This Week In Video Game Criticism: The Mass Bayonetta Doctrine

Partnering with game criticism site Critical Distance, we round up the week's inspiring video game writing, from discussions of Bayonetta through Mass Effect to the 'Kotick Doctrine'.
[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 diverse topics from Bayonetta through Mass Effect to the 'Kotick Doctrine'.] There’s a bit of a meme going around the game blogosphere at the moment, and Denis Farr hops on the wagon with his post about his Shepherd in Mass Effect. The point is to “make sure people don’t forget that not everyone plays a default white male”. Kate Simpson has long been known as the best blogger without a blog. However she’s got one now, and its initial offering is a fantastically well realised conversation about her “Commander A. Shepherd”, another offering in the Mass Effect ‘my Shepherd’ meme. Lyndon Warren does not understand why people dislike Game of the Year awards and picking a “best” game out of the year’s crop. I added my own rationale for avoiding referring to a game as the ‘best’ in the comments, which are full of interesting points on both sides. Michael Abbott writes about Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, calling it ‘the wrong game’. This week, Abbott also started a new monthly column for Game Set Watch called “Abbott’s Habit” whose initial entry contrasted the imagined landscape of Demon’s Souls with the architecture very grounded in reality present in Assassin’s Creed 2. Scott Juster calls the film Avatar a “colonial wet dream” and says Uncharted 2 is “the most dangerous game in recent memory”. Here’s why: "Uncharted 2 is a post-Quentin Tarantino response to Indiana Jones: Drake is a hero who indulges in both witty repartee and self-aware meta-comments; he is a struggling everyman and a sociopathic killer; he walks the line between affable bumbler and ruthless professional. The game features lush-looking environments and textured characters, but does so by enforcing the rigidity of film onto a medium based on malleability." Elsewhere, C.T. Hutt writes about controllers and how their development has influenced “The way we play", noting poignantly: "They are creating systems that will allow us to control digital worlds with our very bodies and minds." Eric Swain has been reading up on Bayonetta & sexuality, sending in this series of links containing various responses to the game. Tiffchow writes about “Sexuality as decoration vs. celebration” which is in turn responding to Leigh Alexander’s initial post about the game, “If you run out of ammo you can have mine.” William Huber also questions Alexander’s article, labelling it “the perpetuation of a misguided notion.” In related news, Iroquois Pliskin responds to Gus Mastrapa’s review of the game for Wired. Pliskin dissents from Mastrapa et al.’s view that paints Bayonetta as a dangerous employer of sexist imagery, saying "…the real perniciousness of sexualized images of women, to me, resides in the way that they warp our images of womanhood. The evil begins when a girl sees that image and says, that is what I am supposed to look like. I cannot imagine how anyone, even someone in the grasp of the body self-hatred industrial complex, could take these representations seriously. The faux verisimilitude of your standard issue of Cosmopolitan is far more harmful per capita than this ludicrous game." Our final entry in the Bayonetta discussion is Chris Dahlen's Edge Online column that talks about the imagery in the game while taking a look over the critical reception it has received. Don’t miss the comments thread on this one, either. Gamecritics’s Chi Kong Lui writes about ‘The fallacy of universal authorship in games’, inspired by a number of other authors' comments -- primarily centred on the interactivity in Uncharted 2. In other links, Michael Clarkson takes some time out of this week to talk about some of the immersion breaking moments he experienced in Assassin's Creed II. Richard Clark looks at “Five video game moments that give me hope for the medium”, including two unexpected moments from the games Lucidity and Spider. I don’t believe that we’ve linked to this before, but Dan Golding’s started a new project called ‘Gaming Watch’. Australian readers will be no doubt familiar with ‘Media Watch’ on ABC TV, and Golding’s aping of the format takes away nothing from his pointed observations into video game demonization and misrepresentation in the media. Definitely one to watch going forwards. Let us ponder together the mysteries of the week in video game blogging, but first something I missed reading last week. And it’s Ian Bogost writing about the potential for fruitful exploration of classic consoles and expired platforms by developing new titles for them via, for example, the Virtual Console and XBLA’s Game Room. Bogost says: “I find myself once again hoping that Microsoft might open this channel to sell new games made for old systems.” Next a quick mention of Sun B Kim’s “Design Play Blog”, which is looking for help in translating English videogame design blogs into Korean. Kim has previously translated Critical Distance’s critical compilation on Grand Theft Auto IV, as well as a number of other articles from other authors, so it’d be great if any of our readers could lend a hand. And lastly for the weeks worth of writing, Sean Sands' editorial at Gamers With Jobs is notable for coining the phrase the “Kotick Doctrine”. That’s a keeper, that is. The piece also contains an excellent discussion of sustainability in game development and publishing.

Latest Jobs


Hybrid, Cambridge, MA or Chicago, IL
Quality Assurance Lead

Bladework games

Remote (United States)
Senior Gameplay Engineer

High Fidelity, Inc.

Game Interaction Designer

Fred Rogers Productions

Hybrid (424 South 27th Street, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Producer - Games & Websites
More Jobs   


Explore the
Advertise with
Follow us

Game Developer Job Board

Game Developer


Explore the

Game Developer Job Board

Browse open positions across the game industry or recruit new talent for your studio

Advertise with

Game Developer

Engage game professionals and drive sales using an array of Game Developer media solutions to meet your objectives.

Learn More
Follow us


Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more