October 30th

Hello, dear readers! It’s time for a special Halloween edition of TWIVGB. While the last time I covered the weekend roundup was Valentine’s Day, I assure you that I’m not just here for the chocolate.

Tricks and treats from the game industry

These critics discuss the past and present of the video game industry and its members.

“for mainstream games culture however, art still appears as though out of nowhere, a large, luminous and terrifying train threatening to jump through the screen and run them over with its apparently overwhelming ideas”

Respect and consent should never go to the grave

The following pieces navigate consent and respect in interpersonal relationships. Due to the nature of this topic, these pieces contain content related to abuse, so please note the content warnings listed.

“Washko is giving a voice to those that are forced to be a target of the tactics of these men, empowering the player to simply not be a consenting agent to the taught tactics of a pickup artist’s game, offering the potential for an alternative narrative to the one forwarded by the books of Roosh V and videos of Blanc.”

Our Minds, Our (Boo)dies, Our Games

Five pieces from this week probe into the relationship between the human mind and body and video games.

I showed this video to my classes this semester. Their assignment is to chose a technology that interests them, and research the usability of their chosen technology. I want them to see beyond the basic, expected, intended use of a technology and to the possibilities or consequences that technologies bring to the table.

Phantoms of the Past

Many of this week’s nuggets of game criticism look backwards into ideas, experiences, and theories from the past to inform our approaches to gaming in the present.

In his book Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art (1998), cultural critic Lewis Hyde re-examines one of the most persistently fascinating figures of our archetypal imagination: the trickster. Of all the places the trickster’s spirit may settle, videogames seem to me the most intriguing. Here’s a chance not merely to tell or be told about a trickster’s exploits, not merely to perform or witness their brand of creativity, but to enter an embodied trickster figure, and play with the rules of a system through this body.

Ghastly Game Guts

This last batch of stimulating games discourse dissects the mechanics and logic behind games and how these mechanics enhance play.

If open maps promote a languid approach to advancing and fighting enemies, closed maps do the exact opposite. You are constantly fighting a battle against anxiety and impulse to make the best of a claustrophobic situation. You are spurred from place to place by an onslaught of foes, rather than settling down on a tower and sipping tea as you casually snipe people from across the map. The careful planning is gone, and all that remains is adrenaline.
 
These spaces are not just defined by how open they are, of course. They are also defined by their architectural complexity. This complexity is not how pretty the map is, but rather how many different paths you can take when traveling around.

More Critical Distance Goodies for Your Treat Bucket

If you’ve been out of the loop recently, the Critical Distance website has been bustling with new initiatives and ideas:

Finally, if you find some Quality Games Discourse that gets your brain going, you’re welcome to share it with us on Twitter @critdistance including the phrase “#TWIVGB” (with or without hashtag) so we can include it in the weekly roundup. We also have a Patreon that keeps our website running and contributors paid, if you’d like to give us some spooky treats in return. Happy Halloween, folks, and stay safe!