This week’s writing allowed me to reflect on the way that gaming and life affect one another as well as how we look at games through time and space. I hope you enjoy what we’ve curated for you this week!

From the Inside Out…

Just like any other form of media, video games help us parse our navigation through life.

That said, proficiency with games does not just modify how and what we know about them. Proficiency is also an embodied process that works to shape our sensory abilities, our capacities for attention, and our propensities for proprioception – our awareness of our bodies’ internal workings. In other words, the process of getting good is one which alters not just our knowledge of the game — it transforms our bodies.

…To the Outside In

Economic and social structures and the infinite potential of technology have a major impact on our conceptualization of games.

The fact that technology continues to feel like magic, even when we acknowledge its earthly origins, seems to suggest that the rational veneer over this aspect of our lives conceals a deep well of uncertainty — a fear that the hierarchy between ourselves and our devices may be less immutable than it appears.

Ghosts of the Living…

These pieces explore the concept of death in both real and fictional contexts.

Normally, if someone experiences loss in the “real world,” then most often family and friends will band together in the mourning process. In contrast, once a digital world closes then most outlets for healing are closed off excepting message boards and chat rooms, most of which offer a poor substitute. When a company closes a digital world it rips away the digital places of memory, memorial, and commemoration.

…and Ghosts of Nostalgia

Now that we have so many years separating us from our favorite classic games, we can look at them in a completely different light.

Abstraction, meanwhile, is something Griffin readily embraces. I never once remember the game giving me any context for my actions. I never found out who the enemy was, who I was, why we were fighting each other, the state of affairs prior to my entering the fray, etc.

Back to the Here and Now

After switching through all of these paradigms, let’s fall back to bare bones analysis of specific design elements in games.

Zelda 1 was meant to be a simulation of having a big backyard for kids who didn’t have one. And backyards don’t come with maps or tutorials. Life doesn’t either, which is what backyards are supposed to teach you.



Critical Distance is community-supported. Our readers support us from as little as one dollar a month. Would you consider joining them?


Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!