Published Work

BOOKS

Shooter Cover

Publisher’s Description:

SHOOTER is an ebook that digs into the wide array of meaning we find in first-person shooters, whether through gameplay construction, mechanical subtext, or the larger implications of a game’s setting, characters, and themes. Rather than a history of the genre, SHOOTER is a collection of diverse criticism centered on various games where shooting is the primary gameplay mechanic.

The Lurking Fear: Firearms in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Robert Rath examines the danger and unreliability of the guns featured in Headfirst Productions’ Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. In highlighting the risk, both physical and psychological, of using firearms as weapons, Rath reads Dark Corners of the Earth as a commentary on the real-world power of the gun, and paints an interesting contrast with a genre that takes the power and skill necessary to properly use a firearm for granted.

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COLUMNS

Critical Intel

ZAM logoCritical Intel is a weekly column at ZAM.com examining the overlap between games and the real world.  Whether it’s covering the real events that inspired game elements, emerging technologies, or political controversies in the game industry, Critical Intel takes you deeper into the issues with well-sourced research and penetrating analysis. The column previously ran at The Escapist.

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FEATURE ARTICLES

The Truths Behind Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s Ghost Stories (Playboy)

Syndicate is broadly correct in how it frames these missions—almost every time Dickens and the Assassins Evie and Jacob look into seemingly paranormal events, a human actor emerges as the culprit or an alternate explanation presents itself. It’s a clever twist, with light reference to events that really took place. Unfortunately, it’s also a missed opportunity. Without the historical context of Victorians views on death and the soul, these endings are an empty resolution, telling us little about why ghosts fascinated the Victorian mind.

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 3’ is Right: Climate Change is a National Security Problem (Playboy)

Call of Duty: Black Ops III takes place in a climate change nightmare—a future with rising oceans, droughts, and superstorms changing the political landscape. Resource wars tear northern Africa apart as Ethiopian dams cut off Egypt’s access to the Nile. Singapore, vulnerable due to its low-lying geography, gets ravaged by typhoons on a regular basis.

Though this may seem like science fiction, it’s a future that U.S. defense planners increasingly believe is just around the corner. Indeed, some academics believe we’re already living in the age of climate change wars.

H.P. Lovecraft, Master of Environmental Horror (Slate)

But not all Lovecraft stories are getting less frightening. While one Lovecraftian theme loses its edge, another—the tainted landscape—is more relevant than ever. Because here’s what our society is scared of: being poisoned. We worry that our society is full of toxic materials that corrupt our bodies and our planet. Articles warn us away from pesticides in our food, baby products made overseas, and anything dyed with Yellow No. 5. Air purifiers fly off the shelves in China, and Americans show increasing concern about contaminated groundwater. We worry everything we touch, eat, and breathe is killing us—and Lovecraft is right there with us.

Shooting Zombies With Schoolgirls in Universal Japan’s ‘Resident Evil’ Experience (Playboy)

The attraction expertly sells the experience of the Resident Evil games. Stepping into the queue I found myself in the Raccoon City Subway, with beret-wearing operatives from the ethically questionable Umbrella Corporation directing me through the line. The instructions were all in Japanese, but the English-language brochure gave me the scoop: you get thirty bullets to shoot the zombies. If they get close, your health bar goes down. Don’t die. If you die, you leave the house.

Military Expert P.W. Singer Predicts the Video Game Wars of the Future (Playboy)

Singer and Cole present a battlefield that’s digital as well as physical—thick with autonomous drones, augmented reality, and the shriek of electromagnetic naval guns. But what’s particularly interesting is how Singer and Cole base the novel’s technology on current trends, and hypothesize that video game hardware will increasingly become combat tools.

The Great Wall: Consoles in China (Shacknews)

Chapter 5: A Look From Inside

In addition to the larger economic issues like piracy and pricing, a dozen small issues are at-play on the street level–the legacy of China’s grey market, for instance, or the hunger for luxury goods. Any one could spell trouble for prospective contenders in the console market, but cracking the Chinese market’s code is too lucrative not to take the risk.

NORAD’s Fighter Escort for Santa: Another Example of Wasteful Government Spending (Slate)

Santa’s primary defense against air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles is speed. One popular estimate posits that Santa travels 650 miles per second, more than Mach 3,000 in ideal conditions. By contrast, most air-to-air missiles travel at a pokey Mach 4, and even Russia’s S-400 SAM would lag far behind at Mach 12. Target acquisition would be another challenge for attackers, since without an engine or radar, the sleigh doesn’t give off any signature that heat-seeking or radar-guided missiles can pick up, and it moves too fast for electro-optical guidance systems to get a digital image.

Missiles are a wash: Can’t lock him, can’t catch him.

The Passion of the Garbage Truck (Escapist Magazine)

Then I see it: a trash can.

