[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics including Journey's matchmaking, Dear Esther's shortcomings, and more.]
I'm all out of clever schticks this week, so let's just get right to it. It's time for the best and brightest of videogame commentary and criticism, This Week in Video Game Blogging!
We start off by checking in with our friend Sebastian Alvarado, who is onto the second installment of his Gamasutra blog series on nanotechnology in video games.
Articles on Dear Esther are still trickling in, but Tommy Rousse came out on top this week with a strong critique of the "walk'em up"'s shortcomings: "While Dear Esther does a superb job of conveying a sense of place on the island, it makes very little effort to create a sense of embodiment."
Meanwhile, thatgamecompany's latest PSN release, Journey, has garnered some interesting responses for its singular aesthetic and themes. Jamie Love praises the game's unique take on multiplayer:
"Journey cuts [...] to the raw source of motivation and hope we find in others, to the fact that our existence on its own is not enough to necessitate that we continue for our own sake. Certainly we live for ourselves to project strength and obey the demands of our DNA, but beneath that skin, we always hope for others to connect and share the journey with, strangers that we'll never really know, but who when you strip external constructions away, are perhaps exactly the same as us."
"If players have a yen to slaughter rather than help each other than it is not because the ludic abstraction makes us a blank slate of stimulus-response (psychologists rankle me more than moralistic game designers I think) but because we have cultural predispositions for what to do with these machines and these virtual worlds that have been building up layer by layer over many years… the goal of design should not be to somehow get underneath, or behind or above these dispositions but to meet them head on… to reflect them perhaps, or to make them an object of conversation and reflection. But to deny them? To only allow them to perform warm fuzzies and group hugs? That's SoCal New Agism for you… but it's also a Clockwork Orange."
"[T]hat it is where we find Shepard in the end: on the plane of mythology, removed from the plane of men. And that is also where many players feel they lose Mass Effect, because until the final moment, the plane of men has been the only ground the game knows."