This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Eric Swain on topics including the myth of redemptive violence in video games, the fraud of retro gaming, and more.
Begin. If you liked last week's interview with our own Kris Ligman, L. Rhodes of Culture Ramp continues his series of interviews on the coming-of-age of video game journalism (also known as the Ludorenaissance) with Kill Screen founder Jamin Warren.
Initializing – Vander Caballero's Papo & Yo
First up, Yannick LeJacq's review of the game on Kill Screen looking at the nature of addiction explored in the game. Then at Medium Difficulty, Kyle Carpenter sees Papo & Yo not as a function of escapism, but a game about escapism. And finally Denis Farr, writing for Gameranx, takes a different approach and looks beyond the personal story to see it as a post-colonial narrative.
Export – Discussion of Violence
Having been asked for a quote in a Kotaku piece, Robert Yang realized he wrote too much in response to their question. As a result he felt his position was not accurately represented, so he posted his full response to "Do you think shooters take themselves too seriously?"
"My gamer-adjacent students could love games – even become gamers – if videogames taught them how to think critically about violence.
My students argue that excessive, realistic death and torture will desensitize gamers. While the link between desensitization and mimicry is tenuous at best, I do believe that media affects people. Well-crafted books, films and television shows change how people think and feel. The thoughts and feelings elicited by media alter how people treat one another."
Jeff Wheeldon writes about "The Myth of Redemptive Violence" at Push Select Magazine by looking at our need for heroes who solve their problems through violence, from the Babylonian creation myth to Christianity through modern video games.
Jordan Rivas explores growing up in a post-9/11 world and how the media embraced the narrative set by the politicians, in particular the Splinter Cell series. A stunning piece of New Games Journalism as he describes the connection the games had on his view of the real world of the war on terror.
"I saw the glee in Charlie's eyes that day. He'd begun to detach himself from the discord surrounding him in his daily life, disappearing into a less concrete world. Sometimes I just worry that if children can't decide on the boundaries between reality and fantasy for themselves once in a while, they'll become convinced that dark urges are only fit for real life, where the realm of make-believe is rarely welcome. And that would be truly frightening in my opinion. A genuine cause for concern."
Then Jim Ralph invokes the Bard, at the Ontological Geek, in his description of a game he hasn't yet played but has read about (Spec Ops: The Line), and wonders if that isn't the reaction that the developers wanted from their player base.
"Essentially, CAH offers "offensive play," a chance to indulge in exposing those aspects of Western culture which have been made hidden, taboo, offensive – and, consequently, made funny – without fear of damage. To play Cards Against Humanity is to enter an instant community based on ridicule, where everyone involved has agreed to participate and everyone is in on the joke. In a sense, these are racist and sexist jokes with the benefit of a safe word, the agreement that nothing on the cards is meant seriously and that no-one will carry the game forward into their day-to-day lives."
Carol Borden's The Plague of the White Knight. After playing Max Payne 3, Bioshock 2 and Halo 3, she is tired of the trope of the "White Knight Savior" and the "Save The Cheerleader, Save The World" goal of storytelling so prevalent in games.
Zolani Stewart's An Exploration of Whore of The Orient. Context is everything," he begins as he goes on to weigh the good and bad of the title and surmises that it will fall to the final product. Here's hoping.
Access – "And now for something completely different"
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