Video Game Genres – Strategy

Strategy games are where you sit around and think about playing instead of actually doing it. They’re contemplative, measured, sometimes very boring. XCOM, Stellaris, and Kingdom – the gang’s all here.

Dark Crusade: On Total War

There’s a block of text that serves as the boilerplate context for novels set in the fictional universe of Warhammer 40K. It reads as follows. It is the 41st Millennium. For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor of Mankind has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind […]

Constructing the Player in MtG

Magic: The Gathering is a tabletop card game, originally released in 1993 by Wizards of the Coast (who also make Dungeons & Dragons). Even if you’ve never played Magic, you kinda know what it’s about – it stands as progenitor to most of the creature-summon card games, Yu-gi-oh and Hearthstone and so on. One of […]

Satisfactory: On Science and Capitalism

In 2017 I wrote about a game called Project Highrise, a building simulator where you develop a patch of land – you can build it up with new floors and apartments and businesses and all the rest of it. In that article we talked a bit about capitalism – obviously it’s a game of accumulation, […]

Before We Leave: Memory and the Apocalypse

There’s something innocent about the post-apocalypse. All these games where people pop out of the ground fully formed – they cast their gaze on a devastated world, on the sins and failures of those who came before, and then they simply turn the page and move on. The German Catholic Romano Guardini wrote that our […]

The Shrouded Isle: Cult vs Democracy

Alright, let me pitch you a game. You run a cult, and you have to keep all your villagers in line, and you do that by cultivating in them certain virtues – or vices, rather – ignorance, fervour, discipline, penitence, and obedience. Every season you can investigate different villagers, root out people who might be […]

Bad North: On Beauty and Strategy

I’ve recently been playing Bad North, a real-time strategy game where you move dudes around on an island to fend off Viking sea raiders. It’s really elegant. At any given moment, the distribution of your troops across the island seems ornate, deliberate, like dancers spread across a stage. It’s not just me putting them in […]

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