Hello again, readers.
It’s true that there is much to be concerned about, wherever you are in the world. For my part, if you’d asked me a couple of months back about how I thought this year would progress, one thing I certainly didn’t expect to be wondering in mid-April is: why is there still not one good new video essay about Kentucky Route Zero? Especially after so many interesting things have been written about it since Act V came out in January. I have my theories, but I’ll keep them to myself.
In better news there’ve been a couple of cool developments at Critical Distance that I’m going to shamelessly plug, right here and now. One is that we’ve begun a new podcast series! Do go and check out the first episode, which is an interview with game-maker and academic, Elizabeth LaPensée, PhD. The other is that our monthly newsletter (for $5+ Patreon subscribers) now comes with a handy digest of critical links pulled from our roundups. Pandemic financial crises aside, there’s never been a better time to jump on board and help support the work we do here.
This Month in Videogame Vlogging is a roundup of the best and most thought-inducing vods about videogames from the previous calendar month.
A new DOOM game was released in March. The following two videos will not tell you anything about it.
Catacomb 3-D: Children of DOOM Episode 1 – Errant Signal (12:08)
Chris Franklin began a new series on the history of First-Person Shooting games. His starting point (for reasons explained within) is id Software’s Doom precursor, Catacomb 3-D. (Autocaptions)
DOOM and Mental Health – Screen Therapy (9:32)
Wait, can games about wreaking pure and excessive violence be… good for our mental and emotional well-being? In the case of the DOOM series, yes, suggests Screen Therapy… with caveats. (Autocaptions)
Three videos offer different analyses of games built around modes of slow exploration.
Journey (2012) and Mental Health | Screen Therapy – Screen Therapy (8:39)
Courtney Garcia continues her Screen Therapy series by discussing the emotional benefits of encountering ‘awe’ in Thatgamecompany’s Journey. (Autocaptions)
EcoGaming #4: (Capital “R”) Romantic Games – Lord Faust
Lord Faust argues for rebranding “walking simulators” as “Romantic games” owing to their emphasis on positioning players with regard to experiences of the romantic sublime. (Autocaptions)
Chris Klimas – The History of Adventure – MICA Gamelab (27:45)
An interesting lecture by Chris Klimas on the history of Colossal Cave Adventure (arguably the first popular text adventure game) – how its inspiration was tied into the geography and history of Kentucky, and how it was able to flourish on the (pre-internet computer network) ARPANET of the late 1970s. (Autocaptions)
Always a popular topic for video critics, zeroing in on the points of difference that makes certain games stand out from the pack (or not) made for four interesting videos in March.
“Bad Graphics” – Jacob Geller (19:03)
Jacob Geller discusses the visual homogeneity of “prestige” games and the tension between, as a player, wanting games to look unique and interesting, and the feedback cycle which funnels games into adopting a particular look. (Manual captions) [Note: contains embedded advertising]
The Genius of Prey’s Gloo Cannon – Game Maker’s Toolkit (8:34)
Mark Brown analyses the way Prey’s Gloo Cannon works as a novel space-bridging tool within a confined environment, allowing the player to experience the game out of the apparent “allowed” order, giving the player an unusual sense of autonomy. (Manual captions)
What Makes Mario Odyssey’s Boss Design Special?– Design Doc (12:49)
Design Doc discusses the difference in design approach that makes Mario Odyssey’s bosses stand out by comparison to the previous 3D entries in the series, and how these encounters contribute to Odyssey’s world-building and elevated sense of adventure. (Manual captions) [Note: contains embedded advertising]
What Does It Mean To Be A Metroidvania? – Adam Millard (19:45)
Adam Millard argues that many contemporary metroidvanias are too reliant on Super Metroid for design inspiration without really understanding or utilising the aspects that made that game good. (Autocaptions)
Even though there’ve been two (!) Screen Therapy picks already in this roundup, our appetite for help, guidance and solace during these difficult and lonely times is bottomless. Here are a few more videos that I feel speak, however tangentially, to this present moment.
This Game is Helping Me Cope Right Now – People Make Games (9:47)
Chris from PMG talks about finding solace in the anonymous support-writing community of Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to) at a time of heightened reliance on social media. Relatable. (Autocaptions)
What Online Multiplayer Is Like For Someone Who Doesn’t Play Games – Razbuten (17:08)
Continuing his series of informal experiments, Razbuten watches his wife play a few popular online competitive multiplayer games to highlight some of the different things that such games might do better to be more approachable for inexperienced players. (Manual captions) [Note: contains embedded advertising]
Kirby | Unravelled – Polygon
Brian David Gilbert attempts to understand the true nature and meaning of Kirby, the character, resulting in a dramatic existential crisis. (Manual captions)
Trivia and Oddities
To finish up, here are two videos on less often considered gaming quirks.
Animal Crossing’s fake language is different in Japan, and here’s why – Polygon (14:21)
Jenna Stoeber presents a fascinating video on the origin, evolution, flexibility, and localisation of what she calls “Beep Speech”, the synthetic voice noise that we accept as normal in videogames, and videogames alone. (Manual captions)
Do You Own Your Games? – Retrogaming Responsibly – Extra Credits (7:02)
Extra Credits explains how US copyright law can prohibit access to old games, and argue why the law should be tweaked to allow better historical preservation. (Manual captions)
And that’s it from March. If you happen to spot any cool and interesting videos about videogames in the wild, please alert us by hashtagging TMIVGV on twitter. Until next time, take care.
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