The holiday season is upon us. Not long ago, family, food, and festivities have descended on unsuspecting folks’ schedules, and in just a few more days, family, food, and festivities will descend once again. The break in between, at least in America, is often jam-packed with shopping, traffic, and more than a little merry chaos. The holidays are conceptually times for reflection, and often it’s easy to get stuck in the motions for the holidays rather than the mindfulness the holidays are meant to represent in the first place.
That said, practicing mindfulness and reflection is our goal here at Critical Distance, so let’s all take a second to reflect and ponder on This Week in Videogame Blogging!
Gaming Away the World
- What Civilization VI Tells us about the State of Humanity | Not Your Mama’s Gamer
Alex Layne criticizes the move from sober reflection to levity with the newest Civilization game, and why that’s more unnerving now than ever.
- Personal Identity and Gaming in Today’s Political Landscape | PopMatters
Jorge Albor considers the escapism of games, and the challenge of rationalizing that in a political climate in which escapism is an easy desire.
- Opened World: On the Margins of History | Haywire Magazine
Miguel Penabella laments that the fictional history created in Mafia III provides insulation against the real history of racism in 1960s New Orleans.
Thus, the game expresses racial anger obliquely, directing it not towards real structures that lawfully maintain oppression like the police force, but towards fictional abstractions like the Southern Union and the Italian mafia. Rather than confront the historical sources of oppression in New Orleans as outlined by Whitaker and Moore, Mafia III defers to fictionalization that obscures the relationship between racism and state politics.
The World Within Games
- The Trump Game List | Medium
Kawika Guillermo looks at a list of games that illustrate a potential bleak future for Americans under a Trump administration.
The World Without Games
- Why Some Video Games Are in Danger of Disappearing Forever | Kotaku
Heather Alexandra spends some time on the time-sensitive importance of game archiving, and how game remakes don’t necessarily resolve the problem.
Games and Power
- Creating Power Through Play | Mattie Brice
Mattie Brice lays out the dynamics of power, and how games have great opportunity to reconfigure power, in both design and their players.
- It’s Time For a New Kind of Power | HowWeGetToNext
Leigh Alexander calls to question games’ and technology’s habit for power fantasies, and what direction such empowering should start going.
But we can?—?and we must?—?offer different definitions of power, different fantasies for different people. If we’re creating our dream worlds in these designs and devices, there must be room for the idea that not all of us have the same kinds of dreams.
What Games Aren’t
- Purusharth Tomar’s Blog – Can games really be Satanic? | Gamasutra
Purusharth Tomar critically challenges whether or not games can be satanic.
- There is No Such Things as a Cinematic Video Game | Stomp
Doc Buford, at perhaps unnecessary length, illustrates where cinematic techniques fail games.
Sex and Sexuality
- Dishonored 2: The Stories of Women | Not Your Mama’s Gamer
Alisha Karabinus praises the recent Dishonored 2 for being a game powered by women’s stories, a narrative tragically uncommon in modern games.
- Leading Men Are Trapped in the Closet, Bro | FemHype
Jillian of FemHype explores the ever-present homoeroticism in Telltale games, a level of male companionship right on the edge of romantic love, but never resolved.
This is what it looks like when a man is obviously, painfully attracted to his best friend, but I suppose the consequences of returning those feelings are just too high to offer it as a dialogue option. Why else would Telltale dangle the possibility, only to snatch it away?
Nuts and Bolts
- The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap’s dungeon design | Boss Keys
Mark Brown takes a look at direct and branching paths in the dungeon design for The Legend of Zelda Minish Cap.
- Ep 41 – Every Game a Painting | Critical Distance Confab
Our very own Eric Swain joins Mark Brown of Game Maker’s Toolkit, a podcast discussing his video-essays on game design.
We’re coming into the home stretch of our fundraising campaign. We need as much help as possible getting the word out about the work that we do. Games curation is important, and we can’t do it alone. Please share the news in any way you can, and share with us any links you find, so that we are better able to continue preserving and contextualizing critical writing on games.
- Everyone’s A Critic | Critical Distance
- Critical Distance is for Game Developers Too | Critical Distance
- Support us and get free coaching from the Haywire team! | Critical Distance
- Critical Let’s Plays for Critical Distance | Critical Distance
- Where to Find In-Depth Writing on Games | Critical Distance
If you have any articles you think we should be paying attention to, feel free to pass them along to us! More information could be found on Critical Distance’s How To Contribute page. That’s it from us this week, apologies for the delay and downtime this Sunday, and looking forward to seeing what will be arriving in games writing this next week!