Search Results for:


Minisode 10 – Abstract Aesthetics

More undiscussed games on the Critical Distance Confab.

For those who may not know, the purpose behind these minisodes is highlight some games, 3 a piece, that haven’t got a lot criticism or any criticism at all. The hope being that it will inspire some of you to go out, play them and write something about them. The games we highlight run the gamut from art games, through prestige level indie games, right on through AAA games that might have slipped through the cracks.

Co-hosting with me this month is critic, Heather Alexandra.


Agency: Thi Nguyen | Keywords in Play, Episode 10

…good in-depth answer. The book kind of focuses on the particular types of aesthetics and aesthetic experiences that people can have in this particular type of game. What particularly interested you in using your background, as you know, a philosopher of art, a philosopher of aesthetics, to pay attention to games in this way.

Thi: I mean, in some sense, I think it’s just like, it’s so obvious to me that games are aesthetics. And I was like, frustrated, I think with people like having too narrow views of the aesthetic that made them miss on what, what was…

October 24th

…still prevalent in contemporary games.

  • No Escape AFK Blog #2: What Does God of War’s Thor Really Do For Fatness Representation? | No Escape Kaile Hultner observes that the types and roles fat bodies can occupy in games remain woefully limited, and allowing the God of Thunder to be fat does little to challenge that.
  • “It’s better than no fat representation at all. But that bar’s so low we had to dig out a basement for it to live in.”

    Aesthetics and Ideologies

    Continuing on, we’re featuring a pair of pieces that unpack

    January 8th

    …this dissonance seems to be the very aspect that was foundational to the experience laid out in Ragnarök’s 2018 predecessor, God of War: the one-shot camera.”

    A Grammar of the Gremlin

    A lot of this week’s categories have a common theme in productive contradictions. Here, those contradictions emerge between the creepy and the cute, the transgressive and the normative, represented sometimes-but-not-always by the archetype of the gremlin.

    • Going Gremlin Mode | Unwinnable Emma Kostopolus contemplates the horrors of the cute and the known in Bugsnax.
    • Some Thoughts on Nintendo’s Pikmin: A Brutally Cute Strategy…

    December 11th

    …Goodness recently sat down for a podcast with the Brainy Gamer himself, Michael Abbott.

    Next stop, MIT’s GAMBIT Lab, featuring a three-part talk on games as an aesthetic form.

    This leads us into our first major topic of the week, aesthetics. It’s a theme next followed up by James Hawkins at Joystick Division, as he takes us on an excellent breakdown of the comparative aesthetic and narrative strategies of indie game darlings Bastion and Limbo:

    This is where the strength of the video game medium truly shines. We’re given two adventure stories about unremarkable children

    April 24th


  • Microtransactions Arent Evil – Why Viridi is Free-to-play | Gamasutra blogs Kevin Maxon shares thoughts on the aesthetics of free-to-play.
  • “In the goals/unlocks paradigm, the user grew a plant to unlock a variety. With a F2P model, the user would purchase a seedling to grow a plant. The task ? goal directionality is reversed. Instead of treating gardening like a job you do for some external reward, it treats it like a thing worth investing in for its own sake. Now, the onerous task is the unlock, and the earned reward is the ability to…

    This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2021

    …Much digital ink was spilled this year on the subject of “wholesomeness” as either a genre or aesthetic, but two writers cut closest to the quick:

    • Bugsnax & Ooblets: Cute is What They Aim For – Uppercut Ty Galiz-Rowe reflects on the distracting power of cuteness and wholesomeness in games, and warns against letting surface-level aesthetics obscure deeper critical tensions in how these games are written and who they are written for.
    • AGAINST WHOLESOMENESS – DEEP HELL Matteo Lupetti examines what wholesome games as a discourse erases and leaves out by situating them in a larger

    September 2020

    Welcome back, readers.

    My apologies about the lateness of September’s gaming youtube directory. I had it basically ready two weeks back, at the ‘normal time’, but then formatting and posting it became, for some reason or another – like everything else in this temporally soupy mess of geographically dislocated late 2020 waking fever dream – inexplicably difficult, one more thing to move to tomorrow’s to-do list, to shove behind another run, or a run at Hades, or whathaveyou. My city is seemingly about to emerge from a four-month lockdown just as many of you are facing record case

    May 15th

    …think: walking through an environment and deliberately listening to the sounds you hear. It’s actually an extremely rewarding exercise, and to my knowledge it’s not been done in a videogame before.

    This next one’s a bit of fun: applying last week’s critique of “Gamification” by Ian Bogost is TinySubversions blogger Darius Kazemi who’s made a plugin for Chrome that will automatically swap the ‘gamification’ related terms with their ‘exploitification’ equivalent. Critique can be practical, too!

    Zach Alexander at the Hailing From the Edge blog writes on ‘aesthetics’, although it’s more about the ‘yes and…’ performative agreement approach as…

    March 11th

    …for limited resources, which tends to cause selfish play—exactly the kind of experience that is the direct opposite of the authorial message of the singleplayer game.

    Two authors took an especially fine-toothed comb to game aesthetics this week. The first article arrives from the endearing Eric Lockaby, who responds to Phil Fish’s GDC remarks with the declaration that the culturally-inscribed aesthetics of games across markets are more important than we realize. Quoth Lockaby:

    Western gaming culture’s complete dismissal of another culture’s artistic structure on the grounds that JRPGs are, generally, crap fails to recognize that our…