February 28th

Take your time before rushing ahead: it’s this week in videogame blogging!

Superhot

The release of Superhot has many reviewers drawing comparisons with action movies, not simply because of its violent content which directly draws on hit films, but because of the way that pacing and the gaze are used.

“Turns out there is a killer trick to creating hyper-violent entertainment: do the slow stuff fast, and the fast stuff slow.”

Level design

Analyses of level design are going from strength to strength, which is fantastic to see. Articles this week looked at JRPGs as well as shooter games.

Anatomy

Continuing the discussion of spatiality, Kitty Horrorshow’s latest release Anatomy is inspiring thrilling discussions of the meaning and experience of a house.

“The theory of houses espoused in Anatomy is of the house as body. The tapes tell the story of living room as heart, bathroom as digestive tract, bedroom as mind, and basement as subconscious.”

  • ANATOMY Review Impressions | ZAM
    Claris Cyarron looks at Anatomy from her perspective as an architect and game designer (full disclosure: Claris and I have a close professional and personal relationship).

Relationality

How have technologies facilitated and hampered communication with each other? Can they help us to gain a sense of interconnectedness and even help us to connect to something transcendental? This week’s games blogging offers some surprising answers, beginning with pieces on im null and Panoramical and continuing with Firewatch below.

“The best and the worst of what you might find in a digital landscape stand side by side and, in rare cases, overlap to create chaotic messages that merge marketing with mortality.”

Firewatch

Interesting discussions about Firewatch continue, with some critics starting to push beyond the “walking sim” label to look at how actions centered around technology provide tactility, as well as how some interactive elements undermine it.

Cibele takes on the online dimension of this phenomenon forthrightly, but Firewatch abstracts it away from even the mediating force of the Internet, instead exploring all the other ways we can have ineffable but meaningful contact with human life.”

Interactivity

In a similar vein to some of the themes coming out of the Firewatch discussions, some pieces this week looked at how game systems and interactivity are used for narrative purposes in other games, including the fertile field of morality and the consequences of actions.

“Despite all my decisions to steal, despite all my efforts to play classical music, to find books and cigarettes, to find ingredients for a hot meal, depression, despair, and utter loss takes over in a matter of days. This is the side of war no one speaks off. This is the side of war where people become monopoly pieces buried beneath the hungers of power.”

Authority

I’ve been thrilled this week to see examinations of who has power in the social and cultural spaces around games and how power is portrayed in design.

“By publishing these commandments, players know what transgressions are punishable and the extent of the punishment connected to them, new players to the scene have an easy reference of things not to do, and fans have some transparency into the punishment process.”

Inclusivity

As always, the question of who is being represented and how is on many people’s minds. Two pieces this week did some interesting work reclaiming characters and defending them as cultural touchstones.

“It’s unfortunate that what stake we have in Samus is rooted in a joking slur buried as an Easter egg in a Japanese strategy guide, but we’re so hungry for representation, for the ability to play the hero just once, we’ll take what we can get, all the while pushing our way out of the market that forced this scarcity upon us.”

Creativity

What can be learned from mistakes in game design? This week the BBC published an interview with a former developer who survived one of the most infamous mistakes in games history, and Tom Francis examined how XCOM’s mistakes could be repaired.

“I’m not sure exactly what I was full of but whatever it was, I was overflowing with it.”


 

Final word

As always, I want to remind you that we are community-supported, and that you can help us through Patreon, Recurrency, or Paypal; and you can also help us by sending along anything that you think should be included via Twitter or email.

Additionally, I want to highlight a couple of extra things this week:

And that’s all! I hope your week is enjoyable, and if you have any comments or questions don’t hesitate to Tweet at me.