Shattered Restless Rooms: Remembering Silent Hill

Silent Hills PT

In my restless dreams, I see that town. Silent Hill. We used to go there often. Well, I’m waiting for you there now.

The Silent Hill series was a crazy important influence in my life. Actually, that’s an understatement. I first played Silent Hill 2 not long after my dad took me to a Robert McKee seminar on horror. This was, if I recall correctly, a few months before I left for college, and watching McKee celebrate the tropes of the genre, culminating in a scene-by-scene analysis of Ridley Scott’s Alien (my first time watching it, and none too soon), primed me to have my mind blown by that game’s oppressive, surreal melancholy. Up until that point, I’d played around with humor, absurdism, and science fiction, but that confluence of events led me to realize that horror—specifically, surreal or metaphysical horror—is my genre.

It also helped me form the first principles of my theory of interactive storytelling: that the emotional, the psychological, the internal are all exploded outward, transformed into environments to be explored; that key moments should never be shown to the player when they can be experienced, so that the player becomes complicit in the protagonist’s journey. A few other games—Fatal FrameRule of RoseShadow of the Colossus—helped finesse and cement this theory, but Silent Hill snuck in there first. It also introduced me to David Lynch, to Jacob’s Ladder, to Mark Z. Danielewski, and to many others.

I’ve come to accept the fact that Silent Hill is dead—not just dead but, in series-appropriate fashion, reanimated and debased and paraded and tormented and killed again. But I’m still grateful for what it gave me.

In the spirit of that gratitude, I authored a series of pieces for Entropy called Biography of a Place. In form, they’re all over the place: some function like reviews, while others focus on a specific element of character development or symbolism, based on what grabbed me about the game and the mood I was in at the time of writing. Where I’ve said the least, I trust the games to speak for themselves.

I’m all alone there now. Waiting for you.

Silent Hill: Biography of a Place

Silent Hill 2: Biography of a Place

Silent Hill 3: Biography of a Place

Silent Hill 4: Biography of a Place

Biography of a Place: Silent Hill (the movie)

Silent Hill Homecoming: Biography of a Place

Silent Hill Origins: Biography of a Place

Silent Hill Downpour: Biography of a Place

Silent Hill Shattered Memories: Biography of a Place

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On Games and Gaminess

I haven’t done an actual career-related update for a while, and with several recent and upcoming articles on Entropy that I’m immoderately proud of, I figured, oh, what the hell. For writing!

Entropy is “A new website featuring literary and related non-literary content.” It’s been going strong for, oh, three weeks now, and I couldn’t be happier with the community that I’m now a part of (as a contributing editor for the site). I’ve made the acquaintance of some awesome writers who share many of my interests, and even though I don’t get to read the e-magazine as often or as thoroughly as I’d like, I can tell from what I do read that I’m in the middle of a network of great writers and thinkers.

But enough of the mushy stuff. Here’s what I’ve been doing for Entropy so far:

My first post, on March 21, was an interview with John Clowdus of Small Box Games. A small, independent card game publisher who has stayed small and independent, I really admire John’s work both as a publisher and a designer. His games tend to be small and quick but full of tense decision-making, not to mention gorgeous to look at.

On April 5, for International Tabletop Day, I wrote about  the Allure of Allegory; or, a Case for Cardboard, in which I argue passionately for a medium that I didn’t even know existed, in any serious, modern form, 2 years ago: board games.

On April 7, Janice Lee posted a piece titled Interface Culture: On Narrative & Video Games, which features a few citations from one of my previously published articles on the Black Clock blog. It’s a great, reader-friendly tying-together of modern thinking around the medium of electronic games.

And today, on April 9, I published When Play Isn’t Fun Anymore: On Games and Discomfort. It was originally three separate essays until I realized that they were all talking about the same thing: games that manage to work in spite, or because, of failing at being “fun.”

I also edited Mike Molitch-Hou’s Why-To Like Poetry and last Sunday’s list of Top 3 Unfinished Books. In the next few days, I’ll be posting Part 1 of a discussion I participated in, talking around the subject of video games and aesthetics, and there’s much more on the way, including more interviews, reviews and…wait for it…session reports!


Rant Gaming Round Up: 10/6-10/12

This was a slow week for Rant Gaming articles, but I have a good excuse! Training! That’s right, I’m now (training to be) a certified member of the workforce! Economy get! So, let’s see what I was able to squeeze into my busy, busy schedule….

The main bulk of the week’s posts went to Not So Old School, my weekly take on board and card games from a video gamer’s perspective. That’s because this week, Not So Old School featured a terrifying triptych of articles, all focused on helping you find the perfect game to play on Halloween. In Roll 1D10 for Terror – Horror Board Games of 2012 (Part 1), I looked at top-secret government bases, zombie-infested cities, and even more zombie-infested cities during my overview of Level 7 [Escape], City of Horror, and the prolific output of Twilight Creations. In Horror Board Games of 2012 – Part 2, I talked about 5-minute dice game Chupacabra, the newest edition of the Resident Evil Deck Building Game, and my unspeakable yen for Mansions of Madness. Finally, Horror-themed Board Games of 2012 – Part 3 wrapped up loose ends, mummification style, with coverage of Cthulhu Gloom, Fantasy Flight’s Arkham Nights event, and the new Ticket To Ride mini-expansion, the adorably orange Halloween Freighter.

That was it for me this week…unless you count the most awesome part of all. On Wednesday, I introduced a new weekly feature with Rant Gaming: the Indie Game of the Week. Every week, I’ll be looking at a downloadable, browser-based, or mobile game that I consider to be the Indie Game of the Week. It could be free, or not; it could be on the PC, phone, or home gaming console; all that matters is that it’s the product of a small, independent developer. The first IGotW was a love letter to my childhood, a wondrous amalgamation of all things 1980s–the inaugural Indie Game of the Week: Retro City Rampage.

Next week: slideshows!


Even More Forgettable

A follow-up to my recent awesome list of awesomeness for Rant Gaming, here are 5 more games that should be revivified pronto, Dr. Frankenstein style. Check it out here.


StoryNexus: Is It Cool?

Do you like gaming? Do you like me? Even a little? If so, then you’re going to be quite pleased when you hear what I’m about to tell you.

I am now a blogger for www.rantgaming.com, part of the Rant Media Network. What does this mean for you? It means that from now on I’ll be posting a lot more content related to games and gaming. But it’s not all gonna be boring old video games with their pew pew lasers and their flashy flashy boom headshots. Oh, no.

Case in point: my first blog post to Rant Gaming, which covers the upcoming StoryNexus beta from Failbetter Games, developers of the delicious dark Victorian story-game Fallen London. StoryNexus is all about letting people with nary a developer’s bone in their body create lush, vivid story-worlds and share them with the world for free. It’s for people who love reading and games and wouldn’t mind doing a little writing as well. See, I told you it would be cool. Isn’t it cool?

Don’t forget to clicky clicky on the link provided to read the article in full. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, my, yes. Just the tip!