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)
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!
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!
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.
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:
Elsewhere, Jason Rice weaves together Sleep No More, The Stanley Parable, The Walking Dead, and player performance, looking toward the future of interactivity.
SOMETHING YOU ALREADY KNEW BUT THAT SCIENCE HAS NOW CONFIRMED
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.
It’s getting rather dark and rather chilly around here. Another week, another list of links for This Week In Video Game Blogging.
Video Games Both Great and Small
Emanuel Maiberg at Kill Screen looks at the new Call of Duty and how the campaign ends up turning you unintentionally into a terrorist and a Nazi. While E.T. Brooking at The Escapist explores the real world space faring weaponry that has and could exist.
Becky Chambers of The Mary Sue relates her experience with Papers, Please from both sides of the customs booth, both in the game and in real life. Levi Fowler wrote ‘What AntiChamber Teaches Us About The Nature of Religious Texts’ for GameChurch.
Bendan Vance talks about intrinsic and extrinsic features of a work and how Liz Ryerson’s Problem Attic is an example of a game fully designed with intrinsic meaning instead of “paying lip service to aesthetics.”
Ethan Gach asks “What is Final Fantasy?” in the respect that the games have always changed and mutated over their many iterations and looks at the core of what makes a quote/unquote Final Fantasy game.
Nathan of Metopal.com compares Baseball to Spelunky in regards to their various levels of play and the deceptively simple descriptions of how they play.
Eric Swain at PopMatters explains how most games that claim to be cinematic fail to take advantage of the techniques of film and how Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was a game that incorporated such techniques into its camera.
Stephen Beirne wrote a piece at Gameranx claiming that BioShock Infinite‘s combat design was a step backwards from BioShock 2.
Alisha Karabinus at Not Your Mama’s Gamer explored how thanks to her age and our journey with her in Season One, that taking control of Clementine in The Walking Dead Season Two could be path to a new empathy to girls’ and women’s situations in trying circumstances.
State of Things Orbiting the Medium
Bob Chipman explains the changes that happened to criticism in the public sphere over the last century and how it wasn’t always consumer oriented, but theory oriented in his latest Big Picture Show episode.
Cameron Kunezlman looks at the complex relationships indies and AAA industries have with one another, especially the workers of each. Speaking of which, Ian Williams looks at the distressing reality of Video Games and Labor.
Emanuel Maiberg now shows the other side of the debate in ‘what big data can’t teach us about video games.’
At the Monochroma development blog, Burak Tezate?er looks at the expressionism art style and its relationship to video games.
Gender and Race Tied Up With Lace
In her Edge column, Leigh Alexander explains how those fans that get defensive of their favorite games over criticism end up displaying the same sensitivity they vilify in others who are not explicitly catered to.
Sindey Fussell explains why the main answer towards equality in the medium is in the end another silencing tactic in favor of the status quo.
At The Border House, Mark Filipowich explores how the relationship between sex and politics is presented in three different games.
PBS Game/Show asks the question ‘Are Games Racist?’ answering yes, though not for the reason one might think.
See You Next Week
Thank you for reading. If you have created or see something you think is worth including a future edition of This Week in Videogame Blogging, please contact us by sending a mention to our Twitter account or use our email submissions form.
Happy November, one and all! While we’re still nursing our post-Halloween party hangovers, let’s indulge in that old-fashioned remedy, that hair of the dog, a nice tall glass of This Week in Videogame Blogging.
Starting us off, Jessica Famularo’s brief but sweet article on Pixels or Death contemplates why we grown-ass adults can’t seem to outgrow the juggernaut that is Pokemon.
On Game Quiche, already a combination of two things I love, Alex Park posts his own short-but-sweet post on the abstraction, imagination and memorability of Ultima IV.
Over at Pop Matters, Eric Swain dissects tension, horror and twisted expectation in Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, a decidedly boozier spaghetti western, gets the historicist treatment for its clever handling of historical representation and narrative credibility.
This lovely post on Player’s Delight throws a head-splitting wrench into the headache that is choice in videogames, revealing how Beyond: Two Souls’ precocious “organic” choice system sabotages itself by being a little too advanced for its own good.
And Robert Yang does double-time sobering us this week, first on his own blog where he has posted his slides for his Queerness and Games Conference talk, “Queerness and Games Development,” and next on Rock Paper Shotgun, where his Level With Me interview with composer and game designer Liz Ryerson covers the problems inherent with “success” in the indie scene, compromising on one’s work (or refusing to), finding an audience, and the surreal and wonderful design lessons that we can glean from Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.
