This will be my last This Week In Videogame Blogging before jetting off to San Francisco and the Game Developers Conference. Taking my place for the next two weeks will be enthusiastic contributor Eric Swain.

First up this week, Michael Clarkson makes a case for Santa Destroy as a valuable and necessary part of the original No More Heroes, and it’s omission from the sequel is all the more regrettable.

Zeke Virant is a new blogger who wrote in to let us know about a piece on ‘Expanding Sound in Videogame Narratives’ [mirror] which sounds a lot like the sort of thing I was into with my undergrad thesis from 2008.

Justin Keverne writes about Mass Effect 2 this week in ‘living with your mistakes’ [mirror]; Radek Koncewicz also writes about the game, describing it as ‘A few steps forward and a few steps back’ [mirror].

Kotaku goes in search of the Videogame Auteurs whose existence is still hotly debated.

Brendan Keogh, a Brisbane based blogger writes about the old whipping-horse that is the ludology/narratology debate (or stalemate, as Keogh describes it). He suggests, ‘don’t ask what narrative can do for games, but what games can do for narrative.

Jamie Madigan takes inspiration from Penny Arcade and asks, ‘Why do we love genres so much?

Joana Caldas writing for The Border House on Local vs Online multiplayer [mirror] has some of the best use of captioning I’ve ever seen.

I’m sure by now most have heard about or watched the DICE talk given by Jesse Schell but David Sirlin had a response, wondering whether external rewards are as unanimously positive [mirror] as Schell proposes. Following on from both, Dan Lawrence thinks a bit about the psychology of game design, inspired by both Schell and Sirlin’s comments, in a post titled ‘behaviourist game design’. UK based doctoral researcher Mitu Khandaker also has something to add to the commentary/responses to Schell’s talk, extrapolating some of the previous ideas into a series of possible futures for games [dead link, no mirror exists]. Lastly for this particular discussion, Jesper Juul has some thoughts on Schells’ talk with some excellent concrete examples that problematise a future where every action is tied to some kind of external reward. Juul:

A famous 1973 experiment (“Undermining children’s intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward“) showed that when nursery school children consistently received external rewards for drawing, they lost interest in drawing and started drawing less.

Also from the recent DICE conference is this piece by Brandon Sheffield covering a panel on racial diversity in games, a talk that will also be given again at GDC in a couple of weeks. It’s a talk that I plan to attend.

The Independent has a take on Heavy Rain comparing it to previous similar efforts in games, such as Facade, and Anthony Burch at Destructoid suggests that, in Heavy Rain’s case at least, Ebert was right.

This week Chris Dahlen made explicit the connections that Leigh Alexander has made previously, namely that games are perhaps more like music than they are like film [dead link, no mirror exists].

Kirk Hamilton wrote about open world games in ‘When the world changes’.

Coleen Hannon at Gamers With Jobs writes of being ‘Thumbless in Seattle’, which unfortunately involves less Tom Hanks and more disabling injuries.

Lastly, here’s a cool thing and some creative criticism for you – it’s totally possible to use more than just essays to critique games. As ‘Passage in 10 seconds’ shows, you can even use other games.

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