Department of Rhetoric and Writing

The University of Texas at Austin

video games

Year's Recap

My colleagues have listed their own top picks from this year's array of insights an analyses. You'll notice a few repeats on my list--a sure sign of their success--but I'll admit, choosing a representative sample is a hard task. We should all go back and reread the blog, just in case...

Without further preamble, then, here are my favorite posts of 2014-2015:

My 5 Favorite Posts of the Year

 A horse lays his head lovingly on a wooden post. The caption reads: I love this post."Image credit: Know Your Meme.

It's been a rather rich year at Viz, and it's nearly impossible to choose just five blogs. That said, here are a few I found particularly striking, fun, or thought-provoking:

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Moving Targets: Player Choice and the Politics of Bioshock: Infinite

This post was generously guest-written by former .Viz contributor, Casey Sloan. Casey incessantly reads and writes about gothic novels, Victorian culture, individualism, and gender studies. She has craftily parlayed these fixations into research interests for the UT English Department's PhD program. Currently, she is exploring DWRL avenues in order to drag other passions, particularly internet identity and video game culture, into her professional life.

You are given a ball at a fair. You are told you can either throw the ball at a racist carnival barker or at an interracial couple tied up in the midst of insulting cardboard cutouts. As a player in this video game (Bioshock: Infinite, to be precise), you are faced with the question: what do I do? As a critic of this video game, you are faced with the question: what does being faced with the question "what do I do" mean?

Bioshock Raffle

Image Credit: Bioshock Wikia

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Desiring Histories in The Wolf Among Us

 Snow White and Bigby look around a dark, candlelit room in a totally badass manner.Image source:

Earlier this semester, I discussed the way Once Upon a Time, particularly in its first season, played with Disney-inspired costuming to evoke nostalgia for Disney-tinged fairytales even as it valorized the present over the past. As a follow-up, and as Viz moves towards consideration of video games, I want to look at a more recent work with similar themes: the critically acclaimed fairy-tale-noir adventure game, The Wolf Among Us. In this game, the player takes on the role of a reformed Big Bad Wolf (known, now, as Bigby), who solves a series of gruesome mysteries with the help of his potential love-interest, Snow White. Specifically, I will look at three costumes associated with Snow. Like those worn by Once’s Snow White, these costumes each present a different way in which we can view the past. Unlike those in Once, these costumes trouble any clear distinction between our modern lives and the medieval-themed fairy tales that underwrite them. Instead of encouraging us to celebrate our modernity, The Wolf Among Us troubles our neat divisions between the present and the past, asking us how we use the past to think about, or act in, the present. (Content Warning: the discussion below, like the game, deals with prostitution and disturbing sexual power dynamics.)

Blue Shells and the Apocalypse

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