[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics including the historical conventions of time limits in games, the authored nature of Proteus, and more.]
Going anywhere? Why don't you stick around for a while? I've got some links for you, and they're the best you're likely to read all week. Straight from the best of game criticism, theory and commentary, it's This Week in Video Game Criticism!
"The world of Proteus is in servitude to the player. Things here exist, more, were created, specifically to be experienced, to evoke something from the player. Proteus delivers this curated package while at once providing a playground for contemplative, aimless sauntering. Travel is not utilitarian here, it is not a means to get to where you 'need' to be. There's an intrinsic idyllic quality about the world, a landscape that's to be appreciated for its own sake.
And yet there is intention behind every pixel in the horizon. Games aren't an accident, they aren't a miracle arising from chance. Games are designed.
My admiration is more easily channeled toward things I can intellectualize and understand, things I can learn from, and things that have purpose. The errant chance of nature? Not so much."
"In truth, this is where video games struggle to communicate most with the young: they are an old-fashioned mode of communication. A majority of them tell the stories our parents, and our parents' parents, want to tell. They're not stories about pursuing our dreams, but stories about when we've already achieved them. We're never no one, anymore: we're assassin, we're dragonborn, we're Command Shepard's favorite store on the Citadel. We're never Mega Man, a cyborg with natural gifts but who has to earn everything for himself.
Video games are stories about when we've already arrived."
Meanwhile, Rob of World One-Two would appear to disagree in this recent essay on Journey, arguing particularly for its philosophical and aesthetic universalism:
"For me, Journey is about the only thing that art worth any goddamn can ever be about, which is what it is we're all doing here. Journey is about truth, about base reality, about this experience of being itself we so often ignore. It is a call to look around us and remember that, as David Foster Wallace puts it: "This is water. This is water.""
"There's a certain Otherness to the timer, a sense of a foreign entity watching over us, monitoring our every move, and casting silent judgment. The timer isn't just about what we're doing, but what we're missing as a result. Every action loses valuable time that could be spent elsewhere… and only the ticking clock knows if we made the right choice. The game is now about performance, in more ways than one."
And you may have heard that a certain long-awaited game starting with D and ending in -iablo 3 was finally released recently. Kill Screen's Yannick LeJacq reflects how the Diablo series puts the agony in games of agon: "When I start to get exhausted, when bolts of pain shoot through my knuckles and up my arm, I have to remind myself that this is a game about hell." Elsewhere, Unwinnable's Jenn Frank thinks the game is just too gosh-darn cute:
"In playing Diablo III, I feel such an expansive detachment from its happenings and goings-on. Take, for instance, my unprejudiced penchant for destruction: "We aren't bad people," I assured my friend Julian, right as his Witch Doctor punched a desk into smithereens. "We are only cats who like to tip things over.""