Electric Heart, Neon Nightmare: The Strange, Sad Dream of Los Angeles, or Oh! You Miserable Mutants!

This piece was originally commissioned by Scottish writer Cara Ellison to appear as a 500-word blurb in Paste Magazine. It did not end up appearing in Paste Magazine—mostly because the author was an absolute God damn mess as a result of being submerged in the psychedelic fever dream called “Los Angeles” for way too long. Deadlines were missed, calls went unanswered, and absolutely no one cared. 

The following words, all twenty-five thousand of them, were written in dark places and at late hours with a sort of manic desperation not previously thought possible. In all likelihood this is probably the worst thing anyone has ever written. We present to you now a coffin filled with spider parts—a rotted ugly mindscape where no good thing grows. Its existence, though awkward, is pure and unedited. Please enjoy.





The Doomsmobile rolled onto Sunset Boulevard at exactly midnight, the two of us strapped inside, my partner and me, feeling like hell and looking it too. For six hours and three hundred seventy miles we had rocketed down that dark empty California highway, guzzling black coffee from mason jars and smoking dozens of cigarettes and popping little pink pills till our nerves were useless. And finally, by God, we had arrived in the city of Los Angeles, scarcely understanding why we had come in the first place. . . .

I was slumped over the wheel, mindlessly steering that fat bitch up and down the street as tears of exhaustion collected under my drooping eye sockets. My brain was slushed to hell and I was vibrating past reality big time. I absorbed external stimuli as it came to me—the palm trees, the stupid billboards, the lights in the hills—and then, like a radio transmission from the moon, I endured the few seconds of dead air before the noise and the lights were received at mission control.

Only I knew there was no one at the switchboard . . . just a frightening room full of blown circuitry and sparking wires dangling from the ceiling. Flickering fluorescent lights and static on every monitor. Maybe a distant scream from down the hall followed by an eternity of silence.

The Doomsmobile’s headlights carved through the stillness of Silver Lake as I swerved erratically in the dark, thinking that maybe we would be dead soon enough. There was no doubt about it: we were food for the Reaper. Yes, it really was only a matter of time. . . .

I didn’t say anything about this to my partner. He was silent in the passenger seat, his eyes hidden behind cheap sunglasses and layers of caffeine and speed. The poor bastard was blissfully alone inside himself just then. No sense telling him he wasn’t long for this world.

I turned down a side street and parked next to an overflowing dumpster. I killed the engine and sat there for a moment, fooling around with the FM tuner. “Don’t Stop Believin’” was playing on three separate stations, each of them about thirty seconds apart. There was bug shit all over the windshield. Continue reading

The madness of Craig George

On March 12, 2007, eric-jon wrote up a talk at the Game Developers Confernence, in which Nintendo designer Eiji Aonuma discussed at length his work on the Zelda series. The write up was quite fine, but everyone moved on shortly thereafter.

It was one year later (March 8, 2008 to be precise) that a fellow named Craig George found the article. He decided that, finally, he had discovered the perfect venue for his master work – a continuation of The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess. His game would be called “Zelda Master of Legend,” and would be the greatest Zelda game of all time.

For five months, from March 8 through August 2, Craig George went on to post some 190+ comments, amounting to nearly 40,000 words (give or take, there are a few anonymous posts that may not be him), unleashing his opus upon the unsuspecting populace – especially unsuspecting, since this was embedded in a year-old gamasutra news article that very few persons would come across. And few persons did. Aside from the aformention possible anonymous posts not by Craig, he made this journey alone.

Craig, or Craigie (or Mindy, or Link, or Zelda, or Joshua, and so on), is not your average fanfic author. Whereas at the beginning, on March 8 2008, he seems a delusional but harmless fanatic, over the course of the five months chronicled here, he descends rapidly into what appears a type of madness, which waxes and wanes as each day progresses.
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The Battle For E3 2K11

"another chocolate milk, please. why, hello there. i'm in town on business."

We were hungry for pizza — terrible pizza. And we weren’t willing to pay any less than fourteen dollars a slice. So we rented a 2011 Nissan Altima and drove six hours to the Los Angeles Convention Center. They just happened to be holding E3 that week. We decided to check it out. Here’s what we saw.

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The World Warrior

Fasten the headgear, tighten the handwraps, bite the mouthpiece, check and double-check and triple-check the gloves, step in the ring, exhale, look at the ref, nod your head, and…go.

The guy standing across the ring from me is a stocky Asian guy fromFresno. Shaved head, probably in his early 20s, coached by what looks like an older Thai guy who was sizing me up after the weigh-ins. Didn’t hear what his coach was telling him before the round started. Didn’t really need to–I had a good ten-inch height advantage on him. He was going to kick my legs. They always kick my legs.

No time to think about that. No time to ask myself why I’m getting punched in the face in front of a few dozen badder dudes than I. Besides, I already knew why–it was because I played too much Street Fighter.
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Freedom Ride

Can you ever truly go home?

