May 4th

Welcome to another invaluable edition of This Week in Videogame Blogging. Today we’re bringing you thoughts on the four fundamentals of the universe: time, space, death and taxes.

Follow the Money 

Starting us off is Dan Joseph at Drop Out Hang Out Space Out kicking us all in the material consciousness with a transcript of a talk he gave at this year’s Theorizing the Web Conference in NYC. The dense, but very readable transcript interrogates Eric Zimmerman’s notion of “The Ludic Century” by asking what that looks like by looking at things like “real money transfers” in CounterStrike.

In keeping with the discourse of labour, value and space Keza MacDonald asks why fanboys are such jerks, especially on the internet, and Christian Donlan speculates on the sweet, sweet masochism of survival games in the age of late capitalism.

Appreciation over Time

Over at the A.V. Club, Samantha Nelson basks in the beautiful solitude of World of Warcraft‘s abandoned cities.

At Higher Level Gamer, Jason Coley proposes a framework for “persistent time” in videogames.

For the Love of the Game

Philippa War talks to former Swedish Pirate Party member Jonathan Rieder Lundkvist about his brainchild, PolitikerStarcraft, a Starcraft II tournament held for representatives from Swedish political parties to compete for bragging rights. And, incidentally, to also bring attention to the issues of a lowered value-added tax on games and Visas for eSports players entering the country. The politician is surprisingly straightforward about PolitikerStarcraft’s efficacy:

The visa issue and the idea to lower value-added tax on games (which is what the 2010 tournament sought to highlight) are the areas Lundqvist feels are most important for the short term but that gambling revenues are also a potential flash point. “In the long term, I think politicians will have to face the discussion that there may be eSport organisations who also want a share of the profit from Sweden’s gambling monopoly; money that traditionally is largely donated to youth sport organisations.”

These are interesting issues but the fact that PolitikerStarcraft is perhaps viewed by the parties as a gimmick means it may well not have the power to raise or address them. When we ask about whether the tournament has had an impact on political debate or discussion, Lundkvist says bluntly, “not very much.”

Kimberley Wallace muses on how sports games can do a better job eliciting “playoff spirit” and over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Adam Smith talks to Shawn Allen about his wicked-looking brawler, Treachery in Beatdown City (whose Kickstarter is 70 hours away from ending and which you should definitely fund now, now, now!).

Our Emergent Phenomena, Ourselves

Mattie Brice answers questions about using play as a tool for anti-oppressive discourse at Model View Culture.

At Kill Screen, Corey Milne considers Irish identity in games through the characterization of a sniper in Valkyria Chronicles.

Lena LeRay discusses the trials and outcomes of using Twine to teach English as a foreign language in Gamasutra’s member blogs.

In a guest post on The Border House, Sun Tzu praises DoTA 2‘s diverse roster of female characters.

And our Foreign Correspondent, Joe Koeller, rounded up these fascinatingly contrasting interviews on so-called “walking simulators” at VideoGameTourism.at. The three, with Ed KeyDan Pinchbeck, and Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn of Tale of Tales respectively, are all available in English on the typically German-language site.

Information Overload 

Finally, we would like to bring attention to a new research study conducted by Michael Lin, a masters student from USC Interactive Media and Games Division, on “simulator sickness” — a type of motion sickness associated with playing videogames (and which some of us here at Critical Distance happen to suffer from). The study includes an online survey which takes about 5-10 minutes to complete. Check out this Google doc for more details and, if you’re interested, you can fill out the survey here.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading, and remember that our hearts grow several sizes whenever we receive submissions via Twitter and email.

And, well, in the spirit of this week’s post, please consider donating to our Patreon! Critical Distance is funded entirely by readers like you. We’re kind of like the PBS of videogames except without the sizable David Koch donations, so we need your help!