DID YOU READ

Revenge of the Auteur: “Child of Eden” debuts at #1 on Amazon

Revenge of the Auteur: “Child of Eden” debuts at #1 on Amazon (photo)

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Look, I can’t pretend to be objective about Tetsuya Mizuguchi‘s work. Lots of people like “Rez,” but I’m the guy who trumpets his more obscure work like “Every Extend Extra” the inverse shooter he re-crafted for PSP. The man’s game design seeks to work on your senses first, then your heart and then your brain. In true auteur fashion, he’s got a definite approach that carries over from game to game.

My regard to Mizuguchi as a genius notwithstanding, I didn’t have high hopes for “Child of Eden” as far as sales were concerned. Sure, it’s playable with a standard controller, but it’s being marketed as a Kinect experience. Sentiment around the motion-sensing camera and the games built for it is generally lukewarm and that, combined with the fact that “Rez” never made tons of money, seemed to destine “Child of Eden” for the “good reviews + modest sales = cult hit” formula all over again.

But, word started to bubble over Twitter last night that “Child of Eden” was popping up as the number one game overall at Amazon’s U.S. websites. An article at gaming industry site Gamasutra backs up the chatter. I’m realistic as the fact that an Amazon #1 may not equal the chart-busting numbers of a “Call of Duty” or a “Halo.” And some may chide that it took a promotional sale for “Eden” to hit the summit. But, what buoys me most about this news is the idea that people are playing a visionary game with unique design sensibilities. Moreover, the combination of Kinect and Mizuguchi’s efforts can help broaden the idea of what people think about when they think about what a video game can be.

Like “Rez” before it, “Child of Eden” makes you feel like you’re living in and interacting with a piece of art or, more specifically, with a piece of an artist’s soul. It delivers visual wonder after visual wonder and invites you to interact with them, with that interaction changing the very thing you’re looking at. Because the game doesn’t shy away from being hard at points, the challenge of the play experience crests into little consciousness-raising epiphany bubbles where–and I know this sounds corny–you see the interconnectedness of everything. It’s a perceptual shift you can take away from the game and out into the world with you. In short, it makes you feel.

Video games aren’t quite like movies yet, where a creative work has more freedom to exist outside of commercial considerations. The video game distribution equivalent of art-house movie theatres-Kongregate, TIGsource, Xbox Live Indie Games and, to an extent, even Android Market and Apple’s App Store-don’t benefit from the kind of goodwill that their filmic counterparts do. Video games live in ecosystems where they need to financially justify their existence and experimentation or art-for-art’s-sake just isn’t marketable. That’s what makes this week’s Supreme Court decision so culturally important; it’s the kind of thing that can shift perceptions of video games from being ‘product’ to being ‘art.’ Of course, the industry itself has to follow suit. (No doubt, the continuing rise of well-made indie games like “Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP” and films like “Indie Game the Movie”will help.) Here’s hoping “Child of Eden” enjoys more sales success and that that success points the way forward.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.