Speaking of sobering, on The Psychology of Video Games, Jamie Madigan contemplates a recent study conducted by Jesse Fox, Jeremy Bailenson and Liz Tricase that suggests women are more likely to self-objectify and believe rape myths if their in-game avatars are both sexualized and made to resemble them.
Sobering on a whole different level is Robert Rath’s piece on The Escapist, “Why We Need Soldiers to Write about Games,” in which he discusses his father, a Vietnam veteran, the value that film had in both their lives, and being able to tell difficult stories using intermediary media.
And for our German-language readers, check out a fine selection of pieces below hand-selected by our foreign correspondent, Joe Koeller:
On Zeit Online, Marin Majica interviewed Rina Onur, founder of Peak Games, one of the biggest mobile and online game devs in Turkey, about the different attitudes towards their products in islamic culture.
Over on Paidia, Tobias Unterhuber talked to Matthias Kempke of the adventure devs Daedalic about literature, intertextuality, art and all that jazz.
Martina Schwerdtfeger shared her experience playing shooters as a woman with Femgeeks.
On Kleiner Drei, Fionna discusses the appeal and community of cosplay.
Continuing familiar teasing, Marcus Dittmar has written a text from the perspective of the Call of Duty Dog for Superlevel, wondering why all those hoomans seem to be easily conditioned towards manshooting.
Meanwhile, Ciprian David and Rainer Sigl wonder if it could not be said that Universal Soldier – Day of Reckoning borrows heavily from videogame aesthetics.
Happy reading, fellow bon-vivants!
(Also, if you haven’t yet, please check out Ghosts in the Machine, a fantastic anthology of creative work edited by this week’s wonderful curator! –K.L.)
See you next week!
Your resident librarian of games criticism is back in the seat again. We have a wonderfully diverse collection on the recommends shelf of This Week In Video Game Blogging.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto is a very popular subject as of late. We decided just to put them out on the front shelf; it seems to be the topic of the moment.
Stephen Beirne on the Huffington Post writes about how it normalizes violence, not through causing it, but by creating an atmosphere where people cannot recognize it. Furthermore, Beirne suggests that the satire defense merely exacerbates the problem.
Cassandra Khaw at US Gamer talk about how unrealistic Michael and his family are given that she grew up with a real world analog to him. It isn’t so much social criticism as it is the high flung fantasy of an executive.
Spann at Arcadian Rhythms is a little disappointed at the criticism towards GTA5‘s most heinous mission and how under read it’s used in regarding Trevor and his character.
Mark Serrels says Los Santos is a place he’d never want to visit on Kotaku. And Johnny Kilhefner at Unwinnable regards existence in Los Santos as condemning a person to a slow death and eventual end by one’s own hand.
Kimberley Wallace put out a new piece published by Game Informer about how confronting despair can influence a reading and ultimately the ending choice in Beyond: Two Souls.
Paul Haine looks at running in games and how the culmination of elements in Remember Me finally made him slow down and walk to the benefit of the game and his enjoyment.
Also, a brand new work from the highly reclusive author – first in a long while I must say – came out this week. Our own Kris Ligman – yes her, right over there – published a piece at Unwinnable deconstructing Johnny Gat from the Saint’s Row series.
Leda Clark goes back to the cultural initiator of the boom and digs deep into the psychosis of Braid by looking at oft overlooked elements.
Alex Duncan looks at creation and self creation through art in The Unfinished Swan on his The Animist Blog. Don’t get much about this gem.
Rob Parker of First Person Scholar tries to reconcile Jesper Juul’s understanding of game and failure with regards to the art of Papers, Please.
Stephen Beirne sees Gone Home as three games wrapped into one.
Daniel Joseph sees Howling Dogs and Kentucky Route Zero as a new type of game entering into the general public’s view and hopefully laying down the groundwork for what the next world will look like.
We also have a number of new writings on classic titles for the vintage player.
Ed Smith did a insightful retrospective of the original Tropico and how perfectly it mirrors how politics really works and why so little ever gets done.
Eric Swain continues horror month at PopMatters by looking at a classic adventure game now again once widely available and how I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is more faithful to the concept of horror than most other games.
And Liz Ryerson collects her three critical walkthrough videos of the first chapter of the original Doom and of the subtle nuances of the level’s design and hidden storytelling.
