Ben is away for the weekend and has asked me to step in once again at the last minute. So here we are, another weekend, another This Week in Video Game Blogging.
Last week a few good pieces were submitted late and as a consequence weren’t included. Matthew Armstrong has a duo of posts examining Demon’s Souls. Ian Bogost looks at the hubbub around the most recent Medal of Honor, saying free speech is not a marketing plan. The blog ThinkFeelPlay continues its exploration into why we play [mirror]. Margaret Robertson from Hide&Seek looks at the word gamification [mirror] and why it doesn’t mean what marketing people think it means. And Sinan Kubba looks at Nier as a caregiver [mirror].
Okay, onto this week.
Lauren Wainwright writes on her personal blog ‘Sex Sells. But who’s buying?‘ [mirror] responding to a defensive argument on the nature of video game “journalism.” Lewis Denby does the same looking at the same “news” blogs’ need for ‘Hits and Tits.’
Extra Credits has a great introductory video on the need for ‘Diversity‘ in video games, promising future episodes exploring different types. Also this week at Before Game Design is a heavily annotated post about diversity [updated link] not only in games but in our cultural mindset.
This week Matthew Armstrong does a close reading of the Maiden Astraea encounter in Demon’s Souls and exactly how it affected him and why. Richard Castles at The Age also does what amounts to a close reading of the iPhone game Angry Birds [mirror].
Jorge Albor in his Moving Pixels column looks at confined spaces in games and the sensations we elect from them.
Jason Killingsworth writes a review of Metal Gear Solid 4 [dead link, no mirror available] that expresses disdain to the overblown nature of the series and has become intolerable with the latest entry, a series whose theme was subtlety that completely lacked any.
Amid the overcooked dialogue and thinly veiled Iraq war commentary of the aforementioned cinematic, Snake describes the new face of war: “ID-tagged soldiers carry ID-tagged weapons, use ID-tagged gear. Nanomachines inside their bodies enhance and regulate their abilities. Genetic control, information control, emotion control, battlefield control-everything is monitored and kept under control.” And just in case you missed the symbolism of this narration early on, Kojima introduces the Screaming Mantis boss character in Act 5 who hijacks the movements of Snake and a secondary NPC with-wait for it-puppet strings. (I see what you did there!)
Thomas K.L. on Frictional Games’ official blog writes what is missing in gamers’ understanding of what story is.
Upon hearing the word story, most people probably think of a chain of connected events. For example: “A princess is kidnapped; a brave knight rides to save her; the knight faces a dragon, the knight slays dragon and saves the princess; finally the knight gets half the kingdom and marries the princess”… This is not the right way to think of stories. The chain of events is just the plot, and it is a device used in order to get the story across to an audience.
Kris Ligman writes ‘Disney and Square: A failure of Synthesis‘ at Popmatters.
This week we say goodbye to the writings of L.B. Jeffries as a video game critic. His parting post is about video game criticism itself, how many are doing it wrong and how easy it can be to do a design-centric criticism. Best of all we get to see the inner workings of a critics mind and briefly what shaped it into the way it is.
Finally we have two posts looking at the shooters that have entered the modern era. Michael Abbott writes about Medal of Honor and in its attempt to honor the subject matter disables any attempt at portraying truth.
Ironically, EA’s decision to avoid ambiguity ultimately disables Medal of Honor’s narrative and impairs the game’s authenticity. MOH’s refusal to address complexity (or go anywhere near it); its saccharine deification of the American soldier; and its persistent refusal to allow the player to think for himself, neuter what might have been a powerful interactive experience.
And the best for last. Written by Joshua Casteel, a former Abu Ghraib interrogator, this is an article about how he sees Modern Warfare 2, hovering in that strange realm between realism and reality [mirror]. If you’re going to read only one piece of writing from this post, make it this one.
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