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This Week in Videogame Blogging: Hard-Casual reveals exclusively that Dig Dug has uncovered the body of Jimmy Hoffa!

Now that that’s out of my system; Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

For my fellow Australian readers, David Wildgoose turfs up another thoughtful commentary on the “plunder down under” that is targeting us players of electronic videogames. Actually, that’s a complete fabrication – I just wanted to be able to say “plunder down under”. In reality, David talked about how prices are set for different regions on digital distribution services such as Steam, and in a two-fer-one, the week before he talked about how Australia’s perceived ‘raw deal’ at retail is less ‘sinister price-gouging’ and more a result of publishers hedging their bets around the fluctuation of the Australian dollar. On second thoughts, do we actually have any Australian Critical Distance readers? Hmm…

Matthew Wasteland waxes lyrical on the subject of… not a game this time, but a game blogger – specifically, PixelVixen707 (aka Rachael Webster). A good summary of the situation and perhaps suggestive of how to engage with someone who is part real and part made up. Oh, and the ‘Vixen herself now has a column at the soft-core pornography website Suicide Girls. For this week she wrote about the indie game Today I Die and manages to quite effectively communicate the game’s feel to a non-gaming audience. For another great take on Today I Die, check out Corvus Elrod’s excellent advice – “play it like a poem” – and more here.

Critical Distance contributor Nels Anderson writes about how we often anticipate forthcoming seasons of a television series despite remaining deeply sceptical of movie sequels. He suggests that videogame “sequels” should perhaps be more viewed as “seasons” in the post “Sequel? – Nay, season“, giving some good reasons as to why.

Also this week, this author’s favourite game-designer-cum-blogger, CLINT HOCKING wrote about his time with the game Naruto: Rise of a Ninja. He particularly liked the realisation of the open world city for its conciseness, its interesting NPC interactions as well as its interesting spatial organisation.

While on the subject of architecture and spatial geography, Jim Rossignol puts his head together with the mind behind BLDGBLOG and together they come up with some truly fascinating ideas. Touching on subjects such as gaming neuroscience, texting and literacy, why Rossignol’s book has no pictures, the differences between architecture critics and videogame critics, how CCTV footage always looks like it’s just waiting for an incident, and a whole swath of other ideas to do with the confluence of videogames and architecture, it is this week’s must read. Here’s a quote from Rossignol to pique your interest:

[Videogame] critics and writers are heavily dissuaded from being speculative when talking about games, and I think this is because there’s a tendency for gamers to be backseat designers. There’s a strong tendency for people to dismiss journalists who write speculatively about games or who talk about games’ futures or the possibilities of game design the way that you do with architecture. I wonder if that’s different with architecture because there are so few backseat architects, so to speak.

It’s turning into quite the week for pairs, with two more think-pieces about Braid. In the first, Duncan Fyfe writes around the ever elusive subject of “What Braid is About” in the post ‘Hit Self-Esteem‘ …except that it’s less about what Braid the game is about and more about what Braid in its entirety is about. The second is Logan Crowell’s follow-up post to his initial gauntlet-throwing column ‘The Alligators Have Good Graphics’ mentioned in TWIVGB a couple of weeks ago. In Part 2, he applies his erudition to Braid and, for a large part of a long essay, compares it and its reception to another critical darling; the game Bioshock. He also delves into its “critique of Mario” nature, with perhaps the best contribution coming from his observation that, at least in platformers, narrative is less the player’s actual motivation for doing things and more “an acknowledgment that there is an ending up ahead. [That] you can save the Princess.”

But we’re not done yet – another thoughtful piece from John Walker of Rock, Paper, Shotgun should be read this week, as it deals with a rarely touched upon subject. ‘The Extraordinary Saga of Left Behind‘ is probably most worth reading because so very little is often said about being a gamer of faith, and Walker tries to distinguish between criticism of the game on design grounds and criticism of it for its blatantly Christian (and often sexist) message. Here’s how he approaches it,

Declaration of interests: I’m a Christian. Church-going, Jesus-loving, God-botherer. And yet somehow, at the same time, I’ve managed to keep a grip on my critical faculties. So when someone makes a “Christian” version of something, I don’t immediately declare it a bonus chapter to the Bible and build it a shrine.

“Christianity as lifestyle”, or defining my faith by the “Christian” flavoured media I consume, is something I’d be all too happy to see kept from the videogame space. Anyway, It’s a good read.

And finally, a quick plug for something that Michael Abbott will probably be quite interested in but which remains interesting for the rest of us: an interview at Edge Online with Celebrity Voice Actor go-out-and-getterer Lev Chapelsky. You might have seen it do the rounds at the big news sites as they particularly focussed on how Chapelsky says he tried pitching the role of President Adams in Fallout 3 to Bill Clinton (One in a million, but worth a shot!) and the rest of it is worthwhile reading too.

And that’s your lot for the week – As always if your read a post that was particularly excellent and would like to see it included in TWIVGB, feel free to leave a link in the comments or email us at editors@this-website.

P.S. – Messhof has a new game out.

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