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This week in video game criticism: From winstates to power fantasies
This week in video game criticism: From winstates to power fantasies
February 4, 2013 | By Cameron Kunzelman

February 4, 2013 | By Cameron Kunzelman
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This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Cameron Kunzelman on topics including the necessity of winstates, one's enjoyment of power fantasies, and more.

I am not Kris Ligman. I am Cameron Kunzelman, and because of events both dangerous and deceitful far and wide, I am running This Week In Videogame Blogging this week. I don’t have any notes up top beyond the notes that I just wrote.

Oh, actually, I do: Kris does a great job of organizing posts thematically. I don’t. So–

Mark Rowlands doesn’t write about video games at all, but his “Tennis With Plato” is some amazing writing about games in general and their maybe-intrinsic value to someone who is growing older.

Sarah Wanenchak writes for Cyborgology on the concept of winstates and how the necessity of winstates in games means that they have fundamental limitations as a medium. As she says,
Our actions are naturally constrained by what we perceive as not only appropriate but possible. We canít do certain things with certain technologically mediated forms of storytelling because there are limits to what users can imagine within the context of those media. What I want to emphasize here is that this is a very real problem for anyone trying to do anything innovative with design; too innovative, too unfamiliar, and the user wonít possess the baseline assumptions, imaginings, and understandings necessary to experience the medium in the way the designer intended.
Keeping with the same theme, this past week saw the formal release of Proteus and a general storm of whinyness about its gameness/notgameness. Mike Rose lets everyone know that it was okay to not like anti-games. Rob Parker lived the game for a little while. Ed Key, one of the developers of Proteus, responded with an exasperated post, generally confused about why we are still having debates about “game.” And Oscar Strik does some etymology and provides some Wittgenstein to round out the debate.

Trigger warning for sexual violence: Mat Jones takes a bullet for us all and does a short oral history of the Reddit game forum and how it feels about Sarkeesian’s Tropes Against Women.

Michelle Ealey writes for The Border House and explains that blaming entertainment for X thing isn’t the way to go about it. At the same time, Simon Parkin writes that the military industrial complex has many tentacles and that manshooter games are intimately linked to the actual gun industry. Mitch Krpata responds to the debate at large by writing that we should actually figure out if video games are harmful and, more importantly, that we should be open to the data that comes from studies.

Enough of that.

David Valjalo works through Thirty Flights of Loving with creator Brendon Chung and gets twenty seven references out of him.

Angela Washko teaches people about feminism in World of Warcraft. Not feminism as embodied in World of Warcraft, but actually inside the game.

Zoe Quinn explains how the guy who made a game about his job ended up getting fired.

Roger Travis continues his series about the “life” of Bioshockand how it operates in the critical and academic assemblages.

Self promotion station: I think that video game writers could learn a lot about their own critical community by looking at early cinema criticism.

Sparky Clarkson wrote a review of Hotline Miami in Twine.

Aaron Gotzon writes about reading Super Mario Bros. as a surrealist, psychoanalytic event that processes the self.

Jill Scharr writes on The Legend of Zelda and how it gave her a sense of wonder as a kid. Brendan Keogh hones that feeling down to a fine edge, tracing the development of his own “gaming grammar” at a similar age.

Maddy Myers writes about why she has always played at violence in games. A teaser:
But what about my guilt over enjoying violent power fantasies, given how judgmental the media and politicians and Americans everywhere have been about violent media lately? What is it that I love about holding an imaginary gun and shooting hundreds of avatars in the face? Am I just acting out some Tarantino-esque revenge fantasy on the daily micro-aggressions that I feel from strangers, and even friends, who talk down to me because I’m a wee little baby-looking girl who must need help, who can’t do anything on her own?
Ian Bogost writes about Hundreds.

And that’s all I have for this week.

In case you missed it, January’s Blogs of the Round Table has wrapped and the results are tremendous. Stay tuned for February’s theme.

And please be sure to submit your recommendations for This Week in Videogame Blogging via our email submissions form or by @ing us on Twitter!


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