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This week in Video Game Criticism: From video game pacifists to Darwinian difficulty

This week in Video Game Criticism: From video game pacifists to Darwinian difficulty

March 20, 2012 | By Ben Abraham

March 20, 2012 | By Ben Abraham
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More: Console/PC, Design

[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Ben Abraham on topics including the idealistic world of video game pacifists, Darwinian difficulty in Metal Gear Solid, and more.]

Guess who's back! Back again. That's right, Ben is back and in charge of this week's entry in the never-ending story that is This Week In Video Game Criticism. Okay so, here's the skinny. My week was eaten up first by jet-lag, then by the GDC flu, and then by a gig and a birthday party, so this week's entry is, shall we say, 'TWIVGC lite'.

At the GameChurch blog, Drew Dixon talks about the 'idealistic world of videogame pacifists' and ends up discussing those who play games in strange, alternative ways.

Speaking of weird alternative ways to play, Sean Sands at Gamers With Jobs dares to ask the question of players, "Could you be playing it wrong?" and it's not necessarily such a bad thing to ask.

At the 'Empty Wallet Gamer' tumblr, Shawn Trautman ruminates on 'The future of DLC', having never actually bought any himself. His point is tied in with game preservation efforts, and discusses how, having just bought 2004's number one shooter Halo 2, it made him wonder what will happen when DLC becomes unsupported.

At the consistently excellent Play The Past blog, Rebecca Mir talks 'Guns, Germs and Horses', looking at Civilization: Colonization and "how cultural influence and exchange is (and isn't) represented in the game."

Our newest addition to the stable, Johnny Kilhefner wrote this week for Nightmare Mode about something he calls 'Darwinian Difficulty in Metal Gear Solid 3'. It's a theory about the relationship between the player and the character, one based on torture and difficulty, and well worth reading.

Also one of our own, Eric Swain at The Game Critique has been writing a ton about genre this week. The introduction to his series is here, and he really needs to make an index page for them all, or something.

Chris Lepine of The Artful Gamer wrote a little piece this week, provoked by the Independent Games Festival that ran throughout GDC. It's called 'The Indie Ethics Problem':
"Fez precipitated a major ethical crisis at the GDC this year, when Phil Fish entered his game for a second time into the same competition purely out of self-interest (Note: I am not singling out Phil Fish; he seems like a decent enough guy, I'm just using this as a recent example). His appearance in Indie Game: The Movie similarly reveals the indie games' industry's sad history of shameless self-promotion, endless navel gazing and cult-of-the-celebritization."
Tom Francis (who I had the pleasure and good fortune of meeting at GDC) reproduces his short talk from the Independent Games Summit on 'How To Explain Your Game To An Asshole', and there's good stuff in there for writers, players, critics and anyone who wants to explain games to people:
"This isn't really about indie versus mainstream, or arthouse versus commercial. It's just about communicating efficiently enough that everyone who would like your game ends up playing it. I think it's a shame when that doesn't happen."
The penultimate piece, and certainly the most creative this week, is this beautiful pictorial review of Journey by's Tim Colwill. Indescribable.

And lastly for the week (I did say it was TWIVGC lite!) is from Dan Golding's incredible Game On blog, which has lately been churning out fascinating and insightful pieces. This week Golding scoured the Australian Parliament Hansard Record to tease out what Aussie politicians think and say about games. But it's not what you think – it's actually quite surprising.

And that's a wrap! I'm off to go and enjoy the rapidly diminishing remains of my weekend as much as I can while trying to avoid the harsh rays of a cruel sun.

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