Here we are at the end of 2013, on the cusp of a new year, we at Critical Distance look back at all of the great criticism of the year. We trudged through the 1265 links we featured in the 2013 entries of TWIVGB and then checked the additional 50 recommendations you, the readers, submitted for consideration. From all of that we did our best to whittle a curatorial list of the most memorable, most important and most representative critical pieces of year. Critical Distance is proud to present the 2013 edition of This Year in Video Game Blogging.


Originally we called this print, but as the world moves towards digital, the specialist publications have begun to emerge. What used to be collaborative blogs has emerged into specialist publications with a wide variety of voices and names contributing.

Alan Williamson’s first full year of Five Out of Ten magazine put out a load of great work. Too many names to list here – 17 in all – contributed high quality critical work in its pages.

Another digital magazine, that got its start this year, is Zoya Street’s Memory Insufficient with 7 issues to its credit so far.

Ghosts In The Machine is a short story anthology of 13 pieces by a variety of video game critics edited by Lana Polansky and Brendan Keogh.

Critical Video Game Blogging

Every year the focus of most of the work is on the games themselves, ranging from a holistic overview, to narrowing in on a single aspect or connecting it to the greater trends and themes of the medium. This is true for games of the present and of the past.

Without a doubt the most talked about game of the year is Bioshock Infinite. Cameron Kunzelman was kind enough to collect a lot of the early writings of the game soon after its release.

Leigh Alexander examines her own reaction to Bioshock Infinite and finds that the same formula is cracking at the seams as time has passed it by.

Matthew Armstrong calls the game out on the difference between subtlety and cowardice, “trying to play dress-up as an intellectual exercise in what video games can accomplish.”

Meanwhile, Tevis Thompson takes not only the game to task, but the mainstream reviews and their lack of critical rigor towards it.

While Bishock Infinite may have generated the most, Gone Home certainly generated the most variety. In an emotion reflection by Merritt Kopas, she revealed that she cried a number of times. “This is a videogame. About girls in love. That shouldn’t be exceptional in and of itself, but it is.”

Leigh Alexander explores the nostalgia and the reflections of the time, Riot Grrls included, within Gone Home. Almost as a counter Maddy Myers explains how the game doesn’t reflect her experience of high school or the world.

Scott Nichols on his blog Gamerly Musings explains why he spoiled a certain aspect of the narrative in his review of Gone Home and why he felt it wasn’t something people should have held back.

Clockworkworlds’ Austin Walker reads between the lines of many of the artifacts of Terrence’s past and finds he may be the victim of child molestation.

Todd Harper looks into the Christian artifacts and what they represent about the different members of the family regarding their faith and the game as a whole.

Naomi of Dead Pixel looks at the one point in the game where Kaitlin asserts her own will over the player’s to keep her sister’s privacy.

Tom Chick at Quarter to Three asserts that The Last of Us has real heart, but not much else.

Errant Signal’s Chris Franklin calls The Last of Us “perhaps the best possible version of a fundamentally flawed design ideology; a perfect implementation of an imperfect idea.”

Stephen Beirne looks at The Ladder of Us and how Naughty Dogs seems terrified of its audience.

At Medium Difficulty, Javy Gwaltney focuses in on Bill, one of the secondary characters, and how his depiction resonates out to the larger world of the work.

Leigh Alexander writes for Gamasutra on the untimely tragedy of Grand Theft Auto V and for all the open world bluster, how confining the game ultimately feels.

Cameron Kunzelman asks why GTA5 is so conservative, saying about the series, “[it] has always been about selling our own shitty culture back to us and then explaining that we’re transgressive because we buy it.”

Anjin Anhut at How To Not Suck At Game Design deconstructs that satire of GTA5 or lack there of and how it can’t subvert what is already too outrageous.

Meanwhile, Tom Bissell writes a letter to Niko Bellic about Grand Theft Auto V at Grantland.

Proteus co-creator Ed Key responds to contentions that his game was not a game by asking “What Are Games?”

L. Rhodes chimes in that the discussion surrounding Proteus is less to do about the experience of playing it than it does justifying Proteus.

Ian Bogost, meanwhile, wrote a trio of artisanal reviews about the game.

Line Hollis compares Dear Esther and The Stanley Parable and what they have to say about fate and a deterministic universe.

Chris Franklin aka Campster, commits to a holistic reading of The Stanley Parable since its meaning only becomes apparent when viewed as a possibility space and not a single true playthrough.

Eric Swain on his column at PopMatters, took a look at the use of the camera in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and Kentucky Route Zero‘s indifference towards video games’ platonic ideal.

Also at PopMatters, is G. Christopher Williams piece about Rogue Legacy and its reflection about the contemporary economic status quo. And Scott Juster, of the Experience Points duo, labels Papers, Please as a game about the “banality of evil.”

Brian Boudreaux of Players Delight refutes the thinking of how Beyond: Two Souls is possibility space is limited and muses that the game’s biggest step forward was also taken too early.

At Unwinnable, Kris Ligman deconstructed Johnny’s place as a part of the Saints Row franchise and how him ending up pushed to the side in Saints Row IV mirror’s the series trajectory as a whole.

Rhea Monique writes about Tomb Raider and how the scene of her being choked deeply affected her.

Todd Harper explains why Actual Sunlight was just a little too much for him to bear and appreciated it didn’t go for the easy ending.

Gilles Roy at Play the Past looks at Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and what it has to say about storytelling and historical witnesses.

At Kill Screen, Emanuel Maiberg explains how Call of Duty: Ghosts ends up turning the player into both a terrorist and a Nazi and how it’s a pity it isn’t self aware enough to realize it.

Soha El-Sabaawi writes about the horror of the iOS indie game Year Walk for Ontological Geek.

Brendan Vance dives into a deep close reading of Liz Ryerson’s Problem Attic.

The Extra Credits crew closely reads a single line in The Walking Dead and its wider significance in the work.

Martin at Oh No! Video Games has a short piece on the thematic reading of episode 4 of The Walking Dead.

Austin C Howe explores the postmodernism nature of Metal Gear Solid. James Clinton Howell looks at MGS4 and how it calls attention to how we become indifferent to human life by its own indifference to human life.

Zolani Stewart looks at how Mortal Kombat 4 is different from its fighting game brethren. Mark Filipowich expands upon it and charts the trajectory of Mortal Kombat‘s violence and what it meat over the numerous entries.

Chris Plante wrote a postmortem on The Bureau: XCom Declassified‘s 7 year development cycle for Polygon.

At Medium Difficulty, Samantha Allen wrote A Dead Space Memoir and its mirroring of her own pain.

