Most overrated games of 2016

, | Features

Overrated is a loaded term. It looks good in a headline. It’s often used for no purpose other than to goad a reaction. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. When I call a game overrated, I don’t mean it’s bad, that the reviews were wrong, that the people who liked it were dopes, or even that I didn’t like it. It just means I’m surprised more people weren’t more critical, that the conversation wasn’t more often about ways the game could have been better.

After the jump, the ten most overrated games of 2016. Continue reading →

The most surprising games of 2016

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So if the most disappointing category is a list of games that should have been better, the most surprising category is the opposite. These are games that were better than they should have been. Just as disappointing is about falling short of expectations, these surprising games exceeded expectations and, in some cases, were among the best games of the year.

After the jump, the ten most surprising games of 2016. Continue reading →

The most disappointing games of 2016

, | Features

Calling a game disappointing arguably has more to do with me than the game itself. Disappointment isn’t an inherent quality. It can’t exist without some sort of expectation in the first place. In many cases, these games are sequels, or the creations of developers with proven track records, or entries in established genres, or games with promising beginnings. But for various reasons, a central fact about these games is that I had personally hoped they would be better.

After the jump, the ten most disappointing games of 2016. Continue reading →

Make Everything Else Scare Again: see you in the funny papers

Comics have embraced horror since the earliest days of the medium, from EC Comics and Will Eisner on through to the present day. Since the Comics Code restrictions were relaxed a few decades ago, and with artists and writers like Guillermo Del Toro expressing an abiding love, it’s only natural that today we’ve got a couple of scary comic book recommendations.

After the jump, not just for kids anymore Continue reading →

Make Everything Else Scare Again: through an earbud darkly

In 2014 Sarah Koenig and her producers from This American Life set the podcast world ablaze with their 12-part true crime podcast, Serial. The incredible popularity of that podcast demonstrated that serialized, multi-episode story podcasts might find a willing audience looking for long, heavily detailed stories. If they seemed to have the faintest whiff of reality to them, so much the better.

After the jump, horror for your earholes Continue reading →

Make Everything Else Scare Again: what did I just see?

Even fairly recently, internet streaming video sites like Youtube and DailyMotion were considered a sort of holding spot for music clips and cat videos, not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you go looking, there’s some creepy video footage to be found lurking in the shadows of those sites. Videos of unexplained phenomenon and weird events abound.

After the jump, did you see that? Continue reading →

Make Fiction Scare Again: no genre for old men

Horror is a young man’s game. Because as you get older, you have grandkids and you get all sentimental like Steven Spielberg or you lose your touch like John Carpenter or you just decide you’d rather chill out and do something else like Stephen King. Youth is the time to get all wound up about anxiety, fear, and dread. Later years are for just relaxing. Right?

After the jump, wrong. Continue reading →

What Hollywood gets wrong about having cancer

, | Features

I’m honored that a site called Folks is letting me write about something other than videogames and movies. Well, about something other than videogames, at any rate. I’ve written about what it’s like having first-hand experience with cancer and then seeing it in movies.

When you do a keyword search for cancer on the Internet Movie Database, you get 1500 entries. Breaking Bad is at the top of the list. Bryan Cranston’s cancer gives him license to break bad. He starts a meth lab to support his family. The series creator, Vince Gilligan, summarizes Breaking Bad as a story about a mild-mannered teacher who becomes the equivalent of Scarface.

Because cancer. Cancer lets you become an over-the-top Al Pacino character.

You can read the article here. You can also read a more personal take on my experiences here. And about a good friend’s struggle with cystic fibrosis here.

Make Fiction Scare Again: fun sized

Horror fiction is often at its best when you down it in one shot instead of nursing it like a beer. Short stories are ideal for a genre that benefits from leaving things unsaid. It took Twilight Zone less than thirty minutes to sink a barb. Stephen King didn’t need a thousand pages to freak you out with a story about a laundry machine that eats people, an astonaut who grows eyeballs in his hand, or beer than turns people into a fungus. So in the interest of time, let us recommend for you a couple of our favorite short form masters.

After the jump, this won’t take long Continue reading →

Make Fiction Scare Again: and now for something completely different

“It was a dark and stormy night….” OK, stop us if you’ve read this book before. As exciting as a good scary story should be, too often horror fiction becomes predictable and formulaic. Horror is a genre rooted in folktales and archetypes, and chains itself to hidebound guidelines. We know that vampires always hate mirrors and zombies are supposed to shuffle. Horror fiction breaks these rules too rarely, but when it happens it can be spectacular.

After the jump, not the same old story. Continue reading →