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This Week in Video Game Criticism: From Indie Networks to Wii U

This week, our partnership with game criticism site <a href="http://www.critical-distance.com/">Critical Distance</a> brings us picks on topics including the Wii U and indies helping indies.

Kris Ligman, Blogger

May 23, 2013

5 Min Read

This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics including Wii U's antisocial message and indies helping indies. HOW WE PLAY John Brindle, the most British brother of the American Midwest Brindle Clan, went to GameCamp again this year and ran a session on quizzical play. Here are the notes and recording of the talk in full. For the bilingual, L'Arene has posted an interview in French and English with Art Game developer Pippin Barr. (Scroll down for English.) Paul Haine has a compelling argument: the Wii U is failing because unlike its predecessor, it harbors an antisocial message:

You can see the Wii U being socially divisive with the very first scene in the video; some dick walks into a living room and declares that it's "time to watch the baseball", changing the channel without even giving the gamer time to pause and forcing him to carry on his game on the controller's small screen. It's a pretty depressing scene; the gamer doesn't participate in the baseball-watching, nor does baseball-dick care about the videogame. The Wii U, then: two men sitting in a room together, not talking or sharing in the same entertainment. All the warmth and camaraderie of a walk-in clinic.

In a similar vein, Daniel Joseph has a few incisive words, saying that despite its prevalence, we still tend to think of playing games as a private sphere, and that results in resistance when problems are called out. PATHOLOGISTICS Plague Inc is used as an information tool by the CDC to educate about disease pathology, but Robert Rath wants to know how accurately it depict this. (As a side note, the man is getting married today. Grats, Rath!) Over on PopMatters Moving Pixels, G. Christopher Williams chats a bit on building a more plausible apocalypse -- to whit, why is Metro 2033 so unhygienic? And Gamasutra blogger Sebastian Alvarado takes us through the possible science behind Mass Effect's Genophage. YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE On Big Tall Words, Mark Filipowich discusses how plural protagonism works in Chrono Trigger. And on The New Inquiry, Jeremy Antley explores We Must Tell the Emperor, a tabletop strategy game designed for a single player. DESIGN MATTERS Back on Gamasutra, Paul Andrew Mcgee wraps up on on Ludum Dare 26 (theme: minimalism) and comments on how we can say more by talking less. Speaking of Ludum Dare 26, have you watched this excellent supercut from Sebastian Standke? On Experience Points, Jorge Albor chats about the "mundane wonder" with the rise of "map games" like MapCrunch and GeoGuessr. Over on Boing Boing, Peter Bebergal introduces us to the rise in old school Dungeons & Dragons play, as a response to the franchise's modern transition away from roleplaying to combat focus. From the recent Let's Play exhibition in Chicago, Unmanned writer Jim Munroe interviews Jake Elliott while playing the latter's Kentucky Route Zero. Elsewhere, Doctor Professor provides us with a useful primer on the male gaze in games. IT'S JUST BUSINESS Simon Newstead explores a few reasons for why virtual worlds die. Touching on the recent firing of Patrice Desilets and the indefinite suspension of 1666, Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead asks a pointed question: if creators know their best work is going to become the property of publishers, what motivation is there to put their heart and soul into an IP? Rami Ismail opines that established indies may not be in the best position to promote other independents. Elsewhere, Michael Brough concurs:

[H]ere's the deeper problem with putting the responsibility of lifting up newcomers on those who are already successful in the field: even if they're completely willing to take risks on things that might not pay off, they're only interested in things that interest them. The gaps where things are really getting missed you don't even see, because they're not things you personally care about.

THE EXCITING WORLD OF WEB PUBLISHING First Person Scholars' Jason Hawreliak interviews Killing is Harmless author and Critical Distance's 2012 Blogger of the Year, the beardful Australian Brendan Keogh. Speaking of books, Jamie Dalzell has released his ebook deep read of Dark Souls. SIMPLY SHOCKING Francisco Dominguez of Haywire Magazine suggests the verbs afforded players in BioShock Infinite are so narrow, they reinforce the game's sociopathy:

This would be why his dialogue is so utilitarian and deductive, always targeted towards a goal. This would be why his distinctive verbs are so narrow: he eats, shoots and cleaves. Even pandas get more agency. Nothing suggests he’s given to pleasurable activities, only the compulsively satisfying. Fantastic. We’ve solved the ludonarrative conundrum. Now let’s make all our characters callous assholes and let’s never talk Greek again.

Meanwhile, Noah Caldwell-Gervais has produced a wonderful long-form design analysis of the –Shock games, from the original System Shock to BioShock Infinite. RELATIONAL OBJECTS On The Border House, Samantha Allen proposes that transitioning is a bit like JRPG grinding. And on PopMatters, Scott Juster suggests that the story surrounding Peter Molyneux's Curiosity may be more interesting than the game itself. That's it for this week! As always we appreciate your submissions by Twitter and email. Thanks for reading!

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