Three Moves Ahead Episode 93: Theme, Mechanics, and Meaning

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While doing some stuff at school today I was listening to 3MA and listened to the X-COM episode and the one directly following it, this one (I've been listening to 3MA for a long time but I listen to every episode of podcasts I follow and get sidetracked with other podcasts that in the past I heard of when their hosts were 3MA guests like the Jumping the Shark Podcast and also, IDLE THUMBS!)

Alright, off the bat, all star panel. You've got the always amazing Troy Goodfellow at the helm and he mentions that despite Julian and Rob being unavailable for the podcast, but he has a deep bench to pull from. He isn't lying. Guests are Todd Brakke, producer of the aforementioned awesome Jumping the Shark podcast, Lara Crigger who I loved on the episode about the gender gap in gaming, and finally clean-up hitter Soren Johnson.

So discussion starts and pretty soon theres some amazing back and forth commentary going and I'm just completely hooked. I don't want to summarize anything because the whole point is nothing I can say will be anywhere near the quality of the actual discussion and you really need to just listen to it.

The one thing I will mention is a part of the episode in particular that really made me fall in love with 3MA for the 93rd time. After discussing X-COM, Soren talks about how games about aliens are so common because it's so easy to map different mechanics onto the games because aliens can be anything. He mentions games that are ostensibly about aliens, but actually about their mechanics. Galaga is about pattern matching, Starcraft is about asymetry, Gears of War is about cover mechanics, and X-COM is really a game about dealing with limited information. Lara then disagrees with the idea that a game is about it's mechanics, but Soren brings up Left 4 Dead and asks whether it is a game about zombies or about teamwork. Too good. Lara however counters this by accepting that the game is clearly about teamwork, but that Left 4 Dead needs to be a game about zombies to work and when Soren asks why it couldn't work with a different theme like aliens she says that it's because zombies elicit a different response in people from aliens. "What are you afraid of when you're afraid of aliens? You're afraid of the unknown. What are you afraid of when you're afraid of zombies? You're afraid of the inevitable." OH SHIT. And this is only halfway through the episode. You really don't get this quality of discourse anywhere else on the internet/in the world.


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