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Video Game Deep Cuts: Soda Machines & Steam Spy

The first 'Video Game Deep Cuts' summary of some of the week's most interesting video game culture/development stories, from Dan Pinchbeck on storytelling to Brendon Chung on Quadrilateral Cowboy.
[Welcome to the first inaugural 'Video Game Deep Cuts' newsletter/blog post, and thanks to all who signed up or followed the Twitter account so far! This newsletter was born from a simple wish - to collate some of the best longer-form or underappreciated articles & videos about video games in one place.

Inspired by REDEF in particular, & other recommendation newsletters like Level Up Report in general, I've found there's a lot of value in compiling good/interesting content in one focused place. Let's see if you all agree, and roll on with the inaugural picks.

- Simon Carless, curator.]


Ed Smith And The Imagination Machine: The Untold Story Of A Black Video Game Pioneer (Benj Edwards / Fast Company)
"Thirty-seven years ago, New York-based APF Electronics, Inc. released The Imagination Machine, a hybrid video game console and personal computer... they remain historically important because of the man who cocreated them: Ed Smith, one of the first African-American electronics engineers in the video game industry."

Iam8bit Studio: Gaming's Fan-Fueled Nostalgia Factory (Evan Shamoon, Glixel/Rolling Stone)
"Inside the ever-expanding studio that makes everything from collectible vinyl soundtracks to limited-edition boxed sets for games."

Design Details in Virtual Environments (Garret Voorhees, Game & Type)
Environmental Graphic Design (EGD) is how design behaves in a physical (or virtual, in our case) context. It includes things like wayfinding signage, architecture, and branded spaces. In this article we’ll take a look at some of the best examples of EGD in games, and understand how they enhance our experience."

Quadrilateral Cowboy's Brendon Chung: 'People use game mechanics to be themselves' (Chris Priestman, The Guardian)
"Quadrilateral Cowboy was built to facilitate the ‘electric feeling’ of taking something apart, and putting it all back together again..."

Chrono Trigger – 1995 Developer Interview Collection (Various Japanese magazines, Shmuplations.)
"This is a collection of Chrono Trigger interviews from early 1995, originally featured in Japanese magazines Famicon Tsuushin, Dengeki SFC, and Haou... these interviews really show how Chrono Trigger was a turning point for the way Square made RPGs. The incipient use of CG, the large-scale team, and the initial plan to utilize CD-ROMs can all be seen as a dress rehearsal of sorts for Final Fantasy VII."

Steam Spy and the specter of game sales transparency (Simon Parkin, Gamasutra)
Sergey Galyonkin wants to share game sales data with the public whether publishers like it or not. Gamasutra spoke to him and several developers on the state of sales figure transparency in games."

Inside A Controversial Game That's Tackling the Holocaust (Laura A Parker, Glixel/Rolling Stone)
"Now 30, Bernard has spent the last eight years designing an educational video game called Imagination Is the Only Escape. It's presented through the eyes of Samuel, a young Jewish boy who is forced to flee Paris after his mother is captured and killed by Nazi soldiers during the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, a mass arrest of Parisian Jews in July 1942."

Toco Toco TV - A Day With Keiichiro Toyama (Toco Toco TV, YouTube, subtitles available)
In this last episode of our Game Creator special series, we spend a day with Keiichiro Toyama, creator of the Gravity Rush series, the SIREN series and Silent Hill." (Also see previous videos with Daisuke Ishiwatari, Suda 51.)

Why You Should Build Your Own Video Game Controller (Marc Shaw, Motherboard/Vice)
Video gamers are putting down their traditional controllers in favour of something more interesting—weird, specialized ones they build themselves out of almost anything... [I was] shocked when a friend... messaged me on Facebook with a blurry picture of a guy playing Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3—with what appeared to be  a piano keyboard."

One Professor's Quest To Collect Every Video Game Soda Machine (Gabriel Rosenberg/NPR)
"It's a hot day in the nuclear post-apocalyptic wasteland, and you've spent all afternoon fighting off mutated zombie creatures. What you probably need right now is a nice, cold soda. Chances are, if you're playing a video game, there's some sort of soda machine right around the corner. Jess Morrissette has the evidence to prove it."

The Death of the Dota 2 Super-Team (Steven Strom, Red Bull eSports)
While Dota 2 might be famous for its more thoughtful pace and slow strategic evolution, professional teams can come and go at the drop of a hat... More than ever before, however, this year’s shakeups present a short window of opportunity to reevaluate an ailing system of predictions, hype, and what we look for in the biggest professional teams in the world."

One Man’s Quest to Let People Play Games on Their Crappy Computers (Patrick Klepek, Vice Gaming)
Grand Theft Auto fan Lukasz Pilch owns a shitty laptop. It shouldn't have been capable of running Grand Theft Auto V, a huge and sprawling technical marvel. And yet, thanks to a series of tweaks that purposely make GTA V look like garbage, Pilch managed to beat it."

Dan Pinchbeck - Parachuting Into Story (Future Of Storytelling, Vimeo)
"As Creative Director for award-winning game development studio The Chinese Room, Dan Pinchbeck considers traditional and innovative forms of storytelling in video games. He suggests that in order to create an emotionally resonant game, game developers should create space for the most important storytelling tool available—the player’s imagination."

The Rise Of VHS Horror Games (Staff, Killscreen)
"VHS horror seems to be a rising trend in videogames especially. It came about in some bigger horror games of the aughts but, in the past couple years, has began to sprout its ugly flower (of flesh and blood) in the realm of independent games."

[REMINDER: you can sign up to receive this newsletter every Saturday at, and we have a Twitter account at that gradually posts all the picks from the newsletter. Story tips and comments can be emailed to [email protected] MINI-DISCLOSURE: Simon is one of the organizers of GDC and Gamasutra, so you may sometimes see links from those entities in his picks. Or not!]

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