Leif Johnson

Freelance Game Journalist

Goliad, Texas

Leif Johnson

The Mountain That Writes. Sword 'n' Sorcery nerd. Writes for IGN, GameSpot, PC Gamer, GameTrailers, Mac|Life, GameFront, OXM, and more. Also, it's Layf!



8-Bit Hordes brings a Warcrafty spin to 8-Bit Armies

There's a giant, house-sized cyclops at the head of my army, and I have no idea what his name is. I feel as though I should—the 12-mission campaign for 8-Bit Hordes's Deathsworn faction kicks off with him surrounded by voxelated orcs who swarm him like dwarves pile on gold, and the fact that I initially can't spawn a version of him myself at first lends him an air of irreparable importance.
PC Gamer Link to Story

'Pokémon Go' in Rural Texas Is a Different Kind of Fun

It took me over an hour to find my first pokémon on the family ranch, which turned out to be a spiteful-looking doduo lurking among the prickly pear as if hiding from the South Texas sun. I flicked my thumb up on my iPhone, and he disappeared into a ball that most of my neighbors would have called a fishing bobber.
Motherboard Link to Story

The Flame in the Flood Review

The Flame in the Flood hits a little close to home. In the fall of '98 I watched as the San Antonio and Guadalupe rivers near my home swelled out of their banks to drown miles of the surrounding countryside, carting off whole houses and trees with the same ease that ants carry away crumbs of bread. Link to Story

'No Pineapple Left Behind' Asks Players to Run Schools Like Prisons

My sole experience with teaching consists of nightmarish days as a high school substitute and year-long stint as a University of Chicago T.A. But I know the stories; the way right wingers blasted it for government overreach and the way the left smeared it for pushing out electives in favor of focusing on math and English.
Motherboard Link to Story

The Unknown Struggles of Gaming in the Sticks

It’s late last week and I have an old machete in hand, and I’m in hunting boots scaling a 25-foot wall cobbled together from rusty cattle panels. At the top, I’m chopping away the wild grapevines throttling a little receiver that looks at the cellular data tower three miles to the south. It’s hot, even in October, and the sweat on my palms threatens to loosen my grip and send me to a back-breaking mishap on the air conditioner below.
Playboy Link to Story

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

What Is It? An actiony open-world RPG with a memorable vendetta system. Recommended specs: Core i7-3770 / AMD FX-8350, 8GB RAM, GTX 660 / HD 7950. Reviewed on: Windows 7, 2.80 GHz AMD processor, 16GB RAM, GeForce GTX 750 Ti. Ghûra the Funny One isn't laughing. I suspect the name's ironic; the hulking orc has never been good at telling jokes, from what I can tell, and it doesn't help that he's now sporting a nasty gash from where I thunked an arrow at his head somewhere in the barrows of Udûn.
PC Gamer Link to Story

The state of Elder Scrolls Online: 3 months after launch

A week after E3, I logged into Elder Scrolls Online expecting the worst. It was a pivotal moment for the future of ESO in the notoriously fickle MMORPG genre—the colorful rival WildStar had gone live but days before, the new "Craglorn" patch was settling into maturity, and most importantly, the first month of subscriptions had run dry for most early adopters.
PC Gamer Link to Story

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls review

I can’t recall a gaming villain who looks as imposing as Reaper of Souls’ Malthael but leaves so weak an impression. He pops in and out as the narrative unfolds, spouting a few threatening lines before evaporating in a mist of gloom, and thus he recalls Blizzard's similar treatment of Arthas Menethil during World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion.
PC Gamer Link to Story

LOTRO: Helm’s Deep Review – The Weak Point in the Wall

Atwald the minstrel, jerk that he is, showed his face about three hours into my playthrough of Helm’s Deep. Not for him the mundane tasks of picking eight flowers for medicine or slicing hides off of six deer—oh, no. “Is this really and truly how you chose to spend your time?”. he asks, mocking my participation in another fetch quest.
GameFront Link to Story

Why is it so hard to stop cheating in videogames?

PC Gamer Link to Story

Hands-on with Hero's Song, the ambitious roguelike RPG inspired by Dwarf Fortress

If my first attempt at Hero's Song had actually been a song, I barely would have had time to reach the second chorus. It took me far less time to die in my world than it'd taken to make it. I spent half an hour creating a world I'd enjoy for this roguelike RPG, weighing the pros of chaotic gods who manifest themselves as swarms of rats and the cons of blonde elf goddesses who bring forests and abundant life.
PC Gamer Link to Story

Silence Review

GameSpot Link to Story


Leif Johnson

Leif Johnson (that’s “LAYF”) is a freelance game journalist whose works appear on gaming sites including IGN, Vice: Motherboard. GameSpot, PC Gamer, Official Xbox Magazine, GamesRadar,, Mac|Life, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket,, GameSpy, NOWGamer, Gamezebo, and The Escapist. He’s also written video game-related work for American Cowboy magazine. Once a major figure in the cowboy poetry movement of the 1990s, he traveled across North America from Georgia to British Columbia reciting his poetry and working on ranches. Somewhere along the line he got the foolish notion that he needed to go to college, so he went to the University of Texas at Austin where he received a degree in history. He then spent three years at the University of Chicago working on his Ph.D. before realizing that he probably picked the wrong field to spend the rest of his academic career in. So now he writes about video games for a living. True story.

Leif has been playing video games since the days when Pac-Man machines were found in most corner stores, and he spent over two years in the world-class World of Warcraft raiding guild Risen on Alleria. These days, he plays on all major gaming systems, and he’s particularly proud of his “Dalaran University” T-shirt idea, which was a long-time bestseller on

He also enjoys archery, photography, and medieval history. He and his wife currently live on a ranch north of Goliad, Texas. You can occasionally find his work under his full name, “Jeremiah Leif Johnson.”

Want to get in touch with him? Send him an e-mail at

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