[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 looks at Heavy Rain, video game auteurs, and a swifter than normal Passage.]
First up this week, Michael Clarkson makes a case for the open-world Santa Destroy as a valuable and necessary part
of the original No More Heroes
, and it’s omission from the sequel is all the more regrettable.
Zeke Virant is a new blogger who wrote in to let us know about a piece on "Expanding Sound in Video Game Narratives
" which sounds a lot like the sort of thing I was into with my undergrad thesis
Elsewhere, Justin Keverne writes about Mass Effect 2
this week in "Living With Your Mistakes
"; Radek Koncewicz also writes about the game, describing it as "A few steps forward and a few steps back
In a longer-form piece, Kotaku goes in search of the Videogame Auteurs
-- a set of people whose existence is apparently still hotly debated.
Brendan Keogh, a Brisbane-based blogger writes about the old whipping-horse that is the ludology/narratology debate (or stalemate, as Keogh describes it). He suggests, "don't ask what narrative can do for games, but what games can do for narrative.
In a new piece on his Psychology Of Games blog, Jamie Madigan takes inspiration from Penny Arcade and asks, "Why do we love genres so much?
," musing: "Why are we so obsessed with cramming games into genres and slapping labels on them? Most game reviews will remark on what genre a game fits in if not declare it outright, and if a game refuses to fit properly they’ll create a new genre just for it."
Joana Caldas, writing for The Border House on Local vs Online multiplayer
, has some of the best use of captioning I’ve ever seen - lots of sarcastic fun.
I’m sure by now many have heard about or watched the DICE talk given by Jesse Schell but David Sirlin had a response, wondering whether external rewards are as unanimously positive
as Schell proposes. Following on from both, Dan Lawrence thinks a bit about the psychology of game design, inspired by both Schell and Sirlin's comments, in a post titled "behaviourist game design
UK-based doctoral researcher Mitu Khandaker also has something to add to the commentary/responses to Schell’s talk, extrapolating some of the previous ideas into a series of possible futures for games
. Lastly for this particular discussion, Jesper Juul has some thoughts on Schell's talk
with some excellent concrete examples that problematise a future where every action is tied to some kind of external reward. Juul notes: "A famous 1973 experiment ("Undermining children’s intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward") showed that when nursery school children consistently received external rewards for drawing, they lost interest in drawing and started drawing less."
Also from the recent DICE conference is this piece by Brandon Sheffield covering a panel on racial diversity in games
, a talk that will also be given in amended form at GDC in a few days. It’s a talk that I plan to attend.
UK newspaper The Independent has a take on Heavy Rain
, comparing it to previous similar efforts
in games, such as Facade
, and Anthony Burch at Destructoid suggests that, in Heavy Rain's case at least, Ebert was right
This week Chris Dahlen made explicit the connections that Leigh Alexander has made previously
, namely that games are perhaps more like music than they are like film
In another neat piece, Kirk Hamilton wrote about open world games in "When the world changes
": "When it comes down to it, I guess it's pretty simple: I love it when a great game begins, and I hate it when it ends. So, I want to feel like I'm in the middle for as long as possible."
Coleen Hannon at Gamers With Jobs writes of being ‘Thumbless in Seattle
’, which unfortunately involves less Tom Hanks and more disabling injuries.
Lastly, here’s a cool thing and some creative criticism for you – it’s totally possible to use more than just essays to critique games. As "Passage in 10 seconds
" shows, you can even use other games.