I don’t look at the weekend the same way as I used to. It’s always had something of a rejuvenatory aspect, a magical means to reset the struggles and stresses of the previous week, enough to make the coming Monday more tolerable—though with a dose of coffee for some. Juggling both student tasks and professional ones, however, has changed the way I look at my weekends. They no longer feel like time to be exempt from work—realistically, I tend to work more on my weekends.
The weekends themselves haven’t changed, only my perspective. This kind of perspective shift isn’t one that will likely help the world at large, but it’s still one I find useful for myself. This week has given me a lot of unique perspectives, which I’m enthused to get to share on This Week in Videogame Blogging! This week is huge, so let’s get right to it.
Looking Through Our Bodies
The idea of an alien perspective is often a hard lens to look through without sharing frames of reference. Things like identity and accessibility are too rarely explored, but too valuable not to.
- In Defense of the Mini-Map: Gaming with Spatial Awareness Disabilities | Remeshed
Jay Castello explains games’ relationship with spatial exploration, and the inherent struggles in navigating that relationship when disabled.
- The Unbearable Lightness of Lost Video Game Saves | Kotaku
Kirk Hamilton mourns the passing of digital identities less and less every year.
- Blanket Fort Chats: Game Making with Philip Jones | FemHype
Miss N interviews Philip Jones, editor of 2064: Read Only Memories, to discuss the meaning baked into the game’s decisions for narrative and portrayal.
- Calvary’s Here! The Role of Hostility in Game Discourse | FemHype
Kyun takes a moment to echo that all criticism comes from a place of personal concern, even if that criticism doesn’t seem to share space in the concerns of others.
Looking Through Our Interests
Games exist as many things at once: arts, entertainment, education, and escapism all intertwined in a strange chimeric form. The strange interplay of metaphorical tentacles, pincers, eyes, mouths, claws, and teeth stuck in the same body means that no one part of a game means the exactly the same thing for different players Our interests and our understandings of those interests drive the way we think to consider games.
- The complaints that make you want to buy a game | Polygon
Ben Kuchera speaks to how sometimes a criticism can garner interest in a game, depending on the tastes of the critic and the listener.
- Overwatch ‘Healsluts’ Turn Playing Supporting into an Erotic Experience | Kotaku
Luke Winkel brings us on a tour of an erotic, kink-based subcommunity of games.
Our Place in the World
Directly and indirectly, each of our existences create spaces in the world, and how we perceive the world and each other causes the world to change just a little by our input. Simply by being, we change the world by having a place in it.
- ‘Orwell’ Is a Game About Surveillance That Misses the Details | Vice
Cameron Kunzelman explores the messy reality of people, and how it impacts Orwell.
- The space that isn’t | Kotaku
Alexis Kennedy addresses the hard limits of game worlds, and how we influence their shape.
- No Man’s Sky and the Naming of God | Kill Screen
Brent Ables considers the gravity that comes from naming the space around us.
- No Man’s Sky in Close Critique [Deep Spoilers]
Noah Caldwell-Gervais breathes deeply in No Man’s Sky, touching on mechanics, narrative, exploration, and player agency—all schisms when related to each other.
- Wolfenstein of Wall Street: The Gamification of Trading | Gamasutra Blog
Samuel Miranda looks at the elements of gamification and how it appears in finance.
- ReCore: The Kotaku Review | Kotaku
Though it isn’t the central focus of the review, Stephen Totilo explores the gravity of a well-designed world, and how that weight impacts the overall experience with ReCore.
- Canonize This: Overwatch and Schrödinger’s Representation | Not Your Mama’s Gamer
Lee Hibbard laments the lack of concrete details in Overwatch’s representation.
- Futurism, Realism, Racism: Deus Ex and the Quest for Credible Science Fiction | Medium
Steve Wilcox ponders the depth of the Deux Ex series’ failures in discussing racism.
- The Indie View: Resistance Isn’t Futile | GamesIndustry.Biz
Alexis Kennedy appears again to talk about the public’s role in Valve’s systems.
