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This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2013

…2: Dog Days the anti-shooter long before Spec Ops: The Line.

Ceasar Bautista takes Susan Feagin’s The Pleasures of Tragedy and applies it to Far Cry 2.

Alex Duncan of The Animist blog look at what The Unfinished Swan as to say about creation and self-creation.

Matt Sakey at Tap Repeatedly puts his Roman History degree to use and explores why Total War: Rome II fails to allow the player to be Roman.

Liz Ryerson counters the indie game scene’s trusisms regarding Michael Brough’s Corrypt.

And finally, like last year, we end this section on…

Bioshock: Infinite

…impressive. But, it didn’t really give me much to write about.

In February of 2014, Stephen Beirne compared Infinite to Spec Ops: The Line, and how each game plays with expected behavior and rules. Maddy Myers at Paste Magazine looked at a fan-made porn parody of Bioshock Infinite and how it comparatively allowed Elizabeth more agency than the game it was parodying.

At Ontological Geek, Albert Hwang interrogated the game’s use of baptism, especially in relation to Booker’s past as a participant in the massacre at Wounded Knee, what that says about the game’s bifurcated timelines, and…

July 22nd

…post for Gamasutra, regaling us in tales of game industry corporate incompetence. It probably won’t cheer you up, but the stories are so absurd they might just anyway.

Meanwhile, TWIVGB regular Josh Bycer takes aim at a few recent “hard” games and asks where their difficulty really comes from: “it’s easy to make a hard game. The quandary and where a good designer is needed, is being able to separate hard from challenging.”

For more in-depth textual reading, we turn to Michael Clarkson, who takes Spec Ops: The Line to task for the cowardice of its critical message:

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

February 12th

…Die Tryin’ – Haywire Magazine (Content warning: middle-east wars) Miguel Penabella revisits 50 Cent Blood on the Sand, bringing a new perspective to its nihilism and embrace of ignorance.

“The game may resemble conventional third-person shooters, but its ugly power fantasy has close parallels with Spec Ops: The Line in particular, albeit with a meta-commentary not deliberately authored but emergent […] while Spec Ops directly skewers and subverts these conventions to comment on the morality of violent videogames, Blood on the Sand wholly embraces its violence, resulting in a differently sobering perspective on videogame culture.”


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July 9th

…More Fun – Waypoint Cameron Kunzelman argues that speed runners who rely on a performance of skill might be impressive, but those who have memorized tricks and glitches reveal more about the nature of the games they are playing.

  • Five Years Later, ‘Spec Ops: The Line’ Still Hates Military Bullshit – Waypoint Brendan Keogh locates the game he once wrote a book about in the context of more recent anti-war games and interviews with the developers.
  • “[…] if you wanted to play a powerfully anti-war videogame, you would be better off playing Unmanned or September 12…

    November 25th

    …This week might be the single greatest boon for long form game criticism I’ve seen since I’ve started doing this.

    Brendan Keogh has finally released his book, Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line, for purchase. If you like criticism and want to see it properly supported and hopefully allow the medium to take one more step forward, buy it. It is available until December 21st for $2.99 and then on will be $4.99. If you want to pay more, Brendan says it would be more than appreciated. You can read an excerpt on Kotaku…

    December 2nd

    …an unexpected paratextual gutpunch while going through the game’s campaign missions.


    Brendan Keogh’s Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line released last week to generally enthusiastic response. Now Keogh brings us a roundup of some early and very worthy reviews of his book, acknowledging what his critique does and doesn’t accomplish.


    At Unwinnable, Jenn Frank pens this emotional introspection on her work in games, the death of her mother, hanging on and letting go. Also worth reading is this very valuable B-side.

    Daniel Starkey pays…

    February 16th

    Hi. Kris Ligman again. I seem to be taking this whole semi-retirement thing pretty hard, because here I am again. Let’s hit the books and/or bricks and get cracking on a great new roundup of the week’s best in games writing! It’s This Week in Videogame Blogging!


    On Normally Rascal, Stephen Beirne contrasts a mob scene in Bioshock Infinite to a similar moment in Spec Ops: The Line:

    It is forever the failing of the medium that Decisions must be made with a capital-D, structured for presentation of both sides, as if both sides

    August-September Roundup

    …shooters are essentially linear roller coasters, it’s difficult to convey the feeling of unpredictable attack that comes with real-world terrorism. Although perhaps he is looking in the wrong place – XCOM: Enemy Unknown does a great job of this, albeit in a different genre.

    Desmand King from Plus 10 Damage takes a look at Spec Ops: The Line and Year Walk (spoilers for both). There has been a lot written about The Line, but it’s still one of the standout games of 2012 – I was thinking about it last week while watching Apocalypse Now. It falls into the