Psepho at Commuter Gaming did a close reading of the virtual spaces in Porpentine’s howling dogs.

In his column at The Escapist, Robert Rath explains why Corvo from Dishonored is not an honorable gentleman.

Max Chis calls Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days the anti-shooter long before Spec Ops: The Line.

Ceasar Bautista takes Susan Feagin’s The Pleasures of Tragedy and applies it to Far Cry 2.

Alex Duncan of The Animist blog look at what The Unfinished Swan as to say about creation and self-creation.

Matt Sakey at Tap Repeatedly puts his Roman History degree to use and explores why Total War: Rome II fails to allow the player to be Roman.

Liz Ryerson counters the indie game scene’s trusisms regarding Michael Brough’s Corrypt.

And finally, like last year, we end this section on Sparky Clarkson’s epic round up. He enlisted the help of 14 critics to help explain the greatness of as many 2013 releases in alphabetical order as possible.

Theory Blogging

A Lot of writing focused on specific games, but there was also a lot of writing thinking in the abstract. Not just the games, but regarding criticism itself. It’s work about our views and our understanding.

So of course we start off with Darius Kazemi’s slideshow FUCK VIDEOGAMES. As well as Liz Ryerson’s eye-destroying slideshow response RE: FUCK VIDEOGAMES.

Anna Anthropy saved me a lot of headaches by writing the only Formalist v. Zinester piece one needs to read: “The FORMALIST VERSUS ZINESTER debate is as real as the NARRATOLOGY VERSUS LUDOLOGY debate, which is to say not at all.”

Tangentially related, is Dan Cox explanation of The Mechanics of Twine.

Aevee Bee explained The Tyranny of Choice and its hold of game criticism and design. At Mammon Machine, Aevee Bee also wrote about need to explore beyond simple meaning, but also into the craft and form of our medium.

Mattie Brice wrote her clarion call for game centric criticism and design with Death of the Player.

Liz Ryerson wonders why she should love video games when the games seem embarrassed by their own nature and cannot love themselves.

Chris Franklin explains what Ludonarrative Dissonance actually means in the face of so many incorrect assertions and usage.

Zolani Stewart explains the problem with gun in video games is their lack of weight in the medium.

Shane Liesegang of Bethesda wrote a piece explaining the concept of Impressionist Gameplay.

Lars Doucet explains his newly coined term Procedural Death Labyrinths on his blog Fortress of Doors.

Reetesh Yelamanchili explores how the world itself is understood as a game through the works of Game of Thrones and The Wire.

Line Hollis thinks about how video games fail to meet the narrative arc without a serious change up with their rules within their run.

Culture Blogging

Gaming is much more than theory and works. It intersects with the real world. Any art form can only truly be understood by the culture that surrounds it. Art affects people and in turn people affect art. One must look at the people as well as the work.

The material isn’t as bad as previous years. however, I will not vouch for the comments and to be on the safe side, this section bears a Trigger Warning for discussions of sexism, harassment, rape and imagery of brutal violence towards women.

Anita Sarkeesian uploaded the first four videos of her Kickstarted series Tropes vs. Woman in Video Games covering the Damsel in Distress in three parts and Ms. Male Character in one.

Jenn Frank for Gameranx deconstructs what Dead Island Riptide‘s headless woman torso statue says about the culture that produced it and what it represents.

Trigger Warning end.

Polygon’s Tracey Lien looks into the past to find the story the now calcified stereotype of video game being for boys.

Samantha Allen wrote An Open Letter to Games Media about their comment policies and the image they are projecting at re/Action Magazine.

In addition, she wrote about her work using video games to teach intersectionality at Emory University, first with Halo‘s Skulls and then with Bastion‘s Idols.

Simon Parkin wrote an expose for Eurogamer about the Video Game Industrial complex and their complicity in advertising guns in the wake of the Newtown shooting and the NRA’s deflection of responsibility.

More studies are always being called for, so Jody Macgregor decided to see how those studies worked and what they actually had to say about behavior.

Micheal “brainygamer” Abbot makes the humble case that in aggregate what we are consuming in our medium cannot be healthy for us and we must examine ourselves.

Ian Williams describes the cycle of exploitation in the industry that is the de facto norm.

Keep Your Politics Out of My Video Games” Chris Franklin undermines, as he explains that such a contention is not really possible.

Related, Aevee Bee uses Penny Arcade to explain the slow death satire appears to be experiencing thanks to puffed up self importance and abdication of responsibility.

Simon Parkin says you should quit calling yourself a gamer lest you be tainted by what the community has become.

At Unwinnable, Nate Andrews looks at the bizarre entity and community that sprung up around Salty Bet.

Mark Filipowich laments upon the ephemeral nature of the internet and potential loss of all the great writing because of the dreaded 404.

Blogger of the Year

And now may I present Senior Editor, Kris Ligman:

It has become customary in these end-of-the-year retrospectives to highlight the contributions of a particular writer, or writers, who helped define the year’s critical discourse.

In the past, the honor of “best blogger” has gone to a newcomer or standout writer who went from standing near the periphery of our reading of games writing to take center stage in an ongoing, ever-evolving critical discussion. Each year, these breakout talents have helped to raise the discourse to new heights. Previous year winners include L.B. Jeffries (2010), Kirk Hamilton and Kate Cox (2011), and Brendan Keogh (2012).

This year, we are proud to name two remarkable women, Liz Ryerson and Samantha Allen as our joint Bloggers of the Year.

Liz and Samantha have each left an indelible mark on how we thought about and discussed games in 2013. From her provocative game Problem Attic to her in-depth level analyses and essays, Liz (@ellaguro) reminds us of the raw, deeply-felt appreciation for structure and form that so ensnares us when we first come into contact with games. Coming at the medium from a different but equally captivating perspective, Samantha (@CousinDangereux)’s explorations of game systems as teaching tools and commentary on social systems and personal growth, and her heartfelt appeals not just to game-makers but journalists and community leaders to up their game and provide safer spaces for everyone, reveal the sort of profound emotional intelligence and personal candor she brings to all of her writing.

We salute you both, Liz and Samantha, for your many contributions over the past year. And we look forward to your future work!

And Never Brought To Mind

If I had to sum up the year overall, I’d say it seemed a bit bland, as if a malaise descended over everything. Something left and everyone puttered about, waiting for something to come. It of course had its high spots as you can see above and on my cutting room floor. Quality work will always exist. But 2013 seemed more like a gearing up as the universe gets its ducks in a row and everyone rushes about the stage to get into their places. We all felt like we were setting up and now hopefully we can get some payoff come the new year. A big thank you to all those who emailed in their suggestions and to all my colleagues new and old at Critical Distance.