We have a treat this week. Stanford was kind enough to to show the study that demonstrates how sexualized game characters have a demonstrative detrimental real world effect of self esteem and cognitive ability. Yes, no paywall or anything. JSTOR is usually so picky.
Darius Kazemi and Nina Huntemann list off the three least powerful woman in gaming. many repeat entrants this year.
Robert Rath in his weekly pamphlet says that we need more soldiers to write about games.
And if you are willing to go into the viewing room we have a set of companion videos from Idea Channel. Controlling vs. Being Your Video Game Avatar and Are you Weird if You Play as the Opposite Sex? That second one comes close, but manages not to fall into any pitfalls.
Those? Oh sorry. I haven’t gotten around to reshelving them yet. Sure you can have a look.
Jason Johnson wrote an interesting look inside the “failed” utopian New Games Movement.
And Mitch Dyer wrote on the all too depressing and all too real question of ‘how long can video games matter?” This is given their iterative qualities instead of artistic and how each new game forces obsolescence on their predecessors.
Eric Keeps Forgetting the Closing Section So Kris Had to Write This Part
Also, we are still on the look-out for foreign language correspondents! In particular, we are looking for readers familiar with French, Spanish, Russian or Japanese games writing, although we welcome all comers, of course. If you think you can help out, please drop us a line!
There are a few days left to submit to this month’s Blogs of the Round Table, so please consider taking part!
See you next week!
Your games criticism is not impossible… but it is also not very likely.
Welcome… to This Week in Videogame Blogging.
Holders of the Keys (or: Things Critics Say)
First Person Scholar interviews developer/critic/man-about-town Cameron Kunzelman on the many areas of his expertise, and also his recent comments on Grand Theft Auto. Speaking of those comments, here are more.
On Paste, photographer Brian Taylor takes readers on a tour through Pittsburgh — the real one, and the one from Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us.
It’s Horror Month at Ontological Geek. Tune in, and then hide.
A Whisper into Various Voids (or: Things Critics Say About Other Critics and/or The State of Things)
On Errant Signal, Chris Franklin takes aim at the cake-having problem of wanting games to be considered art and yet insisting they have no political underpinnings.
Tevis Thompson argues for far greater diversity in how we evaluate games.
Matthew Burns lends the final word (for now) on all this arguing over games criticism.
The Seven and a Half Cardinal Natures (or: Things Developers Say)
Raph Koster reflects on responding to criticism.
On Gamasutra’s expert blogs, Eric Zimmerman posts the first in a series of articles breaking down how he, as a game design instructor, teaches game design.
Trip to Europe (or: German correspondence)
We have a bit of a backlog here so bear with us.
Papers, Please has reached a bit of a critical mass in the German-language games scene. Balkantoni of Shodan News wonders why such praise is lavished on the game if not for a certain baseline ignorance of how abuses in immigration have gone down. Jan Hoppe of 99leben shares how he, too, had to be brought around on the subject of immigration, while Dejan Lukovic shares how he had to stop playing the game after it cut too close to personal experience, as an Austrian with a Croatian passport. Jagoda Gadowski emphasizes the value of differing interpretations with a game like Papers, Please.
Onto other subjects. On Videogame Tourism, Christof Zurschmitten laments the hyperfocus on a few triple-A titles in general interest or arts journalism, to the exclusion of a more nuanced conversation. And on Superlevel, Sebastian Standke has republished an article on Portal‘s GLaDOS and testing rooms as having an embodied presence.
On Kleinerdrei Miriam Seyffarth takes a feminist lens to Video Game High School. On Superlevel, Marcus Dittmar criticizes games’ treatment of love and romance (and in doing so invokes Alexander Ocias’s Loved, among others). And elsewhere on Superlevel, Markus Grundmann muses on why World War I is such an uncommon subject for games.
Deep Subversions (or: Games Could Be More)
On Culture Digitally, Adrienne Shaw criticizes the lost queer potential of Fable.
And now, the weather
On Paste, Cara Ellison suggests that pop music and games were made for each other.
Goodnight, Ludodecahedron, Goodnight
This month’s Blogs of the Round Table is still ongoing.
That’s all we have, so until next time, readers, stay safe out there. Or, relatively safe, for most of the time.
This week’s proverb: What is a man? A miserable little pile of secrets. Also organs. And teeth.
Did you miss me? I know I’ve been absent quite a bit lately. I’m not sure what that means. Maybe that more vacations are in order.
