Phil Hartup on videogames


David Moyes during a League Cup match with Sunderland. Photo: Getty
David Moyes, Manchester United, and the nightmare dream job
By Phil Hartup - 22 April 16:40

Of all the managers who have been sacked this season in the premier league, David Moyes can have perhaps the fewest complaints.

A still from World of Darkness.
Why it sucks that there are so few vampire videogames
By Phil Hartup - 17 April 14:22

With the cancellation of World of Darkness, the chances of a second good vampire game seem small.

A screenshot from Luftrausers. Image: Vlambeer
Why do gamers get squeamish when they might play as Nazis?
By Phil Hartup - 09 April 10:47

Plane shooter Lufthausers has players fighting on the side of a team that looks suspiciously like the Third Reich - a design choice that's left some players feeling uncomfortable.

Goat Simulator is (possibly) the best game that simulates being a goat ever made
By Phil Hartup - 02 April 17:54

It's buggy and ridiculous, but also hilarious - Goat Simulator is the best gimmick game of the year.

A blow hole.
I'd rather stick my head in a whale's blowhole than play Facebook's Oculus Rift
By Phil Hartup - 26 March 17:26

Facebook don't want to make great games. They want more users, more metadata and more adverts. Whatever the Oculus Rift could have been is now dead.

A player fleeing from zombies in Day Z. (Image: Screenshot)
A rape in Day Z: what drives gamers to go Lord of the Flies on each other?
By Phil Hartup - 24 March 13:22

In a game where players can act out any kind of sadistic fantasy on each other - from taking hostage to force-feeding poison to breaking kneecaps - what incentive is there for humans to express their humanity?

A screenshot from Alien: Isolation. (Image: Sega)
The Aliens horde: the inconsistent movie franchise with the consistently decent spin-off games
By Phil Hartup - 14 March 12:28

While there hasn't been a good Alien movie for almost 30 years, the games of the franchise have been steadily churned out for decades.

Doom, always brilliant, rarely improved-upon. (Image: Id Software)
All these years later, there’s still nothing better than Doom
By Phil Hartup - 06 March 13:44

Development is an evolutionary process, and newer games end up objectively better than the older ones they replace – yet 1993’s iconic game Doom remains as fun and unique today as ever.

Space ninjas in action. Sometimes the old ways are the best. (Image: Digital Extremes)
Warframe: or how I learned to stop worrying and love weird Canadian space ninjas
By Phil Hartup - 24 February 15:09

It's not the most original title, but Warframe's sneaky space ninjas make duck-and-cover shooting fun.

Bioshock: Infinite was one of the biggest games of 2013.
The irrational end of Irrational Games
By Phil Hartup - 19 February 10:47

I come here today not to bury Ken Levine but to praise Irrational Games. When they were good they were very, very good, and when they were bad they made <em>Bioshock: Infinite</em>.

Flappy Bird: what is its secret, and why should we care?
By Phil Hartup - 07 February 17:17

The latest “viral” game is a decent take on a tried and tested formula. But is it really that good, or has it just piggy-backed on our love for <em>Super Mario</em>?

Digital destitution: what happens when you lose real-world money inside a game?
By Phil Hartup - 07 February 10:34

Games like <em>EVE</em> can result in players suffering big financial losses in real-world money. As in-game purchases become more common the problems of balancing what can be bought against what can be worked for will only become more complicated.

Justified: What happens when you take a cop show out of the city?
By Phil Hartup - 27 January 14:54

In stepping away from established urban locales to the slightly shop-soiled countryside of Kentucky, Justified manages to change not just is aesthetic but also its characters and stories.

A screenshot from Skyrim.
Why games developers should welcome people tinkering with their products
By Phil Hartup - 20 January 17:16

The modding community around Skyrim shows that fans can be just as creative as developers - and that a thriving set of mods for your game can benefit everybody.

Clarke Peters as Albert Lambreaux in Treme.
Forget The Wire – is Treme doomed to be a forgotten masterpiece?
By Phil Hartup - 13 January 17:01

David Simon's New Orleans-based drama <em>Treme</em> has a brilliant sense of narrative, isn't showy, and defies easy definition. So why isn't it as famous as <em>The Wire</em>?

A still from the Kickstarter video for Star Citizen.
Would you spend $275 on a spaceship in a game that doesn't even exist yet?
By Phil Hartup - 06 January 16:51

<em>Star Citizen</em> has raised well over $35m already, and you can't even play it yet. Is this crowd funding gone mad?

"An affront to the Brodudes": Games of the Year 2013
By Phil Hartup - 18 December 11:21

It's not been a great year for gaming (the PS4 and XBox One launches have taken up a lot of developers' time), but there have been some good releases worth celebrating.

The magic of the mundane: more games should reflect real-life's everyday tasks
By Phil Hartup - 16 December 11:19

"There is more challenge and player investment in the simple act of checking a person’s travel documents in Papers, Please than there is in taking a life in a typical first-person shooter."

New Statesman
What next for the all-powerful PC?
By Phil Hartup - 09 December 18:05

2013 has been a mixed year for the PC, but it is still on the creative cutting edge of gaming.

Face it, Black Flag would have been better without the Assassins. Arrrrr we tired of videogame franchises?
By Phil Hartup - 28 November 11:43

Make a game about being a pirate, let the player be a pirate, spend the money you would have spent on building the modern world part of the game on more pirate things. Like a parrot.

Sidekicks in video games can be frustrating narrative devices, but not in Skyrim
By Phil Hartup - 18 November 12:35

While there are many unique companions and sidekicks in video games, Skyrim's Lydia is good because she is so unremarkable.

Arkham City and Mass Effect: Why do you so rarely get to play a character that experiences sexism?
By Phil Hartup - 09 November 9:04

There is gender in the world of video games but it is often one-dimensional or tokenistic. Games so often include prejudice and bigotry, but won’t direct them at player characters. Why?

XCOM: Enemy Unknown & Xenonauts: is a 'dumbed-down' game any less fun?
By Phil Hartup - 18 October 10:47

Both XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Xenonauts are successors to the original X-COM series, but they offer players very different things when it comes to depth of gameplay.

A still from Grand Theft Auto V, which aims to give the masses what they want.
AAA games are supposed to be boring and unoriginal
By Phil Hartup - 07 October 14:00

To criticise the AAA game for a lack of originality is to misunderstand the fundamental nature of a video game with a multi-million pound development budget, says Phil Hartup.

Nick Clegg.
Memo to Nick Clegg: It isn't video games that are corroding people's minds - it's you
By Phil Hartup - 26 September 11:23

Nick Clegg is the latest in a line of politicians and journalists to scapegoat video games for violent behaviour in society - conveniently forgetting the military and societal damage he and his political allies are doing every day.

Staying Alive: in praise of survival games
By Phil Hartup - 30 August 10:20

Sometimes, the "trying not to die" element of a video game is the best part.

Payday 2.
Heist to meet you: the compulsive thieves of gaming
By Phil Hartup - 13 August 14:58

Phil Hartup asks what makes a heist game truly great.

The EVE battle logs: Running With The Wolves
By Phil Hartup - 31 July 16:28

Phil Hartup concludes his series of reports from the world of EVE: Online, the largest virtual war the world has ever seen.

The EVE battle logs: Fighting to capture Fountain
By Phil Hartup - 30 July 15:29

Phil Hartup continues his series of reports from the world of EVE: Online, the largest virtual war the world has ever seen.

The EVE battle logs: Going To War With Goonwaffe
By Phil Hartup - 29 July 16:04

Phil Hartup becomes the first embedded reporter in the largest virtual war the world has ever seen.