Next weekend we are back to the usual routine. So please don’t forget to send in your suggestions for TWIVGB to our email and our twitter. From all of us here to all of you out there, have a Happy New Year.

December 22nd

December 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Kris Ligman in This Week in Videogame Blogging: - (Comments Off on December 22nd)

As the year draws to a close, keep your loved ones close, and your copies of Edge closer.

Welcome… to This Week in Videogame Blogging

New Horizons

On Paste, Stephen Swift offers an interesting analysis of how Ace Attorney 5: Dual Destinies evolves the franchise for the better.

Meanwhile, on PopMatters Moving Pixels, regular columnist Jorge Albor muses on recent pro player frictions at Riot, and this brave new world of eSports labor relations we find ourselves in.

You may have heard about Youtube’s recent Content ID crackdown affecting, among other things, quite a few gameplay reviews and Let’s Plays. Gamer Law’s Jas Purewal provides a useful primer on where this puts video reviewers and LPers on the platform right now.

New Aesthetics

Back on PopMatters, our own Eric Swain explores Kentucky Route Zero‘s rejection of a ‘Platonic Ideal’ of game-ness:

While Kentucky Route Zero does ostensibly exist within a video game space, it is more interested in the function of spaces within that space. It is based on the expressive forms of experimental theater, installation art and modernist literature, not on the ideal of the holodeck. It creates non-Euclidean spaces that cannot exist, not as an expression of the possibilities of video game space when unshackled by the constraints of the real world, but as an outright rejection of the common standard of video game spaces.

New Voices, New Faces

Confused about what this hubhub about ‘diversity lounges’ is all about? Gamasutra editor-at-large Leigh Alexander puts it all into context and speaks with diversity advocates for their thoughts on the initiative.

You may have also heard, recently, that a white supremacist group in all seriousness adopted imagery from BioShock Infinite (without Irrational or 2K’s involvement) to advance its views. On Design Is Law, Jeff Kunzler remarks on how unironic this is, reminding readers just how fraught with problems the game’s race representation is.

Lastly, over on Kotaku, Evan Narcisse — the son of Haitian immigrants — shares a very affecting essay on seeing some of his own heritage explored in Assassin’s Creed IV‘s new DLC:

Never in a million years did I ever think I’d hear Haitian Kreyol in a video game. And yet, there it was in Freedom Cry, as lilting and percussive as when my mom spoke it. For the few hours I steered [protagonist] Adéwalé through his saga, I didn’t feel horribly under-represented or taken for granted in the medium I write about. It’s a feeling I could use more of.

Out with the Old…

Thanks for reading! As you may already have guessed, this will be our last This Week in Videogame Blogging of 2013. Next week, our very good Eric Swain will be presenting the 2013 This Year in Videogame Blogging mega-roundup. There is still some time to send in your own nominations!

We will be resuming TWIVGB as normal the first week of January, so please keep weekly submissions coming via Twitter mention and the appropriate part of our email submissions form.

That’s all from us for now. Stay as warm or as cool as your hemisphere and personal body regulation demands. Be sure to stop by next Sunday for our year-end roundup, and — uh — sometime for our end-of-the-year podcast! Happy holidays!

December 15th

December 15th, 2013 | Posted by Kris Ligman in This Week in Videogame Blogging: - (Comments Off on December 15th)

Hello. Hello. It’s me again. Kris. I know it’s been a while. I assure you, longer than I intended.

Rest assured I have read all your kind words, and that despite a less-than-ideal turn of events since Ben’s announcement I am doing well. I hope you, too, are doing well. I hope all of us, alone or together, are doing well.

Welcome to This Week in Videogame Blogging.


Let’s start with a solid foundation. On Play the Past, Angela R. Cox praises the historical specificity of Sierra’s 1999 release, Pharaoh. Elsewhere, Owen Vince explores the enactment of histories as stories in Rome: Total War:

Games cannot just be stats and routines and hierarchies of actions and responses ii for many players, like myself, it is impossible for me, for us, not to identify with the world that we are participating in. This is one of their central qualities – that they enable narrative and meaning and identification even when, in their rawness, these things are not immediately obvious. Rome is easy for this, because there are characters, with postage stamp sized portraits and names and habits.


Simon Parkin kicked off an energetic discussion this week with this piece written for the New Statesman. In it, Parkin contends simply and emphatically, that the term ‘gamer’ has become too charged to reclaim, and the idea of a ‘gamer community’ is a non-starter. “If you love games,” Parkin says, “you should refuse to be called a gamer.”

Writing in her own blog, Mary Hamilton maintains that the term ‘gamer’ is not beyond reclamation, and indeed there is a lot of value in doing just that. Meanwhile, Stephen Beirne — while agreeing with Parkin’s larger point — takes issue with the class assumptions behind some of Parkin’s remarks, in particular the idea that games are “the great contemporary leveler.”

(In fairness to Parkin, I believe his remarks in the New Statesman piece actually refer back to this 2010 piece written for Boing Boing — one of my favorites of his, by the way.)

In summing up some of these discussions, Australian games scholar Brendan Keogh maintains that the term ‘gamer’ is fraught with problems largely for how gendered it is, and avoiding its use is an important symbolic gesture:

Not using the world gamer doesn’t solve everything. But just as using the male pronoun in a paper about policepeople perpetuates the idea that every policeperson is a man, using the word gamer in a paper when you are not actually talking just about people who self-identify as gamers perpetuates the idea that ever person who plays videogames identifies as a gamer, which is far from the truth…

My issue with ‘gamer’ is not that people identify as gamers. My issue with ‘gamer’ is it is a word that when used in discourses around games is not actually representative of everyone who plays games and its uses as such often excludes and obscures a much broader and diverse spectrum.


On Medium, Liza Daly provides a great analysis of games as fulfilling jobs the same as (or different from) many other diversions.

Elsewhere, on Higher Level Gamer, doctoral student Erik Bigras shares the interesting tale of the collective worlds built among his colleagues in Minecraft, all of which explore interesting takes on geometry, architecture, and efficiency. And on his personal blog, Canadian critic Zolani Stewart offers a fantastic textual analysis of how Mortal Kombat 4‘s level design reflects isolation.

