This Week in Video Game Criticism: The design of everyday games
This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Eric Swain on topics including race and gender representation in games and the lasting influence of The Design of Everyday Things on the medium.
Eric Swain GMing style of Shadowrun Return
at PopMatters. Also at PopMatters, G Christopher Williams wrote how Knock Knock managed to digitize the children's game of hide and seek
, while Nick Dinicola wrote how the game of Need For Speed: Rivals is at war with its soundtrack
Sven Bergstrom of Sneaky Bastards penned a manifesto for 2014
on the nature of pure stealth games and their relationship to action games.
Brendan Vance wrote The Cult of the Peacock
about the overwhelming influence of The Design of Everyday Things
to the exclusion of artistic decisions and detriment of the work and to the designer saying,
Now, instead of manuals, we have interactive tutorials. They take about fifty times longer to produce, three times longer to consume, and players hate them so much that their highest aspiration is to become completely transparent. Currently I spend most of my waking hours developing them. It should come as no surprise that I hate them too.
Jaymee Mak wonders with regards to feminism and representation why the 'why' is always left out
. She asks just such questions in interviews with developers Brenda Bailey Gerschkovitch, Kirsten Forbes and Mathew Kumar using their work as a springboard.
Soha El-Sabaawi spins out her reaction of The Escapist's recent No Right Answer video on Anita Sarkeesian, commenting 'there is no right answer, but a wrong way to discuss
Isaiah Taylor interviews Amanda Strawn
, the voice actress of the infamous homeless black woman NPC from Dues Ex: Human Revolution
to get her side to the character and the issue.
Stephen Beirne at his blog Normally Rascal talks about the inclusion of a sexual assault scene in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes
in relation to Kojima's own track record.
Todd Harper looks at the presentations of character designs in fighting games
and balancing the design between the game's need and that of harmful stereotypes.
James Marion likens The Sims to Our Town
and how it is the player's hand just like it is the director's hand that grant's the stage meaning.
Jeff Mummert at Play the Past looks at how video games aren't really understood and to be used as texts in the classroom
the understanding of player's position and their agency is necessary.
Gaines Hubbell at Higher Level Gamer examines the ideal of a video game as a text and how we approach them as open works in the face of mainstream critics unconsciously insisting they are closed works
. Also at Higher Level Gamer, Erik Bigras examines a game outside the norm for the NES why it was once a Bronkie the Bronchiasaurus
prescription and what it can teach about asthma.
Dave Own wrote a feature for Polygon about Super Columbine Massacre RPG
and how its purpose of working through the tragedy like many of the books and films in its wake was missed given the medium it is a part of.
Kevin Sultan on Gamasutra looks at the psychological anthropology in video games
paying particular attention to images and what we consider monsters.
Jamie Madigan at Psychology of Games looks at studies performed at the Capilano suspension bridge in Vancouver where it turns out a heightened sense of danger can be transferred in the mind onto ancillary events
. Some video games may do the same thing to get player attached to the characters in The Walking Dead
and The Last of Us
Adrian Froschauer wrote a guest article for Ontological Geek examining the illusion of choice in The Walking Dead
and how it is that illusion that is much more important than any actual outcome in The Walking Dead
. Also at Ontological Geek, Bill Coberly looks at the moral choice presented in FTL
, in particular the confrontation with non-hostile slavers and the unspoken implications of all your decisions.
Robert Rath looks at the pirate life on display in Assassin's Creed IV
and how the game fits you into the world through quests and encouraged behavior.
Daniel Korn comes back to Pokemon
with Pokemon X/Y
and find everything from the villains to the rivals to the through quest utterly lacking even by Pokemon standards.
Eurogamer published a piece by The Secret Developers to keep them anonymous about their troubles with the Wii U
and how these difficulties and lack of support has caused a lot of third-party support to quietly retract games that were once announced for it.
Pietro Polsinelli had indie developer Daniel Benmergui on the Design a Game podcast
to discuss Storyteller, his puzzle game/system for creating visual stories.
Emily Short critique's Gone Home
as a work of interactive fiction and the larger trend of "presenting most of your story as backstory
" as a means to get around many difficulties in writing interactive fiction.
Mark Filipowich wrote some of his thoughts on games writing and community involvement
with links to quite a few other writers' pieces and their responses to the current situation from Patreon to creating new games writing outlets.
Zolani Stewert launched the first issue of the Arcade Review
, a digital magazine focusing on criticism of experimental games. It includes pieces by Line Hollis, Lana Polansky, Alex Pieschel and Zolani Stewart himself. Also, Objective Game Reviews
launched while we were away. Finally, a site that gives nothing but truly objective reviews of video games.
Thank you for your patience. We are now back to a normal schedule. Because of recovery and last minute scheduling snafus almost every single link above was a suggestion sent in by our readers. A big thank you to all of you. So remember, please send in any suggestions you might have through our email submission form
or via Twitter mention