This Week in Video Game Criticism: From Rapture to No Man's Land
This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics ranging from Valiant Hearts' treatment of World War I to the one type of blood you still don't see in video games.
It's torn between being a serious This Is How It Was telling of WW1, and a ludicrous steampunky romp which plays merry hell with the history it earnestly tries to impart when it's not about fistfighting an evil German baron on top of two ruined tanks in the middle of the Somme's No Man's Land. To say the game is tonally inconsistent is an understatement. It's full-out atonal, right from the main menu screen: a morose soldier and his dog standing in mud and ruins while the sad theme music plays, juxtaposed with a jaunty text strapline about how many collectibles the game has.
Aisha Tyler is right, female characters are everywhere in videogames. On every street corner, on every stripper pole, in every trash can, and in every situation where being scantily clad could be a possibility (or not). [...] [W]e have to consider is what a game "chock full of women" actually means and to determine when women in a game are actually a hindrance to the cause rather than a help.
Over at Kill Screen, Jess Joho has penned this analysis of games' perpetuation of social taboos regarding menstruation, in particular BioShock: Infinite. While it's a little cisnormative, the general points are good.
Down to the Nitty-Gritty
Over at The Escapist, Robert Rath has produced another satisfying fine-grained analysis, this time on the physics and technical hurdles that make water such a task in games.
At Eurogamer, Tom Bradwell engages with a woman commenter to discuss how that classic derail to defend marginalization in games -- "it's not historically accurate!" -- is fallacious at best.
Bradwell's article relates directly to recent discussions on Assassin's Creed, so this History Respawned video with Bob Whitaker interviewing Jessica W. Luther concerning race and the slave trade as depicted in Liberation and Freedom Cry is a nice follow piece. While a bit unfocused, it's a good history lesson.
Elsewhere, Seth Brodbeck mulls on board game Eminent Domain and observes that its science-fictionalized imperialism, while theoretically dodging the issue of discussing real history, "is not understandable absent the context of European colonialism, and the use of sci-fi euphemisms threatens to obscure what is really going on."
Lastly, Person of Consequence has effectively compiled a (fairly exhaustive) Critical Compilation of Nier! If we could find their contact info, we'd love to republish this (hint).
Thank you to all our readers who sent in submissions last week! Remember, you can send in your own recommendations (yes, including your own work) by email or by mentioning us on Twitter!
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