This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics including historical games, gun violence, reflections on the #1reasonwhy trend, and more.
Hello C-D readers, this is your Captain speaking. I am back in the chair as is right and proper with the universe and we are ready to engage. Let’s get This Week in Video Game Blogging going!
Then we need to change the makeup of our industry, because games are a reflection of their creators.
So I see the solution to this problem coming not a year from now, not five years from now, but twenty. When this current generation of kids sees the good example that we should be setting now. And though we may not be able to tell it completely like it is just yet, thereís still plenty we can do to help future generations of game developers.
Everyone seems to understand, instinctively, that it’s okay to have strong feelings about your Monopoly piece. From a young age, we got passionate about the dog, or the car, or the shoe (but never the iron), and that was all right. So why does similar passion about digital avatars create such a hue and cry? If you say you are tired of the slate of straight white men, you are a whiner. You do not understand that “sex sells.” You are a troublemaker. You are a “feminist bitch” and worse.
Basically, by pseudo-Darwinistic processes, weíve created a development culture that a) has, as common perspective/capability, above average dexterity, and b) has come to expect that games, almost by definition, will challenge that ability.
I think itís important to frame this discourse in terms of diversity, I think itís important to recognize some of the same understandings that underpin that discussion also apply here. Primarily, I want it to be understood that Iím not claiming that the games that exist are bad, or even necessarily worse than they could be, because of this: Iím just stating that the total scope they encompass, that our understanding of what a game can be, is smaller because of it.
The truth is, the games industry lost as soon as a meeting was conceived about stopping gun violence with games as a participating voice. It was a trap, and the only possible response to it is to expose it as such. Unfortunately, the result is already done: Once more, public opinion has been infected with the idea that video games have some predominant and necessary relationship to gun violence, rather than being a diverse and robust mass medium that is used for many different purposes, from leisure to exercise to business to education.
Game industry responses to this latest political affront have again worsened matters by accepting the opposition’s terms.
Most of [the Final Fantasy franchiseís] systems are diagetic: the Materia system of Final Fantasy VII occurs in a world in which materia is a real, physical item. Common townspeople have a few pieces of it, and it can be bought and sold in shops. Itís not relegated or written off as a game-y necessity. The game takes its own systems seriously.
Junctioning a Guardian Force in Final Fantasy VIII; summoning a sky-dragon in IX and X; buying a license from a government-approved vendor in XIIís Ivalice ó all of these complex, Byzantine systems are pinned into their respective gameís plots, taken as literal parts of their worlds. These mechanics are only possible in the context created by each gameís narrative foundation. The content ó the story, the characters, the setpieces ó serve as the foundation on which the systems are built.
In other words, the content in, say, most Final Fantasy games doesnít degrade quickly. Even in the midst of a boss fight, when the game is almost purely mechanical, players are dealing with tiny pieces of the plot and gameworld. When content is inescapable, it remains relevant.
And one last one for you, but it’s a twofer. I’m more into house music so I have no idea what’s going on in here but I bet thesetwo pieces by Gus Mastrapa will be the best XCOM fanfiction you read all week.
THE REGULAR BUSINESS
If you’re craving a bit more, pop on over to Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Sunday Papers for a spot of tea.
That’s all the links that’s fit to print for this week! Join us again next week for more of blogging’s best writing about games. In the meantime, be sure to send us your recommendations by email or by @ing us on Twitter, and drop by this month’s Blogs of the Round Table prompt as well!