When Games Matter: Playing against the Grain

“My incredibly frustrating experience with Shadow illustrates how risky it is to put an interactive piece of art in the hands of players whose experiences can dramatically vary.”

When Games Matter: The Weight of Personal Stories

“I know I will never save the world but I am reminded that my small actions and attempts at making a difference matter.”

When Games Matter: Why Games Aren’t About Story

“The best games give us a sense that we are making our own story and our place in that story is absolutely essential.”

When Games Matter: The Art of Story in The Binding of Isaac

“Isaac respresents a stellar achievement in storytelling by taking something as simple as “powerups” and using them to shed light on the troubling world in which a young boy lives.”

When Games Matter: For the Love of the Grind

“The fact that Skyrim broke me of my anti-grinding ways is a tremendous compliment to the world that Todd Howard and his team at Bethesda have created.”

When Games Matter: Skyrim’s Personal Deities

‘ . . . in this moment, Skyrim was working to encourage me to take this personally, to deal with the existence of a personal deity and determine how I would interact with it.”

When Games Matter: When Music Makes a Game

“The goal behind each of these puzzles is literally to coax pixies out of their hiding places and release their magical power. . . . . The greatest achievement of S&S, however, is never making the player feel ridiculous for doing these things.”

When Games Matter: The Wonderful Lore of Skyrim

“… the multitude of these details serves to do something rather rare in video games–it makes the game more about the world than it is about me.”

When Games Matter: Game Night as Means to Sanctification

“Too often I refuse to apply the Bible to the “little things” in life–like card games.”

When Games Matter: Why I Passed on Modern Warfare 3

“I understand the appeal of MW3, but at the end of the day it really is just another shooter that emphasizes putting other people in their place.”

When Games Matter: Skyrim as Religious Experience

“Despite these inherent risks, Skyrim has been a worshipful experience. And every mountain stream, every cave, and every village is but a foretaste of the world to come.”

When Games Matter: The Anatomy of a Boss Fight

“Arkham City treats us the way we all want to be treated—it’s fair, honest, and consistent.”

When Games Matter: My Wife, Dance Central 2, and the Importance of Feedback

“She has beaten me by 2 million points before—if you watched us dance you would agree that this is just.”

When Games Matter: PayDay: The Heist and Virtual Crime

“If we were to replace PayDay’s security guards and law enforcement officers with mindless zombies or hostile aliens or terrorists, I would not be writing this article, no one would be interested in this discussion, and the game would remain essentially the same.”

When Games Matter: What I Learned about Counseling from Sideway: New York

“Such counsel overwhelms people and does more harm than good. . . . Believe it or not but a well designed videogame actually brought this to my attention.”

When Games Matter: Controlling Horror in the Rise of Nightmares

“. . . there is very little in our lives that we have complete control over and yet the consensus on control in games is that the gamer should always be in charge.”