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This Week in Video Game Blogging: Daydreams and distractions

This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from their Senior Curator Zoya Street, on topics such as distraction, engagement, and imagination.

This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from their Senior Curator Zoya Street, on topics such as distraction, engagement, and imagination.


In The New Inquiry, Alfie Brown discusses the position of mobile games in relation to labour, arguing that rather than being counterproductive uses of workers’ time, they are designed to maximise compliance. Over on Medium, Alex Fleetwood discusses the difficulty parents have deciding how much digital distraction their children should be allowed, and offers his mixed digital-physical project Fantastic Beasts as an alternative for parents who feel alienated by screen-based play.


“These distractions, far from being as useless as they pretend to be, are productive and powerful tools that transform us into suitable workers. They set into motion a strange guilt function that turns one into a good capitalist and ultimately makes more money for the company.”


“I hope that we can start to shift perception of game design as a profession — from ‘glinty-eyed exploiters of the lizard brain’ to ‘empathetic explorers of what gives us cognitive pleasure’.”

The driving force in the next two articles is the idea of energy: Jamie Madigan introduces the concept of “Newtonian Engagement”, while Nathan Savant considers the “momentum” at work in Kirby games.

A number of critics this week considered unreality and ambiguity as a storytelling technique in games, arguing that designing for co-authorship with the player can enhance their ability to imaginatively project into the work. Leigh Alexander interviews Firaxis producer Garth DeAngelis, and Kym Buchanan discusses the imaginative power of sensory limitation.

Continuing on the theme of ambiguity, Vincent Kinian discusses the storytelling power of the dreamlike half-reality of Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, while Miguel Penabella describes the dreamlike experiences portrayed in Off-Peak.


Critical Distance is community-supported. You can pitch in with PatreonRecurrency, or Paypal. Got suggestions about some pieces we should feature next week? Send them through Twitter or by email.

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