December 6th

Apparently there has been a cold snap in Britain this weekend. I haven’t noticed because I’ve been printing off all of the good games writing and making a cozy little nest from it. Come sit by the fire and help yourself to a hot chocolate. Welcome to This Week in Video Game Blogging!

Stoking the Fires of Thought

Carolyn Petit returns to Grand Theft Auto V, talking about its Australian retail controversy. Petit observes that the freedom afforded to the player in GTA is naturally dictated by the developer, and it invariably skews towards the freedom to commit acts of violence. Speaking of games that have a troubled history of representing women, Dan Jolley is working to improve Techland’s reputation with Dying Light.

Daniel Starkey has been on a roll lately. Following his review of Never Alone for Eurogamer, he’s written about the representation of American Indians in game development, with excerpts from an interview with John Romero.

Blazin’ Squad

Stephen Beirne has published a substantial work – or least, the first half – on the art of camera and composition in Final Fantasy VII (the other half is available now to his Patreon backers, and he’s even made a nice PDF). Beirne also examines the consequentialism of Anthony Burch’s ‘morality run’ of BioShock, which we featured last week. Wait a minute, didn’t Ed Smith do a similar thing for Five out of Ten last year? (spoilers: yes.)

Evan Conley stretches the definition of ‘little’ in this essay on horror in games as pure “Gothic-horror” compared to a mere feeling of tension, and whether The Evil Within is actually an action game with elements of survival horror. For a different kind of horror, Paul King looks at crime drama game The Detail (piece has a self-described content warning for discussion of sexual violence), which comments on the true nature of choice as well as portraying the darker aspects of humanity.

For a more banal kind of horror, what about the terror of having to play yet another Assassin’s Creed game or finding that your old save games contain a past version of yourself that you’d sooner forget?

Poking the Embers

We’ve reached the Gamergate section – I know, I don’t really want to write about it either, but there were a couple of great articles that warrant a mention. Keith Stuart’s interview with Zoe Quinn at the Guardian is one of the most comprehensive chronicles of the whole situation and would be a useful thing to have on file for inquisitive, well-meaning relatives this holiday season.

Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris is the latest victim of an ‘investigation’ and her response is much more pleasant than the reporters deserve (disclaimer: Mitu, like all fans of good things, previously contributed to the Critical Distance Patreon). Laralyn McWilliams writes a message of hope for those who have been affected over the past few months: “it’s not about where we are right now. It’s about where we’ll be when it’s done.”

Elsewhere, Corey Milne writes about how the ‘Game Awards’ as a thinly-veiled marketing exercise. They could save a lot of money by just skipping the awards, ordering in a couple of pizzas and uploading all those trailers to YouTube from the comfort of an office.

Speaking of YouTube, Feminist Frequency has a new video: instead of the usual format of Anita Sarkeesian’s critical features, this highlights 25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male.

Blog Ring of Fire

Have you read something great that we missed? Send us your submissions by Twitter mention or through email. We’re also accepting submissions for This Year in Video Game Blogging 2014.

Here’s something great you might have missed: the new issue of Five out of Ten is out today, at a new lower price! The writing is particularly strong this time, because I’m not in it.

Blogs of the Round Table is back for December (wow, they’re doing a much better job than when I was in charge): get more details and submit your writing here. All welcome!

Don’t forget that Critical Distance is community-funded by awesome people like you! We recently reached our first funding target of $2000 – thank you to everyone who has supported the site, you’ll all wonderful – but with further funding we can pay our hardworking team members and invest resources in the future of the site. Please consider signing up for a small monthly donation!

Right, I’m off to watch this video about how Jackie Chan is the master of action comedy. Until next time…