pleasuredomes of kubla khan

games by thecatemites are all about the dissonance between our fantasies and the cardboard cities (videogames) we construct for them to haunt like ghosts. in pleasuredomes of kubla khan, framed as a piece of corporate educational software, the dichotomy between the historical world being described by the narrator and the flat box-world the player explores escalates into a senseless orgy of jittering polygons, an irreconcilable conflict between what we’re capable of imagining and what we’re capable of creating that maybe speaks more to the ways in which we limit our creations than the ways in which our technology does.

21 thoughts on “pleasuredomes of kubla khan”


    Almost every 3D game acts like text is off limits.

    Verisimilitude is assumed to be your goal if you’re going 3D, even if your gfx are stylized. Even if the world doesn’t look “realistic,” you experience movement through it in what is assumed to be a “realistic” way.

    The trend, then, is towards 3D games with stylized gfx that attempt to make their interfaces as invisible as possible.

    I LIKE interfaces and feedback and noise and all the dissonance they can create.

  2. Hey, it’s me, thecatamites! Thanks for talking about my top new game “Pleasuredromes Of Kubla Khan” which is surely on track to win all of the videogame awards and has been favourably compared to Ben Hur on more than one occasion. I agree with what you say but also believe the distressing parody of private desire and imagination that is a reified external Made Thing to be a potential “beacon of hope” as most inner thoughts are “total garbage” anyway which the distortion involved in actually being realised as autonomous objects can serve to parody or undermine, as witness the many old console-games where the desire to replicate terrible action movies was only redeemed by their incompetence is doing so, thereby achieving a state of “magic grace” or at least being funny, a possibly comparable process is dramatised in THIS VERY GAME where the condescending and prurient narrator must undergo the ultimate indignity of facing the ridiculous bootleg videogame equivalent of his own brain, or not, who knows, how awful, well that’s my view, well, thanks for the post.


    alienware should stop making ugly computers that suck and instead just give their name to the catamites cuz hed probably do better with it than they have

  4. “escalates into a senseless orgy of jittering polygons, an irreconcilable conflict between what we’re capable of imagining and what we’re capable of creating that maybe speaks more to the ways in which we limit our creations than the ways in which our technology does.”

    … so; you’ve fallen into art-crit now? Because that smells deeply of pretentious bollocks.

    I have absolutely no idea what you tried to say. The smattering of adjectives doesn’t even give me a general idea of “good” or “not good”.

    To tie this, admittedly somewhat useless and abusive comment, back to at least a general topic of this blog:
    Next time you wonder why people think “art games” are worthless pretentious crap? Re-read your comment. It’s because even their supporters are presenting them that way.

  5. maybe like take a reading comprehension course or something

    writers like to write, stop calling that which you dont ‘get’ pretentious! its willfully ignorant and kinda sad

    she didnt say good or not good because those are entirely subjective terms that have less than no meaning

    ign gives your comment a 12.45/100
    you understand THAT, right?

  6. i remember when luna wordfiltered every instance of “pretentious” in her web browser to “RIP OFF MY FACE.”

    i might have to institute a policy like that for this blog.

    the word “pretentious” is the opposite of conversation. you might as well be saying nothing at all.

  7. The point still stands. Your description is divorced from mundane reality, it does nothing to convey what the game is actually like; it gives no way for the reader to know whether or not they will enjoy it.

    It is, instead, purely intended to convey “Hey, look at me, I am in the tribe of people who spout long words”.

    Translating the text above to more mundane english, we get:

    games by thecatemites are about videogames that don’t match our fantasies (our toons? maybe?).
    A fake piece of corporate educational software has the narrator describing a historical world nothing like the boxy world.
    The the graphics go odd, with polygons everywhere.

    So… it’s not corporate educational software? What is it? Other than a thing with polygons in it, which doesn’t match my fantasy?
    That’s… that’s really not a helpful description of a game.

    You MAY have conveyed “What is it about” (I can’t tell, maybe the game really is that silly)
    You really haven’t conveyed “What does the avatar do” or “What does the player do”

    Yes; obviously, you are free to write whatever you like.
    But really, the description you gave this game just smacks you in the face with twaddle and says, to borrow a term; “This game is not FOR you.”
    And I wanted to point that out, and suggest that doing this is wholly counterproductive.

  8. this isn’t a fucking

    eighty hour game

    that costs sixty dollars

    it’s a free game that takes five minutes to play. my responsibility is not to tell you whether or not this game is “worth the investment.” what i am trying to do instead is to SUGGEST IDEAS THAT IT MADE ME THINK OF, so that when you play the game you can be aware of them and maybe think of them too, and this will help develop your perspective of the thing.

    this is criticism. there’s not a lot of it in most games writing so i guess i understand if you’re confused.

  9. hahaha she describes the game perfectly and you complain that it doesnt describe the game even though you havent played it

    your point is moot and awful, quit while you’re behind

  10. and when you say smacks YOU in the face with twaddle you really mean “smacks me in teh face because its not a quantitative review and i only understand things when they’re described to me on a scale of 1 to 10”

    you realize theres more ways to talk about things than MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK, FLUID GAMEPLAY MECHANICS, and TOTALLY IMMERSIVE, B-, REPLAY VALUE: LOW right? wait of course you dont

    why are you reading this blog anyway hahahaha

  11. And yet Vitenka perfectly captures the difference between this pap and your usual elegant and informative recommendations, Anna. Is a tag-team rebuttal plus accusation of brogamerdom with Daph really the best you can muster?

  12. And here I was thinking I’d just come in and say the last line felt really off to me because it seems to suggest “our technology” is somehow not part of “our creations”.

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