Basic Human Decencies

On Salon, Sidney Fussell observes how kneejerk reactions to the word “racist” prevent evolved discussion of problematic race representation in games:

So how do we start the conversation on racism in video games? We start with the right question: “Are gamers willing to call out video games for their racist elements?” We start by confronting the stifling, retaliatory climate that forecloses all conversation. We start by questioning our comfort with other players’ erasure. We must examine why massive anxiety is triggered by accusations of racism and sexism, but not by the huge disparity in the treatment of players according to their race and sex. We start by believing this is a medium bound only by the limits of users’ imaginations and not by the limits of racial palatability.

On Madness and Play, Amsel von Spreckelsen discusses depictions of the mentally ill as convenient enemy units in action games, while on Videogames of the Oppressed, Mike Joffe shares a wrenching personal account of how Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest not only helped him identify his own depression, but also recognize that he was in an abusive relationship.

Bryce Mainville offers a compelling breakdown of the sexual dimorphism of masculine and feminine character classes in Carbine Studios’ Wildstar. Meanwhile, looking toward the positive, Patrick Lindsey (co-developer on Depression Quest) shares a nice piece on Unwinnable about the progress of AbleGamers, a very important non-profit charity and advocacy organization for improving accessibility in games.

(The rest of this section contains a general content warning for discussion of sexual harassment, transphobic and sexist language, and cyberbullying.)

Writing for OnGamers, Cassandra Khaw reflects on a largely overlooked incident at a recent eSports event and makes the case for more proactively calling out inappropriate behavior. And on The Border House, in a post which partly inspired Parkin’s column above, Samantha Allen condemns the transphobic “jokes” made at Spike TV’s recent Video Game Awards show.

Two other significant cases of harassment went down this week, one concerning Depression Quest lead Zoe Quinn and the other concerning Mighty No. 9 community manager Dina Abou Karam. The Mary Sue has a good breakdown of both.

This video lampooning the outcry against Karam is also worth a viewing or six.

(End content warning section.)


On Gamasutra, editor-at-large Leigh Alexander provides an excellent introduction to Merritt Kopas’s unmissable Consensual Torture Simulator. And on GameChurch, April-Lyn Caouette shares her experience with Tale of Tales’ sensual Luxuria Superbia, and how it helped her rethink cultural pressures about sex — and games, for that matter.


On The Gaming Intelligence Agency, Fritz Fraundorf furnishes us with a fond and insightful analysis of the often underrated Final Fantasy X-2, both as variations on a theme and as a story of its protagonist’s self-actualization.

And on Edge, Richard Wordsworth draws attention to a worrying trend in recent Call of Duty games, particularly Modern Warfare 2 and the recently released Ghosts:

The goal of these games isn’t peace – it’s the restoration of the status quo, with America’s military dominance reasserted and its enemies utterly vanquished. That’s a disturbing message to propagate – the digital equivalent of the World War propaganda posters of caricatured, malevolent foreigners that can only be stopped by other caricatures of our brave, devoted men and women in uniform.

On Kill Screen, our own Erik Fredner muses on Typing of the Dead: Overkill as Dada-inspired surrealist art. And on Gamasutra’s member blogs, law professor Greg Lastowka has shared a valuable overview of his recently released report on user-generated content in games and player communities.


On PopMatters Moving Pixels, our own Eric Swain has become taken with the idea of certain games as “critic bait” — perfectly tuned games which nevertheless manage to feel disingenuous.

And back with Gamasutra’s Expert Blogs, Ben Serviss decries the idea that games — particularly the current independent scene — are headed for a collapse.


In honor of the 20th anniversary of Doom, Wired’s Chris Kohler sits down for a retrospective with id Software co-founder John Carmack. And on PC Gamer, Philippa Warr interviews Charles Cecil on Broken Sword 5, the Gnostic Gospels, conspiracies, and religion.

Dispatches from Vienna

Here’s the latest and greatest from the German-language games blogosphere, via our correspondent Joe Köller.

Superlevel has released the full text of a Choose-Your-Own-Interview with Thomas Hillenbrand and Konrad Lischka, co-authors of Drachenväter: Die Geschichte des Rollenspiels und die Geburt der virtuellen Welt (or: Dragon Fathers: The Histories of Roleplaying and the Birth of Virtual Worlds, if you’ll forgive my 4 am translation).

On Krautgaming, Christoph Volbers discusses the popular subject of the ephemeral nature of digital games. Meanwhile on Videogame Tourism, Rainer Sigl has a useful holiday gift-giving guide — geared specifically to buying games for non-players.

Letters from Paris

Critical Distance is also pleased to introduce our new French-language correspondent, Laurent Pointecouteau.

Two new French-language games publications have recently sprouted up, each supported by veteran writers. JV Le Mag, edited largely by former writers of Joystick magazine (now defunct), has an interesting feature on the inception of Grand Theft Auto. Here’s a review by French blogger Cyril Berthout. Meanwhile, the new French Games Magazine appears to offer some great opportunities for French-language bloggers shooting for print. You can follow them on Twitter.

As for online features, Canard PC editor-in-chief Ivan Gaudé sat in for an interview with Ragemag, and has a few strong words for the state of games criticism and certain American publications.

“We don’t think that video games are art, so we don’t see exactly why they couldn’t be given scores,” says Gaudé, who in particular says that American games websites such as Polygon are “eating themselves up” through controversy. How do you say “shots fired” in French?


Thanks once again for reading. As always, we greatly value all your support and submissions. Be sure to submit your weekly recommendations to us by mentioning us on Twitter or sending us an email.

Second order of business: if you haven’t yet, please swing by our call for reader submissions for our upcoming This Year in Videogame Blogging roundup, curated by longtime contributor Eric Swain.

Also, a little bird (really, the blue one that twitters a lot) tells us that Engagement Game Lab has opened a new scholastic journal, Level 257 — and they’re looking for your submissions.

Finally, many of you may have already seen Dreamcast Worlds scholar and Memory Insufficient editor Zoya Street’s recent invitation for feedback for a proposed games criticism event happening adjacent to the Game Developers Conference in 2014. If you haven’t yet, here’s where you can go to lend your voice. We hope to see a lot of you there!

Now Accepting Submissions for TYIVGB 2013 Edition

December 13th, 2013 | Posted by Eric Swain in Announcement: - (Comments Off on Now Accepting Submissions for TYIVGB 2013 Edition)

This may be short notice, but once again we are opening reader submissions for the annual This Year In Video Game Blogging feature. If last year is any indication this is an especially liked feature of our little year end look back that we do at Critical Distance. Oh, oh so popular.