I aimed to answer this question as I set out from the fortified comfort of my mixed use urban dwelling and took to the wide open interstate tarmac like an eagle to the wind. Just as the Freedom Riders who came fifty years before me, my journey is one of great peril and even greater faith. I’m headed straight for the Bay Area’s deep south, the true heartland of Olde Silicon Valley. This is not the friendly faced home of Apple, Google, or other such enlightened tech companies that sit on civilized soil mere miles to the north. Rather, this is the rough and ready turf of San Jose, CA, the Bay Area’s final frontier. What could possibly bring me to this desolate and hostile outpost of an economy languishing in obsolescence? The former offices of SNK Corporation of America.



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From Shooter to Shooter: The Rise of cly5m

Seiklus was a turning point for the indie scene. Even if you’ve never played it, you’ve played something influenced by cly5m’s game. Seiklus was one of the first “exploration platformers,” a nonviolent genre that could be compared to a side-scrolling Myst, and now a distinct piece of the indie style guide. A small man, nearly a stick figure, travels a flat-colored world, collecting pointless trinkets and the occasional control upgrade, to find his way back home again. There is no death, and no aggression; Seiklus is all about the journey, and the player’s relationship with the game world.

Seiklus comes off as a very personal game. Although the controls amount to little more than walking and jumping, and the presentation is nearly as minimalist, the experience feels emotionally rich. Its level geometry and sequencing trade epiphanies for careful observation and experimentation, and the sound design creates a distinct and whimsical atmosphere.

The stripped-down expression of Seiklus has helped to legitimize canned game creation systems, leading Mark Overmars’ Game Maker to become the respected behemoth it is now, and lending the indie scene an entry-level spine. There have been tributes and parodies. It’s just an important game.

For all its influence, Seiklus is kind of a one-off. For a while cly5m and Robert Lupinek teased the Internet with Velella, a sort of spiritual successor involving dream flight. Otherwise, the last eight years have passed pretty quietly. The previous eight, though – that’s a different story.
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Recipe: Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom

I was recently commissioned by a website that has surprisingly little to do with video games to write an article about Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom, a delightful and frankly bizarre adventure game that Hudson published for the NES (it’s on Virtual Console too, if you want it).

For those who haven’t played the game, it’s about an armed rebellion of fruits and vegetables taking on a twisted dictator that is selling them out to farmers for reasons that are never made entirely clear.

It’s got some great self-referential humor, jaunty music, and some of the most memorable characters in the NES library. Characters so memorable that you just kind of want to cut them up and eat them, which is what we’re going to do.

Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (serves two)


3 tbsp Peanut Village oil
1 tbsp Percy Persimmon vinegar
2 cups fresh Spinach Heights, washed and roughly cut
1/2 red bell Sgt. Pepper, diced
1 cup grape Princess Tomatoes, halved vertically
1/2 Sir Cucumber, peeled, sliced and quartered
1 clove Garlic Wanderer, minced
1/2 cup Minister Pumpkin seeds, roasted
1 bag frozen Mr. Corn
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Journalism: The Videogame: Redux

\\ This feature serves both as the new insert credit manifesto, and an illumination of our personal thoughts and feelings about writing in games, and why we do what we do. Each chapter has a different author, excepting the first and last, which are both written by Brandon Sheffield. The others are penned by Frank Cifaldi (ch. 2), Patrick Miller (ch. 3), Christian Nutt (ch. 4), Tim Rogers (ch. 5), Christopher Woodard (ch. 6), Leigh Alexander (ch. 7), and sort-of Simon Carless (ch. 8). You needn’t read them in any order, and can freely pick and choose. //

If you’re old enough to be as much of a jerk as I am, you might remember we’ve been here before. Back in Aught Three, we published a manifesto decrying video game journalism every-which-way. Game journalism was terrible, we said. It was shallow, and it only talked about graphics. It needed to be more personal. There needed to be a connection between audience and author, such that the reader could say “I know this guy hates JRPGs, so if he hates this game, I might like it!”

We thought writing about games sucked, then. We felt it was dry, and lacked a deeper understanding of how and why people play games, because these writers were *forced* to play things they didn’t like, and then pretend to be objective about it. So, in our idealism, we set out to change that.

And I’ll be danged if we didn’t changed it just a little!

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The PlayStation 3 is hitting all kinds of strides

It finally happened. The PlayStation 3 is hitting its stride.

That’s according to Sony Computer Entertainment president and CEO Jack Tretton, who said so to Forbes.

“PlayStation 3 is really just hitting its stride,” he said in an interview published June 17, 2011.

This is very important news. It has been a long journey into stride-hitting territory for the PlayStation 3, full of many false starts and shattered dreams. Join us as tonight we look back on the history of the PlayStation 3 and stride hitting.
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