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This Week In Video Game Criticism: When The Long Hard Heavy Rain Falls

This Week In Video Game Criticism: When The Long Hard Heavy Rain Falls Exclusive

May 14, 2010 | By Ben Abraham

[We're partnering with game criticism site Critical Distance to present some of the week's most inspiring writing about the art and design of video games from commentators worldwide. This week, Ben Abraham looks at cinematography in Heavy Rain, why games are too hard and too long, and single-player subscription concepts.]

Despite packing up and moving all my possessions to a new house, This Week In Video Game Criticism is here with some of the best blogging about games from all over the Internet during the last seven days.

Chris Dahlen this week sends us a link to The Onion AV Club’s ‘Sawbuck Gamer’ group scattershot coverage of any and every game they can get their hands on. It’s quite the list.

Dahlen also asked Alan WakeWhy Won’t You Let Me Be Stupid?’ in his Edge Online column, and points to the indie gem Machinarium as a game that doesn’t spare the brainteasers.

Mariam Asad at Rules of the Game wrote about Heavy Rain’s particular use of camera angles this week, drawing upon a lot of cinematography theory for her analysis: "The player is positioned between the two as a voyeur. This is not voyeurism in the sexual sense, but rather a way to describe an individual who asserts her agency through her ability to look."

John Davison of GamePro says developers and players alike agree that “Games are too hard, they're too long, and they provide way too much stuff” (even if they might never own up to it). As he notes: "While this may sound like an excuse from an aging group of individuals faced with technology that takes an increasingly large degree of effort to utilize, there's an enormous amount of data being collected that backs this up."

Kyle Orland takes a look at the organisation of the Halo: Reach beta give-aways and takes the opportunity to re-examine game journalism’s reliance on game PR. His conclusions, while hardly new to anyone familiar with the occasionally too-cosy relationship between journalists and PR, nevertheless strike an important contemporary note. Says, Orland, ‘The next time you wonder why game journalism is often seen as just an extension of video game PR, remember 'events' like this.

It’s Never Just A Game” is a series by James Vonder Haar currently running at The Border House blog, and in the first instalment he looks at why escapism in service of entertainment is no excuse to uncritically accept negative or derogatory stereotypes: "No one actually wants to think of their own troubles or the problems of the world while slaughtering Ares in God of War or destroying the Death Star. Gaming can be our brief reprieve from Kant and accounting, romantic problems and chores, responsibility and danger."

Elsewhere, Emily Short, in her 'Homer in Silicon' GameSetWatch column, writes about “Character Creation and Fallout 3”. She suggests a radical re-thinking of the process of character creation, saying: "I would make different and more interesting choices if, instead of doing character-building in a clump at the beginning, that process were more gradual."

Fraser Alison at Red Kings Dream writes about multiplayer online Halo, relating a particular first-hand experience with ageism suffered by a friend: "It really gets me down when people have a go at me about my age. I’ve been called all kinds of things: paedophile, rock spider, pervert. I just want to play a few games with my kid, but some people treat me like I’m a sex offender."

Ferguson of Interactive Illuminatus brings to our attention “the similarities between narrative structure and game structure”.

On Friday, Jim Rossignol had a bit of a think about the nature of DLC versus single player subscriptions, and asked his readers at Rock Paper Shotgun, “Would You Pay A Sub For Single-Player?”, explaining: "Say Mass Effect 3 has a piece of paid content coming out each month after release, and you buy each one… suddenly you’re paying a sub? An optional one, of course, but it amounts to the same thing. Follow the trajectory of Bioware’s DLC experiments and this doesn’t seem all that unlikely."

In the middle of these and other notable occurrences this week, there was a somewhat more melancholy note we would like to reflect upon; this week Clint Hocking (Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, Far Cry 2) announced that he had tendered his resignation from Ubisoft's Montreal studios. Giving no details about what he would do next, only explaining that he had gotten too comfortable with the habits built up over eight-and-then-some years at the now former studio,

Hocking is striking out into the unknown. His story is one that can encourage all of us; writers, gamers and designers alike; to not settle for second best, but to strike out into unfamiliar territory and see what comes of it. I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing him a speedy transition to whatever and wherever he decides to turn his considerable talents in the near future.

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