My elation is difficult to describe. I’ve been playing Garbage Truck Simulator for over ninety minutes, and this is the first garbage can I’ve found. The world map is useless. The only indicator of where I should go is a straight yellow line that cuts directly through buildings, across rivers, and leads not to the trash I need to pick up, but to the city dump miles out of town. I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out how to leave the depot. The truck itself somehow manages to be ungainly and nimble at the same time, like a sperm whale riding a Vespa.

Living in Web Video (Escapist Magazine)

“Our mission is to try to make videos we would watch,” says Burnie Burns, co-founder of Rooster Teeth Productions and writer/director of Red vs Blue. “Likewise we want to make an event that we’d be interested in. We’re content creators and we like gaming. I think that’s what most people are doing online – they’re watching videos and playing videogames.”

Graveyard of the RPGs (Escapist Magazine)

The contact requested to remain anonymous, only to be referred to as “Scribe of New York City.” Timothy Hutchings had met Scribe on a forum that catered to high end game collectors, enthusiasts who search out and purchase rare RPG modules and original artwork. Hutchings was looking for donations to his new venture, the Play Generated Map and Document Archive, a publicly available database hoping to preserve the history of pen and paper gaming. Scribe had invited Hutchings to view his collection.

The New War on Terror (Escapist Magazine)

Specialist Hawker was thirty-seven years old when he fell from the tower. He was a military policeman tasked with training the Iraqi Army, and had over a decade of service as a soldier. His introduction to the military was Desert Storm, which he spent guarding nuclear missiles in-theater when he was barely out of high school. Now, he was the oldest man in his company. He saw himself as a mentor figure, looking out for the younger guys, and avoided promotion to NCO in order to stay closer to them. His team usually rode front or rear truck in every convoy-the most dangerous positions-with Hawker riding the gun. The reasoning was that he was experienced, and wouldn’t get jumpy on the trigger.

The Ballet of Death (Escapist Magazine)

Cinematic trailers impress us by playing their schlock material as drama, attempting to imbue B-movie alien invasion storylines like Gears of War with gravitas through solemn music, poetry readings, and cinematography. The marketing message is that the games they’re selling are not only fun, but somehow important. It’s a tactic designed to get around the defenses of a consumer block that is increasingly product savvy and unimpressed by visuals. But among game trailers, Dead Island is something completely new: A fully-formed story that emotionally blindsides us, jumping us from behind just like the undead girl it features. The trailer works because it subverts our expectations of the genre – we don’t expect to see genuine poignancy in a zombie game.

Ghosts of Juarez (Escapist Magazine)

“The game depicts Juárez and the border as a place where there are terrorists and it is not the case. Juárez is a city where we promote work and everybody is working to better the city.” This is the head of the state of Chihuahua’s Interior Department, explaining why the state has banned Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2, and ordered all copies confiscated. The Mayor of Juárez, Héctor Murguía, has spearheaded the effort after labeling the game a “despicable” attempt to portray Mexico’s “best border region” as violent and unsafe.

Secrets of the Guild (Escapist Magazine)

In seven years of operation, The Guildhall has developed a reputation as a dream program, a sort of Hogwarts for game designers, where students can earn a Master of Interactive Technology degree specializing in Art Creation, Level Design, or Software Development. The program has graduated 370 students who work in 120 studios globally, including industry leaders like Infinity Ward, Gearbox, and Valve. Their industry placement rate is a phenomenal 95%, and 40% of the graduates report being in a leadership position within a few years of graduation. When asked to rate the skill level of newly-hired graduates, most managers report that if they did not know the graduate’s background, they would guess he or she had 1« -5 years of experience with one shipped title.

Tripping the Arcade Fantastic (Escapist Magazine)

“Videogames are getting shortchanged as a creative medium, and we wanted to create a place where their creators could be treated as equals to the filmmakers we host,” says Tim League, Fantastic Fest’s director and beer-swilling ringmaster. In the week following our phone interview he will sing karaoke with Elijah Wood and the RZA, and fight Michelle Rodriguez in a boxing match. “We feel like there’s a natural overlap, and we want to get the wheels turning on a crossover between indie films and indie games.”

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ACADEMIC WRITING

“Launched Into Eternity: The Role of Religious Ritual in Georgian Execution,” presented at the Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society conference at University of Hawaii.

Winner of the North American Conference on British Studies undergraduate paper competition (region: United States).

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PLAYWRITING

“Curtains for the Dragon,” performed and published as part of TheatreFest 2002

“Badgers at 9 O’Clock,” performed and published as part of TheatreFest 2001

“Love in the Demilitarized Zone,” performed and published as part of TheatreFest 2000

“Spiffy,” performed and published as part of TheatreFest 1999


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