This Week We Read: 19/10/14

this week we read 2

Each week I ask a group of peers, colleagues and strangers to share with you, in their own words, some of the articles they read over the previous seven day. The articles they contribute might be a day old or a year old, they can be highly academic or a nice light read, they can be noteworthy for their originality of perspective or they can be utterly, delightfully derivative – the only criteria for contributors is for their pick to be at least faintly related to videogames.

Our guest contributors this week are Corey Milne, Lana Polansky and John Kilhefner. If you’d like to volunteer as a contributor for next week’s post, you can contact me on twitter @stbeirne. Now, on with the latest This Week We Read.

Corey Milne, Scotland – Freelance Writer; coreymilne.WordPress.com; @Corey_Milne

With Gamergate’s bloated carcass still spoiling my view I thought I’d share this interesting little piece by Maria Popova on how Kierkegaard explained the psychology of bullying long before internet trolls existed.

Alex D. Jones talks about the surreal dreamlike pleasures of driving at night by comparing how both Glitchhikers and Euro Truck Simulator 2 evoke a feeling of “sonder”.

Ed Smith seems to be as enamoured with Alien Isolation as I am. He explores how the innate level of detail given to the world’s portrayal of cold utilitarian technology, makes it seem like a real living space. He’s bang on the money.

Aevee Bee talks about loss, pain and if there was anything you would remove from your being, given the chance?

Finally being a wee bit of a historian, this piece by Peter C. Earle comparing the inflation in Diablo 3 and the Weimar Republic is super stuff. This piece stuck with me a while ago because it actually made economics kind of interesting.

Lana Polansky, Canada – Art critic and designer; SufficientlyHuman.com; @mechapoetic; patreon.com/LanaPolansky

Liz Ryerson published a revised version of her IndieCade talk on her blog, in which she takes cues from Videodrome and The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology to discuss confronting ideology in games with her typically incisive prose.

Austin C. Howe deconstructs certain assertions implied in the dismissal of meta-games like Spec Ops and The Stanley Parable and takes a moment to discuss the importance of intertextuality to games criticism.

Jack King-Spooner identifies the infantilization and irony of games as a post-modern crisis and suggests some philosophical alternatives.

John Kilhefner, USA – Freelance Writer; jkilhefner.contently.com; @jkilhefner 

In the realm of play,  Brendan Keogh played Alien: Isolation and was often struck by its emergence and lack of “gamer-friendly” content.

One of our contributors this week, Lana Polansky, explored interactivity in a medium often viewed as impenetrable– poetry.

Over on Tubmlr, Secret Gamer Girl collects accounts of harrassment, and the results are telling:

“Almost none of these stories are things any of these women are willing to discuss publicly, because they know a sobering truth. The sort of harassment I’m about to get into never goes away, for anyone. It just dies down for a while.”

Stephen Beirne, Ireland – game critic; NormallyRascal.com; @stbeirne; patreon.com/stephenbeirne

This brief article Jennifer Justice wrote on grief and escapism is well worth a couple of your minutes, if only as a reminder that using games as a distraction can be dangerous to our wellbeing and limit our relationship with the world if not practised with care. I suppose a similar sentiment lies in Ian Bogost’s ‘Why Anything But Games Matters‘, a transcript of his recent Indiecade talk, albeit through a different, interpersonal scope: Bogost warns against isolationism in gaming as a cultural and creative space, advocating instead that we pursue interdisciplinary crafts and identities.

On The Psychology of Video Games, Jamie Madigan laid out the psychology behind two aspects of Destiny‘s loot system – one good and one bad.

Justin Keverne looked into the character of Vincent Brooks from Catherine and saw a frightful reflection of his own subconscious sexism, ingrained from 30-odd years’ worth of being fed the cultural idolization of masculinity.

Mattie Brice wrote about instrumentality in contrast to interpretation in terms of how mechanics take representational forms within the confines of a game. Using the examples of playing card, the five of hearts, versus a tarot card, the five of cups, she dissolves the often-touted line between functionality and symbolism to illustrate the limitations many games place upon themselves as an entertainment medium.

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