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Articles by Phillip A. Lobo

The Sovereign Survivor

February 1, 2014
The Sovereign Survivor

The player is alone in the game, both sole survivor and unquestioned sovereign, but what’s at the heart of such games? Phillip Lobo examines the loneliness of the long-distance gamer

ctrl+issues

December 1, 2013
ctrl+issues

“Do you see?” the Narrator says. “Don’t you know you were dead the minute you hit Start?” Phillip Lobo deciphers The Stanley Parable

The Modern Mechanism

October 1, 2013
pigmachine

Thick with atmosphere, lush with visual design, and sporting more than a few influences of steampunk, “Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs” is a video game Karl Marx might have played – and even enjoyed.

The Shape of Things to Come

September 1, 2013
EuropaUniversalisIV

All of European history – and beyond – plays out in new and fascinating variations of guns, germs, and steel in Paradox Interactive’s new version of its popular video game Europa Universalis

Already Dead

August 1, 2013
Already Dead

In the latest video game iteration of the current media zombie craze, a history teacher from Georgia confronts the undead hordes – and what those hordes may say about contemporary America

Rage and Regulation

June 1, 2013
Rage and Regulation

“I hope they pay you well for your obedience, dog” – two new video games explore the parameters of authority and the constraints of law. Doesn’t sound like a fun afternoon, but as Phillip Lobo discovers, there are darker pleasures lurking in the fine print of the social contract.

Ad Infinitum

May 1, 2013
Ad Infinitum

A radio voice crackles “Hallelujah,” and Booker DeWitt’s violent, surreal steampunk adventures in Columbia begin again in the latest BioShock chapter, BioShock Infinite

A Devil in the Details

April 1, 2013
A Devil in the Details

The ideal player for Capcom’s new version of “Devil May Cry” must be a ballerina of death-dealing, striking down an endless array of foes with an endless array of weapons. But how will all of this strike the other-than-ideal player?

Do You Feel Like a Hero Yet?

February 1, 2013
memorialcandles

Has there ever been a time in American history when the gun-and-violence-obsessed subtext of video games was more problematic? Special Ops: The Line puts you in the place of a grizzled, gun-wielding expert – but it doesn’t necessarily want you to feel good about that.

Fright Unseen

November 1, 2012
Fright Unseen

Once upon a time, the hive-mind of the Internet set to work creating a modern-day bogey man who lurks in plain sight – and so “Slender Man,” the dark mirror image of “Where’s Waldo,” was born

Change-gamer

October 1, 2012
TPM2012

Election-weary Americans might wonder why anybody in their right minds would elect to play a video-game presidential contest – but the process can be oddly enlightening.

Fort-da Logic

July 1, 2012
braid

Why do we play video games? And why do we RE-play them? And what the heck has Sigmund Freud got to do with any of it? Gaming guru Phillip Lobo looks at some new iterations of familiar old games and attempts to connect the dots.

Breaking Up With Blizzard

June 1, 2012
Starcraft

His teenage years were blissfully misspent playing Diablo II from Blizzard, and now the company has come out with Diablo III – but can the relationship be saved?

Choices at the Event Horizon

May 1, 2012
MEff3

In the latest version of the hugely popular video game – as in real life – you are the living culmination of all your past decisions, good and bad.

Dystopia Now

April 1, 2012
syndicate

A simpler, sleeker update of the dystopian 90′s classic Syndicate raises some uncomfortable questions about the here and now.

Set Sail, Come Home

November 1, 2011
bastion

On the surface, the new RPG Bastion is a fairly straightforward hack-and-slash video game—but a complex narrative back-story reveals some hidden depths.

Pseudo-Binaristic Wiki-Okatu

October 1, 2011
interrnets

The key to storytelling is world-building, and a new book wonders if our new and all-encompassing Digital Era has given mankind world-building tools like it’s never had before. Is it the death of the imagination – or Story 2.0?

As Crazy Quentin Knows

May 1, 2011
dragon-age-2-cdkey-im1

Frame narratives, rags-to-riches angles, gender-swapping, the wages of grief, and …. love. Yes, we’re talking about a video game, specifically Dragon Age 2.

Bodies in Space

March 1, 2011
deadspace2

Isaac Newton wrote about bodies at rest and bodies in motion – but he never got around to bodies that want to rip you apart with their tentacles and feast on your steaming entrails! A classic video game gets a macabre and highly detailed sequel.