- Great Job! You’re fired! | GamesIndustry.Biz
Brendan Sinclair regrets that the seeming inevitable place for game developers is unemployment.
Displaced by the World
Although we may alter our surroundings, they affect us as well. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
- The Imaginary Racism of Bioshock Infinite | ZAM
Robert Rath takes an in-depth journey through Infinite’s successes and failures in speaking on racism.
- The Social Justice Witcher | ZAM
Rowan Kaiser explores the fair and equal side of The Witcher III.
- A museum is trying to reunite people with their old game cartridges | Kill Screen
Blake Hester takes a look at the museum hoping to help wayward cartridges find their previous owners.
- Undertale, one year later | Kill Screen
Peter Lido examines the relationship between size and success in Undertale’s emotional aims.
The Secret of Agents
Players are the agency that powers games. Without players to drive a game, nothing is likely to progress. The interplay between audience input and authorial intent creates a fascinating area of curiosity in gaming.
- A Closer Look At The Best Mission in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided | Kotaku
Heather Alexandra on a deep dive through The Harvester quest, and how the quest interacts with its players as agents of Mankind Divided.
- Who Makes a Story? Bound and Making the Meaningless | Not Your Mama’s Gamer
Bianca Batti and Alisha Karabinus bring meaning to Bound while questioning if actors or authors are the true creators of meaning.
- Action Games Should Go a Little Easy on Us | PopMatters
Nick Dinicola frankly admits to the limits of the human machine, and how design can be attentive to those limits.
Developing Game Development
Games are also developed by individuals, who experiment with the medium as much as its players. Insights into the developer’s side of the fence can be as enlightening as its players’ perspectives.
- A Taxonomy of Randomness | The Quixotic Engineer
Matthew Gallant takes on randomness as a mechanical choice, and how that choice impacts the entire system into which it’s placed.
- How we mixed Tinder and politics to make a premium hit on mobile | Polygon
François Alliot, founder of Nerial, speaks on their unique strategy to find a market in a crowded mobile space.
- Extinguishing Neutrality in Game Design | Gamasutra Blog
Elizabeth Sampat looks at the effects of bias and false consensus effect in gaming.
- The Ugly Truth of Game Prices | Gamasutra Blog
Josh Bycer shines a light on games’ price problems which have no clear solution.
- Toyota, Terrorist iPhones, and Red Rings of Death: A Practical Guide to Crisis Management in Six Steps | Gamasutra Blog
Justin Fischer speaks to honest steps in managing public relations issues, and illustrates the importance of by examples of failures to understand each step.
- The challenging design of Event’s insecure AI | Kill Screen
Jay Egger talks about humanity and machinery with Event’s Sergey Mohov.
Glancing Back with Fondness
History is often accidental. What we learn from looking at the past was rarely the intent of that piece of history to begin with. The past is, in some ways, as fascinating today as it was at its origin.
- A short history of food in videogames | Kill Screen
Bhernardo Viana examines, in brief, the history and meaning of food in games.
- It’s Remembered for Its Action, But ‘Resident Evil 4’ Was a Superbly Scripted Game | Vice
Ed Smith was impressed by the economy of storytelling in Resident Evil 4.
- The unexpected forefather of music games | Kill Screen
Peter Lido looks back at Moondust as an accidental progenitor of music games.
Cleaning Up Our Play Area
And finally, a bit of tidying, because not everything will fit so neatly into the bins we have set out.
- The unnameable essence: What makes a game Lovecraftian? | The AV Club
Alexander Chatziioannou looks at which facets create the atmosphere of Lovecraft.
- Deadly Premonitions director Swery becomes a Buddhist Monk. | Gamasutra Blogs
Brandon Sheffield sits down to discuss the values of design, change, and religion with Swery.
Critical Distance’s round-ups, like this one, are built on the efforts of folks like yourself, dear reader. If you see any gaming works that speak to you in your daily readings, we would love it if you shared them with us. We could not do this without your help, and we value it as much as we hope you value the above words.
Thanks for joining me on this journey through perspective, and let’s hope next week’s is as novel.