People often say that games give us a chance to try out being somebody else. But I think a great strength of this week’s writing was the pieces challenging us to be more aware of who we already are.


This week has seen some fantastic writing on games and the role of the nation state.

“If I had to sum up all this conversation, I’d say it feels like talking about cultural appropriation is ultimately a bit of a trap, but at the same time, it is necessary for us to fall into it. The alternative is to fall into a much worse trap, full of unchallenged racism and ignored pain and hot molten lava. Compared to that trap, this one isn’t so bad, right? And then when we eventually figure out how to crawl out of this, we’ll be better for it. “


These two pieces give very different perspectives on how games give us a sense of playing with somebody else’s body and personhood.


Female subjectivity and memory have been important themes in some pieces this week; additionally, an important call-out was issued about remembering the designers of game patterns.

“Mr Monnier and CD Projekt, the company he represented as head designer, has had plenty of opportunities to properly credit Mr Erhard and failed to do so. Worse, they have actively engaged in the minimization of the role both him and Condottiere had in Gwent, by not crediting him and dismissively referencing the original as a mere influence.”


Content warning in this section for descriptions of genitals and erotica: developers discuss their own participation in gender politics regarding two games on the slightly more avant-garde end of commercial indie projects.

“‘What does it mean to grow up in a non-nuclear family’ is also something I want to explore, and I think that anything that encourages us to be engaged and supportive of the people around us helps bridge that gap. Again, the genetic link is irrelevant. Everyone can be a Dad.”


In contrast to these developers who actively engage in the political meaning of their work, David Cage has frustrated some critics with his evasive and contradictory answers in interviews.

“Any material aspect of their nature – the things we accomplish, the objects we interact with – are no longer privileged, because games are no longer an activity one participates in. Now they’re a mindset; a state of being one adopts in regards to the world around them.”


The aesthetic qualities of interactive systems are discussed by two critics this week with regard to very different types of game.

“We’ve created a collision between min-maxing mentality of creating the best adventurer that can do the best adventures against the role-playing mentality of trying to create the most interesting adventurer that can have the most interesting adventures – and, sadly, and the former has decisively won.”


Finally, this week brought a fantastic selection of writing on space and place in games.

“Like the series’ “hollows” a profoundly architectural name for the undead, the architecture of the Dark Souls’ series is, more than a container for walking corpses, and is instead a withering, putrefying, deathless corpse in itself. Its spaces, the cathedrals, castles, caves, sewers, fortifications and forest huts of Dark Souls and its sequels are hollow bodies, locked in processes of organic decay.”


Critical Distance is community-supported. Our readers support us from as little as one dollar a month. Would you consider joining them?


Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!