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This Week In Video Game Criticism: The Apocalyptic Inferno

Our weekly roundup of notable game criticism from around the web, in partnership with Critical Distance, examines discussion of EA's upcoming Dante's Inferno, among other things.
[We're partnering with game criticism site Critical Distance to present some of the week's most inspiring writing about the art and design of video games from commentators worldwide. This week, Ben Abraham examines discussion of EA's upcoming Dante's Inferno and an analysis of apocalyptic settings for games, among other things.] SnakeLinkSonic wrote last week about the connection between Star Wars and Metal Gear. You didn’t see that one coming, did you? You probably also didn’t see Duncan Fyfe returning to video game writing, and with a vengeance, with the writer starting a new series of short stories about games and game culture. High Society is part one, and it’s a must read for anyone interested in the development of serious alternative video game criticism. The Twitter account ‘veracious_shit’ tweets about Sydney based studio “Team Bondi” and the Duke Nukem Forever sound-a-like story of developing the as-yet unreleased LA Noire. Not particularly verifiable information, but fascinating nonetheless. True Story: I once applied for a job at Team Bondi. I guess they missed out, and by the sound of it I dodged a bullet. From Matthew Gallant, who sent this last week, ‘Love does not exist’, a long treatise on… all sorts of things over ten years of gaming. Evan Stubbs writes about ‘Mining your habits for fun and profit’, another piece on digital distribution: 'More than anything else, digital distribution means change. Changes to the way we shop, changes to the way we perceive the goods that we buy, and changes to the way we interact with publishers and distributors.' Steve Gaynor writes an apologia for the entertainment industries (including gaming), and in the comments has a long and rather entertaining discussion with Braid creator Jonathan Blow. Elsewhere, Daniel Bullard-Bates considers “Dante’s Inferno: A Failure on Two Fronts” and fellow blogger C.T. Hutt takes a rundown of our favorite videogame enemies, saying: “As gamers we want to square off against the most dangerous prey, humanity, but also want to believe that our characters are the good guys. As such, violence in action games is usually directed at enemies which walk and talk and fight like people, but for whom we feel little pity when blowing away en masse…” At The Border House, Brinstar asks ‘Do Game Designers Have A Social Obligation?’, starting with a rather strong statement:“We have designed our games to be so inherently fit, muscular, white American, that it’s now an exception and a social point to include people outside our comfort zone.” In other news, GameSetWatch had an interview with Krystian Majewski this week about his amazing independent photo-based adventure game Trauma. Chris Lepine at The Artful Gamer releases an audio interview he did with Thatgamecompany co-founder Jenova Chen at GDC 2009. I haven’t listened yet, but with people as smart as Lepine and Chen I feel safe recommending it. In ‘Zompocalypse Now’, Mike Hanus examines the connection between the western film genre and modern apocalypse films (and by extension, games) suggesting that those like Fallout 3 are a continuation of the western genre. He particularly muses: “I think that the current surge in apocalyptic movies and games is the second coming of the Western genre, and this accounts for this recent popularity. These games and movies share similar characteristics, they establish a frontier, they create a lawless world and they present the player/viewer with main characters who must create their own law and rules in a world gone half crazy.” Additionally, Corvus Elrod discusses a particular fascination with the ease of pouncing on and killing guards in Assassin's Creed 2. While on the subject, Richard Clark has some thoughts about the end of that game (with HUGE spoilers), and some of the things its provocative ending says about the audacity of the developers. Lastly, Create Digital Motion talks about the upcoming GAMMA IV competition in 'Indie Game as Visualist Event: As the Deadline Nears, One Button Inspires'. Since I'm going to be in San Francisco for GDC 2010, I'm definitely going to go to see all these excellent games.

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