Wired January 2013. "Great Expectations": "Here is an incomplete list of the things Ken Levine says have inspired BioShock Infinite: the presidential administration of William McKinley; the Spanish- American war; the blistering pace of technological change in the early 20th century, with the introduction of electricity, telephones, cars, airplanes, phonographs, and movies; the 1893 Columbian Exposition at the Chicago World’s Fair; Eugene V. Debs; Emma Goldman; a black-and-white photo of young boys sitting next to a dead horse on a cobblestone street in turn-of-the-century New York; The Music Man; It’s a Wonderful Life; the sequence in Back to the Future when Marty McFly first arrives in the 1955 town square; that scene in The Shining where the two little dead girls appear; Blue Velvet; the chest-bursting scene in Alien; Roman Holiday; the cover of X-Men #141; the sun reflecting off a metal mailbox during a jog on a sunny day; roller coasters; an off-Broadway play called Sleep No More; and a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s 'Songbird' performed on Glee ('It’s so embarrassing that I’m almost tempted to say this has to be off the record,' Levine says)."
NewYorker.com October 26, 2011. "The Video Game Art of Fumito Ueda": "As video games have become more and more popular, the medium’s defenders have developed a misguided tendency to point to the ways that games are useful, practical, functional. I do not know if Ueda’s games will make you smarter, or improve your vision, or promote world peace. I very much doubt, in fact, that they will do any of those things. Emphasizing the ways that games are tools for instruction—whether intellectual, physical, or moral—is an unfortunate residue of their origins as children’s playthings. Abandoning it will be the sign, maybe the last one, that this new form of storytelling is all grown up."
Grantland July 7, 2011. "Hard Times on the Paris of the Plains": "The NBA lockout has begun, and 30 cities now fear the same sad prospect this fall: day after day of staring at a lovely arena built for the pleasures of watching grown men play professional basketball, with no actual professional basketball team around to play in it. Twenty-nine of those cities host actual NBA franchises. The 30th is my hometown, the place where I grew up and will always be from, even if I no longer live there."
The New York Times Magazine September 12, 2010. "War Games": "Unless you regard something like 'Iron Man' as a film about Afghanistan, the movies inspired by America’s contemporary wars have consistently been box-office flops. Even 'The Hurt Locker' grossed only $16 million in theaters. Video games that evoke our current conflicts, on the other hand, are blockbusters — during the past three years, they have become the most popular fictional depictions of America’s current wars."
Wired February 2010. "Game Changers: How Videogames Trained a Generation of Athletes": "The many hundreds — even thousands — of hours that athletes put into videogame football give them more game experience than Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, or Joe Montana were able to log in previous eras. And there’s the possibility, too, that all this electronic play is changing the structure of their brains, at least in some ways, for the better. For more than 30 years, sports videogames have been focused on simulating real-life athletics more and more perfectly. But over the past decade, games have moved beyond just imitating the action on the field. Now they’re changing it."
The New York Times Magazine December 24, 2006. "The Right Has a Jailhouse Conversion": "The G.O.P., the party of Richard Nixon's 1968 law-and-order campaign and the Willie Horton commercial, is beginning to embrace the idea that prisoners have not only souls that need saving but also flesh that needs caring for in this world."
Wilson Quarterly Summer 2006. "Playing With Our Minds": "The important thing to find out about video games isn't whether they are teachers. 'The question is,' as game designer Raph Koster writes in A Theory of Fun for Game Design, 'what do they teach?' "
Wired December 2005. "To Boldly Go Where No Fan Has Gone Before": On Star Trek New Voyages, Captain Kirk "is a professional Elvis impersonator, with muttonchops and a hornlike pompadour, who lives in nearby Ticonderoga. Spock works at a Virginia videogame store. And McCoy is an Oregon urologist." Chekov? Still Walter Koenig, the actor from the original series.
Radar Sept/Oct 2005. "Last Man Standing": "While some Democrats remain skeptical of candidate Hillary's chances in a general election, Republicans have grasped her biggest strength: The former first lady may be the only Democrat man enough to take back the White House."
Another late notice: Slate published my review of Gears of Warlast month, under the headline, "WHY A DERIVATIVE SCI-FI GOREFEST IS THE BEST VIDEO GAME OF THE YEAR." "The year," in this case, is 2006.
Shorter Slate: "The closest thing video games have to the Oscars are the annual 'Game
of the Year' awards handed out by the gaming press. This year, there's
a rough consensus that three games deserve the nod. The first two are
predictable, worthy selections: Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, games for Nintendo's innovative, you've-never-played-like-this-before Wii console. The third choice, however, is something of a surprise—a derivative piece of genre work for the Xbox 360 called Gears of War that somehow still manages to astonish and keep you up late into the evening."