Intro: Jonathan Kula

Hi everyone! I’m Jonathan :D (he/they), excited to be here!

“Favorite game of all time” is SO hard to me decide– there are a lot of games that have been important to me at different stages of my life. In terms of video games, OneShot and Undertale are pretty important modern indie RPGs to me– both have meta elements and especially the former, I think is an excellent example of an interactive fiction that takes the medium to its limits, redefining what a video game could be for me. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is the first RPG I played and it still holds a dear, dear place in my heart (and I have yet to find an RPG with battles as exciting and interesting and satisfying as this game), and the art style is just so playful and fun. For non-video-games, D&D (and homebrew varients) has been formative to my social life, and has become an extremely important touchpoint for a ton of other creative endeavors (visual art, music, and programming projects too– not to mention some writing and worldbuilding). Other honorable mentions include Minecraft (this got me into CS!), A Short Hike, and Howling Dogs.

As for games I’ve played recently— a big one is Celeste. It’s a challenging platforming game with a story that touches on anxiety and depression with allusions to trans experience. I think this is an excellent example of story that is backed up by the gameplay itself; the pressure, difficulty, and perseverance of Madeline’s mountain-climbing is experienced directly by the player using the analogue of the gameplay itself. The game is also excellent at teaching the player to play the game, gently introducing mechanics and letting the player understand them through trial and error. It strikes a great balance of being extremely challenging without getting too frustrating, while also testing the player in key moments. Solving each room is both an intellectual and physical/skill challenge: what is the best route through the room? And then, can you execute your plan? This is the game I’ve possibly spent the most time trying to 100%, even more than sandbox games like e.g. Breath of the Wild. It never gets boring.

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