Like in previous years, we are crowd sourcing posts in addition to my own culling efforts. The rules and types of things we are looking for in the recommendations are the same vague guidelines mixed with some judicial sense. The only real hard and fast rule we have for this feature is that the post, video or whatever else has a 2013 post date. That’s from January 1st to whenever you end up sending in your suggestion. This isn’t the same as for a weekly round up, this is for the whole year. We are looking for the best of the best. To help, here are our so called criteria to give an idea of what we are looking for.

1. Any piece of writing that just sticks out in your mind. After all this time to the end of the year, you still remember it or keep seeing it brought up. Pieces that get cited to this day. Examples from previous years include:

The New Games Journalism by Kieron Gillen ‘05
Ludonarrative Dissonance by Clint Hocking ‘07
Taxonomy of Gamers by Mitch Krapta ‘08
Permanent Death by Ben Abraham ‘09
Video games can never be art by Roger Ebert ‘10
The Pratfall of Penny Arcade – A Timeline (aka Debacle Timeline) by Unknown ‘11
Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line by Brendan Keogh ’12

2. Any pieces that are an excellent example of larger trends within the conversation from the critical community surrounding the big games of the year. Last year that would be Spec Ops: The Line, Journey, The Walking Dead and so on. We want examples pieces highlighting the discussion that took place around the games of this year.

3. Any example pieces from the important critics/sites that stood out this year. These are the pieces that highlight or are representative of the critics’ writing and work throughout the year. And of course, you can nominate your own work.

4. Any pieces of excellence pertaining to gaming culture that highlights a conversation from this year. Large compilation pieces are preferred should they exist or pieces that otherwise capture the scope and variety of the conversation.

5. Any pieces that may not pertain to the larger discussion around a title, highlight an important topic nor is a piece of great significance for years to come, but is simply an exceptional piece of beautiful writing.

These are rough guidelines as to what we are looking for. Please email all links to our email. DO NOT use Twitter or message on Facebook. We will not be checking those for the yearly submissions. Take your time, consider carefully and send us in your favorite examples of criticism. If you need more help you can check previous years TYIVGB for the type of thing we are looking for. Also, and this is a personal request, please try and keep the number of links under 50 for my own sanity. The deadline is Midnight December 25th Eastern Standard Time.

You can send in an many emails as you like with links. If you forget one or remember one later, send it in. Please put TYIVGB or some other indicator that it is for the yearly roundup in the subject line. And maybe, a few words on why you think a piece should be included. Please don’t make me regret saying this part again this year. A few words, not essays.

We thank you for your time and hope you have a happy December. I’m already freezing.

December 8th

December 7th, 2013 | Posted by Alan Williamson in This Week in Videogame Blogging: - (Comments Off on December 8th)

*taps microphone* Is this thing on? Hello there! I am Alan Williamson, and this is This Week in Videogame Blogging!

Market, Research

Over at Polygon, Tracey Lien examines why games aren’t marketed at girls. It’s a well-researched piece that interviews marketing executives, early women developers like Carol Shaw and Lori Cole, and as is obligatory for videogame articles these days, Ian Bogost. Shame it perpetuates the old ‘Coke Santa’ myth, though!

Jim Rossignol writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun: games are best when things go wrong. Certainly, FTL’s constant sense of peril has generated lots of memorable moments, but I’m not sure about the comparison to Dishonored. Doesn’t the latter essentially let the player adjust their own level of peril? Also at RPS, they’re running down their favorite games of the year – worth a look.

There’s a lot to love about the Critical Path project; the design, the content, the classy search function. This interview with Clint Hocking about Far Cry 2’s weather systems is a highlight. Haven’t watched the rest of them yet – let us know your favorites and we can feature them in future. If we get all of the Critical Distance staff involved, it should only take a couple of years.

Ludodecahedral Blog Labyrinth

On his blog Fortress of Doors, Lars Doucet – inventor of the term ‘procedural death labyrinth’ – goes into more detail about the term. Meanwhile, Chris Bateman critiques the exploratory life labyrinth Gone Home. Also on the subject of Gone Home, Dan Cox feels like a ghost when he plays it (warning: story spoilers from the outset).

Carli Velocci has an interesting piece on Kill Screen about narrator gendering in Portal, The Stanley Parable and more, taking a slightly broader approach to Cara Ellison’s previous piece about engendered AI for Unwinnable. Cool fact: Siri has a male voice in the UK, which makes it sound like a robotic butler. Hopefully Apple will use their cash reserves to hire Ellen McLain and then we can make some ‘GlaDiOS’ jokes.

Gotta Read ’Em All

At the Atlantic, Daniel Gross investigates Pokémon Red, White & Blue, the latest PETA videogaming non-sequitur. As Gross points out, the world of Pokémon is much more ethically complex than PETA’s facile treatment: but of course, their games exist to make headlines, not real arguments.

Here’s a couple of good pieces about The Last of Us: over at Complicate the Narrative, Paul Bills discusses TLoU and Telltale’s The Walking Dead as works of Neo-Romanticism. Meanwhile, Stephen Beirne looks at how the game differentiates itself from Naughty Dog’s Uncharted series by replacing the platform puzzling and Mayan mayhem with… a lot of ladders, apparently.

I think we mentioned the Video Game Foliage Tumblr last week, but maybe not this look at Counter-Strike’s de_aztec. It’s a great example of economical design.

Poking the Fourth Wall

Tearaway is now out on the PlayStation Vita, and if you played it at a trade show during the year, it will come as no surprise that the finished product is just lovely. Leigh Alexander talks about it for Gamasutra, finding its fourth-wall breaking nature compelling… and weird. Also playing Tearaway is Brendan Keogh, who is back at Unwinnable and has been reading a lot of Susan Sontag.

If you somehow missed the existence of Spelunky, this writeup by Nathan Altice at Metopal is as good as any. He also discusses the surprising compelling world of Spelunky Let’s Plays, of which I must also confess to having watched far too many. Moving from sublime games to terrible ones, Cameron Kunzelman plays Legendary. Legendary is not a good game. Well, I’ve not played it – just taking Cameron’s word for it.

Back to nice things, Indie Statik interview Jessica Curry, the composer behind Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. Meanwhile, Scott Nichols’ Beautiful Machinery is a new biweekly column, debuting with a look at Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.

And finally, Play the Past discuss the ‘ubiculturality’ of Assassin’s Creed as part of an ongoing series about Ubisoft’s third-person stabber.

Kritische Distanz

The following comes courtesy of our foreign correspondent Joe Köller, who says the translation above is close enough to ‘Critical Distance’.

The new WASD is out, a local bookzine and games writing powerhouse featuring practically every games writer in the German-speaking world. No digital version yet, but there’s a pretty substantial sample available.

