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This Week In Video Game Criticism: Guilt, Abstraction, And Unexpected Education

This Week In Video Game Criticism: Guilt, Abstraction, And Unexpected Education

December 17, 2010 | By Eric Swain

December 17, 2010 | By Eric Swain
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[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us a fresh roundup of links compiled by Eric Swain, on topics including player guilt, abstraction in games, and what we can learn from Mass Effect 2 and Civilization V.]

We begin at Popmatters' Moving Pixel's blog, where early in the week Kris Ligman finished the site's set of posts focusing on the amateur game Dungeoneer by looking at player guilt. G. Christopher Williams declares "Everybody wants to Own the World."

Jorge Albor looks at civic education games and how Mass Effect 2 may have one-upped them on their own turf. And finally, Nick Dinicola explains how the tension of Metro 2033 comes from the contrasting the cramped populated areas with the large barren ones.

Daniel Primed at his self-titled blog writes a trifecta of posts detailing the mechanical design evolution in God of War III and its effect on the overall product - an interesting series.

Elsewhere, Mark Serrels on Kotaku Australia looks at the hows and whys of the Moral Panic Cycle of video games, talking with Texas A&M Professor Christopher J. Ferguson in the light of the then upcoming R18+ rating vote in Australia. Also on Kotaku, commenter Kiori Hayabusa writes a decent length defense of why Roger Ebert has the right to not give a shit if games are art.

IGN UK's Michael Thomsen, the same man who declared Metroid Prime to be the Citizen Kane of video games, writes a lucid Contrarian Corner post on Fallout: New Vegas.

On his blog Gamereader, Jose Gonzalez Bruno writes about the "Tyranny of the Masses" with regards to the Mass Effect 2 player data, saying: "As we have seen, publishers and developers have profoundly different ways of looking at the world, and this creates the possibility of conflict when it comes to interpreting player data."

A number of articles look at various items on the general design front. Denis Farr at his blog Vorpal Bunny Ranch looks at the "Long Corridors" of Final Fantasy XIII and Mass Effect 2 and how they helped him complete the games. Colin Northway, guest blogging at Andy Moore's site, talks about the rods and cones in our eyes and how it affects precision platforming in Super Meat Boy.

Chad Birch at GameInternals writes "Understanding Pac Man Ghost Behavior." The title is sort of self-explanatory. Adrian Forest from Three Parts Theory gets back to writing talking about how in-game maps are used as a dynamic part of the fiction. While at Second Person Shooter, Laura Michet tells us about a completely user-created game: 1000 Blank Cards and the utter insanity that arises.

The Border House's Cuppycake looks at the unconventional beauty of Princess Theradras from World of Warcraft. And Pyrofennec from Ars Marginal looks at the turn Dark Fantasy has taken in response to expanding or breaking the mold that Tolkien established and the disgusting place it has led. At the end, he then sees how this has affected Dragon Age: Origins.

J.P. Grant at his blog Infinite Lag writes a politically inspired post about how gaming is viewed and the responsibility of not fighting, but educating the mainstream to what gaming is about. Shawn Graham writing for Play the Past describes his experience to use Civilization IV in an attempt educate his students on an era of the Roman Empire using the game's systems.

Tanner Higgin from Gaming the System says there is a few things Bayonetta should learn from Lady Gaga when it comes to making men uncomfortable.

And Dr. Joel (as in, he has a doctorate) of Electron Dance writes about abstraction in video games, specifically war simulations. Using the movie War Games as a jumping off point: "Many will remember the climactic moment when Joshua runs through hundreds of nuclear war simulations, trying to find a win scenario- the result being, of course, that he can't, and we go home with the message that nuclear war is bad... In 2010, this is no longer the most important scene of the movie."

At Bitmob, Dennis Scimeca takes an interesting close look at a video game personality I had never heard of before, but is well known in the industry. Gerard Williams is a vibrant and energetic personality that is a divisive figure, with some saying he's a needed quantity and others saying he represents what is wrong with game writing.

Dilyan at Split Screen Co-op explores the question of "Why Do We Play Video Games?" with numerous answers and quotes from around the blogosphere. And our own Ben Abraham, at his blog I Am Ben Abraham, first talks about his article in the latest issue of Kill Screen Magazine, but then explores the topic of how we approach our criticism -- saying we are being too analytical and not persuasive enough.

Emily Short writes in her GameSetWatch column 'Homer in Silicon' about the indie game Life Flashes By by Deirdra Kiai, saying that the cause and effect of choices and actions are far more personal and far more affecting the mainstream games.

In other notable posts, Zach at Hailing from the Edge talks at length about the successes and failings of the Assassin's Creed franchise. Jeffery L. Jackson at Video Game Theory and Language writes about "The Fractured State of Social Media in Gaming" this week.

And finally, the people at The Escapist's Extra Credit bring us the first in the long promised videos on diversity in games, starting off with "Sexual Diversity."

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