Review - The Annotated AvP: The Story, part 9

EDIT: It took me a while and a lot of copy-pasting, but I got this month's edition of The Annotated AvP looking presentable. Let us never speak of this again.

This month's dissection of that shitty AvP fanfic I wrote as a pretten is going to be extra special. Assisting me in this venture is Riley Byrne, who when he isn't PhotoShopping inappropriate captions onto Renaissance paintings is talking some sense into music at Justifiable Culturecide.


Interview - Cameron "Josef K." Suey

While I’m averse to anything remotely resembling risk in real life, I adore horror fiction in any medium, and masochistically enjoy the feelings of tension and paranoia resulting from a particularly effective work. Creepypasta is a font for these types of stories, though admittedly it’s a kind of “diamonds in the rough situation,” with a lot of its content originating from that cesspool of a message board, 4chan. But working late on a lonely winter night a year and a half ago, one of the site’s aforementioned jewels caught my eye: “Zero,” by Josef K., the deeply unnerving apologia of a nihilistic survivalist unleashing a viral plague upon the human race. Intrigued by the short story’s pessimistic, “no turning back” tone, I decided to click the author link and check out more of Josef’s work on his site. Roughly an hour later, I was steadfastly hammering out the rest of my essay, eyes solely on the computer screen and not daring to look toward the nearest window. I had just finished the story “Exit,” and was terrified at the thought of so much as glancing at those panes, only to see some long, pale face staring back.

The author inadvertently responsible for ruining my sleep on several occasions is not actually the protagonist of one of Franz Kafka’s unfinished novels but Cameron Suey, a 33-year-old husband, father and video game producer based out of San Francisco. When he hasn’t been working on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and its sequel, Suey has crafted some of the scariest stories I’ve ever read. He was also kind to answer a few questions about writing, perspective and inspiration I sent to him via email.


Analysis - "You are still a good person."

For maybe the first time in my life, a video game has truly affected me.

Sure, video games have had an effect on me before. Portal 2, which I wrote about last week, briefly left me considering non-Euclidian paths through any room I entered. But I don’t think a game has ever truly shaken me like House of Leaves or Incendies or Essex County have. While many games have engaging stories and characters—BioShock and the Mass Effect games chief among them—the video game medium makes it difficult for those elements to transcend the far more immediate mechanical aspects of the game: sure, your favourite teammate might heroically sacrifice himself, but only after you’ve somewhat tediously cut your way through dozens of nameless, identical enemies. The impact is lessened a little, is what I’m saying.

But one game, which I first heard about less than a month ago and played over the course of two days last week, has managed to break the mould. Spec Ops: The Line is a gruelling, unsentimental military shooter that not only forces you to experience the horrors of war, but makes you culpable for them as well. It’s a damning deconstruction of the modern war game genre that’s become incredibly popular in the last half decade and possibly the only video game I would consider a genuine work of art. And I can’t get it out of my head.


Analysis - "Here are the test results: You are a horrible person."

I know I'm, oh, a year and a half behind everyone else, but I finally got around to playing Portal 2. I loved the first, having beaten it five or six times, and with the same creative team overseeing the sequel I had little doubt it would be of the same quality, if not better. But during my initial exhilarating (and occasionally frustrating) playthrough, it became my single favourite game of all time. I could talk about the new mechanics, or Mike Morasky's awesome glitchy score (available as a free download), or how well Valve's Source engine has held up nearly a decade after its release, but  nearly everything this game has to offer pales in comparison to its quite frankly surprising level of character development.

The depth and nuance of Portal 2's characters isn't just the best in the video gaming medium, but some of the best I've ever encountered. The writers of the single player campaign, Erik Wolpaw and Jay Pinkerton, have crafted a small ensemble of idiosyncratic characters, each of whom has well-defined and believable motivations. This week's analysis will look at the game's four major characters.