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The Sunday Papers

I don't know yet, but if I had to guess, I'd say that Sundays are for waking up blearily somewhere in Birmingham in a post-Rezzed fugue. Good thing I've already prepared a list of the week's finest (mostly) games writing.

  • Our own Rich Stanton writes in The Guardian in defense of The Castle Doctrine, Jason Rohrer's multiplayer game about home invasion and trap-laying.
  • "When you enter, there are dead dogs all around – some clubbed, some crippled at the bottom of pits. Electricity can only be conducted through wooden walls, one of The Castle Doctrine’s little foibles, and the power supplies throughout the house have been dug out, turning it into a giant concrete maze of burrows and unpowered traps. Charles Davis Clarke’s vault, ever-empty, sits in the middle of a checkerboard of pits, surrounded by the bodies of deceased canines."

  • Phil Hartup writes for the New Statesman about DayZ, and the supposed slope of its players and designers towards performing and supporting acts of vile cruelty. I disagree with a lot of the assumptions being made here about the philosophy of design that underpins simulation games, and the motives being ascribed to either developers or players. It's worth thinking about however:
  • "The risk, of course, is that if you add features like poisoning or maiming into the game, then where is the moral case for not including other acts of brutality? How far of an ethical leap is it from breaking a stranger’s legs and leaving him to be eaten by zombies to eating him yourself? If anything it is something of a surprise that cannibalism wasn’t brought into the game first. You would think horrifying acts in the name of survival would rate higher priority that horrifying acts for fun."

  • More interesting and, I think, truthful, is the original article that inspired the New Statesman piece above, by player and writer Kim Correa. TW: rape.
  • "People sing. When I’m unarmed and have nothing, I take off my pants and run into the middle of cities making whale noises hoping that nobody will shoot me and might think I’m funny. I’ve been kidnapped, taken to church, and forced to read from a Bible. I wiggle at people. I always, always, always say hello to Steve the Floor Zombie. I wave toward Sniper Hill, run straight to school gun spawn in Cherno when I get there, and shed my pants on top of the silo in Solnichniy when I spawn there and am too lazy to run south."

  • Ian Bogost spoke at Critical Proximity, the pre-GDC conference for game critics. In his talk, he explained why games criticism isn't useful or improving games, improving games criticism, or making you feel good. Excellent.
  • "The era of fields and disciplines had ended. The era of critical communities had ended. And the very idea of games criticism risks balkanizing games writing from other writing, severing it from the rivers and fields that would sustain it. Games criticism is subsistence criticism. There’s not enough land to till in games alone. Nor in literature alone, nor in toasters alone. God save us from a future of games critics, gnawing on scraps like the zombies that fester in our objects of study."

  • Brendan's excellent 4700-word Rust diary wasn't enough for you? Why not try the Chris Livingston's multi-part series over at PC Gamer:
  • "Another half-naked man approached. "Frosh Man," he said. "Do you have a bandage?" I said my name was "Frohman," and that I didn't have a bandage (not realizing that new spawns actually have two by default) and he started walking away. A moment later a gunshot rang out nearby and the half-naked man started screaming. "Frosh Man has a gun! Frosh Man tried to shoot me! Oh my God. Oh my God. Frosh Man tried to shoot me!""

  • Ric Chivo gave a talk at this year's Lost Levels unconference called 10 Responsibilities of a Game Developer.
  • Readers suggested I try the blockquote format. What do you think? Is it easier to read, or harder?

Music this week is The Smiths. I don't know why other than their eternal brilliance, but start here.

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