This Week I Read – Medlar jelly

Hello there and welcome. This is where I share with you a bunch of articles, comics, games, podcasts – anything about videogames that I read over the past week and think you might also enjoy, with the goal of helping the flow of discourse and spreading the word on these authors and their works.

Quite a few articles this week, mostly about a good cross section of games and theory on the medium. There’s writing about Prison Architect, SUPERHOT, Skyrim, Fire Emblem, Dishonored, FTL and more. Most of it comes from the last week or two, so if you feel I missed out on a really good piece of criticism or if you’d like to help me find articles worth including in the future, you can find me on Twitter @ByronicM.

Links and articles that contain minor spoilers (minor narrative beats or gameplay segments, etc.) will be marked with a *. Those with major spoilers (major plot twists or story beats) will be marked with a **.

Robert Rath wrote for The Escapist* on Dishonored‘s Outsider as a figure of satanic manipulation and deceit.

On Polygon, Chris Dahlen* remarked on the subtle ways games can imprint characters on the player, adding depth to common story archetypes. (Minor spoilers for Earthbound and Jeanne D’Arc.)

Over on Sufficiently Human, Lana Polansky remarked on the Ms. Pac-Man problem of gender derivation regarding various indie titles, since these are developers who we expect to be pushing boundaries and testing waters, not casually following the cultural herd.

Bill coberly wrote for The Ontological Geek on morality design in FTL* and Mass Effect.

While I’m not really a fan of ask.fm as a platform for games crit discourse, Kris Ligman answered something on the future of games criticism that is worth the short time it takes to read.

Also by Kris, this time for Gamasutra, here’s a piece speculating on the market success of Fire Emblem: Awakening as not a result of casual appeal.

Emily Short discussed Gone Home** as a piece of bad interactive fiction for disallowing the player structural agency over uncovering backstory.

Over on her site,  Mary Hamilton wrote a fantastic piece on consent as fundamental to games and how gamification forgoes it.

On Gameranx, I criticised The Castle Doctrine‘s teleology as causal of an immoral, irresponsible narrative, and suggested a few things that could fix it.

Stephen Poole wrote for Edge Online arguing in favour of discussing games even if we haven’t yet played them.

For Kotaku, Paolo Pedercini went over the end-result narrative of Prison Architect‘s systems from his experiences with the alpha to find out whether it treats the subject matter with nuance and due consideration.

Also for Kotaku, Zoe Quinn put together a quick and handy guide for anyone interested in getting into game development.

Kat Bailey admitted on US Gamer* how the imagery of sexual assault in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 succeeded in compelling her to dread the game.

Over at The Indie MEGABOOTH, Christoper Floyd, Rob Manuel, and Patrick Lindsey recorded a podcast about SUPERHOT.

On that matter, I wrote about SUPERHOT as well, as a shooter whose artistry of play comes from its aestheticism.

Though it was first published for PC Gamer in August 2012, I only recently read this very entertaining series of articles chronicling Tom Francis’ experiences as an illusionist in Skyrim.* There are 16 parts in all so it might take you a while but it’s well worth keeping a tab open for.

On Pop Matters, Eric Swain discussed the narrative of the adventure genre under the influence of Telltale’s newly established model.

A little bit of self-promotion now: I’ve set up a Patreon page for myself so now you, dear reader, can volunteer yourself as a patron of my work if you fancy. If you value my writing and would like to support me with your patronage, please pop on over and consider chucking a few bob my way.

Games

Six games for you to try, this week. I’ll keep it short.

Cat Gentlemans Play: Insult Spinner 10 Cents by RobotLovesKitty is a quick two player game of duelling cats. The short bursts of consecutive minigames mixes well with the setting to confuse and delight.

Catlateral Damage by Chris Chung plays out a scenario familiar to all cat parents everywhere. Manoeuvring is very un-catlike but for the simple joy of roleplaying a dickish cat it’s quite endearing.

I’m well behind everyone else on this one but only this week did I play Michael Brough’s 86856527, a game interpreting hacking to be resource management and survival. There’s a lot to say about this one and I’m sure much of it has already been, but I’ll say this: if you get frustrated by the learning curve and quit out, I won’t blame you.

Ernesto – A Quick RPG by Daniel Ben is as it says, and is quite accessible and inviting for it.

Many players seem to have had an emotional experience from TIMEframe by Random Seed Games. I can’t say the same for myself as my first time playing found me snagged on a jut of terrain, effectively shuttering my mind away from it on subsequent plays. Still, I’m sharing it in the hopes that you fare better. It’s pegged as an exploration game with which I take umbrage – it might better be described as a game about feeling as small as an ant and as big as the universe.

Lastly is SUPERHOT, which I mentioned earlier. I’ve written about it at length so I’ll say this and leave the post here: it’s a shooter perhaps unlike any you’ve ever played before.

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