It’s been a long and exciting year in the world of videogames. With only a few more weeks before 2010 comes to an end, we’re given a good chance to look back at the year behind us and reflect upon the titles we’ve invested in. In this week’s edition of TWIVGB, we’ll be taking a look at everything from the latest Castlevania title to a number of lesser known games. Let’s begin.

First up is an exhaustive look at Castlevania: Lords of Shadow [mirror] by Andrew S. on his blog, Tales of a Scorched Earth. Andrew writes about how the game has been unfairly maligned by reviewers as a God of War ripoff and how there’s room for more than one third person action game. I personally enjoyed Andrew’s critical dissection of Lords of Shadow as both a successor to the Castlevania series and a serious contender to the action game throne.

On GamerMelodico, Dan Apczynski writes about the experience of losing a match in Madden 2011 and how the loss is a necessary experience in playing the game [mirror]. He contrasts this with other games, where death is simply the loss of progress achieved and ultimately a waste of time.

Kris Ligman writes about the ambiguity of gender in video games on her latest piece on PopMatters. She uses Daily, the androgynous love interest in the indie title Dungeoneer: Beautiful Escape, to drive her point.

“You could never say that it’s entirely revolutionary as a literary device, but the fact that it’s rare enough that it might be remarked upon in an article like this points, I think, to certain potential oversights in how we conventionally write about gender and sexuality in video game narratives.”

Also on Popmatters is a piece by Scott Juster, who writes about straight-faced games which merely peer over the fourth wall instead of breaking it down. It’s an article that talks about the ludonarrative dissonance in games like BioShock and the Uncharted series and how these games address incongruancies.

Adam Ruch has written the second part of his “Metanarrative of Videogames” article on the FlickeringColours blog. He questions the industry’s focus on the “win state” in games [mirror], and asks why they can’t strive to evoke a wider variety of emotions from players beyond that.

Salman Rushdie weighs in on videogames and the future of storytelling [mirror], comparing the freeform storytelling of Red Dead Redemption and other games with Jorge Luis Borges’ short story, The Garden of Forking Paths.

James Bishop at Hellmode picks apart the morality and karma systems [dead link, no mirror available] of Fallout: New Vegas, and asks why the simplified morality in games fails to reflect the ambiguity of real situations.

“Game designers have been telling us what is good and what is evil within the context of video games for years, often ignoring the various complexities of situations and generalizing on a large scale. This can sometimes be conflated with the distinction between problems and choices, but virtually every known karma system functions in the same manner; a point on a line that shifts from light to dark, good to bad, paragon to renegade.”

On Wired’s Game|Life blog, Jason Schreier investigates Game Dev Story‘s addictive qualities as a simulation and its realistic portrayal of game development through his interview with the game’s creator Ron Gilbert.

Dan C. of the Lost Garden blog has an in-depth article on a game he’s worked on called Steambirds: Survival. He writes about the choices that were made during its development, specifically the decision to remove handcrafted levels, which he argues decreases the depth and replay value of a game. The decisions he writes about can be applied to almost any videogame.

A Destructoid writer going by the name of “AwesomeExMachina” (awesome name, I know) writes about his challenging experience of playing through Grand Theft Auto IV as a nice Nico Bellic. He describes the unique challenges he faced by playing through the game in a way that the developers never intended.

Nick LaLone on Before Game Design writes about the choices developers make [mirror] leading up to the creation of female videogame characters. In his piece, he deconstructs NieR‘s Kaine–a female character possessed by a male demon and describes the character as both “intersexed” and “transgendered”.

Jamie Madigan at the Psychology of Games blog attempts to answer the question as to why gamers wax nostalgic over old games–through science! He writes:

“The link between negative moods and nostalgia also came up when the researchers looked at what triggers bouts of the emotion. They found that feeling down in the dumps or displeasure over current circumstances is likely to prompt people to reminisce about some uplifting experience in the past.”

Finally, Mitch Krpata skewers videogame writing in his piece on Insult Swordfighting by asking readers to match each of the year’s ten most popular games with a quotation from its review.

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