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This Week In Video Game Criticism: Machinima And Taking The Shot

This week, our partnership with game criticism site <a href="http://www.critical-distance.com/">Critical Distance</a> brings us picks from Ben Abraham on topics including a world without Square Enix, "taking the shot" machinima, and more.

Ben Abraham, Blogger

May 26, 2011

4 Min Read

[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Ben Abraham on topics including a world without Square Enix, "taking the shot" machinima, and more.] Okay, it’s that time to get this week’s most interesting bits of writing all in the same room without them causing a fight At the very new blog ‘The Game Saver’ the author has a hugely provocative essay this week on games, art, etc. It’s also problematic in a couple of ways, but I’ll leave the interpretation of it up to you, dear readers. For now let’s just say it’s worth reading. Here’s the polemic opening:

"…what I am about to say is tragically controversial: there is an objectively correct way to read books, watch movies, view paintings, and play games. It is the artists themselves who are responsible for this confusion. Right now games schizophrenically tear themselves apart, desiring to be both primarily games and primarily art, though no such thing is possible. This is evident even in the naming of the medium. They are called “games,” but games are meant to be played, not experienced as art."

Let’s turn now to the online blog component of Kill Screen magazine which has been pumping out some excellent writing, in the form of interviews, reviews/criticism, and some interesting regular columns. Tom Armitage has started one of these columns just this very week, called the Game Design of Everyday Things. The first installment is about buttons. One of those review/criticism pieces, and for my money a great example of Procedural Rhetoric (to use Ian Bogost’s phrase) is J. Nicholas Geist’s just-interactive-enough review of the iOS game Infinity Blade (according to one editor: “Josh conceived, wrote, and built the thing”). Don’t forget to push the buttons. At the also excellent Rock Paper Shotgun, Jim Rossignol wants a sequel to Brink. Or rather, he wants the fiction of Brink to turn up in another game as he feels it would be a bit of a waste not to see it explored further. Julian “Rabbit” Murdoch at Gamers with Jobs thinks that he’d always “Take The Shot”, not because he actually wants to, but because he’s learned to always take the shot:

But what if he puts his hands up? Or runs? Do I risk trying to tackle the man, cuff him and get him to the copter? I think I still take the shot.

Award-winning director Peter Greenaway is interviewed by the blog for ‘The University of Western Australia in Second Life’ about Machinima, and explains his intriguing views on the subject. Jaime Griesemer at the Tip of the Sphere blog looks at what a ‘role’ is and borrows from Plato to help define it. At Kotaku, Tim Rogers writes about ‘A Planet Without Square Enix’, with the thesis that, essentially, Square Enix have only themselves to blame if they’re in financial troubles, because they’ve cultivated their fan base in a very particular way. He illustrates the phenomena with an anecdote of from a Final Fantasy launch event in Japan:

…a man had a brand new video game in his hands, still shrink-wrapped and in a double-taped plastic bag, and he already didn’t care about it anymore. He was already thinking about something else — about The Next Big Thing, which was more or less The Thing That Hooked Him All Those Years Ago, Only Shinier. This is the type of human being corporations like Square-Enix are manufacturing.

For the Border House blog this week, blogger Mirai looks at the exponential curve of outrageousness in the body shapes of the women of Mortal Kombat since the early nineties. Gus Mastrapa is a clever guy. This week in his ‘pretension +1’ column for Joystick Division he writes about video games as evil/murder/unethical simulators. The piece is titled, ‘In Video Games Nothing Is True, Everything Permitted.’ A short one this week, but if that’s not enough our very own Kris Ligman is a tireless collector of even more links during the week, mostly game related, and the aforementioned Rock Paper Shotgun has the lovely Sunday Papers every week to keep you up-to-date with the latest too.

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