Hello readers.

It’s me, Critical Distance’s resident vod-sifter. I’m back from my unintended sabbatical aka the painful and all-consuming process of finishing my thesis for submission. I’m all better now, thanks. Wish I could say the same for my thesis!! Heyooooo. (If any of my markers are reading this, please disregard the previous joke. My thesis is impeccable, as I’m sure you are by now aware!).

Because I missed a few months of video updates, I’m going to cheat slightly and cover the backlog in multi-month scoops. Let us pretend, temporarily, that the column is called “These Months in Videogame Vlogging”, or perhaps even “Those Months in Videogame Vlogging”. So to begin this new and probably short-lived format, let’s all take a journey back to the months of March and April.

Those Months In Videogame Vlogging highlights the most compelling critical videos about videogames from the specified calendar month/s.

Auteur Personalities in the Workplace

PMG’s exposé reminds us that all workplace hierarchy’s can be problematic, not just those of triple-A behemoths.

  • Investigating Three Indie Superstars Accused of Emotional Abuse – People Make Games (40:53)

    People Make Games follow three stories of indie-famous game personalities involved in perpetuating hostile work environments for their employees, revealing patterns of skewed power distribution, the unspoken dangers of auteur mythology, a lack of employee protection protocols in small studios, and inaction from the one renowned publisher that links them all. (Manual captions)

Walking the Good Walk

This next trio of videos are on different elements of videogame pedestrianism. There isn’t total thematic congruency here, but I find them a satisfying grouping, nevertheless.

You Died

The following collection of vods discuss death as motif, pastiche, and videogame mechanic, in amongst broader elucidations about game worlds and the experience of play.

  • I Beat the Dark Souls Trilogy and All I Made Was This Lousy Video Essay – Noah Caldwell-Gervais (5:05:39)

    Noah discusses his experiences of playing through every Dark Souls (and their DLCs) against the mythology of the series’ difficulty, and how these things contribute to an understanding of the game’s internal narratives and world-building. For obvious time management reasons I don’t make a habit of watching ultra-long videos like this for the roundup, but I’m making an exception for this one because a) I accidentally watched most of it in five-minute chunks of procrastination while in the depths of Thesis Hell and b) it made me genuinely excited to give this series another go.  (Autocaptions)

…the whole point of Dark Souls is that it is not like life— it is rational, consistent, predictable, and fair. It’s possible to get stuck – I did myself, and more here in Dark Souls 3 than any of the other games in the trilogy – but that isn’t because they’re hard “like life”, it’s because they’re hard as a way to challenge my ability to work within their systems under strict limits, creating as thin an edge as they can between success and failure. The games do this not because this is how life feels, but because this is dramatic. Because this is play. Because walking on that knife’s edge requires being completely absorbed in the present tense of the experience, and that is something that life rarely gives us an opportunity to do.

Open World

The release of Elden Ring inspired further discussion about how developers go about building open worlds in the next pair of videos.