A short ‘n’ sweet one for This Week in Videogame Blogging. Not because no-one wrote anything good but because I didn’t keep my usual close tabs on the regular blogs I read. C’est la vie! As always, TWIVGB makes no claims to comprehensiveness, only quality.
This week saw N’Gai Croal return to his Edge column with ‘In the Line of Fire: Part One‘. In this post, Croal talks about the reactions he faced to his now (in)famous comments expressing his hesitancy with problematic imagery in the Resident Evil 5 trailer. It’s interesting to see how the context in which he originally uttered them – a casual interview – became lost as online readers decided to read Croal’s comments as an accusation of racism on the part of Capcom, which wasn’t exactly the point he was trying to make.
Hit Self-Destruct writes about the confluence of Game and Real Life in ‘Photo Album‘. Duncan tells how he empathised particularly strongly with the protagonist in one particular situation in Mass Effect because it mirrored his own.
The ‘Gameology’ blog has been around for a long time now, but posting had fallen off recently. Being an academically minded blog, this week on Gameology contributor Tanner Higgin writes about Erik Loyer‘s talk ‘Stories as Instruments’. Loyer is probably best known for his well received iPhone game Ruben and Lullaby, which received copious attention at this year’s GDC. Tanner says that
Loyer’s central critique is of the obsessive push in game design toward large branching plot-driven stories centered on the freedom and autonomy of a character … He argues that the focus should be on the potential for dynamic experiences of subjectivity, affect, and emotion rather than thousands of potential choices.
There is this idea of chasing innovation in game design that I used to be a big proponent of, but that I now suspect is a little bit misdirected.
Which is an interesting revelation and something that he goes into a bit more depth into later on in the interview.
Matthew Gallant returns from his three month hiatus with a post on the “sport” of Grifball, which intrigued me from the time I first heard of it. It’s like a weird hybrid of Football and Basketball played inside the Xbox game Halo 3, and is a great testament to the potential for creative emergence in games. It also reminds me of Iroquois Pliskin’s argument from July ’08 that ‘Lasering Dudes is a Sport‘. Yep, you can have that one for free!
On the ever popular (and ever excellent) BLDG BLOG, Jim Rossignol guest contributes a post this week called ‘Evil Lair: On the Architecture of the Enemy in Videogame Worlds‘. Rossignol compares and contrasts several games’ treatment of enemy architecture with the relationship the player has to said enemies. Regarding the trend to use Gothic architecture to have locations “emanate evil”, he notes that
… I suspect, these signposts – or the ways in which game designers architecturally represent evil – are becoming too much a part of our everyday imaginative discourse to remain affecting. They’ve begun to lose their danger. The connection with the inhumanity that makes the enemy so thrilling has started to fade via over-familiarity.
Rossignol also posted another entry in his ever-excellent ‘Ragdoll Metaphysics’ series on Offworld. It’s on the newly announced game Thief 4 and the legacy of the previous games in the series.
And I got so close this week to going without linking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun! But then I read just yesterday the post by Resolution Magazine’s UK General Editor Lewis Denby called ‘Touched By The Hand Of Mod: Dear Esther‘, which is this week’s must-read. It’s about a mod for Half-Life 2 created by some researchers at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, and it sounds genuinely interesting. Using non-linear and randomised story elements the game works to create an ambiguous picture of a story that the player assembles in their own mind. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet but when I get the time I’ll certainly be downloading its 200 and a bit megabyte file.
And that’s another round of This Week In Videogame Blogging. As always, if you’ve seen something excellent this week that you would like noted, leave a link in the comments or send an email to editors@thiswebsite and we’ll add it in or include it next week.