Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

You’re reading this week’s edition of This Week in Videogame Blogging, which is kind of the whole purpose of Critical Distance. I’ll be taking over curation duties from Kris Ligman this week to bring you another fresh pile of good reads for you to peruse during your commute or from the comfort of wherever it is you like to read profound, and well-written articles about videogames.

Firing off the edition is an article by Jonathan McCalmont on Arcadian Rhythms, who writes about the stylistic differences between the original UFO: Enemy Unknown by Microprose and XCOM: Enemy Unknown from Firaxis.

Next up is an article by John Brindle on Gameranx who probes the sexual politics of the Hitman franchise and its latest execution, Hitman Absolution. The article “reveals the secret sexual urges of the bald penis-head assassin,” said Brindle in his e-mail to us.

Also on Gameranx is Phil Owen, who takes a closer look at the narrative structure and storytelling of Treyarch’s latest foray into the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops 2.

Concluding the trio of entries from Gameranx this week is an article by Declan Skews, who tried to get his mother into gaming with Journey.

Communicating the passion, the beauty; the romance of games to non-gamers is a task that can oftentimes seem impossible. How do you explain the draw of sneaking down a corridor, slowly losing your sanity, in Amnesia? What’s so appealing about repeatedly dying and becoming frustrated with Dark Souls? Why bother to learn new and confusing button configurations to play Uncharted, when you could just pop Indiana Jones into the DVD player? How do you explain to someone why it’s fun to massacre wave upon wave of seemingly helpless bad guys?

Elsewhere on the blogosphere, Brett Douville reflects upon his fifteenth anniversary of the day he joined the games industry and made programming his livelihood. It’s an insightful read from one of the minds behind Skyrim and Fallout 3.

Claire Hosking shares her thoughts on Halo 4‘s Cortana, who in contrast with other bloggers, believes that it’s unfair to judge the character based on the size of her breasts. She writes about the ‘fun/worthiness’ dichotomy that’s often invoked against women characters with certain body types, as if attractiveness is an indicator of downmarket design.

The ever prolific Maddy Myers writes about harassment in nerd spaces, and how she wants to encourage more people to talk seriously about their experiences in the gaming community and other male-dominated spaces.

On First Person Scholar, Steve Wilcox in his essay titled “Ludic Topology” criticizes the linearity of videogames, in relation to Far Cry 3—a game, which in itself, is an attempt to criticize the very mechanics of linear gameplay.

At the Radiator Design Blog, Robert Yang writes about the queer feminist agenda for games in 2013. He lays out the problems faced by the new progressive movement with some suggestions on how apathy—even from those who face constant persecution—needs to be overcome.

And last but not least is an article by Hamish Todd, who delves deep into a modern classic and praises the brilliance of Half-Life‘s barnacles.

The barnacle can do horror, action, and even comedy. It can assist you and puzzle you. To do all that, an object needs to have some pretty fundamental stuff in its design.

That’s it for this week. Remember to send in your submissions via our email contact form or by @ing us on Twitter.