January 10th

The turn of the calendar brings with it a new, shiny coat of life. New year, new goals, and new writers to Critical Distance! As one of these new writers, it’s my job to ferry my dear readers into the new year’s words with This Week In Videogame Blogging!

Getting a Different Angle

Over on Not Your Momma’s Gamer, Bianca Batti examines how literary examination can be used to explore videogames, and how the inverse can also apply:

To me, it seems, such a lens might allow us to more fully realize how video games converse with other new media forms and how it is they converse with other means of storytelling. And such an understanding of games can allow us to understand how it is that games expand the way we interact with and engage with narrative structures and with the stories we tell.

G. Christopher Williams at PopMatters Moving Pixels discusses how board games’ variable strategies lend poorly to artificial intelligence, but how the innate rules-based intelligence can still teach meaningful lessons on them all the same.

On the opposite hand, Alex Wiltshire over at Rock Paper Shotgun interviews developer Alex Vostrov while exploring Infected Planet’s mutation mechanic, and its special AI to counter single-strategy play.

Arcade Review and Ansh Patel explore willful intent and unified identity with indie game Crime Zone.

Elsewhere, on the Gamasutra Member Blogs, Jane Friedhoff takes the definition of “personal games” to task by examining game design based on the Riot Grrrl movement, explaining that “it means that a personal game must always be about making something legible to outsiders–which feels like the opposite of personal to me.”

Allegra Frank, over at Polygon, attends 2015’s No Quarter exhibit with a particular focus on the diversity of tone, style, and sociology.

Over at Overthinking It, a group of collaborators known as Think Tank discuss the nature of re-envisioning narrative, applying narrative reasons to what were originally mechanics, and how it all affects adaption.

What Life Isn’t

Converse to the new perspectives, some articles approach what isn’t there at all. Thomas McMullan at alphr follows in the footsteps of Oscar Wilde by saying our art imitates and organizes our lives, and speaks on how games do much the same:

Life is not an ordered experience. It is a mess. Pushing life’s imitation to its extreme soon betrays how inadequate the neat containment of a game is in dealing with the near-limitless possibilities of real-world situations. To take this tendency to its logical conclusion, I decided to treat a real-life situation as if it were a point-and-click adventure game. I found a door and I found a man. I needed to get past the man to gain entry to the door. In the real world, I’d find another way into the building, but in a game i’d (sic) approach a challenge as a puzzle to be solved – an experience structured around explicit, limited, solvable systems.

Ed Smith, for Playboy, writes about how games paint a beautiful, rustic facade of England that reflects on older, more conservative past, one that is dishonest about how it truly looks.

Elsewhere, Kate Kadowaki paints a picture of the Garden of Eden with Animal Crossing: New Leaf, one unattainable in actual reality.

Gina Roussos writes for Psychology Today by examining the way a game displaying the effects of poverty conflicts with the way games give players personal agency.

For the Articles That Don’t Color in the Lines

Buried in the halls of Medium, Patrick Miller tells a story of a fictionalized game developer who creates a monetized game for bots to save a sinking studio, with boggling results.

Pixel Popper presents a video from Doctor Professor, who speaks on the value density of tight game design, rather than pure scale (video).

Over on Inverse, Brock Wilbur interviews Gita Jackson, our 2015 Blogger of the Year. You can read our words on Gita Jackson and our best loved pieces of 2015 here, if you missed it the first go around.

Insert Coins to Continue

That’s it for this week’s pieces, and as always thank you so very much for coming by! We always value your contributions, and we encourage you to submit links to us via Twitter at @CritDistance or by sending us an email.

If the wise words above have inspired in you the desire to craft your own breed of wise words, we always welcome contributions to our own monthly Blogs of the Round Table, with a theme of Progress this January. Of further interest to interested writers, Onological Geek is looking for new contributors, and are accepting applications throughout January, with applications closing on February 1st.

We’re able to bring these things and more to you thanks to your generous support on Patreon, where we’re hoping to recover some of the support we’ve lost late last year. If you’d like to help us out, consider pledging to our campaign, if you can. If you prefer, you can also use Recurrency, or make individual donations via Paypal.

It was an absolute pleasure to bring you with me on this inaugural TWIVGB of 2016, and I hope that the coming year brings with you every bit of wonderment you deserve. Thanks for coming along with me this week!