My old friend and college roommate, Jon Blow, has been working on a video game called Braid for the last 3 or 4 years (with the help of artist David Hellman), and this Wednesday, August 6, it's finally being released for Xbox Live Arcade. It's superficially a side-scrolling platform game a la Super Mario Bros., but the central mechanism of having infinite rewind, even after dying, turns it into a thoughful puzzle game. And the art is beautiful.
It's more than just brain and eye candy, though. To quote the game's home page, "Braid treats your time and attention as precious. Braid does everything it can to give a mind-expanding experience." Jon is a deep thinker about the role of video games in society; for a brief taste of some of his ideas, check out his Short Essay About Serious Games. He has also given a number of lectures about game development, which are available as either video or powerpoint-plus-audio in the Appearances category of the Braid blog. These talks range from advice about making game prototypes to philosophical discussions of how the design of World of Warcraft is unethical. All of his lectures are worth checking out; some of the same slides appear in two or three different lectures (and I think he manages to mention The Marriage in every single lecture), but the lectures come at their topics from distinct angles and are full of thought-provoking (and sometimes incendiary) statements. Several of them also include Braid previews, if you want to see the game in action or get a glimpse at the history of its development.