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This Week In Video Game Criticism: Socrates, Cyborgs, And Game Worlds

This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Ben Abraham, including gaming cyborgs, examples from Socrates, and lessons from Populous.

Ben Abraham, Blogger

September 30, 2010

4 Min Read

[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Ben Abraham, including gaming cyborgs, examples from Socrates, and lessons from Populous.] Time to wade through the latest This Week in Video Game Criticism, now in rapidfire-mode since there’s so much to get through. Firstly, Fraser Allison at Red Kings Dream writes about ‘A grammar of games’. Next, Tom Francis writing for PC Gamer informs us of some Spade related violence in Fallout 3’s Point Lookout DLC. That’s two weeks in a row someone’s mentioned Point Lookout. Elsewhere, Francis has been reflecting upon what his efforts with programming his Gunpoint AI game have taught him: "It’s easy to code what you want. But you don’t really know what you want until you’ve tried to explain it to a very, very stupid person. That was Socrates’ thing, in fact: he acted like an idiot to make people explain themselves to him on the most basic level, which usually revealed they didn’t truly understand their own beliefs." Jim Rossignol, writing for his own blog about games, presents us with a ‘Prosthetic Imagination’ – attach game to brain for some cyborg imagination: "Videogames are the reason I could be considered a cyborg. Not in the sense that I have had parts of my physical body taken over by electronic or mechanical systems, but in the sense that I often have had my imagination taken over by electronic and mechanical systems." Elsewhere, Roger Travis breaks down Halo: Reach for readers of his Living Epic blog, and explains the argument Reach presented to him through play. At Pop Matters, LB Jeffries takes on the world building subject in ‘Filling in the Details in Video Games’ and Andy Johnson writes about ‘Tribal Spirituality in ‘Populous: The Beginning’. Chris Dahlen has concluded his series on world building on his Save the Robot blog, with a look at ‘The World to End All Worlds’: "World War II is a world, but it’s not strictly a “fictional” world. And yet it sets the stage for millions of works of fiction. All its complexities have been boiled down to a narrative as linear as the one in Avatar: The Last Airbender. All of these made-up worlds aspire to the same complexity, the same drama and the same importance as this single, several-year conflict." Steve Gaynor closed his consistently excellent Fullbright workblog this week, going out with a bit of reflection on the success of the Minerva’s Den DLC for Bioshock 2 that he headed up. In addition, Nels Anderson also spent some time reflecting on a game he worked on, in ‘Deathspank: Reflections of Justice’. N’Gai Croal’s Edge Online column asks ‘Do You Speak Game?’, and reminds us of the value of the outsider’s perspective. And David Carlton at the Malvasia Bianca blog asks why Cow Clicker users are more likely to post game messages than other Facebook gamers, and concludes that it may be because those of us who play cow clicker for the puns are “weirdos”. Guilty as charged. Michael Clarkson at Discount Thoughts writes at length about Mafia II and the absence of the sense of power he feels should be driving a mob story like this. And the Game Overthinker posts Episode 40: ‘Heavens to Metroid’. Denis Farr, writing for The Border House blog, wrote a piece called “Metroid: Othering Samus”, and in a rather unrelated but still neat post, Kirk Hamilton goes to PAX for Paste Magazine. In another notable post, Luke Rhodes of the Mad Architect blog is considering ‘Videogames and the doors of perception’, which talks about Aldous Huxley’s ‘the doors of perception’ and some of the writing of Tom Bissell on games. At No Added Sugar, James Dilks writes about the widely praised end to Rockstar San Diego's Red Dead Redemption in ‘Red Dead Redemption and the strange case of the game with the satisfying conclusion’. The last word for the week can go to Sara Corbett of the New York Times in a piece called ‘Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom’: "And as the clock wound down and the students hollered and the steam radiator in the corner let out another long hiss, Doyle’s little blue self rounded a final corner, waited out a passing robot and charged into the goal at the end of the maze with less than two seconds to spare. This caused a microriot in the classroom... Had they learned anything? It depended, really, on how you wanted to think about teaching and learning."

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