On Glam Geek Girl, Ally Auner has a brief writeup on a recent talk on gender identity and sexual diversity by cultural studies person René Schallegger (audio online). Speaking of sex, Dennis Kogel of Superlevel interviewed Tale of Tales after they disagreed with his assessment of Luxuria Superbia. Hey, wait a minute… this piece is in English!

At videogametourism, Rainer Sigl talks about stylization vs. photorealism, originally written for local newspaper Der Standard.

Winter Wrap-Up

If all this week’s blogging wasn’t enough to sate your thirst for reading: our friends at First Person Scholar celebrated their first birthday this week and now have over 114,000 published words for your viewing pleasure. Closer to home, we wrapped up Blogs of the Round Table for this year with a roundup of our Game Changers. Slightly further away from home but still close-ish, the special charity edition of Five out of Ten is out and has all your favorite writers in it.

That’s all for us this week – don’t forget to send us your favorite writing of the week through our contact form or tweeting them in the general direction of @CritDistance.

Oct-Nov Roundup – ‘Game Changers’

December 1st, 2013 | Posted by Alan Williamson in Blogs of the Round Table: - (Comments Off on Oct-Nov Roundup – ‘Game Changers’)

Every few years, an event hits the gameosphere, forever changing the landscape. In November, we had one such event. That’s right folks: a new Mario game! Oh, and a couple of new boxes as well.

Generations come and go, but the distinctions aren’t as clear as the companies selling consoles like to make out. I got a message from my brother yesterday that he’s just bought a PS3. Think of all the great games he has left to play from the ‘last’ generation! If you missed out on an Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii, now’s the perfect time to get one and check out what you missed. Still, the industry will move on whether we like it or not.

Our latest Blogs of the Round Table topic was “Game Changers”:

Some games are great because they are technically excellent; others because they change the way we play games; others because they change the world around us.

You have been commissioned to choose a videogame for an upcoming museum exhibit. You can choose any game released from November 2005 until the present day, on any hardware. Choose the most important game, or just pick your favourite. What’s your Game Changer?

Figure Arcade totally cheated and picked multiple games, but at least they threw some curve balls like Lugaru and Far Cry 2 among more obvious choices. A particularly interesting choice is Shadow of the Colossus, the PS2’s first-party swansong, which doesn’t seem to have changed the world as much as we thought it would.

Corey Milne chooses Dark Souls, and I doubt he’s the only one: it tends to inspire devotion amongst those who have played it. For the rest of us, it’s just lurking in the Pile of Shame. Corey’s submission also has the most disturbing Crash Bandicoot gif I’ve ever seen.

Erik Bigras at Higher Level Gamer picks Starflight, a game from… 1986? Oh come on folks, that’s as old as me! Still, this is an interesting look at a game which has influence even in present-day titles like Mass Effect, but doesn’t have the ‘safety’ of invincible NPCs and unavoidable story. To some extent, this generation was the era of the sandbox game, but games like Starflight managed free-form play within a massive universe long before that.

Also at Higher Level Gamer (I like these folks – add them to your RSS feed!), Gaines Hubbell doesn’t think this generation produced a game changer, but Mass Effect 3 comes close. Personally, I’d choose Mass Effect 2 over the final instalment – the fight between ME2 and Bayonetta in my heart will never end – but the third game is definitely 90% awesome. The line “it’s not the future of games, but you can see it from there” is an interesting one: who can say where the past ends and the future begins, after all?

Nick Hanford talks about the mythical Citizen Kane of Videogames, and as always when this conversation crops up, I’ve got three words for you: Super Mario Bros. Nick’s argument is that the discourse around the CKoVG actually eclipses the impact of any games themselves. I think we’re having an adolescent identity crisis: mainstream games are sulking in the bathroom, getting introspective, unsure of what they want to be when they grow up.

As for me? I chose Rapture.

Craig Lager’s perception of every other game has been changed by Dark Souls. I think that’s where the Dark Souls obsession stems from: not just the excellence of the game, but because of its impact on games you used to love. That’s practically the definition of a game changer, isn’t it?

Last but not least, Pete Haas chose to kill off Kaiden Alenko Who didn’t? He was rubbish. Mass Effect’s triumph was that your actions had consequences in subsequent games: in a medium where decisions can be erased by random data loss, they have to migrate beyond the game they originate in to have that kind of an effect. Of course, Mass Effect 3’s ultimate failure was to remove the player’s volition, to fail to live up to our lofty expectations.

Alright, so it’s time to choose a winner. As it received the most nods, the ‘official’ Game Changer is Dark Souls, with an honourable mention to the Mass Effect trilogy. Solid choices all round folks. I’m so proud of you for not picking Farmville. Unless all the other eligible voters were too busy playing Farmville to write a blog.

Thanks for a great year of writing, everyone! It has been a pleasure to read. Remember that we value your feedback: if you’ve got an idea for BoRT that would make it even better, drop us an email.

Blogs of the Round Table will return in January 2014.

December 1st

December 1st, 2013 | Posted by Alan Williamson in This Week in Videogame Blogging: - (Comments Off on December 1st)

Once again, This Week in Videogame Blogging is brough to you by Zach ‘@IcePotato‘ Alexander. Thanks Zach!

Also, December? Where did that come from? (Well, it followed November, I guess)


November 24th

November 24th, 2013 | Posted by Alan Williamson in This Week in Videogame Blogging: - (Comments Off on November 24th)

This week’s This Week in Videogame Blogging is presented by Zach ‘@IcePotato‘ Alexander. Thanks a lot, Zach!

Hello and welcome to another week in videogame blogging!

What’s the happs this week? Zack Hiwiller googled for an old ZZT order form and mails a check to the listed address. What’s the worst that can happen? SPOILER: The most interesting thing happens instead.

Mattie Brice expands on locality. What are the different standards of play embodied by different communities?

Some new consoles were launched over the past two weeks. Leigh Alexander asks who really cares about this business model lurching forward into another cycle. Well, I care! How can I possibly experience the gritty reboot of Madame Bovary imagined by Matthew Wasteland if I don’t have the newest console. Of course, for indies, there’s always the other new console that just came out. You probably haven’t heard of it.

We don’t often feature Kickstarters on Critical Distance, but this (TW: gore) visual history of horror games is right up our alley! Speaking of horror,  Aaron Gotzon is talking out how Binding of Isaac uses horror over at Ontological Geek. What kind of game is Binding of Isaac anyway? Tanya X. Short says, “Don’t call it a rogue-like”, citing the egregious misuse of  “doom clones” back before “first person shooter” was a thing. Lars Doucet responds by proposing “Procedural Death Labyrinth” (catchy!) and a chart to back it up.

