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This Week In Video Game Criticism: The Final Motion Video Fantasy

In this week's roundup of inspiring writing on the art and design of video games, Ben Abraham looks at FFXIII, mysteries of the PokeWalker, and what Tron's MCP thought of E3.
[Gamasutra is 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 looks at Final Fantasy XIII, the mysteries of the PokeWalker, and what Tron's MCP thought of E3.] A short post this week, as whimsy seems to have smothered the blogosphere like a blanket. I’d blame the giant come-down period that is post-E3, if I had to guess. Nonetheless, starting out, Michael Abbott at The Brainy Gamer argues that Final Fantasy XIII is “a game that unfolds its narrative, not merely to extend gameplay, but to explore its themes and characters”. On the same topic, Gerard Delaney writes at The Binary Swan about the ‘Personal Fantasy’ that the game demonstrates: “The Final Fantasy series is nothing if it is not a journey. The places you go on that journey are the story arcs and moments of character development whilst the landmarks are FMV cutscenes and orchestral scores but the vehicle is always the gameplay.” Elsewhere, Zoran Iovanovici at GameSetWatch tells us this week ‘What Metal Gear Solid 2 Teaches Us About The Information Age’, commenting: "In an era defined by the rapid transmission of information; the game addresses the impact that control of these advancements can have in an information age where societies are increasingly reliant on digital storage and communication." In an interesting post, Jorge Albor at the Experience Points blog looks at using motion control in public, and makes some observations about what is added by removing traditional control interfaces. Mitch Krpata looks at a series of obfuscations and abstractions in a local penny arcade, one which turns money into credits and credits into tickets: “What does 270 tickets buy you at Dave and Buster's? A little can of Tootsie Rolls and a thing of Pop Rocks. If you've been following along at home, that means we bought about fifty cents' worth of penny candy with our $40 of game cards.” Of course, he gets to play games too, but still. There are insights here applicable to the online stores of so many platform holders. LB Jeffries writes for Pop Matters about how much like a video game the film Groundhog Day is. For some reason, I feel like I’ve already linked to this one before... Laura Michet at Second Person Shooter writes, “my new PokeWalker is a sorrowful, sorrowful thing. I can hardly use it. It feels false and deadening.” Why? Read the full story about her experience with the original Pikachu Tamagotchi toy to understand why. Ian Cheong wrote about ‘The Great Disappointment of Hellgate: London’ this week for the somewhat newly re-minted Hellmode blog. Cheong notes, quite descriptively, that “Hellgate: London was the Hindenburg of video games. It had majestic ambitions and equally great things were expected of it”. Eric Heimburg at the Elder Game blog wrote about situational awareness in a post titled ‘Deathtrap Design and the Invisible Gorilla’. Taking the jumping off point of a popular study that found intense concentration could cause participants to completely miss seeing things as outrageously noticeable as a person in a gorilla suit walking through the middle of a video. Highly recommended reading. And to round out the week a pair of wry posts, the first from Alec Meer at Rock Paper Shotgun with the abridged version of Deus Ex, the second via Kirk Hamilton of GameMelodico with a visual extract from the movie Tron, and what the Master Control Program thought about E3.

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