February 4th

In this week’s roundup of the latest critical writing on games, critics delve into fantasy worlds and explore unrealities, bringing back insights into how fiction and truth intersect.

Brains

First, two critics use ideas from psychology to look at how games affect players.

“when you’re exposed to a meaning threat–something that fundamentally does not make sense–your brain is going to respond by looking for some other kind of structure within your environment”

Crowds

Two musings on the politics of game design touch on group dynamics and economic realities.

“At its best, it feels like a fantastical reimagining of protest dynamics, where players can act as an omniscient conductor of a torrential cascade of crowds, laying down waypoints and rally zones and directing the flow of movement.”

Gulfs

In more writing on the politics of games, two critics look at diversity and the kinds of bodies that are portrayed and played with.

“When you play a game like this, the gulf between who you are and who you want to be becomes painfully evident—and yet it’s the pocket of netherspace you dwell in.”

Worlds

In writing on spaces in games, critics wind through dungeons and consider the cosmos.

“As every reader of fairy-tales and portal fantasies knows, it becomes harder to slip between worlds as you grow up.”

Shadow of the Colossus

A remake has spurred some novel approaches to the question of how game programming, narrative, and aesthetics intersect, and where the original work of art can be found.

“Here is a work of art that’s been deemed not good enough in its original form, only to be exhumed and made up into something more palatable for contemporary audiences.”

Sounds

Foundations

Finally, two critics consider games that seem to be terribly self-aware about their own nature as texts.

“in recent years the power of metafiction has expanded in games to the point where it’s not just a reference to an object or person in reality, but it goes so far as to challenge the very foundations of gaming conventions.”


Subscribe

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

Contribute

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