9.29.2010

Glorious Browser Games (For Your Enjoyment!)

Now and again, we find ourselves with some spare time to kill. This can happen in between classes, on a lazy weekend, or to spite your boss (I do not advocate the latter). And, for what it's worth, you need some activity to occupy your mind during these idle doldrums, yeah? So why not spend your time looking into these fine browser games available online? They have been pre-certified as awesome by me, so they obviously must be phenomenal . . . right?

Anyway, many of the games I have chosen are a bit more cerebral than your run-of-the-mill Tactical Assassin. I should also note that a couple of these requires a plug-in known as Unity. It's worth the get.

Without further ado, Enjoy.

First up is Little Wheel. This interactive-puzzle game is a short and cute Myst-esque (although the difficulty is mild in comparison) game with a steampunk flair. If I remember right, it has a very nice sound track. It may not. I don't remember.

However, I do remember the favorable impression it left on me. If I were to describe it in one word, it would be precious. It's a precious game.



* * *

Continuing with the puzzle genre, we have In the Company of Myself. I love this game. It's also precious, but in a weird way. Watching the story of a hermit as he devolves into a state of insanity (and wondering whether my reclusive nature will eventually drop me off in such a dilemma) was very poignant. The puzzles are instinctive but difficult enough to exercise your brain, something you don't get when you're playing most games. This one should give you a longer playing experience than Little Wheel.

It's a hermit with a hat—why wouldn't you give it a go?

I've named him Jeff.


* * *

Let's move on to ImmorTall. This game encapsulates the brevity of human nature, that propensity to remorselessly and complacently leech the gifts that are given to us.

. . . at least, that's what I got out of it. This is an another touching game complete with very memorable sounds. Check it out.



* * *

Next up is Blush. Now, I know you're thinking the title is a portmanteau of blue and mush, which leads to the inevitable conclusion of underwater dogsledding (a sport which is exploding in Oceania), but you are so wrong.

Well, maybe not SO wrong. You got the underwater portion right.

Blush is what happens when flOw has lovechild with pure fluorescence. That's it. If you're the type who puts a shot of glowstick into your Vanilla Coke, you will probably enjoy this game. Take a look at this screenshot:

OH TEACAKES; IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL!

Play Blush (this one requires the Unity plug-in): http://blurst.com/blush/

* * *

Don't Look Back. I've already recommended this game because it was independent and fairly kickin'. However, it's also a browser game, so I feel compelled to re-recommend it.


* * *

Coma. Wow, this game takes a dive off the deep end. Seriously: not only does it look pretty, its about as nebulous in content as The Fountain. This game is gorgeous, and will captivate you for a solid half-hour. The plot? You're stuck in a coma. I'm really surprised you didn't figure that out yourself. That's all right. I didn't either.

Ring the dore bell.


* * *

Cursor Thief. GAAAAAH you insipid, bile-drinking, kleptomaniac urchin! This will keep you addicted for hours, because that snarky grin he gives you each time you lose will make you want to punch a baby otter in the throat.


I like to envision him being lit on fire.


Who's sneering now, punk?


* * *

Minotaur China Shop: This is an interesting game, if only for the novelty. The title says it all: you are a minotaur. You own a china shop. You can either try to sell as many items as you can to your patrons, or you can tear into your own inventory like a—well, bullto collect insurance compensation in a move eerily similar to fraud.

Guess which one's more fun?

(The latter.)

Sadly, there's not much replay value. You can play Minotaur China Shop: http://blurst.com/minotaur-china-shop/

* * *

The last game I leave you with isn't really a game. I'm having difficulty defining it. In fact, it may not be a game at all, but it's certainly an experience. It's called Park, and well . . . I honestly don't know what it's supposed to represent. To reconcile that, my mind went with the easiest possible solution: it's a park.

Well, sort of.


* * *

And that's that. There are a slew of good games out there, like Robot Unicorn Attack, N, and Cursed Treasure. I've just given you some that maybe you haven't seen.

Have fun. Thanks for reading.

9.19.2010

National Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast, ye squabblin', load of rotten, poxied landlubbers! This be National Talk Like a Pirate Day! All who look upon we swarthy buccaneers will be a-quaking in their boots and shiverin' like the cold south'un!

Come about! Set the rudder amidships, ye mangy cur!

Why should we be celebratin' such a holiday? Well, it be a simple explanation, my friend. We be pirates, scourges of the seas! Lord o'er the waters! Titans of typhoons! Vicars of voluptuous wenches!


