March 2020

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

Hello again, readers.

It’s true that there is much to be concerned about, wherever you are in the world. For my part, if you’d asked me a couple of months back about how I thought this year would progress, one thing I certainly didn’t expect to be wondering in mid-April is: why is there still not one good new video essay about Kentucky Route Zero? Especially after so many interesting things have been written about it since Act V came out in January. I have my theories, but I’ll keep them to myself.

In better news there’ve been a couple of cool developments at Critical Distance that I’m going to shamelessly plug, right here and now. One is that we’ve begun a new podcast series! Do go and check out the first episode, which is an interview with game-maker and academic, Elizabeth LaPensée, PhD. The other is that our monthly newsletter (for $5+ Patreon subscribers) now comes with a handy digest of critical links pulled from our roundups. Pandemic financial crises aside, there’s never been a better time to jump on board and help support the work we do here.

This Month in Videogame Vlogging is a roundup of the best and most thought-inducing vods about videogames from the previous calendar month.

DOOMscourse

A new DOOM game was released in March. The following two videos will not tell you anything about it.

On Walking

Three videos offer different analyses of games built around modes of slow exploration.

Novel Designs

Always a popular topic for video critics, zeroing in on the points of difference that makes certain games stand out from the pack (or not) made for four interesting videos in March.

  • “Bad Graphics” – Jacob Geller (19:03)

    Jacob Geller discusses the visual homogeneity of “prestige” games and the tension between, as a player, wanting games to look unique and interesting, and the feedback cycle which funnels games into adopting a particular look.  (Manual captions) [Note: contains embedded advertising]

  • The Genius of Prey’s Gloo Cannon – Game Maker’s Toolkit (8:34)

    Mark Brown analyses the way Prey’s Gloo Cannon works as a novel space-bridging tool within a confined environment, allowing the player to experience the game out of the apparent “allowed” order, giving the player an unusual sense of autonomy. (Manual captions)

  • What Makes Mario Odyssey’s Boss Design Special?– Design Doc (12:49)

    Design Doc discusses the difference in design approach that makes Mario Odyssey’s bosses stand out by comparison to the previous 3D entries in the series, and how these encounters contribute to Odyssey’s world-building and elevated sense of adventure. (Manual captions) [Note: contains embedded advertising]

  • What Does It Mean To Be A Metroidvania? – Adam Millard (19:45)

    Adam Millard argues that many contemporary metroidvanias are too reliant on Super Metroid for design inspiration without really understanding or utilising the aspects that made that game good. (Autocaptions)

On Coping

Even though there’ve been two (!) Screen Therapy picks already in this roundup, our appetite for help, guidance and solace during these difficult and lonely times is bottomless. Here are a few more videos that I feel speak, however tangentially, to this present moment.

Trivia and Oddities

To finish up, here are two videos on less often considered gaming quirks.

And that’s it from March. If you happen to spot any cool and interesting videos about videogames in the wild, please alert us by hashtagging TMIVGV on twitter. Until next time, take care.

Subscribe

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

Contribute

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