There Are Heroes, and You Aren’t One of Them

December 1, 2010
HaloReach

A gutted world, a shattered helmet, a battle lost before you ever joined it … in “Halo: Reach,” the franchise delves into the mythology underpinning all heroic narrative, and still manages to deliver some fun.

“Your Princess is in Another Castle”

September 1, 2010
ryanvan

In the gaming memoir “Unplugged,” one man grapples with the story of his own addiction to video games.

Wedding Plans Are Postponed Due to Patricide

June 1, 2010
jake-gyllenhaal-prince-of-persia

The new Hollywood extravaganza “Prince of Persia” is based on a video game with long history. Fitting, then, that our gamer-expert Phillip A. Lobo should review them both.

The Mines of Mania

May 1, 2010
DwarfFortressImagePoster

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, it’s off to game we go as Phillip Lobo delves into the subterranean pleasures of Dwarfortress

PAX Ludorum

April 1, 2010
photo-14-arber kasa

Over the last weekend in Boston, thousands of video gamers gathered for PAX East, one of the largest East Coast gatherings of, er, their kind. Intrepid Phillip Lobo was on the scene.

‘You Talk Too Much…’

March 1, 2010
me2

Unlike its predecessor, Mass Effect 2 makes being a jerk a rewarding experience–Phillip A. Lobo explores the paradoxes of the Enlightenment, and the complicated morality of being bad.

Dysentery and Other Childhood Memories

February 1, 2010
where-in-the-world-is-carmen-sandiego

If names like “Number Muncher,” “The Oregon Trail,” and of course “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” prompt nostalgic smiles for you, you’ll love this affectionate look at educational video games

Adventure.exe

January 1, 2010
00001

Phillip A. Lobo leaps from the classic 1970s game Zork to Andrew Hussie’s webcomic MS Paint Adventures in his nostalgia-inducing discussion of the allures of interactive fiction computer games

The Pleasures of Paranoia

December 1, 2009
asII

In Assassin’s Creed II, the player plays a player playing a player, all hunting for buried memories and hidden clues to the nature of identity. Philip A. Lobo explains.

Confessions of an Armchair Dictator

November 1, 2009
Tropico-3

Tropico 3 tempts its players to become petty, manipulative tyrants; Phillip A. Lobo will permit you (unworthy though you are) of reading his musings on the game.

The Rookie’s Dream

October 1, 2009
halo3odst

Does the latest Halo game portend the fracturing of history and the death of narrative, or is it just a really cool game? Phillip A. Lobo explains, naturally.

Carmen ex Machina

September 1, 2009
supermario

The blips and whistles of Mario’s soundtrack have evolved into grand strings and horns. Phillip A. Lobo assays how real music has come to video games, and vice versa.

Simmin’ the Good Life

August 1, 2009
sim6664554

They live, love, strive, and thrive, but they don’t scrimp, save, hate, or discriminate – is it rapturous capitalism, or virtual virtue? Phillip A. Lobo plays The Sims.

Wishing on a Star (Wars)

July 1, 2009
wow

“It’s an energy field that connects us all” Obi-wan Kenobi has told us, and Phillip Lobo attests to the truth of it in his review of the latest Star Wars MMO.

May the Horse Be with Him

June 1, 2009
arthas

Before Arthas was a character in a new novel, he was a character in a video game (World of Warcraft, naturally) – which makes him fair game for our gaming expert, Phillip Lobo.

Trouble Shooting: Video Games into Movies

May 1, 2009
streetfight

You’d think any brand of movie that could produce Super Mario Bros. would have no advocates left, but you’d be wrong! Our gaming expert Phillip A. Lobo diagnoses the problem to date and charts a new path for video game movies.

So This Is What the Dream Is Like

April 1, 2009
roman

Notorious for its violence and misogyny, or misunderstood for its biting social commentary? Grand Theft Auto IV polarizes; video game docent Phillip A. Lobo attempts to broker a meeting.

No Poorer For It

March 1, 2009
rapturebioshock

Culture critics decry video games – including 2K’s BioShock – as mindless, pointless haphazard wastes of time. Phillip A. Lobo offers one fan’s spirited rebuttal.