This Week in Video Game Criticism: What's old is Shenmue again
This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Johnny Kilhefner on topics ranging from reactions to Shenmue 3's Kickstarter to Tale of Tales' decision to take a break from game development.
What’s Old is Shenmue Again
Stu Horvath explains how the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) surrounding both Metroid Prime: Federation Force and Shenmue 3 are two sides of the same bad penny, but David Carlton has a different outlook, choosing to refute several opinions of Yu Suzuki’s Kickstarter:
Of course it’s true that there are other funding models possible for the game: doubtless, in a many-worlds version of the universe, there are universes where Sony decides to pay for it out of pocket, universes where a collection of fans somehow scrape together money to buy the IP, universes where Warren Buffett is a huge Shenmue fan and decides to pay for it himself!
It’s Business, Not Personal
Getting away from Shenmue 3, Austin Walker slides into his new role at Giant Bomb nicely with a thoughtful piece on public funding in the games industry:
Yet every year, around E3, I feel like we have this conversation: "Why do so many games feel so focus tested, so same-y?" And the answer is (again and again) the same: "Because it's risky to take chances." So I find myself wondering: What if there was more consistent, predictable funding? What if small studios had access to the same sorts of public support that some major developers do? And hey, what if those major developers had more support, too? How might that encourage a little bit of creative risk taking? A new IP instead of another sequel? The adoption of new, expensive technologies like VR? Maybe (could you imagine?) a little less 'crunch.'
While at Gamasutra, Michaël Samyn and Auriea Harvey talk about the liberating feel of trying and failing to make a game for gamers.
Elsewhere, Stephen Winson looks back at World of Warcraft's gold economy:
But what is true in the rest of the world is true in the world of gold farming: reducing your labour costs is a fast and easy way to increase profits in the short term. And as in the physical world, farmers had three basic choices to make in how they went about it: automation, theft, and slave labour.
Higher Level Gamer’s Nick Hanford writes about capturing nostalgia as a game publisher. Johannes Köller muses on the insipid dizziness of E3 in “The Circus of Values” in Unwinnable Weekly. Jackson Tyler, meanwhile, writes about his victories and defeats in “These Lost Three Years”.
The Ghost in the Machine
At the New York Times, Nick Bilton discusses how online playgrounds mimic real-world social constructs through the eyes of 10 year olds.
In “Footsteps in Movies,” G. Christopher Williams posits that audio visual representations in media do not have to agree wholeheartedly with their real-world counterparts, while at Kill Screen Devin Raposo discusses silence in videogames and Jess Joho examines surrealism in Tangiers.
Stephen Beirne talks weapon degradation over at his blog, Normally Rascal, which you can fund here, and A.L Brown schools us on competitive symmetry in games. Over at The Dweeb Jar, Jake Crump delves into why we love boss fights.
Sex, Exclusion and Art
Katherine Cross uses Night Witches to define the "difference between a 'sexist portrayal' and a portrayal of sexism." Meanwhile, in response to another Katherine Cross piece for Gamasutra, Lana LeRay argues AAA games are making progress with depictions of sex and intimacy.
Over at FemHype, Jillian looks at exclusion in GTFO The Movie:
What was most uncomfortable for me to watch in GTFO was when women's experiences were explained through the lens of cis white men on several occasions, most notably concerning Miranda Pakozdi. The sexual harassment she faced and subsequent media frenzy following her time on Capcom's reality show Cross Assault was bad enough to witness, but hearing it explained by a man with only peripheral knowledge of the incident was deeply troubling. I'm not saying we should be completely dismissive of men's opinions whenever the topic of ~women in the games industry~ is brought up, but I am saying that maybe GTFO wasn’' the appropriate space for that dialogue.
In "More than Representation," Mattie Brice talks Tale of Tales and the burning out of marginalized creatives.
While Sidney Fussell asks "are black nobles and paladins really too fantastical to exist, even in worlds of sorcery, wizards and unicorns?"
By taking on such a subject matter, the game places itself at the nexus of a number of powerful issues and veins that real transgressive art has let bleed -- anonymous violence, the relationship between spectacle and real destruction, the pernicious discomfort of simulated death -- but it doesn't seem particularly interested in any of them. It doesn't even seem to understand them.
Over at Medium, Elise Wehle taps the Impressionists to say angry mobs shouldn’t dictate art and Samantha Blackmon and Alish Karabinus respond to criticism to the critical analysis on Not Your Mama’s Gamer.
Lastly, Salvator Pane uses his affinity for Spring Breakers to explore the notion of entertainment in media:
It will not be our generation who unlocks the artistic potential of videogames as a medium, it will be the next, the one that grows up on BioShock and Noby Noby Boy, the generation who goes into gaming without any preconceived notions about fun.
Until Next Time
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