Visual Novels and Other Visions: An Interview With Hanako Games

Visual Novels and Other Visions: An Interview With Hanako Games

As places to discover and publish games seem to be growing more accessible, we often take for granted how interests of the previously niche were hard to find and unapproachable, especially in online spaces. Although tracking down obscure media remains a challenge—and games preservation in particular remains a contentious issue—the influences left by fleeting memories of something seemingly lost has inspired many developers today to turn what was old into something new for contemporary audiences to indulge in.

Otome games, story-based games that originated in Japan targeted towards women, for example, have seemingly left an imprint on visual novel and romance elements that exist in games of other genres. I had an opportunity to discuss that question and more with Georgina Bensley, founder of Hanako Games. We discussed what goes into doing work as “Hanako,” and how the continuously changing landscape of the games scene—especially for independent games development—has offered both challenges and opportunities for visual novels and other forms of interactive fiction. From its early beginnings working within the narrow scope of its influences through Cute Knight, to expanding into even wider themes with more recent titles like Night Cascades, Hanako Games has every intention of growing its library while continuing to work in an ever-evolving industry.

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Interview: Jeeyon Shim and Shing Yin Khor on Connected Path and Keepsake Games

Interview: Jeeyon Shim and Shing Yin Khor on Connected Path and Keepsake Games

Field Guide to Memory seemed to release at the exact time I needed it; it was fool’s spring up here in the Pacific Northwest, when the sun is out but the air is biting cold, and I was feeling tired and burned out from writing. What better to rekindle my creativity and drive me outside to look at birds and pick leaves than a journaling game about cryptids? (more…)

The Splorts Report: The Founding and Future of the Blaseball Wiki

The Splorts Report: The Founding and Future of the Blaseball Wiki

In the beginnings of Blaseball, the community was fragmented. Bits of lore, worldbuilding, and statistical analysis popped up all over the internet, and while there was a small amount of reporting being done, the vast majority of people being brought into the fold came from word-of-mouth through outlets like Discord and Twitter. And as each week passed and new fans were being introduced, the game itself moved at lightning speed, with canon characters and events being lost to the sands of time. There needed to be a place where people could gather, new fans could get information, and content creators could place their art for public consumption. And thus, the Blaseball wiki was born. I sat down with Steven Carver and Kyle Shockey, two of the current wiki admins, to discuss the site and the undertaking of running a community hub. (more…)

Isobel Shasha Talks Pupperazzi, A Wholesome Dog Photography Game

Isobel Shasha Talks Pupperazzi, A Wholesome Dog Photography Game

If you’re not aware of Wholesome Games, do yourself a favor and take a browse through what must truly be the most wholesome Twitter feed in the whole gaming industry. They did their most recent indie game showcase near the end of August, which saw the announcement of a couple new games from various studios and developers. Among them was Pupperazzi, an upcoming title from developer Sundae Month and publisher Kitfox Games, which puts you behind the camera—and adorable dogs in front of it! With the showcase over and the new Pupperazzi trailer released, we had a chat with game director Isobel Shasha of Sundae Month.

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Dr. Bonnie “Bo” Ruberg is Pioneering Queer Game Studies

Dr. Bonnie “Bo” Ruberg is Pioneering Queer Game Studies

When I started my MFA program in the fall of 2018, my Introduction to Graduate Studies course assigned a conference paper on a topic of our choice. I used this opportunity to dive into my latest video game obsession at the time, Undertale, and the way it portrays gender roles and nonbinary identities. Despite the dearth of peer-reviewed papers, I managed to find an article at the Journal of Transformative Works and Cultures (the people who run Archive of Our Own) that floored me, a piece by a Professor Bonnie “Bo” Ruberg examining how Undertale fans have “straight-washed” the game rather than confront its overtly queer themes. That paper was everything I needed it to be and more, opening up the field of queer games study to me.

Imagine my glee when I was asked to actually talk to the person who wrote that paper. (more…)

It Was Inevitable: An Interview with Tarn Adams on Dwarf Fortress

It Was Inevitable: An Interview with Tarn Adams on Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress has established itself as a focus of cult admiration. Though Dwarf Fortress may not be immediately recognizable to the mainstream gaming community, it is a long-standing pillar in PC gaming and its steady popularity among enthusiasts has earned it a place in gaming history. (more…)