[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Ben Abraham on topics including the controversial Blackwater game, breaking immersion, and more.]
E3 2011 has come and gone. It’s been a really busy week in the game industry—not just for game developers, but for the game journalists who struggle to cover each and every facet of the big event. Personally, the entire week has had me swamped up to my elbows with writing non-stop coverage of the event.
Happily, the minute to minute reports of new games haven’t done much to distract games writers from dissecting videogames and providing us with plenty of reading material. Without further ado, here is the week in videogame blogging.
In the spirit of E3, Michael Abbott of the Brainy Gamer writes about the failures and triumphs of the Big Three (Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft) at this year’s big event. He starts off with Microsoft.
Next up on the reading list is Tom Bissell’s article on Grantland, “Press X for Beer Bottle“, a critique of L.A. Noire. Bissell pores over the game in its entirety and gives it a thorough appraisal. Regardless of whether you’ve played the game or plan to play it in the future, the article is well worth reading.
Delving deep into academic territory is Maggie Greene’s piece on the abstract Chinese game of weiqi and how the game—like skills that can be cultivated—contains a potential for mobility which depends solely on the skill of the player.
Independent game developer Paul Callaghan has put up a full transcript as well as a video of his recent talk at IGDA Brisbane. He shares his thoughts on the game industry, its culture, and how the words we use restrict our ability to properly think about things.
Robert Walker gushes about the sublime joy of turn-based games on his Gamasutra blog. The article also discusses how developers have sacrificed their more recent games to the altar of accessibility.
Also on Gamasutra, Keith Burgun covers the subject of balance in videogames:
"What’s the value of balancing your game, and how do you do it? 100 Rogues developer Keith Burgun tackles the issue of game balance, bringing to light insights that aren’t entirely obvious, and showing where game balance really counts."
L.B. Jeffries returns to videogame blogging with two new entries on his Banana Pepper Martinis blog about “Gamification and Law“. In twobrief articles, Jeffries manages to make sense of the obtuse subjects.
Michael Clarkson writes about the newly announced game Blackwater and its potential to ask important questions about private military contractors, however unlikely that may be.
On Your Critic is in Another Castle, K. Cox writes in twoparts about the music of Mass Effect and what a good soundtrack can bring to a game:
"A good film or game score (and there are plenty of bad ones out there) works in tandem with the visual elements of the story. It reinforces what you know from watching and from playing, it guides your emotional response, it sets the pace and rhythm, and sometimes it’s a great big black Sharpie drawing connecting lines all over the story for you, if you’ve the ears to hear it."
That games are art is not in dispute, but just how games are art is certainly worth discussing. On Mammon Machine, Andrew Vanden Bossche attempts to claw his way into the heart of the matter in a short, but concise piece on Modern Warfare.
Tracey Lien’s article “We need to talk” on her Zero Light Seeds blog approaches the subject of how videogame publishers often overstep their boundaries with journalists by telling them how to do their jobs. Furthermore, Lien talks about how journalists have a duty to ask serious questions about the videogames they cover, in addition to all the peripheral information gathering about a game’s weapons and all the “sweet killz” it provides gamers.
On International Hobo, Chris Bateman writes about the dominant presence of guns in modern videogames.
"Why are there so many videogames based around guns? It is not because play depends upon guns – board games have far fewer guns than, say, bank notes. No, the gun is dominant in videogames because we have chosen it, we have marked out the firearm as the toy we most want to play with."
Stefan Terry of Nightmare Mode, a newcomer on TWIVGB, has written an article titled “Visible Puppeteers,” which addresses what it means for games to break the immersion of the players who play them, and how games could benefit from being a lot more representational instead of breaking the fourth wall.
Rounding up the week, Mike Jones, a lecturer at the Australian Film, Television and Radio school has written a series of essays on the nature of videogames and their convergence with other entertainment mediums, including an article where Jones argues that the term “serious games” can be bad for gaming.
Don’t forget you can send suggestions every week to Ben through email or the Critical Distance twitter account.