What with new games to play, steam sales to snap up bargains from, and the never-ending deluge of solid games criticism it’s been a tough week to stay on top of it all. As always, please consider sending links to the Critical Distance twitter account.

Quintin Smith is a games journalist type, and here’s part 2 and part 3 of his advice to future games journalist types, “What not to say”.

Paul Bauman writing on his destructoid blog says that “gaming…appears to be entering the awkward, slowly evolutionary, “teenage” phase of its development“. It’s an interesting point he raises about the emerging bifurcation in game development, and argues that the indie game scene’s rise has contributed to,

…some very productive and encouraging moments of critical dissonance where expectations developed in one arena have been brought to bear upon the other.

This is something I had never really thought about before. For example – it makes sense to me that I’d bring the lessons and expectations about games I’ve gleaned from The Passage, World of Goo, et al. to bear on any reading and analysis of, say, Gears of War. But there are a lot of people who’d balk at the idea, I’m sure, and that’s kind of interesting in itself.

Steve Gaynor wrote this week about whether games should bother trying to get out of the ‘cultural ghetto’, saying,

And then I start to wonder, seriously, why do we care if the world at large cares about us? Why do we need the cultural legitimacy merit badge? And I start to wonder if it’s not all just insecurity on our part. And if maybe we’re not seeing the value and beauty of the space we’re in because we’re too busy looking over the fence at Stanley Kubrick and Orson Welles.

Emily Short writes about HBO’s efforts at telling a story through interactive media in HBO Imagine. The takeaway:

…my real point is this: interactive storytelling — even when it’s not meant to be a game — still needs a game designer. It needs someone who will think about what the reader/player is supposed to do, and what that action means, and how it contributes to the story being told.

Two pieces this week from Michael Clarkson on Dragon Age: Origins, the first an examination of the segregation tactics employed by the games numerous races and cultures, the second about social rigidity in the game and how the game’s story says one thing and the game’s mechanics say another:

To varying degrees this kind of social rigidity appears in almost every social group in the game (except the elves). Through its dialogue and plot, Dragon Age: Origins repudiates these systems, but in its mechanics it supports them.

Gamasutra’s editor-at-large, Chris Remo, goes ‘Looking for Meaning in Games’.

Trent Polack writes about why Far Cry 2 is his game of the decade, and as any that know me will attest, I can’t disagree.

Please excuse the auto-fellatio of linking to something from myself, but I noticed a few people seem to have found it interesting so that’s good enough for TWIVGB – here’s a lengthy treatise on all the things I could find to criticise about Left 4 Dead 2 from my personal blog. The fact that so many are trifling issues speaks volumes.

David Carlton writes a big essay about his experience with Burnout Paradise.

And lastly for the week, I wanted to point readers to a brand new group videogame blog called The Borderhouse. If its roster of writers is anything to go by, it should be quite the one to watch.