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This Week in Video Game Criticism: From Game of Thrones to game preservation

This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Zach Alexander on topics ranging from choice in Telltale's Game of Thrones to responses to the Entertainment Software Association's position on games preservation.

Kris Ligman, Blogger

April 13, 2015

4 Min Read

This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Zach Alexander on topics ranging from choice in Telltale's Game of Thrones to responses to the Entertainment Software Association's position on games preservation.


If you’ve been playing Bloodborne recently, why not take a break and read about it instead? Or watch a video? George Weidman at Super Bunny Hop covers Bloodborne’s relationship to H.P. Lovecraft as expressed through the mechanics and lore of the game. Aevee Bee discusses Bloodborne’s worldbuilding, and Tim Rogers goes full Tim Rogers on the design of the game.

The real Bloodborne is making your own game! Lulu Blue has a post discussing how she thinks about making games. Tegiminis points out some design decisions that can stigmatize about 50% of your potential audience. Over at Not Your Mama’s Gamer, Alisha Karabinus looks at the array of characters in State of Decay and how they avoided design tropes:

By and large, the characters in State of Decay simply look like people in a bad situation. Sometimes they’re a little scruffy, sometimes they have bad haircuts, but they all look ready to survive, and that’s something to appreciate, considering the hyper presentation of gender in many — not all — zombie-themed games

From the same site, Ashley Barry looks into BloodRayne, Let The Right One In, and Interview with a Vampire to talk about unconventional femaleness in vampires.

From a more mechanical perspective, David Carlton discusses the simplicity of Ico’s mechanics vs that of Dragon Age: Inquisition. G. Christopher Williams talks about the use of scale in Risk of Rain. Problem Machine checks out Super Hexagon as a way to focus. Jillian at FemHype talks about Game of Thrones and her appreciation for the women in the game. Jorge Albor talks about decision making in Life is Strange and Game of Thrones:

When I play Game of Thrones, I try to create a compelling story about a family on the raggedy edge. I roleplay my decisions as each character, each with their own unique faults. When I play Life is Strange, I play a bit more like myself. I try to do what I think is right, and I make no decision lightly.

Keith Burgun has an interesting discussion on his definition of “games” vs “toys” which is sure to ruffle some feathers. Such boundaries don’t concern Gita Jackson and Maxwell Neely-Cohen, who review Tinder as a game.

Real World Implications

Simon Parkin investigates drug abuse in eSports, and finds "Adderall is basically a stimpack for gamers.” Pixie discusses the reinforcement effect games might have on real-world attitudes in light of a recent study on sexism and gamers. Charlotte wants to know what behavior Valve is encouraging with a “funny” voting button on Steam reviews. Christian Donlan talks about Touch Tone, saying “Touch Tone would be satire so heavy-handed and implausible that it might carry no sting - if only we didn't live in a world that's even more heavy-handed and implausible.”

Laura Hudson writes for FiveThirtyEight about using Telltale game, The Walking Dead, to teach applied ethics. Joe Parlock looks at the transhumanism of Deus Ex through the lens of disability. Kaitlin Tremblay remembers what she learned from Tifa when she played Final Fantasy 7.

A Place and Time

Bob Mackey discusses how Nintendo white-washes Yokai Watch by downplaying elements of the Shinto religion. Brian Crimmins talks about an obscure Playstation 1 title, Boku no Natsuyasumi and how it creates a sense of location and time. Brad O’Farrell discusses how the geography of Pokemon is based on real-world countries, including Japan, and how that plays into the game’s plot. Colin Campbell investigates people developing games from a country not commonly discussed or represented - Cameroon!

Keeping What’s Ours

Mitch Stoltz gives EFF’s perspective on the lack of legal protection for preserving older games.

Samantha Blackmon talks about the importance of preservation. Ciarán Ó Muirthile proposes backwards compatibility as a way of preserving games. However, Heather Alexandra has a slightly different idea.

For more perspectives on the history of games, Noah Caldwell-Gervais has a two hour video critically examining every Call of Duty game. Mike Mahardy discusses the history of Looking Glass Studios. Ian Williams discusses the history and murky future of Warhammer. Finally, our own Eric Swain positions Grim Fandango as an artifact out of time, whose modern re-release reveals some outdated logic.

Back Into the World

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