I had a college professor who said I turned into a real academic the minute I started to responding to his questions with, “I take issue with the premise”. Well, Ansh Patel takes issue with the premise of genres. Steve Swift takes it one step further, and asks what is the purpose of defining genres and mediums? Who are we helping?

Meanwhile, is chess a game? what’s your favorite chesslike? Marginal Revolution isn’t a gaming blog but Tyler Cowen talks about the concept of “nettlesomeness” in chess: “Using computer analysis, you can measure which players do the most to cause their opponents to make mistakes.”

Warren Spector stirred the pot this week by dropping “emergence” into his list of Best Game Qualities. Andrew Plotkin responds, and we’re back to talking about the folly of definitions again: “For twenty years, gamers have been dismissing Myst as a linear slideshow — while other gamers remember it as a completely open, unconstrained, explorable environment.”

Nick Dinicola talks about Batman: Arkham Origins using a “pre-hero” state for Batman to give him something he found lacking in the previous two games.

Jorge Albor talks about asymmetrical game mechanics, which give different meanings to different player’s actions.

Andy Robertson argues games are like poems, in the work they ask us to put in in order to extract meaning. Similarly, Nick Dinicola talks about Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us and how limited expressions can be more potent. Meanwhile, Critical Path has a video interview with Matt Boch talking about crossover of gender politics and motion capture techniques. “We’re taking things we understand, and we’re saying lets put them out in media and perpetuate these understandings… We can imagine elves and orcs, but men and women still behave in a particular way still”

I’m assuming you’ve heard there’s a new Tropes vs Women video out, but the Feminist Frequency tumblr also linked to a bit of fan-art imagining Mr Pac-Woman. Related, Rock Paper Shotgun has a remarkably uncomfortable ending to an interview with Blizzard when Nathan Grayson asks about the representation of women in Heroes of the Storm. “We like comic books” is pretty dishonest as far as these things go. Don’t miss the follow up article where Nathan explains why Blizzard’s response is so dishonest.

Stephen Beirne talks about dialogue in games, and how conversations are an important act of humanity, but in games, communication is often treated as a design obstacle.

Ya’ll know Forest Ambassador, right? Merritt Kopas has a post up pointing folx towards Jostle Bastard, as well as a link to the creator’s excellent conversation about satire and Hotline Miami.

Finally, let our foreign correspondent, Joe Köller, top you off with some good ol’ fashioned non-English writing:

On Kleiner Drei, Pablo Dominguez Andersen gives a decent summary of GTA V’s misogyny.

On Video Game Tourism, Rainer Sigl and Ciprian David started a new series about the intersection of film and games, and Christof Zurschmitten about Literature and Games. Here’s Rainer and Ciprian interviewing John Hyams because of reasons, and here’s Christof interviewing Jack King-Spooner, maker of Beeswing, and Robert Sherman, author of Black Crown. (Part 2)

On Superlevel, Benjamin Filitz brings us this smart feature on the actual significance of new console generations as technological baselines, and the fake importance attached to the whole Next Gen business.

And we’re done. Thanks again to Zach for writing this week’s roundup. You’ve still got one week left to contribute to the new Blogs of the Round Table: ‘Game Changers’. This is our last topic of the year, so don’t miss out!

Thank You Kris!

November 19th, 2013 | Posted by Ben Abraham in Announcement: - (14 Comments)

Hello readers, fans, and friends of Critical Distance!

Back in 2009 when I started this little website, I had no idea what would happen. I thought, at best, it might become a moderately useful resource for the game blogging community. In the years since, Critical Distance has become something of an institution, part of the landscape.

In 2011, after two years of running and managing the site with a bit of help from some friends, I had reached the end of my endurance. Luckily, Kris Ligman was there and willing to take over the site, and since then it has been almost entirely her project.

It’s now 2013, two years since Kris took the reins and now she too is stepping down to take a well earned break while we reorganise a bit. So this first announcement post is to say thank you to Kris for the awesome and wonderful work she has poured into the site at great personal cost for over two years now, and to let you know that we’ll be making some changes over the next few weeks. The second post, coming in the next few days, will be to explain what’s next for Critical Distance, and to outline what our ideas are for the site to keep it going in a more sustainable way. Kris isn’t “leaving” Critical Distance, but she will be stepping back from leading TWIVGB every week and hopefully when we come back with the new TWIVGB it’ll be easier for all involved (and we hope to get you, dear reader, involved a little more as well – but more on that later). We’re still not quite sure right now whether we’ll miss any weeks of TWIVGB coverage between now and when we transition to the new format, but we’ll do our best.

Last week I contacted just a few people from the community who have been involved with Critical Distance over the years and asked them for a short message for Kris. If you would also like to leave a message of gratitude or appreciation for Kris and the work she’s done, please leave them here in the comments.

Brendan Keogh

Kris, the time and effort you have put into keeping TWIVB running for more than two years now has been utterly crucial to the sense of a real, emerging ‘scene’ of games criticism that has matured the past few years online. Without your sacrifice of your time and your strong curation, we wouldn’t have the great community that so many of us depend on. Thanks so much for all your work!

Cara Ellison

The attention Kris paid to my work was profound and beneficial in so many ways, and often helped me think that I wasn’t writing for nothing. Basically, Kris helped me build my career into something I could do on a weekly basis after I lost my job and had to go full time. That’s an incredible impact on me and has provided me with a way to pay my rent. Knowing I was being appreciated by someone who receives a lot of games criticism was important, and I’d like to continue this favour for others. Thank you, Kris.

Kate Cox

Being regularly featured on Critical Distance quite literally changed my life.  It drew attention to me and my writing that I otherwise would not have had, and gave legitimacy to what I was putting out there.  That attention led directly to my being hired at Kotaku for 2012 and completely changed my career path and trajectory forever.  That is one hell of an impact and I owe y’all, and Kris in particular, a drink or seven for making it possible.

Richard Clark

Kris, thanks so much for all the hard work you’ve done on Critical Distance. I’ve always thought of Critical Distance as a place where I can be regularly challenged by games writing rather than pandered to, and I know you had a lot to do with that. I’m especially grateful of the way you have featured a spectrum of perspectives and voices that I wouldn’t otherwise read or consider. I hope you realized how crucial and appreciated your work has been!

Richard Lemarchand

Dear Kris, I just wanted you to know that I think that the work you’ve done for Critical Distance is extraordinary. The energy and effort that you have put into the site has allowed it to remain one of the most – even *the* most – important places on the internet to get an intelligent, even and humanistic view of the state of games criticism and culture.

