Picture of Emad Ahmed

Emad Ahmed


Emad Ahmed is a freelance writer covering games (among other things) and what they say about our world. His desk usually has one stack of unplayed games and another of unread books.

Featured articles

Football Manager 2019 free transfers and bargains list - the best cheap players in FM19

Our picks for the best, cheapest players you can pick up in FM19's first window transfer market.

Football Manager 2019 wonderkids list - the best, highest potential young players in FM19

A list of the fifty highest potential wonderkids in Football Manager 2019.

FeatureHow survival horror reinvented itself

Always watching your back.

Between major trips visiting different relatives in Pakistan many years ago, us kids were allowed to be entertained at home with video rentals. I don't remember ever going to a store myself, so I have no idea who ended up choosing Wes Craven's Wishmaster for the tiny CRT television. And I don't remember much about it, except it was goofy, gross and strange all at once. Little did I know, as I didn't have access to dial-up internet in rural South Asia, there was a major shift occurring for the horror genre, in both video games and film.

FeatureLovely Planet and the joy of frustration

Things are never quite what they seem.

Jerks, that's what they are, plain and simple. I'm talking about the cube-shaped villains that populate the vivid world in Lovely Planet, a speed-running game that's haunted me ever since I purchased it in a Humble Bundle over three and a half years ago. Yet for some reason, I decided to buy it again a few months back, this time for the Xbox.

FeatureSega Mega Drive Classics makes me pine for a blue sky future

The greatest hits are great, but what about something new?

On a cold, gloomy Saturday 14 years ago, my brother and I went to trade in some old games at our local indie store. I can only guess what I got rid off - I'm betting on a PS2 copy of Yu-Gi-Oh! or something similarly tedious. Once done, though, we walked away with something brand new. Well, kind of new, at least: Midway Arcade Treasures, a new collection of old arcade and console classics from a company that would eventually die a slow death just a few years later.

One of the most frustrating endings I've ever witnessed belongs to the excellent film A Separation, by Asghar Farhadi. The film's about a couple's pending divorce, their struggles navigating through adjusted lives and multiple court appointments, and it ends with their young daughter choosing which parent she wants to stay with. I can't say any more, but I can say that the frustration I felt was topped two years ago when The Witness was released, which took hours and hours (and hours) from many of us, giving us the job of deciphering mundane-looking line puzzles.

FeatureWhen Sonic and Mario dominated children's television

“If you make seven million kids laugh, that must count towards something.”

The Adventures of Sonic was one of the few animated shows that was elevated to the position of being recorded onto VHS tapes in the Ahmed household. It was difficult given both of my siblings were older, but it was possible. My brother, despite also being a gamer back then, found the shows too silly. Eventually, things like Saved by the Bell and Hang Time catering for non-kids would muscle through, ending my relationship with animated shows soon after. (RIP Cardcaptors.)

If you ever have to drive as much as I do, your mind begins to wander as your body enters autopilot. Somehow simultaneously, you consider each decision you make behind the wheel while thinking of everything else going on in your life. Sometimes you connect the two: will slowing down at this amber light make me late for my appointment? Will the car opposite avoid the cat at the edge of the pavement? And will I skid the car off the edge of the nearby cliff?

Today, if you start playing a game on your smartphone that places a heavy emphasis on music and sound, chances are you'll receive an advisory warning. It'll ask you to please insert your headphones for the "best experience". It doesn't matter if you're home alone on the sofa or your head is scrunched between numerous standing thighs on public transport, headphones are important. And we can all blame this warning on Lumines and the way it helped change our relationship with games.

Nostalgia and expectations are both saviours and dangers for the gaming industry, sometimes simultaneously. For example, Nintendo is bouncing back thanks to their trusted mascots and a new console, yet somehow every game in existence is being remastered except for Burnout 3. Mirror's Edge Catalyst has arguably been the greatest victim of bloated expectations in contemporary gaming.