Well, enough of my old lady rambling. It’s time for This Week in Videogame Blogging.
At Least Three Infinities
Michael Lutz has a few interesting musings on the nature of performance art and how it correlates with the idea of “replayability” for games. And on Notes & Commentaries, Matthijs Krul has produced a Marxist reading of Dwarf Fortress.
Meanwhile, on Unwinnable, Nate Andrews takes a peek inside that curious machine art-turned graffiti wall-turned ersatz gambling community, Salty Bet.
And Edge has a nice look back at the genesis of expressionistic American gothic point-and-click (and IndieCade award winner) Kentucky Route Zero, whose developers insist they didn’t set out to upend anyone’s chess board.
Theft No More
On Kotaku, Leigh Alexander laments aging out of the target demographic of games, while the hype cycle chugs on. Elsewhere, on Higher Level Gamer, Erik and Gaines address that so tricky of topics: whether Grand Theft Auto 5 is defensible as satire:
Rockstar could have written a satire of the American dream without using misogyny. They didn’t. The game they made is a satire and misogynistic. The game asks you to deride representations of the American dream but not how sexist those representations are. Is the real American dream still wrapped in a patriarchal bow? Yes. But, GTA 5 doesn’t ask you to see that bow for the sexism it is.
On Ballistically Grapelike, here’s an interesting reading of Hitman‘s Agent 47 as an inverted Christ figure. And Eurogamer’s Rich Stanton explains how he got going as the Pokemon equivalent of a puppy farmer.
Elsewhere, International Hobo’s Chris Bateman pops up to underscores the problems of thinking of game narrative as window dressing or, in his words, wrapping paper for a game.
World War Zinester
Rise of the Videogame Zinesters author anna anthropy reminds us that the “zinester versus formalist” dichotomy is actually not a real thing. And Mattie Brice calls attention to the oft-invisible partitions within the loosely-defined spheres of “games criticism.”
Happy Birthday, Chris Carter
Lastly, have you picked up your copy of Five Out of Ten #5? Because it is very much worth your time to do so.
Well, if it isn’t our special guest, awake at last. Forgive the stasis field, but we can’t have anyone sneaking through the ventilation shafts. It’s awfully dangerous in there.
Go ahead, take in the sight. What you see up there is only a small section of the stars and systems scanned by our operation. What you don’t see is the thin layer of transparent aluminium protecting us from decompression.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
I’m afraid you missed Kris Ligman, sorry. She’s busy infiltrating IndieCade, and has moved me up from designing protocol droids to overseeing the final steps of our little project. Don’t kid yourself, you are far too late to stop it of course. Do you take me for such a rookie? Perhaps you expect me to explain our plan too. You are only here to witness its glory my friend, and then, well, you’ll see.
The Bataillon of Uniformly Terrifying Technical Supervisors informs me that the Cerebral Unicycle Transformative Information Engine has been successfully wired to our knowledge beams, so I fear our time is up.
You! Begin transmission TWIVGB-06-10-13! It’s time for This Week In Videogame Blogging.
Mine is an evil laugh!
Freeplay, No Show and now IndieCade: The current series of critical get-togethers seems to have a lot of critics, as well as our senior editor, distracted. On the other hand, word of their content is slowly reaching the general internet.
First and most important is the transcript of “How To Destroy Everything, Or, Why Video Games Do Not Exist (And How This Is Great For Everyone)”, a brilliant talk given by Marigold Bartlett and Stephen Swift at Freeplay, and by “brilliant” I mean “Why are you still reading my words and not clicking the link already?”.
“Games are art” means listening to voices of dissent. It means engaging in these discussions about what our culture and our games say. That collection of words, as a predicate, is not a belief. It is a practice. It’s something you do, not something you say.
Seemingly innocuous opinions on what constitutes a video game, or how polished a game should be, or what aesthetic fits in to your taste: All these things are politically charged, whether you think they are or not. They’re all informed by a culture where certain parties control the means of production, who control the conversation.
Here Nathan Altice takes us to the intersection of games and fashion, exploring the similarities of two industries caught between personal creation and mass-produced consumerism.
Elswhere, Critdistance emeritus Ben Abraham shares a recent lecture he gave about the history of videogame journalism.
Though technically from last week, this piece by Robin Yang debunking conference myths about diversity feels very fitting now.
