Hello again, readers.
It’s another month. Thank you for all your submissions, which continue to make my job easier and this column, better.
Once more I am at a loss as to how to summarise, respond to or otherwise introduce TMIVGV against the context of all of *gestures outside* this. On the one hand, I have a bunch of good, interesting, thoughtful, fun and necessary videos about videogames to recommend to you. On the other hand, since last I wrote you, my city has rapidly gone back into lockdown (due to the pandemic), Hong Kong’s new anti-activist laws have come into effect and irrevocably curtailed the freedom of its citizens, a third of Bangladesh is currently under water, and globally there are almost twice as many (~15 million) recorded covid-19 cases as there were a month ago (~8.5 million). I can only imagine what next month will look like.
Also, despite the continual slipping from view of the many ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, apparently the US now has a gestapo? Anyway:
Donate to The Bail Project
Donate to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Hire Black Game Developers
Donate to the Black Trans Protesters Emergency Fund
Buy the Visual Novel Romance Collection for Black Trans Lives
In Critical Distance news, do make sure to check out the excellent critical compilations we’ve put up recently on Pathologic and Resident Evil 2, along with the latest episode of Keywords in Play. Also, a shoutout to Chris, who is tirelessly holding it, us and everything together over there in blogland.
This Month In Videogame Vlogging rounds up the best vods of videogame criticism from the previous calendar month.
As circumstances continued to play havoc with our general experience of time, several videomakers considered the temporality of play.
CO-VIDs: kentucky route zero’s terminus – Innuendo Studios (8:07)
Ian Danskin recalls the ephemerality of playing Kentucky Route Zero in instalments several years apart, in time with the game’s episodic release, and how the slippage of remembered details became a treasured and unrepeatable part of the experience. (Autocaptions)
Why have these people been playing Cookie Clicker for SEVEN YEARS? – People Make Games (13:56)
Chris Bratt, stumped as to why and how people would continue engaging with an idle clicker for so long, puts the question to Cookie Clicker’s fans, developer, and an academic, leading to some thoughts and insights into the fundamental nature of living and playing. (Autocaptions) [Contains embedded advertising]
Shadow of the Colossus – The Frozen Frame – PostMesmeric (11:00)
PostMesmeric discusses Shadow of the Colossus’s construction and presentation of a perfectly-sized, dead world, the exploration of which can only be properly appreciated the first time through. (Manual captions)
Why Do We Love Let’s Plays? – Magdalen Rose (10:04)
Magdalen Rose suggests Let’s Plays are abundant and popular because of the confluence of nostalgia with the precarious economic circumstances of younger generations. (Autocaptions) [Contains embedded advertisting]
Are Games Too Long? – HeavyEyed (17:33)
Mitch Cramer argues that games like God of War (2018) rely too much on artificial bloat, which unavoidably affects the player’s experience of the narrative, making for a frustrating experience in comparison to games that focus on shorter and tighter games that incentivise replaying. (Manual captions) [Contains embedded advertising]
Black Lives Matter
Some important conversations were recorded in June.
A Lesson in Blackness – Spawn on Me Podcast (1:55:47)
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Kahlief Adams chats with a panel of content creators about their experiences of systemic racism in America, and the importance of finding solace in community. (Autocaptions)
Black AF Roundtable of TTRPG Creators – Tanya DePass (58:05)
Omega Jones hosts a roundtable to discuss blackness and inclusiveness – or lackthereof – in tabletop roleplaying games, streams and communities. (Autocaptions)
Two videos looked at the intermingling of aesthetics with game tone.
The Surreal Beauty of The Evil Within – Eurothug400 (21:33)
eurothug4000 ponders the role of “beauty” in The Evil Within games and the horror genre more generally as a tonally counterbalancing and familiarising aesthetic. (Manual captions)
Children of DOOM Episode 3: DOOM – Errant Signal (20:16)
Chris Franklin continues his series on the design of first person shooting games by looking at DOOM (1993) as both how it arrived in the context of its release, and how – by comparison to its peers — it continues to functionally permeate and iterate today.
Doom’s at its best when it’s this surreal tone thing — half-rooted in some vague fiction about a Mars base and a gateway to hell and half just this waking nightmare about an ultraviolent gunfight in techno-gothic dread castles set to midis of metal music. Noticing that there’s a bit of story structure to the level progression – a smidge of method to the madness – kind of detracts from the sense that the emphasis on tone over everything else was intentional.
The quaint, uncanny and surprising relationships of videogames to “real” things, people and events were explored by several essayists.
The Beginner’s Guide: This Is Not For You – What’s So Great About That? (21:40)
Grace Lee analyses The Beginner’s Guide and what it has to say about the role of the interpreter. Special mention for the wonderful use of video editing in this one. (Manual captions)
The Strange Reality of Roller Coaster Tycoon – Jacob Geller (18:11)
Jacob Geller discusses RollerCoaster Tycoon along with Julijonas Urbonas’ (hypothetical) “euthanasia coaster” to contemplate the intersecting nature of real, abstraction and design. (Manual captions) [Contains embedded advertising]
Dissecting Killer7 – Alexandra Orlando (24:50)
Alexandra Orlando analyses the narrative-rich action-adventure game Killer7 (2005) against the historical backdrop of America-Japan tensions. (Autocaptions)
You made us hit 3,000 batters | Fumble Dimension – SB Nation (1:01:31)
Kofie Yeboah crowdsources directions to try and take a simulated version of the Seattle Mariner’s record-breaking 2001 roster to the playoffs in Out of the Park Baseball. It… does not go well. (Manual captions)
The Last of Uh
To finish up this roundup for June 2020 it is my duty (I guess) to present you with a couple of vids on Naughty Dog’s shiny, exhausting and discourse-hogging series.
A Personal Examination of The Last of Us Part 2 (Spoilers) – Writing On Games (25:32)
Writing On Games argues that TLOU2 does too much telling, not enough showing. (Manual captions) [Note: Contains embedded advertising] [Content note: contains very violent footage from TLOU2]
ACTION BUTTON REVIEWS: The Last Of Us – Action Button (3:04:04)
“The Last Of Us (2013) is a great game… by default”, reasons Tim Rogers, at length. (Autocaptions)
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!