This is the $150 computer I built with my daughter

The joy of the $150 computer for children is that no one has to be afraid of it. The fact that you can touch every part of the computer and build the case by hand while connecting all the different components is a huge selling point. You can't really "play" with a traditional PC when you're fitting everything together, and there's much at stake if you mess something up. $150 isn't a small amount of money, but the Kano Computer was designed to be handled and used by children. It's inviting, and my daughter and I enjoyed the time it took to put it together. It's not a tricky process, and there's no need to install a CPU or pop on a heatsink. The brain of the system is a Raspberry Pi board, and you merely snap a plastic case around it and connect a built-in speaker. The included...

Alien: Isolation has the best woman protagonist since … 'Alien'

Alien: Isolation is not a perfect game. It has issues with pacing, a frustrating save system, and, as stated in our review of the game, it becomes a slog by the end. Despite this, it succeeds in one way that no other video game has ever come close: It captures the feminist spirit of the original films, and does justice to Ellen Ripley — one of the cinema's all-time greatest protagonists. While there have been plenty of games based on the Alien franchise (check out our retrospective here), very few of them have actually centered on the films' hero. Fewer still have captured what makes her such a great character: her ability to stay cool under pressure, her balance of toughness and humanity, and her smarts. In the films, Ripley is a working woman, just trying to do her job and...

Shock culture is dead, making the Hatred trailer powerless and nearly comical

One of the harder things about growing up is realizing how much terrible stuff out there you would have been into as a younger person. It's a good reminder of how far you've come, but it can be cringe-worthy to look back at the things you took seriously. There's a certain self-absorption and self-destructive quality to a certain teenage personality type and I fell into the trap without thinking much about it. I listened to terrible industrial music. There may have been makeup involved. It's through that lens I watched the Hatred trailer. I had the same reaction as other people on staff, but it's also clear that this was the expected reaction. The marketing copy, the trailer ... everything about this was meant to make you feel shitty about the game and then talk about it. I'm...

Do short games equal lost sales? One dev discusses the risks of brevity

Short games can be great things, especially for those of us who suffer from a chronic lack of time. Many of you agreed with my story about why I love shorter games, and one of the minds behind The Vanishing of Ethan Carter even wrote something of a manifesto about the movement for shorter games at the beginning of last year. There is a difference, however, between the idea of creating a short game and the reality of releasing one into the current market. "It’s tiny bit easier to be a rebel when you don’t have a wife, a child and a mortgage. It’s exactly why some AAA studios could not be any happier if the employee has a family and a house that a bank owns," designer Adrian Chmielarz told Polygon. "Guys like that think twice before changing jobs or risking their own studio." Risking it...

The worst trailer of the year revels in slaughtering innocents

There was a time when opponents of video game violence would use the term "murder simulation" to describe combat games. This was before anyone thought it would be a good idea to produce an actual game that revels in mass murder. When a trailer for Hatred showed up in the Polygon news inbox this morning, it was met with genuine revulsion. This is awful, awful stuff. A playable "genocide crusade," with some pretty unpleasant undertones. Warning; this trailer is both extremely violent and very tacky. Here is a trailer in which a protagonist walks the streets and kills innocent people with the utmost delight and savagery. According to its Polish developer Destructive Creations, the game is "an isometric shooter with a disturbing atmosphere of mass killing, where player takes the role...

Destiny's 'haunted' loot cave makes me hopeful for the future of the game

Much has been made about Destiny's phenomena of the loot caves, and Bungie's response in patching them out of the game.The developer has also learned a hard lesson about what players want from loot-unlocked multiplayer events, and the game's overall loot system has already been adjusted. This is the state of the game right now: Bungie is learning. Which is a why a throwaway joke inside one of said loot caves is so interesting. What this means, and why you should care When you head into what used to be the loot cave in Skywatch you see a pile of remains, and then this spooky message: This is a piece of content that was added to the game after the loot cave was removed, a sort of Halloween-appropriate monument to the amount of time players spent farming engrams and bringing them to...

To hell with longer games, tell me how SHORT your game is

I was going to skip The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. It's not that the game looked bad, or that the reviews rubbed me the wrong way — in fact everything released about the game made me believe it was right up my alley — but I knew I didn't have the time or energy for another game of standard length. And by standard length I mean anything that's eight hours or more. Then I got to the end of Polygon's review, and learned that the game was only a few hours long. You can beat it in three or four hours! It's $20! I bought it as soon as I was in front of my gaming PC. I'm looking forward to playing through the game, hopefully in one sitting, in the next few days. There is nothing more exciting to me than a short game. Under five hours? Sign me up It's not that long games are bad, or that...

I played Far Cry 4 for five hours, and here's what I think of the game so far ...

Giant tortoises and C-4 explosives rarely make for a good mixture, but life is full of exceptions.Take Far Cry 4. When Ubisoft Montreal was looking for inspiration for its latest fantasy, it stumbled across exploding tortoises and found inspiration. Turns out, certain players of Far Cry 3, which takes place on a tropical island, were posting videos of themselves finding creative ways to murderize the game's tortoises. Strapping explosives to the creatures and watching the results holds a deep fascination to a particular manner of mind. After a few seconds you know you're in a Far Cry game "There was one guy who was just running around blowing up tortoises with C-4," recalls Far Cry 4 executive producer Dan Hay. "He was talking to them while he was blowing them up. Like 'hey turtle.'...