Cough . . . I apologize, mateys. Me mouth runs faster than me mind. Ah, ha! Mind the rigging, me hearties!

We be sayin', if ever it happen you meet a fellow seaman to-day, give him a hearty "Ahoy!" . . . and then steal all his doubloons when he isn't lookin', saavy? That poxied yellow dog would do the same to you at a moment's notice!

GAAAAAAH! Get off o' me, yer scuppered hind, hornswaggling monkey! Off with you, and curse yer slack-jawed buffonery!

I'll tell ye, ever since Jonesey stole that devil of a monkey from those natives . . .

They say that "dead men tell no tales." Well, I'll tell ye; they be blind wrong. I once saw a man, deader than Davy Jones' mother-in-law (bless her heart, the kind lass), so dead he be missin' an eye—and the other one be hangin' on by a thread. I saw him marchin' down the wharf; he be merrily singin' away with a bottle of rum in one hand and a fine girl in the other.

. . . eh? Drinking? Maybe I had a couple o' pints o' grog, but nothin' to be ashamed of. I swear an oath on me mother's beard that I saw it.

Jonesey! Jonesey, you obnoxious piece of salted pork! Where be the chart to the island? Jonesey? Jonesey— GAAH! YOU FILTHY ANIMAL! GO ROT AND DIE IN THE FIRE'S OF

Transcription terminated at request of author.

9.14.2010

Video Games As Art

A while back, famous film critic Roger Ebert was criticized for an offhand remark (actually a series of long remarks that were coalesced into a nifty, concise treatise) that video games should not be conisdered art.

"Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form."

Roger Ebert

This, of course, drew a fury of heated rhetoric from the more cultured sector of video game aficionados—the ones who enjoy Ebert's opinions and don't spend their weekends downing 2-liters of Code Red whilst spewing profanities at the noobs they just blew apart. They took umbrage at that statement and inevitably cited such games as Shadow of the Colossus, Heavy Rain, Braid, and Flower as shining monuments to the artistic nature of video games.

And they would inevitably give this picture as a referral.

Ebert eventually retracted his position due to ignorance on the issue. I give the man credit. I mean, he withdrew with tremendous tact and grace—as much grace as one can muster with those remarkable jowls. (You're a great man, Roger Ebert, and you are very dashing. Mrs. Ebert has thought so since 1992; who can argue with her?)

Anyway, since I'm in the habit of dissecting current trends months after they have occurred, let's tackle this one, shall we?

Art (short for Arthur). According to Merriam-Webster, art is defined as—amongst other things—"the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects." I may be wrong, but games take some level of skill and imagination (although the lack of creative fervor in today's games is a bit troubling [see: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw]).

I am a firm believer that video games can—can, mind yoube molded into a work of art. Take Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, for instance. That game has made a tremendous impact upon me. It is such an experience to play; such an experience to, well, experience. The story is full and poignant; the levels are elegant and beautiful, and the music, in all its exotic Middle Eastern flair, is stirring. I, for one, marveled at the lush buildings that rose like gigantic monoliths from the distant ground (and subsequently marveled at my uncanny ability to run like a rabbit across the wall of said building [and then watched as the Prince fell fifty stories to his death]).


Take Ico and Shadow of the Colossus as more examples. Even though I have yet to experience these games, I have seen them. From what glimpses I stole, I could sense the surreal atmosphere that envelopes them. Indeed, enough has been written about their austere aesthetics to fill a book. To call them any less than art would degrade them.

While we're at it, let us consider what we consider "art" for a second. We apply the term very liberally nowadays—I can think of a few giraffes, elephants, and monkeys that make a butt-load of paintings that some label "art." Whatever milks your Guernsey. Halo looks better than all of those, and frankly looks better than most Pollock paintings. I'm just saying . . .

By no means is a video game itself art. The label should be applied after considering the developer's intentions—whether the makers of the games put forth a conscious effort in maximizing the beauteous potential of the product. Let me clarify. Gears of War was not intended to evoke an emotional response from the player—unless that response is grisly howls of delight at the bloody evisceration of their opponents with the Lancer. But a game like Flower definitely bears the mark of a developer who was cramming the game with, well, art. There is a real, definitive difference in the motives of those two games, and that should be taken into account when classifying video games as art.



Whew! I'm a bit knackered to write any more. Feel free to leave your comments here. I'll just help myself to another piece of banana bread, curl up with Crime and Punishment under the soft glow of the lamplight, and let the despairing mind of Raskolnikov sing me to sleep.

