December 10th

This week brings us a bunch of pieces of great critical writing on games, that put the medium into conversation with philosophy, history, and spirituality. First, this roundup starts with some reflections on old technologies seen in a new light.

A new kind of power

Two writers look into the significance of a game’s technical features.

“Sometimes, you get to see a picture as it is in the process of disappearing, and you get to play a game as some of its features are removed. These things retain a power, but it’s a new kind of power.”

Quintessentially postmodern

Two pieces put major game franchises in the context of the history of ideas stretching back to antiquity.

“[T]he Void is a quintessentially postmodern place. Ambiguity, fluidity and a plurality of meaning is its only constant nature. And this is also why the Void finds its reflection in the ocean, delirium and diseases.”

Feels as good as it looks

Two articles about what players do in games consider how interactions have been designed for morality and entertainment.

“Even some games which purport to offer more realistic experiences make some compromises so that they can make it feel as good as it looks to hack in the movies.”

Limits of imagination

Two critics address language and stereotypes that exclude some people from games culture.

“Publishers’ media vocabulary inhibits our ability to identify and analyse the specific experience of play, and over time, limits our imagination for videogames as a medium.”

Pocket Camp

A new Animal Crossing game has stirred discussion about free-to-play game design and microtransactions.

“The capitalist ideology is simply at odds with individualism, passion and spontaneity. Instead, coursing through its veins is a penchant for mundane predictability and cold, economic calculation.”

The New Colossus

Two more takes on the latest Wolfenstein game are added to our growing collection this week.

“[T]he audience often require[s] a pre-existing political alignment with the satirist to recognize the commentary at all. It’s preaching to the converted, effectively, but with the added danger that a portion of the choir mistake your portrayal of sins for proof of their virtue.”


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!