you hoped would allow you to defy the bounds of nature and reach an inaccessible cave.
And in Part Seven, we talk a bit about the way we have come to know these characters gradually over the course of the story, and I delve a bit into my thoughts on the music:
My theory is that a strong melody occupies the same mental/conceptual space as spoken words do, and that it is therefore difficult to listen to both at once. You’ll notice that in most games these days (and films, for that matter), the big melodic themes only move to the foreground during action scenes; when it comes time for the characters to do some talking, big single-line motifs are replaced with wider, less intrusive chords and textures.
Therefore the composer for any text-only game has the luxury of space—with no words getting in the way, Uematsu was free to write whatever music he wanted. He really went for it, and the resultant themes and melodies do more talking than those iconic little blue dialogue boxes could hope to.
For any of you who have yet to start, Part One is here (oh how long ago that feels!) and an index of all letters is here.
Thanks again to everyone for reading and for your incredible enthusiasm and support. We’ve both been overwhelmed by the response, and are having a blast.