Thanks for reading.

Ebert, Roger. "Video Games Can Never Be Art." Roger Ebert's Journal. Chicago Sun-Times, 16 Apr. 2010. Web. 12 Sept. 2010.

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9.10.2010

The Purpose

Oh, hi. My name is Josh. Most of my friends call me Joshua Thomas Smith. But my name is Josh. No matter what they say. This is my first blog post. I always hate it when people mention in their first blog post that it’s their first blog post. But, somehow, it does seem fitting, and frankly, there is no other herald to mark this: the grandiose genesis of my blogging foray. My brother invited me to co-author this blog. I am pretty sure I elicited the invitation. “Hey, I believe I am qualified to co-author this blog.” I’m fairly certain that’s how it went down. Ergo, here I am.

What are you doing here? How are you qualified? You ask this. Let me tell you: I have been an avid Facebook participant for the last five years. This is not something I am proud of. This is something no one should be proud of, unless of course you’re over sixty (we’re proud of you, too!) But being so devoted to Facebook has prepared me to expand my virtual horizons and test the murky waters of the World Wide Web. It is deep and scary and I am sure there are Gothic drawings of hideous one-eyed sea monsters. My only consolation is that no one will watch me flounder in the shallow end of this pool. The shallow end: because I am going no farther. Or further. No, I’m going to stick with farther.

I and apparently also you have decided to go on, to weigh the challenges of this new place and pit them against our own skills and perseverance: I to trace the tireless weavings of my thoughts onto this electronic refrigerator door (okay, so it’s not a perfect metaphor), and you, the audience, will test your fortitude for eclectic ramblings. But why? What is our purpose? Why are we here, and why should we endure such tiresome babble?

For the fun of it, people. For the fun of it. Originally, my only desire to contribute to this blog stemmed from the impression that Justin has a lot of fun with it, and I wished to participate in that. Only later, when I was added as a co-author, did this question of purpose arise in my mind. I was confronted by my sudden powerlessness to write anything of significance. Let’s face that fact. I’m not about to pretend that anything I write is worth your time reading. I’m going to write for the fun of it.

Yet perhaps one can find a purpose even greater than that. I believe “The Bedlam” presents to us the knowledge of quaint amusements we find in our everyday. It is, in my firm belief, the small tidbits of absurdity that make one laugh the loudest. Whether or not Justin realizes this, I believe this series of blog posts that he has created celebrates this happy truth. I can only hope that my contributions will supplement what Justin has here.

Funny is all around. We just have to pay attention in order to see it. So do that. Watch the people around you. Laugh at them. And then laugh at yourself. Because you’re probably twice as weird as they are.

Laugh, and no one may know what the heck you’re thinking, but at least you’re having fun.

Thanks for reading.

9.07.2010

A Hearty Welcome

They say, "There is no I in team." I fervently disagree with this statement. Why should I accept that truth? First off, who are "they"? Does anybody know? This could be a 12-year old kid messing around on Wikipedia for all I know. Worse, this could be a 12-year old kid with the IQ of Marilyn vos Savant . . . and he runs the people who mess around on Wikipedia . . .

Secondly, "they" have been wrong before. "The grass is always greener on the other side"? Wrong. How about "The concrete is a little less cracked on the other end of that dank, pollution-spewing industrial complex"? And "It's always darkest just before the dawn"? Harvey Dent said that in The Dark Knight. What happened? He got half of his face burned off! I'm sure he saw the glass half-full after that.

Thirdly, one can simply insert an i right after the a, and it could still work. Teaim. Oh yes, I did just do that. And I will henceforth spell teaim like that. Teaim. How do you like them apples?
Fourthly, I've been working this blog on my own for quite some time now. I was the teaim, punks. There was no other I. Wait. What?

Anyway, I say was because I am proud to welcome Joshua Thomas Smith to the Bedlam Crew (trademark pending). He is an astute writer of enormous talent and creativity; I'm sure you all will enjoy the many thoughts he will bring to the blog.

. . . Did I mention he's my brother? No? Well, he is. I guess I'm a nepotist.

Thanks for reading.

9.01.2010

To Facebook

I return (!) with a new, fresh layout and a energetic fervor to desecrate the Internet with my drivel-laden spewing.

As the world shakes under the sheer weight of my mediocrity, I will eat Rocky Road.

Thanks for reading.