Spiffing Reads: Rubbish Game Logos, Proto-No Man’s Sky and Japanese Faxes

This week on Spiffing Reads, we kick off with a look at how magic in video games is in need of a radical overhaul.

elemental magic

Putting the magic back into magic in fantasy games (Eurogamer)

It amazes me just how influential the ideas of Tolkien are in the modern age. We still have countless video-game dungeon adventures with elves, orcs and familiar magic spells, like fireballs. But as this article shows, various novels have very different ideas about how magic can be represented, and video games could well learn from them. China Mieville, for example, imagines a much grittier form of magic powered by fossil fuel. And another example (which isn’t discussed in this article) is the representation of magic in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch (Amazon link), where performing spells actually rots your brain.


Modern Game Logos Are Rubbish (Digitiser 2000)

A cracking article that compares modern logos for games like The Last of Us and Battlefield with logos of old. Gosh darn it, modern logos are bland aren’t they? Most seem to be some sort of minor variation on the Impact font, probably in some misguided attempt to appear ‘grown-up’ and appeal to everyone. But they just end up being forgettable.


Playlist: The games that shaped No Man’s Sky (Eurogamer)

I was well aware of the debt that No Man’s Sky owes to Elite, but there are several space-exploration titles here that I’d never even heard of before. Captain Blood from 1988 sounds especially interesting.

japanese fax machine

It’s 2016 and I’m Buying a New Japanese Fax Machine (Kotaku UK)

When I lived in Japan, I distinctly remember having to fax someone to get tickets for an event. Bizarrely, faxes are still prominent in the country, as this great article expounds on. I also remember that in 2004, all the kids I taught had minidisc players rather than mP3 players, you could still buy VHS players and cassette walkmans in department stores, and practically no one used debit cards – everything was done in cash. Even buying stuff on Amazon involved posting off cash or postal orders as I recall. Japan – incredibly advanced and staunchly traditional, all at the same time.


Cognitive Dissonance and Contradictory Beliefs in the “Dead Space” Series (Philosophy and Video Games)

The first Dead Space game was so bloody good, wasn’t it? And Isaac’s ongoing visions of Nicole were one of the very best things about it.

Spiffing Reads is a regular feature where we pick out the best gaming articles of the week. If you’ve read anything interesting, please let us know in the comments.