Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

A guilty pleasure of mine is critical writing that takes things to that meta level. Critical writing about criticism. This week, writers came up with taxonomies, heuristics, and semiotic analyses. I’ve had the pleasure of reading many pieces that reveal something about the very process of revealing things. I couldn’t be happier to be back at work right now.

Mental shortcuts

First, some writing about how to do criticism – in writing, in video, or in design itself.

“The Gestalt laws were first put to paper by Wertheimer (1923, 1938). Later contributions have been made by Köhler (1929) and Koffka (1935). […] These laws are much like heuristics: mental shortcuts for problem solving. We use them to quickly make sense of what we see, they mainly apply to our visual sense.”

Existing, in the material sense

These pieces consider some philosophical issues that are raised in the midst of gameplay; what is time, how do we perceive the world, and what does it mean to be in the presence of God?

“God is not a thing, as it does not exist in the material sense. Rather, God is a mode of being, a mode of relating with things around you. He happens in a relationship. Or we could understand God as an institution, like the State, or Family: not exactly a thing, but a situation that prescribes you a role in the world, or a way of being. And we enact these roles in the world through ritual.”

Leaving the myth

How we portray wars fought in the past continues to influence the way we perceive each other today. These two pieces consider that, with reference to two different wars.

digital simulations of the past still draw from historical explanations dating from the 19th century. This is, they focus on the tale of great men and great nations that prove their right to rule by defeating their enemies through the use of violence (Venegas Ramos, A., 2016). However, nowadays the video game medium is mature enough to write the history of Humanity, and the Spanish Conquista in particular, by leaving the myth of the mounted musketeer back in the Iberian Peninsula.”

A kind of co-optation

The ongoing conflicts occurring in digital space, both fictional and real, are discussed in these two pieces that both offer takeaways for how to make best use of online communication media.

“D&D is, in itself, a kind of co-optation, a way of taking a fantasy story and repurposing it into a game, a collaborative experience, and an adventure. In this way I think that it’s well-suited to a platform that has been co-opted by its user base into more than its intended purpose.”

Tap into our emotions

Empathy, sympathy, and connection are considered in these three pieces, where the complexities of relating to problematic media are never far from view.

Dead by Daylight allows me to empathize with my killer because I know he’s not actually a raging redneck out to saw me in two—he’s just somebody from Kansas looking to have fun. That is, until I drop a crate in his path… These moments are a testament to videogames’ capacity to tap into our emotions in unexpected ways—which is oddly redemptive when we come to empathize with the killers.”



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