Bastion‘s accessibility also allowed me to better illustrate my point. During my Halo activity, only a handful of students could participate at any given time, playing on two XBox 360s with just two different configurations of skulls. I simply did not have access to more systems and televisions. During my Bastion activity, however, almost all of my students could play at once in a standard university computer lab, each with their own configuration of idols.
On Play The Past, Richard Bell posits that Gone Home might be more suited to a historical view of source comparison than traditional textual analysis.
And while we are there, here’s David Hussey relating the history of videogames to the cold war.
Ashley Brown offers a glimpse of her studies of erotic role play on First Person Scholar.
L. Rhodes on the morality of Tiny Thief.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Dark Souls, by Kyle Bolton.
Okay, technically these aren’t videogames, but Chris Franklin has some unsorted thoughts on theme parks and how they are a bit like games anyway.
L. Rhodes wonders what a state of constant satire means for the world of GTA V.
Dan Cox talking Digital: A Love Story.
On Unwinnable, Eddie Inzauto discusses Suda51′s obsession with adolescence.
Zoya Street and Samantha Allen offer two different takes on Everlove: Rose‘s treatment of sexuality.
Eron Rauch writes about Dwarf Fortress being exhibited at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
The Red Cross is criticizing war crimes in videogames again, and so is Michael Schulze von Glaßer in this German piece. Another essay from the local games crit powerhouse WASD, still a thing you can buy.
Knowledge Beams Fired Sucessfully, Recharching
That’s about it for this week. Be sure to check out the current Blogs of the Round Table prompt though, and let us know if you happen upon any quality games writing, either by email or by Twitter. See you all in T minus seven days!
Look up. There is a vast, majestic void filled with thousands of stars looking down at you. But are they really watching? Are they actually real? The horror of empty void fills your heart with terror.
With Kris Ligman gone for the week, Intern Mattie takes the mic to lead this precious town through the day. I know not to go to the Dog Park.
Welcome, to This Week in Videogame Blogging.
The Illegal Seizing of Motor Vehicles
Local scientists have blamed traffic congestion on the decline of car robberies in town, most likely due to so many people busy stealing virtual cars in Grand Theft Auto V. Concerned townsfolk worry about children growing up learning to not steal cars, but Alisha Karabinus pens a reassuring statement that children can tell the difference between reality and videogames with assistance from their parents. Anjin Anhut agrees that the game will not play tricks with our minds, since it doesn’t have a well enough grasp of satire to challenge the status quo:
When joking about any form of oppression out there, you need to make the oppressor the punchline, NOT the oppressed. When joking about any form of inequality, you need to make privileged people the butt of your joke, NOT the marginalized and disenfranchised.
I have just received a message from our vague, yet menacing government. It is tattooed on the arm of a faceless child who, somehow, still makes crying noises. They want me to announce a reminder that women are still considered the dominant gender, and all videogames would do well to remember that. Over at The Border House, right by Aunt Jenn’s Pizza Shop, Quinne asks when is enough enough, citing the toxic behavior and somewhat apathetic reaction of community leaders to gamer’s sexism and other horrible qualities. I know it’s unprofessional for me to editorialize, but I must say listeners, how long will we let publishers of all kinds who take our money to continue such rude, and illegal like everything else in this town, behavior? Paul Tassi seems to have an answer, saying that as long at GTA doesn’t have a lead woman character, none will be given the depth that such a game can afford.
Taking a different route, Tom Bissell shares a letter, hopefully not made with contraband writing utensils, to Niko of the previous GTA game, saying how the games resent gamers, and how he is aging out of that demographic. A truly touching piece. Rather than turn away from life-rending horror, Nate Ewert-Krocker embraces the grotesque qualities of the game and likens it to the horror genre, where everything is meant to be disturbing:
Both the world and the characters of GTA are meant to elicit both disgust and pity in the player. The counterpoint of those two emotions is what makes a grotesquerie so compelling: the player (or reader, or viewer, or what have you) wants to continue the narrative because they want to see whether or not the characters come to a place that’s less disgusting, less pitiful.
Mayor Leigh Alexander held a press conference this week, mostly staring at the sun, mouth agape, and emitting noises of unspeakable horrors. She concluded it with a list of government-sanctioned subversive games, to which she pointedly dismisses GTAV as a contestant. In the pressbox, journalist Brendan Keogh was too busy trying to take selfies within the game during her speech, and was promptly escorted to the ReEducation Camp.
Some Words From Our Sponsors
Is the world ready for the decadent evils of digital sports? We say yes. Jorge Albor recaptures how we are witnessing the emergence of a new sporting culture, that follows traditional sports’ footsteps.
