[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us a fresh new roundup of links from Ian Miles Cheong, featuring some of the most interesting articles about video games and their portrayal of the real world, the historical evolution of the medium, and how empowerment changes our perspective on the world.]
First up, Annie Wright of GamerMelodico writes about how she felt marginalized by Kim Pine’s ending
in the Scott Pilgrim
game, where the writers clearly did not know what to do with her character as they turned Kim into a lesbian.
The article discusses the stereotypes engendered in characters throughout popular fiction and how the treatment of anyone who doesn’t behave like a lead character in reality is relegated to the role of “other”:
“Honestly, whether or not Kim Pine, Velma or Peppermint Patty are lesbians in reality is not even relevant, because they are not real people. However, they are characters written by real people. The more we come to associate certain personality traits with specific gender identities portrayed on television, in games and other media, the more likely we are to make those assumptions about people in real life, which is simply not how real life is.”
Michael Clarkson of the Discount Thoughts blog writes about the importance of the player as a creative force in cinematic action games
, which often place little to no emphasis on what the player is doing in order to tell a pre-written story. It is a well written rebuttal to Roger Ebert’s assertion that games can be art only to the extent that they disregard the player’s input.
Joe Tortuga looks into video game interfaces and Fable 3’s lack of menus
on his blog at Cult of the Turtle. It’s an interesting look at how an interface can either impair or empower one’s sense of immersion, and how Lionhead’s push for a lack of menus may have driven the simplicity of its latest title.
Elsewhere, Rob Zacny writes about the powerlessness he felt throughout the first half of BioShock 2
and how his experience in Siren Alley changed his perceptions through empowerment
, allowing him to see the narrative through a different lens.
Cruise Elroy steps into the wayback machine and takes a closer look
(sans rose-tinted glasses) at the decade old Super Mario 64
, examining its influences on modern games. And Groping the Elephant’s Justin Keverne returns with another excellent entry
of Groping the Map, featuring the second part of his in-depth investigation of the “Life of the Party” mission in Thief II
Over at Boing Boing, Tom Chatfield takes a serious look at the upcoming World of Warcraft
, and how it is poised to change the face of MMO gaming
. He talks about the changes it brings not just to the game, but to the genre as a whole:
“Cataclysm also makes me think that pretty much everyone else creating similar games to World of Warcraft ought to be terrified. Because if it’s possible to keep on reinventing a game this well, how can anybody else hope to tempt you away from a place so layered with experiences and memories, and so relentless in re-calibrating itself on the basis of its users’ behavior?”
On Current Intelligence, Greg J. Smith writes about what controversies over games like Six Days in Fallujah
, Modern Warfare 2
and Medal of Honor tell us about the nature of ethics and realism in the gaming industry
and how the events that play out in games shouldn’t be confused with actual conflict.
Spectacle Rock’s Joel Haddock examines what it’s like to be locked out of a turn-based game and how the worst thing that can happen to you is to be denied your turn
. I for one remember the annoyance I experienced whenever my soldiers had their minds controlled by Ethereals in X-COM
On his blog FlickeringColours, Adam Ruch attempts to extract meaning from Far Cry 2
, from its mechanics and and the narrative and aesthetic information it provides. The premise of his argument is that its designer was more concerned with creating an experiential game rather than creating a dramatic arc through its narrative.
Jorge Albor writes about players who are attempting to recreate the world of Middle Earth
on their Minecraft
server, carving out a fictional history with pixellated bricks.
Bitmob features a trio of new posts this week. First up, Greg Kasavin examines the narrative design of Limbo
. Although he ultimately enjoyed it, he failed to find meaning in the game’s story. Kasavin asserts, “Limbo
is a game about what it feels like to take a wrong turn.”
Also on Bitmob, Layton Shumway investigates the consequences of friendly fire
in games, or the lack thereof. Citing his most recent experience with Medal of Honor
, he writes: “Maybe it’s just an issue of AI. Maybe better-programmed allies wouldn’t jump in front of my gun, and this wouldn’t be a problem. But it’s still hard for any campaign to carry any weight when you feel like your actions have no real repercussions.”
And finally, Jon Porter writes about how the trend of genre splitting in games like Mass Effect threatens the value of overspecialization
, asking if the industry’s desire to create hybrid titles is holding back the various genres from achieving their true potential.
To round up this week’s entry is a review of Minecraft
by Objective Ministries which presents Minecraft as a Christian game aimed at secular gamers
. It’s a very amusing, if not “enlightening” read.