Ben is currently away, jetlagged and getting ready for GDC. Hello, my name is Eric and I will be you waiter tonight at This Week in Video Game Blogging. Here are the specials:

For starters we have a few new responses to Jesse Schell’s presentation that popped up this week, most notably Jim Rossignol from Rock, Paper Shotgun and duo Annie Wright/Kirk Hamilton from Gamer Melodico.

By far the most talked about game this week was Heavy Rain. Opinions are all over the place and we can only be thankful that it hasn’t gotten bloody. Michael-the Brainy Gamer-Abbott summed up the major conversation points. Brad Gallaway explains the effect spoilers have on the experience. Shoinan from the You Have Lost! blog explores the dichotomies existent in Heavy Rain: the Player vs. Director [dead link, no mirror exists] aspect of the action and the Win or Choose [dead link, no mirror exists] design setup regarding play. Denis Farr of the Vorpal Bunny Ranch explores the major theme of fathers [dead link, no mirror exists] in the game on his own blog and the extraneous character of Madison [dead link, no mirror exists] at The Border House. Kirk Hamilton rages at the game’s faults that irked him to no end, including the controls, while Mitch Krpata defends them in ‘What’s wrong with Heavy Rain’s controls?’ I think, however, I will give the last word to Julian Murdoch from the Gamers with Jobs who states:

A year from now, when the initial bloom is off the rose of this game, and we poke holes at its flaws, I believe designers will look back at these three things and say, “Those were craftsman at the top of their game.”

Two bloggers dust off Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for examination. Amanda Lange looks at the different design elements and how they are entertaining. Harry Milonas looks to an iconic tune of the courtroom [dead link, no mirror exists].

Several bloggers advocate looking at video games through a different medium’s critical lens. None of them advocate movies, at least not this week. Lyndon of Digital Kicks looks at game narrative as one would look at narrative in a painterly medium and Jorge Albor examines certain games through the lens of a performance medium. Kirk Hamilton (once again) writes an extension of Chris Dahlen’s proposition of looking at games as if they were music. He ends his post with:

When addressing a medium as immature and constantly fluctuating as games, we would be foolish to focus on any single yardstick. We need a multitude! Music, literature, design, architecture, storytelling, dramatic performance, and yes, cinema – all of those forms have been in existence for far longer than what we now think of as “games.” We simply can’t view games in terms of any one pre-existing form, nor can we pretend that gaming is mature enough to be criticized entirely on its own terms.

Before charting off, our own Ben Abraham posted about the use of postmodern-style unreliability in narrator and narrative in games.

And in a switch Ben sends me a post by Robert Yang on the expressive potential of Half-Life 2 character models and the importance of bridging more than just the visual uncanny valley.

Last week L.B. Jeffries went back to analyzing multiplayer and took a look at the map structure in Modern Warfare 2 while this week he turned his critical eye to video game review ideology.

Jonathan McCalmont from looks at racial essentialism as an out of date sci-fi genre trope and its use in Mass Effect 2.

Troy Goodfellow takes a gander at some of the literary adaptations video games have tried.

James Madigan over at Gamasutra gives the most thorough and scientific reasoning why it’s best to stick to your friend’s list.

The boys over at the Experience Points podcast discuss the use of examining the history of video game design as lessons for the future.

G. Christopher William over at Popmatters says, “Sorry Dante, but your princess is in another castle.”

Nick from Before Game Design examines Battlefield: Bad Company 2 [dead link, no mirror exists] and explains its view of globalization.

Daniel Bullard Bates from Press Pause to Reflect writes on what type of foundation the inevitable Bioshock 3 will have to stand on based on the efforts of the first two.

Gunthera1 looks at ‘Game difficulty settings.’ [mirror] This is a post where the discussion in the comments really shines, so check them out.

Grayson Davis looks at Tropico 3 and other management games effect his emotions via the ‘humanizing power of numbers.’ [dead link, no mirror exists]

At Vector Poem they look at ‘Lessons from Doom‘.

And finally, in a post that slipped under the radar from a few weeks ago, Spencer Greenwood came back out of the aether [mirror], proving he’s still got the writing chops and using them to prove the disingenuous arguments of “an irrelevant reactionary”.

A reminder that for all TWIVGB posts on Critical Distance comments are turned off by default to encourage discussion on the original entries, and we can always be reached via the contact page.

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