May 12th

Helloooo, Critical Distance readers! Are you excited? I’m so excited! And I just can’t hide it! It’s This Week in Videogame Blogging!

FORGET IT, JAKE, IT’S THE GAME INDUSTRY

Doing our part to keep this one alive, here’s John Walker’s piece from back in April seeking to answer the question: Why did the SimCity controversy go away?

Elsewhere, Branislav Gagic has another question on his mind. He wants to know why reputable developers are heading to Kickstarter to bank on known IPs, the same as AAA.

ZINESTER: STILL NOT A PEJORATIVE

On Magical Wasteland, Matthias Burns has a few thoughts on the whole “zinester” thing:

Part of my unease with that “formalists versus zinesters” “debate” was how unnecessary it seemed (beyond providing some personal edification to the instigators); it was as if a faculty member from Juilliard had expressed a desire for “a dialogue” with Sid Vicious about chord progressions. It’s not that these two don’t see eye to eye on matters of music theory, which is what the professor thinks, it’s that the punks have arrived on the scene with such a completely different set of values that they might as well be from different planets.

There is also little fruit to be found in having a “dialogue,” I think, because it doesn’t seem particularly hard to see where the “zinesters” (if I must use that word) are coming from, and the idea that they need to explain themselves is confounding. This group consciously and deliberately rejects indie’s failed split from the mainstream and its poorly-concealed capitalist underpinnings, and instead upholds personal expression as the highest ideal, the only goal that matters. And in order to do that successfully, they must break off completely, not at a branch somewhere on the tree but at the very root of the established order. This cannot be papered over or explained away; no amount of hemming and hawing over the definition of the word “game” will fix the fact that there are games out there now that willfully abnegate other games.

Porpentine, in reposting the original draft of her “7 Thoughts on Women” on her own site, also addresses the trap of the “dialogue”:

One of the greatest challenges of this time is not blatant misogyny (an easy target for outrage anyone can participate in) but the crypto-misogynist, whose fear is concealed behind language that sounds basically okay to everyone but the women it is intended to harm.

They’ve figured out they can’t call us bitches, so they resurface under a thin veneer of patronizing “civility”, neutralizing our energies with mindless, boring semantics.

They will find endless ways to intellectualize their discomfort.

[…] Even doing basic work in the games industry, whether it be in a mainstream or indie capacity, becomes filled with chronic ambient terror

DESIGN MATTERS

So, let’s talk about games with no interactivity, says Line Hollis.

Meanwhile, anna anthropy writes on the recent Different Games conference and why the context of gameplay profoundly informs a game. And on GameJolt, Paul Hack interviews Goblet Grotto developer The Catamites.

On Bit Creature, Lana Polansky ruminates on the nature of game cartography. In a similar vein, Nathan Altice on Metopal is continuing his great multipart spatial analysis of several games.

On Twinfinite, Matthew Kim shares a few notes on Demons’ Souls and how it differs from its sequel, Dark Souls. And on Video Games of the Oppressed, Mike Joffe postulates that perhaps the emotion mechanic of Super Princess Peach is more subversive than we think.

Jay Barnson muses a bit on using the unknown to co-create with the player:

[M]ight we find ourselves able to construct more powerful narratives if we let the designer and the player take care of the creative heavy lifting? Let the designer imply connections, let the player form and breathe life to those connections, and let the computer just do its thing to provide the tools and mechanics to facilitate this?

Barnson’s examples lean heavily on the horror genre in particular, which segues neatly into our next article from GayGamer’s Mitch Alexander: locating the connections between Silent Hill and gay Irish/English artist Francis Bacon. Meanwhile our own Johannes Köller invites us to think of the picturesque Proteus as “art gore” (it’s not as gruesome as it sounds).

Finally, PopMatters Moving Pixels’ Jorge Albor elaborates on the systems of security theater in The Castle Doctrine and Papers, Please.

FUCK VIDEOGAMES PART DEUX

Following on Darius Kazemi’s Fuck Videogames from last week, Janet H. Murray offers a considerate response: “Videogame design is not exciting because it is ‘new.’ Nothing gets old faster than mere novelty. Videogame art is exciting because it is a productive way of exploring the truly, historically new affordances of the digital medium.”

Also recommended: Liz Ryerson’s in-depth response to Kazemi’s post and further responses from Todd Harper and Samantha Allen.

RELATIONAL OBJECTS

Games do not exist in a vacuum. They are shaped by our individual perceptions. Writing for Paste, Maddy Myers illustrates this brilliantly with her visit to BioShock Infinite‘s Columbia in the wake of the Boston bombings.

Also on BioShock Infinite, Moving Pixels’ G. Christopher Williams discusses relating to the protagonists’ dynamic as a father of three daughters.

Speaking of fathers, those lie at the heart of this collection of thoughts on Red Dead Redemption from our own Cameron Kunzelman.

And That Dragon, Cancer designer Ryan Green takes to Game Church this week, to propose games have a need for “grace.”

EMBRACE PLAY

Finally, to leave us off for the week, Filipe Salgado has some inspiring words for everyone: just play. Play everything.

THE USUAL

Thanks once again for reading! As usual we greatly value your submissions by Twitter and email… and I’m happy to report our email contact form is up and running again! (Finally.)

Looking for May’s Blogs of the Round Table? Stay tuned! Alan Williamson will be posting a combined May-June prompt in the coming days, so keep those typing keys ready.