This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Eric Swain on topics including the controversy surrounding Jason Rohrer's The Castle Doctrine and the "self-sabotage" of Saints Row the Third.The Castle Doctrine
Spawning out from the first part of Jason Rohrer's interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, came the debate on Rohrer's upcoming new game The Castle Doctrine.
Daniel Joseph ruminates on the concept of "evil games" and how they challenge us and their worth. Cameron Kunzelman is far less forgiving explaining why he will never play The Castle Doctrine.
Paul Alexander on his site Imaginary Playmates doesn't look at the game, but rather the response it has received both in the above posts and on twitter and how troubling it is given no one commenting has played the game.
Stephen Beirne's piece on Gameranx compares the troubling design of the wife and kids characters in The Castle Doctrine to Ico's treatment of Yorda within the game systems.
And Jason Rohrer explains his own perspective on the treatment of otherness in his games Diamond Trust of London and his upcoming game The Castle Doctrine in their design.
Jenn Frank over at Paste Magazine uses her review to try and pinpoint what the appeal of the highly engaging game is.
Meanwhile, Juli Clover reports a recently discovered glitch that lets you double money and items at will and how it has turned Animal Crossing into "a grotesque slave exchange."
The Last of Us
Some guy over at PopMatters is disappointed in The Last of Us that for all its supposed greatness he found that it didn't focus on any fundamental ideas as much as its drama and ultimately felt it a work of emotional manipulation and little else.
Alisha Karabinus at Not Your Mama's Gamer examines The Last of Us and concludes it's only great by virtue of the low bar in video games it has to jump over to succeed.
Chris Franklin of Errant Signal has a video/script on The Last of Us. In it he says:
Ultimately the game feels like a perhaps the best possible version of a fundamentally flawed design ideology; a perfect implementation of an imperfect idea. It takes the Half-Life content muncher mentality as far as you can possibly take it. But in doing so it yo-yos back and forth between two mediums; clearly more interested in the one it isn't that the one it is.
So Kane & Lynch, and its sequel, are about what happens when risks don't pay off. When murderers aren't secretly nice guys. To play through this is a depressing experience, the narrative drumbeats no more than violence atop violence. It's so unrelentingly bleak and without ceremony that at times it almost - almost - becomes comical.
Angela Cox has a guest post on Play the Past about the Parody in Sierra's Space Quest both in the writing and puzzle design.
Mark Filipowich in a piece for Unwinnable asks, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Cousland?" He looks at his experience with his Warden from Dragon Age: Origins, Virginia Cousland, and how it made him experience the world from a woman's point of view.
And Stephen Winson created a Let's Critique in the vein of a critic's DVD commentary of Dishonored for Re/Action.
Outside the Game
Ian Mahar states that nobody wins with the stigmatization of mental illness in horror games over at Kotaku.
Daniel Cook looks at the type of games that become hobbies in and of themselves and are separate of the larger gaming culture.
Evan Tilton of Thinking While Playing takes his shots at the cult of immersion and how limiting it is to use it as the holy grail of gaming narrative.
On a similar path, Sam Crisp looks at the details embedded in games and how if at all they affect the player given that play means we mostly ignore them.
Johannes Koeller brings us more pieces from the German language critical circles.
The new issue of WASD magazine, a biannual game writing publication. With the topic this time being scandals. A substantial preview is available here and can buy it here. Be warned, there's no translation.
Thomas Mitterhuber wrote about the ableism of games and how simple adjustments can make them so much more friendly to the deaf, colorblind or infirm.
Benjamin Filitz criticizes Lupa and Gulag Paradise for the superficial treatment of their subject matter, prostitution and gulags respectively. Both developers responded in the comments.
And Dennis Kogel translated Magnus Hildebrant's second part of Kentucky Road Zero analysis that we featured last week. It's now in English.
Jordan Mechner on his personal site has released the design doc for Prince of Persia 2, now 20 years old. He also says that this is not how to make a game and only worked for in this specific instance for a number of listed reasons.
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