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This Week in Video Game Criticism: From  Gone Home  to Xbox Live

This Week in Video Game Criticism: From Gone Home to Xbox Live

August 19, 2013 | By Eric Swain

August 19, 2013 | By Eric Swain
More: Console/PC, Social/Online, Indie, Audio, Design, Business/Marketing

This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Eric Swain on topics including Fullbright Company's Gone Home and dealing with Xbox Live customer support.

Ludonarrative Dissonance

Robert Yang kicked off a lot of discussion on the term ludonarrative dissonance by saying, I'm not in fact sure what he was saying and nor were a lot of other people as I saw so many streams being crossed all week.

Ethan Gach wrote an elaborate response to Robert's points as an exploration if not an out and out defense of the term.

Gone Home

Campster does a quick overview video on how the game seeks to tell its story and how the mundane subject matter works to its advantage without delving into any spoiling specifics. Justin Keverne compares its methodology to its lineage of the Shock games and those of Looking Glass Studios. Robert Yang explores what Gone Home is through the lens of the mansion genre. And Leigh Alexander explores the comparative artistic movements of grunge grrrls and video games that matter very much to the game's setting.

And that's all you get spoiler free. Play the game before continuing with any of the follow posts.

Brendan Keogh has some notes on Gone Home. Ben Abraham talks about a single moment in the game and how it exemplified what the game was pulling off with regards to expectations and uses it undermine Yang's earlier declaration on ludnonarrative dissonance. Cameron Kunzelman has a few things to say about the game's craft in how it delivers its various narrative threads.

And that's all you'll get with light discussion. Deep content analysis and full explanations ahead.

Austin Walker wrote about the transgression within the game and how it profoundly affected one of the characters. Mattie Brice talks about the ghosts of the game (they're not literal ghosts). Michael of Correlated Contents writes on the game's dramatic irony. Merritt Kopas wrote quote "some hastily-written emotion reflections on Gone Home" and they are some profoundly affecting reactions to numerous elements in the game. Naomi Clark meanwhile focused on a single piece of paper and what it meant the game refused to let you read it as opposed to so many other barriers games have thrown up.


Samien McFerran at Eurogamer unveiled the history of the Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's Fighting Fantasy game book series now getting a rebirth on mobile platforms.

Edge Online published The Making Of: Thomas Was Alone.

Some guy at PopMatters could think of little else and explains the storytelling stylings of Loom.

Alex Rubens explores how Missile Command came to be and how it got stuck in the mind of its lead developer over at Polygon.

Bioshock Infinite

Nate Barham looks at the violence in Bioshock Infinite, particularly in the opening and how it misses the mark in the one place it's supposed to have a transgressive impact.

Justin Freeman delves deeply into the character or rather lack of one of Bioshock Infinite's Elizabeth portraying her creation as a cynical attempt to justify the rest of the game.

The Last of Us

Edward Smith says The Last of Us' opening is a showing of things to come and for us to transfer our feelings from one girl to the next as Joel does.

Mattie Brice on the other hand concludes that The Last of Us would have been a brilliant commentary on the "dadification of games" if it had anyway been on purpose.

Meanwhile, Robert Rath decides to look at the real world science of the Cordyceps and other infections that mind control their hosts. Nightmares ho!

Gender in Games

Michael Robinson tackles the type of games that blatantly objectify women from another angle by stating that it isn't his power fantasy. Maddy Myers likewise takes a different angle on the issue by looking at the sexual objectification of men by looking for the "hottest" virtual dudes around.

Brian Crecente of Polygon asserts the possibility that the greatest threat to the video game industry may be the fans themselves in looking at the issue of developer harassment.

Leigh Alexander at Edge discusses a point brought up at a recent panel she was on to explain diversity doesn't mean dumbing down the games. On the same track over at the Escapist, Jim Sterling has a video explaining diversification does not equal a neutering of creativity and how in practice it has been the exact opposite. Alisha Karabinus of Not Your Mama's Gamer looks at what the term gamer even means anymore and how it's loss of definition is a positive step.

Jenny Haniver chronicles her dealings with an asshole on Xbox Live and the flaccid response from customer support at Microsoft over the incident.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Naomi Clark storifies Derek Yu's reasonable responses to the unreasonable regarding Feminist Frequency inclusion of his game as an example in her latest video. He was supportive of it.

And Colin Campbell at Polygon says it's time for more leading women in games.

Game Feel in Design

Luke McMillan goes into great detail about how to quantify for designers what has been a very wishy washy explanations for a critical element of play: game feel. Raph Koster then defends it on his own site against some of the commenters miss the fact that tools don't stifle art.


From PopMatters Jorge Albor looks at some small games that are serious about their subject matter and are outside the realm of video games for most people and Nick Dinicola explains why he felt more free to punish the characters in The Walking Dead: 400 Days DLC as opposed to the main game.

Yahtzee Crowshaw explores a new reading of the Mario franchise games and Mario RPGs and how they are a metaphor for Nintendo itself.

Jon Irwing of Kill Screen asks if Animal Crossing is showing us our economy's bleak future.

Justin Davis at Venture Beat explains the emotional impact Papers Please had on him with regard to one of standard questions he had to ask.

Joe Koller looks at multiple choice narratives in games and how they let us shape our blanks slates.

Bill Coberly of the Ontological Geek compares the ending states of XCom: Enemy Unknown and Pacific Rim.

The Indie Gamer Chick talks about epilepsy and gaming. She asks that you do not user her editorial as a baseline for your own ability to play a game.

And finally, Rob Gallagher at The New Inquiry thinks that video game's devaluation of life may be a good thing overall.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading! Don't forget to submit your suggestions for TWIVGC through email or Twitter.

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