You’ve raided a billion dungeons and you’re at Paragon Level 200 in Diablo III. You’ve collected every last moon in Super Mario Odyssey. You’ve won countless rounds of Fortnite. At some point, you need to put down a screen, maybe pick up a book. Welp, if you love yourself some video games AND some Canadian literature, read on.
Now, this may be a bit broad, but hear us out: In this deep-dive on the Borderlands games, Kaitlin Tremblay both celebrates and skewers the award-winning series for its subversion of and its adherence to tropes of FPS games. And it’s never a bad thing to critically analyze the types of games you’re playing, so give this well-researched, thoughtful book a gander and maybe it’ll set you off on games criticism deep-dive. (And if that’s the case, please get in touch for more recommendations and discussions!)
The Portal Series = = =
Adjacentland by Rabindranath Maharaj (Wolsak & Wynn)
Though maybe not as downright menacing and terrifying as Adjacentland, Portal and Portal 2 does see a test subject put through the rigors of repeated scientific experiments all for the purpose of the betterment of mankind. And who are we kidding, GladOS is pretty messed up and Aperture Science isn’t exactly on the up and up. Okay, maybe the world of Portal is a just as messed up as that of Adjacentland when you really think about it. Point is: if you loved the subtle intrigue and menace to Portal’s world, Adjacentland is just the kind of terrifying reminder of what our A.I.-ruled future could look like.
You haven’t played one of 2015’s best games, the coming-of-age, time-power, apocalyptic Life is Strange? We’ll wait. Done? HOW ABOUT THAT ONE PART? I know, right?! Anywho, though Life is Strange has a lot more time-traveling in it, what it and Almost Summer share is their ability to so perfectly encapsulate growing up in a contemporary age—the good, the bad, and most definitely the ugly.
The Mass Effect Series/No Man’s Sky = = = Ten-Headed Alien by David James Brock (Wolsak and Wynn)
The best thing about No Man’s Sky, after many patches, was jumping in your space ship and just going. Just seeing whatever weird and wonderful worlds lay out in the cosmos. And Mass Effect was much the same: the intricate, vast cultures and planets only a Mass Effect Relay away. In Ten-Headed Alien David James Brock turns his poetic voice outwards—to the logical extreme of the stars, and readers are treated to an interplanetary journey like no other collection of poetry.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus = = =
Little Wild by Curtis LeBlanc (Nightwood Editions)
What makes Wolfenstein II so intriguing is how it explores the literal falling apart of the once epitome of manhood, BJ Blazkowicz’s body – and by extension his masculinity. And in Curtis Leblanc’s collection, he does the same – deconstructs and decays the standard notions of masculinity in a brilliant way. To see these two works use their mediums so well to dismantle toxic masculinity is fascinating, and to see the two interact is a great thought experiment. To see an even more dramatic effect, play a game that features a “typical” male FPS protagonist and isn’t self-aware about it. Fun – and just a little bit disheartening.
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