But beyond the editorial and intellectual chops you’ve brought to the gig, what amazes and delights me time and again is the well-considered wit with which you frame everything. I never thought games criticism could be so funny. Thank you for all your hard work. You’re brilliant!

Kate Simpson

Hey Kris, congrats on two years of CD. Thank you so much for all your hard work on your amazing link roundups, and everything else you do for the community! – Kateri.

Patrick Lindsey

I think Kris has done a fantastic job and I’m a huge admirer of what she’s done with CD.

Chris Dahlen

Thank you so much for all your awesome work!  Critical Distance is one of the last sites out there leading people to smart game crit, and the world would be poorer without it – I know I would be, too.  Thanks for keeping it going!

Johannes Koski

Hey, Jason!

Please tell your most excellent human that her contributions to Critical Distance have been the highlight of my week, month after month both pre and postdating your arrival to the scene. I know Kris spending time compiling CD posts might mean less petting for you, but you know, Jason, I think ultimately it has been in your favor too. Not that you’d read the blogposts or anything, but surely CD has a better blog-to-petting ratio than if Kris did, say, This Week In Investment Tips Blogging. So, thank your most excellent human for me, and tell her that she’s awesome!

Eric Swain

I remember what was not too long ago, but seems like an aeon away, when an excited neophyte who squeed with glee at being followed on twitter and over time evolve into the hard nosed, no nonsense, typewriter pounding professional we have before us. It takes more than enthusiasm and intelligence to do this week in and week out (but certainly needs them), it requires a certain endurance of mind, eyes and spirit. It’s one thing to do it once in a while, but quite another to keep at it. Thank you for your tireless ongoing effort.

Alan Williamson

Where do I start? Kris has given her time, often thanklessly, to reading and curating thousands of essays over the past two years. If it wasn’t for her work at Critical Distance, I wouldn’t have kept blogging at Split Screen – never mind joining the CD team to give back to a community that I found so encouraging and supportive, then launching Five out of Ten with the friends I had made including Kris herself! I owe a lot more to her than I can realistically cover in a paragraph.

Kris, thank you for your superhuman efforts over the past couple of years. You make me proud to be a part of Critical Distance, and you’re a great friend.

Matthew Burns

Every so often a cultural commentator poses the question: “where’s all the good games writing”?

Thanks to the efforts of Kris Ligman and her co-contributors over the past two years, we’ve been able to point to a ready answer each time– Critical Distance. The site’s weekly roundup of notable games writing tracks important issues, highlights breakout work, and helps to amplify voices that might otherwise become lost. And its regular publication serves as a valuable record of the trajectory of the discussion over time.

Please join me in thanking Kris, Ben, Eric, Alan, and everyone else who works hard to make Critical Distance happen!

Fellow late sleepers, is it dark out before you even start to wake up? Is the sun rising too soon on your second consecutive Pokémon X/Y all-nighter?

Don’t feel S.A.D! C-D’s got your back with a hearty helping of warm, gooey, bloggy goodness:

This Week in Videogame Blogging!

PainStation 4

As you might have heard around the watercooler or in unsolicited dubstepping pop-ups, one of the two Shiny New Boxes came out this week in North America. Polygon and quite a few others have posted thoughts on it. Mouse-wielding contrarians Rock, Paper, Shotgun took the opportunity to hoist the PC flag using MS Paint.

And, as is all but tradition with console launches, the initial lineup has been getting reviews that amount to an optimistic meh, with one exception.

In C-D’s second-ever reference and first-ever link to the badly animated kids from Colorado, South Park’s latest outing takes shots at said Shiny New Boxes, Black Friday, consumerism, and even the preorder numbers for their most recent game. (Content Warning: It’s South Park.)



A number of publications ran rose-tinted and/or older-and-wiser reflections on the outgoing generation of consoles. Here’s Kotaku on their favorite characters and boxart from the seventh generation of game consoles. Joystiq also reminisced about the PS3.


Sure, so-called next-gen consoles are a big deal, depending on who you’re talking to. A lot of major news organizations are running pieces on the rise of mobile and PC. Right or wrong, some bets are on that we’re entering “The Last Console Generation.” Or not.

Jonathan Blow, designer of Braid and The Witness, gave a talk about free-to-play:

“If you make these [treadmill mobile games], I just want you to know that you’re making the new bad TV.”

Elsewhere, Jason Rice weaves together Sleep No More, The Stanley Parable, The Walking Dead, and player performance, looking toward the future of interactivity.



According to a new study by the Queensland University of Technology, playing video games improves children’s emotional, social, and psychological well-being. The study also finds that playing video games together as a family can help build stronger family bonds.

More at GamePolitics.


With new consoles comes the inevitable march of new shooters. Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Killzone: Shadowfall all dropped (the bass) recently.

At Critical Damage, Brendan Keogh has some kind-ish words for Ghosts’s campaign:

You’ve probably seen the video of how the intro of Ghosts uses an identical animation sequence to the end of Modern Warfare 2. It’s the most explicit example of it, but the same animations and moments are used throughout Ghosts. It’s either intended as laziness, apathy, or deliberate intertextuality—it functions as all three. The entire game feels like a collage of moments from the previous games. Not just the same mechanics or the same features but literally the same moments. The moment your bro looked into the distance then helped you up. The moment your bro was fighting the bad dude while you were crawling towards a gun. The moment an explosion knocked you off your feet in slow motion


Even if it is just laziness, I still find that fascinating. Like peeling back layers of wallpaper from an old

Luke Pullen also aired a few grievances about Ghosts surrounding CoD’s apocalyptic Schadenfreude.

On the topic of guns and war, enter Simon Parkin’s awesome feature at the New Yorker on videogames in Iraq. Note the unsettlingly realistic animation (or photo??) at the top.

Lastly, Alex Spencer tried to be a pacifist in GTA V, which worked about as well as you would expect:

Reader, I restarted the whole damn game



Fellow Spelunkers, all your efforts have been in vain: Bananasaurus Rex has completed the elusive solo eggplant run. If this means nothing to you, carry on as if none of these ridiculous words had ever appeared together.

Spike Jonze, cool-name-haver and eminent director, wants to make videogames.

If current modding trends continue, Skyrim may literally never get old. Check out Ether Dynamics’s video about AI problems in Skyrim and the mod that solves them.




PS4 down, Xbone to go. Come back next week for another barrage of links well-baited by another of C-D’s wonderful contributors.

And, if you want to get your URL up here, submit to us via Twitter (@critdistance) or using our email submissions form!