The rise, fall, and return of Star Wars Galaxies

In June 2003, Doug Rush received a copy of Star Wars Galaxies, a new massively multiplayer online role-playing game, as a self-interested gift from his brother, who needed a medic to accompany him on his adventures. Rush, then 43, had enjoyed the Star Wars films but didn’t consider himself a fan. And unlike his brother, he really didn’t like video games. They were too straightforward, he thought; they made you play by someone else’s rules. There was no challenge in trying to understand them, an

The indie game studio that’s betting it all on virtual reality

It’s the year 2050, and robots have taken over what was once the human labor force. They’ve created a virtual reality simulation to help people remember what it was like “to job.” That’s the premise of Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives, presented in the bright, colorful, cartoonlike graphics that define the games developed by Owlchemy Labs. A demo of Job Simulator offered at the Game Developers Conference in 2015 had players stand behind a counter in a restaurant where food was prepared. They co

Helping indie developers work faster, better

Since its founding in 2008, Fire Hose has largely supported itself by contracting its services to other studios. It worked with Harmonix on Dance Central and Rock Band Blitz. It helped port Twisted Pixel's Ms. Splosion Man from Xbox Live Arcade to Steam and Games for Windows Live. And Fire Hose is currently working on a military training simulation for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Slam Bolt Scrappers, the first of Fire Hose's original titles, was released two weeks before the

Streamline could revolutionize the way we play games on Twitch

Seth Sivak sounds perfectly calm as he tries to figure out why Streamline, the most important video game his company has ever developed, isn’t working. Streamline could revolutionize the way games are played on Twitch, the most popular streaming platform in the video game world. But first, Sivak needs to convince the most popular Twitch broadcasters—the burgeoning rock stars of video games—that Streamline is worth playing. And that could be difficult if Sivak can’t get the game to work during t

Why Never Alone is so much more than a video game

The Manslayer stood on the edge of the glacier and held an arctic fox by the scruff of its neck, demanding that a little girl named Nuna must hand over her bola. The bola, a traditional hunting tool of her people, had gotten Nuna out of trouble countless times. But so had the fox. Nuna refused his demand, so the Manslayer snapped the fox’s neck, laughing at the fact that Nuna was now alone. Nuna knelt in the freshly fallen snow and cried over the body of her friend. Then a magical thing happen

It’s time to stop doubting virtual reality

Investors, gamers, and game developers who are cold on virtual reality should look to the 2017 Game Developers Conference as confirmation that VR has legs. Developers don’t sound as clueless as they did last year, based on attendance at VR-related panels at GDC 2016 and GDC 2017. The difference is palpable. The fate of virtual reality does not rest on the development of more advanced optics, higher framerates, and lower latencies, nor does it depend on the evolution of the three major VR hardwa

The $128 million reason blind gamers can’t play Grand Theft Auto V

How much should a video game developer spend to make their games accessible to players with disabilities? Mark Barlet, president and executive director of The AbleGamers Charity, challenged developers at the 2016 Game Developers Conference to use all the tools at their disposal to make video games accessible to as many players as possible. But the degree to which game developers can succeed at that goal is limited. Barlet is a fierce advocate for his cause, but also understands the constraints

How playing casual games could help lead to better soldiers

When PopCap underwrote studies on the cognitive benefits of playing casual games with East Carolina University (ECU), it never imagined that the research would inspire the exploration of casual game projects for military use. But the principles PopCap helped examine in those studies are the basis for several projects which could lead to the development of new training aids and in-theater medical diagnostic tools for the United States Armed Forces. And it all began with a bit of fan appreciation.

The gender inequality in core gaming is worse than you think

Statistics show that almost 50 percent of all gamers are women, but this information doesn’t tell the whole story. Gender inequality in the core video game audience is not only still rampant but even worse than we realize. The Entertainment Software Association’s 2013 “Essential Facts About The Computer And Video Game Industry” report breaks the gamer audience down by gender to 55 percent male and 45 percent female. This never sounds right to me when I read or hear it, in part because I constan

This War Of Mine turns war survivors’ tales into game design

The teaser video for This War Of Mine begins with soldiers running through an urban landscape. It’s a deliberate misdirection. This is a game about war, but not about soldiers. It’s not about fighting a war; it's about surviving one—as a civilian. Using soldiers as protagonists inherently limits the ways video games can discuss the horrors of war. Sure, games like Spec Ops: The Line feature morally questionable decisions, but those decisions are forced on players through the story, sparing the

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