Shadow of Mordor's Nemesis system is simpler than you think, and should be stolen

Game developer Mike Bithell has talked about the hows and the whys of stealing from other games before, and he's discussed why the menus of Destiny are so effective in that game. He's since turned his Sauron-like gaze to Shadow of Mordor, describing why other games should steal the Nemesis System. "I bloody loved this game. What it stole, it improved upon, be it [Assassin's Creed]'s openworld design rhythms, or Batman’s combat system," Bithell wrote. "Crucially, they did a brilliant job of bringing freshness to the game via their Nemesis system and adjoining mission structure." He describes game design as a series of magic tricks, things put in place to give the player the illusion that something amazing is happening to them as they play. He breaks down how the Nemesis...

An hour in hell: Hands-on with Alien: Isolation in virtual reality

Alien: Isolation in virtual reality isn't perfect, but it's one of the best mainstream uses of the technology in gaming. Being inside the world makes it hard to return to standard monitors, but when the bodies begin to stack up it can be hard to continue playing. Alien: Isolation is tense; it knows how to fill the player with a sense of dread that is rare in this sort of game. The opening hours move slowly, and the progression from an individual on a standard mission into the story of someone fighting for their life is given much care and thought. The pacing is one of the best things about the game, as is the sense of time and place. Which is why it's so hard to play in virtual reality. I spent way too much time standing in front of a window on the game's first spacecraft, taking in...

The things we hate in online games are making our single-player stories better

I was leveling through Stranglethorn Vale in World of Warcraft in early 2005, working on a series of quests that involved killing a bunch of animals based loosely on characters from The Jungle Book, and I was near the end of it, fighting an elite tiger.I almost had him down before an orc ran up and stabbed me in the back, killed me, and teabagged my corpse. He then finished off the tiger, even though he probably wasn’t on the quest. I had to run back to the quest area from the graveyard, wait for the tiger to spawn and restart the fight. This is a familiar experience for many players of MMO games like World of Warcraft: you've nearly completed a mission to escort an NPC through waves of enemies, or you've nearly killed a difficult monster. Your health is depleted and your most powerful...

We can't stop writing about Destiny, but you can't stop reading about it

You can't throw a stick in the games press without hitting a story about Destiny. Every patch is covered in great detail, each new loot cave is pored over pixel by pixel. The volume of coverage about the game doesn't seem connected to its lukewarm critical response and review scores. Part of this is due to the fact that so many of us are still playing the game, and my friends list confirms that. While my list of complaints about Destiny is rather long, the game's ability to retain the interest of so many people I know is impressive. I read the comments, especially on Facebook, and they're constantly discussing how much coverage the game is getting. I'm going to be honest, part of it is just business. Destiny is covered heavily because people click on and share Destiny stories; the...

More Twin Peaks, more remakes, more updates, more everything, please

There will be more Twin Peaks. It’s been confirmed.There will also be more Ghostbusters. The response has been the typical hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing that you’re used to from the Internet: They’re going to ruin anything, the tweets say. Why go back to something that was already artistically on the wane when the plug was originally pulled, the Facebook posts argue. Just leave it alone, the comments say. More of a good thing can be a bad thing, especially online, where we like to complain about our pop culture obsessions way more than we like to enjoy them. The possibility of more Twin Peaks already has people offended, and that's where things begin to feel silly. Nothing is at stake Here’s my thought: Make more of everything. I don’t care. I want more Star Wars movies. I’d love...

Happy 25th birthday to a beautiful, magnificent game

SimCity launched on Oct. 3, 1989. It's 25-years-old today. I loved that game. Will Wright made it. Cleverest bloke working in games. You build cities. They are yours. You drop city blocks into place and connect them and sometimes they work great and sometimes they don't. The cleverness lies in how the connectivity of the blocks is scored by human behavior. So, it's not about how many levels you beat or how many monsters you slay. It's about how smart you have been in creating utility. The city blocks require servicing, with police stations and schools and such. You feed the streets. It's like a pet. I was working on a computer magazine when it came out. I played it at work, during lunch hours, after work. It wasn't a game you played to pass the time; it was a game you found...

Why we can't stop talking about P.T.

P.T. is a demo for a game that doesn't even have a release date. Really, it's a piece of viral marketing: it was released as a free "gameplay experience" after Sony's press event at Gamescom in August, and "beating" it unlocks a trailer for Silent Hills, Hideo Kojima's upcoming take on the Silent Hill horror franchise. It's just a teaser, but this tiny game is still inspiring and scaring people nearly three months after its release. People are still playing P.T., analyzing its mysteries, finding new details in its twisting, creepily repeating hallways. YouTube users like Marszie and TheGrateDebate are still posting videos about the game. Folks are making fan films, analysis videos, and lets-plays. So, why are people still talking about it? It's a mystery "The nature of P.T....

Alien: Isolation shows the death, and life, of the working class in space

You don't realize how "safe" and unimaginative most game worlds are until something comes along that breaks from genre tradition. The environments and industrial design of Alien: Isolation are just such a break, and they're two of the most exciting aspects of the game. Ridley Scott's Alien film provided the same sort of disruption for the movie industry, and it's one of the reasons it continues to look timeless. Everything from the actors, who were older than what we'd expect from a science fiction movie today, to the equipment they used made the world feel lived in and real. Here was a group of working class people struggling with a situation that was far above their pay grade. We're used to seeing characters ignore rules in order to succeed, but the deaths of the crew of the Nostromo...
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.