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January 20th

…populated with hypersexualised depictions of women and male-dominant narratives, and where the entrenched popularity of these tropes means their own efforts to counteract the prevailing culture will likely put them at odds with not only their colleagues, but also the business models of the companies and projects for which they work; as the #1reasonwhy discussion showed, many will experience sexism in the workplace – hardly surprising, given the academic correlation between the acceptance of misogyny in humour and culture and real-world tolerance for sexism and rape culture – while others will be excluded from it completely. All this being so,…

September 11th

…in the narratives of video games, at least for now, and I hope that we might eventually have the opportunity to play games that feature mother characters that are not either simply demonized or victimized”


Examining portrayals of men, these posts consider the social codes behind the aesthetics of the male body.

  • Welcome to the age of videogame beards – Kill Screen Chris Priestman considers the aesthetics and semiotics of facial hair in games.
  • Queer Characters: BioShock | Vorpal Bunny Ranch Denis Farr explores queer coding and villainy in an essay originally written in 2011.

February 9th

…of dialogue as merely a means to an end. Hubbell focuses his attention on the benefits of strong rhetoric for adding character to what’s otherwise a deadened exchange of information in the case of Mass Effect 3. Problem Machine wrote a nice wee thing on the tensions between design verbosity and concision, with examples from the adventure genre.

Many Different Videogames

Soul James uses Papers, Please to muse on the strengths of the medium. Peter Christiansen wrote about the mechanics of ideology in Civilization V. Mark Filipowich turned his attention towards emergent narratives in RPGs as revealed by some…

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

A reading list on trans representation in games

…relatively early piece on trans representation in gaming by Mattie Brice still stands out for its detailed analysis. Mattie also wrote pieces for the Border House Blog on other trans characters in games (see her portfolio for a list), and went on to create Mainichi, a game about her own lived experience as a trans woman that received widespread attention.

  • Empathy Game Anna Anthropy’s game Dys4ia became emblematic of the rise of transgender narratives in gaming. Here she talks about the pitfalls of such a game becoming a symbol. Also worth mentioning here is her Rise of the Videogame Zinesters,…
  • April 30th

    …straightforwardness of the spatial narratives in the game that provoked this discussion.

    “There is something charmingly outdated in how What Remains of Edith Finch plays itself completely straight — right down to its narrated diary entries and blinking red beacons — that makes the whole game feel like a time capsule, a callback to a not-so-distant past when we believed non-violent first-person games were fertile ground for gameplay innovation, instead of just another genre that had been discoursed to death.”

    The blueprint

    The metadiscourse wasn’t limited to this old rhetorical battle, with some critics examining other issues regarding

    January 29th

    …– Medium Emilie Reed talks about the strange categorization of junk in games.

  • Due Diligence: Sublime Filth – Haywire Magazine Leigh Harrison talks a lot about “bags of sick and poo” in this remarkable account of experiences that oscillate between gaming and situationist drifting.
  • “Pokémon Go, just like most videogames, is about isolation; about madly acquiring intangible goods because we’re told having more stuff than other people is good for us. Geocaching asks us to dig deeper into our surroundings by allowing us to see previously hidden narratives and experiences.”


    For some thoughts on how inclusion and

    Discover a Critical Culture

    …broader culture. And most importantly, Critical Distance made me feel like I could be a part of the conversation, inviting me to participate in its Blogs of the Round Table and submit my work to This Week in Videogame Blogging.

    Archives quicksearch

    Jenn Frank Lana Polansky Zolani Stewart Sex History Labor Racism Bodies Narratives Aesthetics

    Through Critical Distance, I’ve learned about games and sex, games and history, games and labor, games and racism, games and bodies, games and narratives, games and aesthetics. Regardless of whether or not games remain a part of my life for years to come, I know…

    August 27th


    Sometimes games hold up a mirror to what humans are—as individuals and as a people. Even when it isn’t their central focus, games can speak to us in meaningful, human ways.

    • Tacoma and the Stories We Leave Behind | Ploughshares Human lives are narratives which can be informed partly by the artifacts we gather over said lives, a point at Patrick Larose felt central to the story of Tacoma.
    • The People in Tacoma | shutupvideogames Human lives are in people, and in people alone. At least, as Ed Smith’s argument goes, the belief that there’s something profound to

    June 12th

    …history of innovation,’ said one source. ‘We’d already done experimental things with stuff like Kinect, with Journey, that proved we could pull off different ideas. ‘The other thing you could say is that Lionhead was the studio that Microsoft was willing to risk.’ “

    “An open-world game is cluttered”

    Peeling back the lid on non-stop, nonsensical action adventures, two games critics look at narratives that have fallen flat.

    • Uncharted 4.5 This comedic text adventure acts as an interactive satirical critique of Nathan Drake’s dramatic mishaps.
    • By Aiming Big, ‘Mirror’s Edge Catalyst’ Has Come Out Bloated and Boring |…

    April 24th

    …present, but generational constructs are as well. Grandparents, parents, and children are all bodies experiencing war in varied ways, challenging the normative perceptions of what war is, what war means, what war does, and who survives war.”


    Discussions on the gendered (and species-dependent) division of emotional labor emerge in writing on relationships in game narratives.

    • Even More Daddy Issues: Fatherhood and Gendered Labor in The Last of Us | Not Your Mama’s Gamer Bianca Batti critiques the tropes of dad games.
    • Jak and Daxter: the search for Player Two | Kill Screen Jess Joho draws…