November-December Roundup: Illness

Pardon me, sorry I didn’t mean to wake you. Are you feeling any better? Gee, you look much better. For what it’s worth, I appreciate that you’ve pushed on through the holidays and I hope you’re on the upswing. That’s right, for the past call of Blogs of the Round Table we’ve asked you to dwell on how ‘illness’ works in the games you play.

Taylor Hidalgo

A Few Ill-Place Pieces

Let’s start with a piece from our own Taylor Hidalgo’s piece on how EarthBound deals with an “invisible” illness in the form of homesickness. The piece is a tight analysis of one of the games subtler mechanics that is as simple and essential to playing as it is to understanding it thematically and Hidalgo’s personal approach is an especially effective kind of criticism that I really enjoy reading in BoRT.

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Nick Tomko

Far Cry 2 and Infecting the Player

Nick Tomko on Hub Pages looks at the impact of illness in Far Cry 2. The shooter forces the player to constantly treat the symptoms of maleria, which not only makes the main character vulnerable in a way rarely seen in first-person shooters at the time (and since), but also holds moral implications for how the player behaves when dependent on medication simply to remain in the world. Tomko’s piece convincingly argues that malaria is not just a unique twist in Far Cry 2, but a central mechanic that offers a rarely explored subversion of heroism in first-person shooters.

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Seth Tomko

Bloodborne : There Is No Cure for What Ails You

At Level Skip, Seth Tomko bridges the themes between last month’s theme and next month’s with a piece on the Souls‘s bastard offspring, Bloodborne. As Tomko argues, not only does the player’s life depend on lingering with a sickness but as several of the oblique title’s characters and endings suggest that the effort to purify or cure is at the core of social illness. The spoonful of sugar might help the medicine go down, but to torture the analogy a bit it also seems to be what makes the medicine needed in the first place.


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Keep these ideas in the back of your head as we approach January’s topic, ‘healing’ and continue to build on these ideas. As always, it has been a joy to have you, I hope that you’re feeling stronger and brighter now that we’ve overcome some of the chills together. I look forward to formally working to getting better for next month’s Blogs of the Round Table!

And, hey, since you’re here, no is a good time to give a look at our annual retrospective of another bygone year, courtesy of the tireless and debonair Eric Swain.

As for the rest of Critical Distance, we’re always eager to engage you in more games criticism where we can. So don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or send us an email if you find something you’d like to bring to our attention. If you’d like to see our work continue or to fund our expansion into other projects consider supporting us with a monthly Patreon contribution or a one-time Paypal donation.