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This Week in Video Game Criticism: From A Machine for Pigs to MGS5

This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics A Machine for Pigs and what military servicewomen think of women in shooters.
This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics including the "salvation" of A Machine for Pigs and what military servicewomen think of how women are depicted in games. The Spirit of the Thing On Tap Repeatedly you can find this great deep read of Rome II by Matt Sakey, a Roman History major. On Madness and Play, Amsel von Spreckelsen criticizes the conceit of dream levels in game, not simply for being a lazy contrivance, but for reusing the same mechanics as the rest of the game. And at Errant Signal, Chris Franklin hits the nail on the head regarding game critics' widespread misinterpretation of ludonarrative dissonance. Elsewhere, on Eurogamer, Simon Parkin offers a heartstring-tugging look inside Final Fantasy XIV's troubled relaunch. And on the Jace Hall Show website, Jacqueline Cottrell has struck upon a novel idea: how about actually asking military servicewomen what they think of depictions of servicewomen in games? Maybe It's A Generational Thing Damn kids on lawns, etc. On her professional blog, Hamlet on the Holodeck's Janet Murray shares her DiGRA 2013 keynote slides on the state of game studies. Elsewhere, responses keep trickling in to Eric Zimmerman's Manifesto for a Ludic Century. Zimmerman has collated many of the responses himself, and attempts to lend a little stronger context to it. Meanwhile, over on Kill Screen, Abe Stein takes issue with Zimmerman's manifesto as attending largely to privileged members of post-industrial nations, leaving the rest of the world out in the cold. Liz Ryerson has reproduced her talk from the No Show conference, which serves as a response to both Darius Kazemi's "Fuck Videogames" as well as the recent discussion over Zimmerman's manifesto. Bright spark Zolani Stewart pens an interesting exploration of an oncoming wave of "post-gun" game design. Elsewhere on Polygon, L. Rhodes characterizes the recent Penny Arcade Expo furor as existing on a much larger time scale. Now for a bit of history. Most have heard the story of chess champion Kasparov and IBM's Deep Blue super-computer -- on Eurogamer, Chris Donlan shares the lesser-known, parallel story of building a computer checkers champion. Edge relates the origin story of Omikron, the game that launched David Cage's Quantic Dream. All You Need is Indies The Gaming Intelligence Agency has just completed a week's worth of articles on the oeuvre of Analogue and Hate Plus developer Christine Love. On The Border House, here's a great interview with Lim developer Merritt Kopas. Via our German correspondent, we've encountered Christof Zurschmitten's critique of Gone Home for Videogame Tourism, wherein Zurschmitten contends the game invokes horror tropes only to leave the player with little to no ambiguity. On the same publication (and also German-only for the moment, sadly), Rainer Sigl argues that Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs does the exact opposite, being ripe for multiple interpretations. Here's a translation of one passage:

[Usually in horror-mysteries] puzzles are provided by rational spirits - once we solve them, the nightmare is over. The solution is our salvation. A Machine for Pigs breaks with this tacit agreement... There is no solution. There is no salvation. As a result, A Machine for Pigs is primarily an aesthetic experience, living on its own intensity.
This is Why We Video Gaming (Reference.) It can't be avoided any longer. Let's get to the Grand Theft Auto V responses. I'll be avoiding the review format and sticking to critiques and other essays. First up, on the International Business Times, Edward Smith argues that when it comes to depictions of sexual harassment at least, GTA V is not satirizing, it's straight-up promoting (content warning: descriptions of sexual harassment):

Before you ask (or before you head to the comment section to try and defend this bullshit) there is no critical eye here - there is no satire. You go to the club. You grope the woman. You have sex. And it is cool. There's no humour, no irony. It is just that straightforward. You grope the woman. And you get away with it.
On This Cage is Worms, Cameron Kunzelman suggests that for all its reputation as a series for shock, GTA V is actually quite conservative. Writing for Gamasutra, Leigh Alexander agrees, lamenting how despite its many fine details Grand Theft Auto V feels out of interesting things to say:

I'm one of the people who said I thought it would have been better if GTA V let you play as a woman, and that I thought the game was misogynistic. I still feel that way, but it's not because I'm offended, or because I'm sensitive, or because I want to intervene upon anyone's vision, or because I regret the things I did in older games. It's because I want new monsters. It's because I want to be shocked again.
Meanwhile, Alex Lifschitz adds that it isn't necessarily that GTA V should have a female protagonist, it's the often vitriolic reaction when the question is even raised. Tom Bradwell points to a grotesque torture scene in the game and wonders if it's actually doing GTA V any favors (content warning: graphic description, video). On The New Yorker, Simon Parkin contrasts the scene with the novel Lolita and questions whether there is a difference to reprehensible behavior's creative merit when a player gets involved. This is Not About GTA V "The insular, incestuous, hive mind nature of the video game community is never so apparent as when there's a new blockbuster commercial product," Gamasutra editor-in-chief Kris Graft writes in this blistering condemnation of the games press hype cycle. Likewise Not About GTA V, Kotaku's Jason Schreier points to the toxicity review scores inspire in players. Thanks once again for reading! As always we deeply appreciate your submissions by Twitter mention and our email submissions form, so please keep them coming! There's still a bit of time to participate in this month's Blogs of the Round Table as well! See you next week!

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