Dan Solberg goes back to SimCity 2000 to talk about the architecture it predicted we’d have by now, and how real life stacks up to its vision. Don’t despair, dear listeners, I’m sure there’s an ominous, oak door that will take us to that promised world.
Our own Eric Swain goes to grips with Endgame: Syria, and reassures us of the inevitable: there is no paradise for those looking for it in the horrors of humanity. He says:
At one point, I thought I had done it. The regime was ousted with no sectarian violence, no destabilizing of the region, and no religious extremists emerging. The only downside was the loss of hospitals, utilities, and other basic facilities from functioning properly. I mentioned this on Twitter and got the response I deserved. “So you made a desert and called it peace?”
This segment is brought to you by PopMatters!
Stay Home, Or Else
The Secret Police are relieved to report that Old Man Ian Bogost has finally finished an oral rendition of his review on Gone Home, much to the enjoyment, or possibly chagrin, of his neighborly angels. I must admit listeners, I was concerned it was an evil incantation for an actual display of viscera whenever anyone said ‘visceral.’ Despite the tight watch on his modest home by the car lot, Daniel Joseph was able to spread subversive thoughts gained from Bogost’s words before the government could censor it:
There is nothing literary about Gone Home, if we are to weigh it against the history and progression of the last 200 years of western fiction. And yet it is beautiful (and wildly effective) in its simplicity and earnestness because our own lives are actually quite simplistic. Or at least we perceive our own lives simplistically, amateurish, forced, and heavy handed even when they are almost certainly never only those things. To use Heidegger’s tool analysis, most of the wild complexities of our lives fade into a series of interlocking sequences of events and objects ready at hand, a series of moments linked and made sense of through widely available tropes.
How he knows this restricted knowledge is currently under investigation.
Community Reading Corner
Despite books being illegal in our humble town, much talk about narrative elements persists around social media watercoolers and bloodstone circles. Angela R Cox reframes Phantasmagoria, a community favorite, under Gothic literature instead of its usual film comparison:
The house governs nearly every part of the game: it is the source of isolation; it is the containing structure for both the supernatural demonic presence that drives the plots and for horror and terror; it tells the story itself through architecture and spatial distribution of plot elements.
This week has seen an uptick in grammatical analogies, so make sure to lock your doors and keep your children firmly preoccupied with television. The story vs mechanics tension often comes up in our community, but Mark Filipowich aims to take it a step further and adamantly tries to fuse story and mechanical elements into a language we can talk about games. On the same note, Mitch Krapta refocuses current game conversations on looking not at the rules of play, but the verbs the game affords the player. If you see either of these two men approaching your residence, pray to your family obelisk for a quick and painless departure from this plane.
What does it mean to be a character? What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be you? Chris Batemen explores these terrifying questions digging through a strange paradox: why does a personality-absent cipher character like Gordon Freeman win fan character contest polls?
And now, to Germany
After some strange happenings around the Critical Distance office bathroom, we are sure to have Joe Köller on the job of translating any strange German transmissions we get from the strangle black and purple hole in the wall. He recently translated a message from Rainer Sigil, about the recent horrors of Amnesia – A Machine for Pigs:
Instead, it presents primarily an aesthetic experience, atmospheric horror, living on the moment of fear and, beyond that, dreadful suspicions. Its rationality is faked time and again – just like the fragments of Dear Esther don’t amount to a full story, A Machine for Pigs offers no conclusive whole. Why and how should it, when its themes are taken from a century of mass murder and ideologies of genocide?
Joe also just now slipped me this note, but with a tentacle arm, before being sucked into the portal. It reads:
Marcus Dittmar wrote about environmental storytelling and the limits necessary to appreciate open worlds, Markus Grundmann covered Cookie Clicker and consumerism and Dennis Kogel interviewed Jasper Byrne of Lone Survivor and other things. Superlevel is also providing smaller features on entries in the Experimental Game Pack 01 over here.
If anyone can translate the foreboding warning hidden in this, please call the station’s number immediately.
All Is Well
There goes another day in our lovely community. Remember that if you spy any shadow monsters leaving the bowling alley or notice your romantic partners turning green, to let us know via Twitter or email. Just want to send us some thoughts? Submit to Blogs of the Round Table and hopefully some powerful demons will take a liking to you.
Until next time, good night videogame bloggers, goodnight.