Category Archives: 2011.11

Critical Distance and the Future of Dire Critic

So, by now many of you have heard that I have occupied taken over for Ben Abraham as the lead editor of This Week in Video Game Blogging (TWIVGB, a regularly linked feature here on Dire Critic and a publication I first joined back in April of this year). I would like to take a moment to thank Ben again for this wonderful opportunity and to reassure Critical Distance readers that I’m both committed to maintaining the high standard Ben set and that I will not allow all this newfound fame and glory to go to my he–

*ahem*

Anyway, as I indicated on Twitter and also hinted at this week in the Roundups of Unusual Size, given the considerable overlap between ROUS and TWIVGB, to keep doing both would make one or both redundant. You may have noticed I started this week by withholding a lot of the great articles we’ve come to consider “TWIVGB material”, the better to keep Sunday a special day. The other side of this is that effective immediately, the Roundups of Unusual Size will be discontinued.

I started doing a daily linklist back in 2009 in part to keep my brain active while unemployed and between academic programs, but largely to close the growing number of unread tabs in my browser. As it developed I started including more content I thought readers (mostly my close friends at that point) would be interested in, and from there, to creating more thorough link compilations, especially for the underreported, more academically rigorous discourse I was just beginning to discover existed. To date it’s netted me three job offers and a marriage proposal, which is a testament to the power of trackbacks above all else, and I’ve never regretted making the commitment to it, even if the amount of work sometimes made me grumpy.

TWIVGB is definitely the Champion digivolution of what I have always wanted ROUS to be so it makes sense to continue on with it. Thank you all so much for reading my little irregularly-sized linklists and I hope you’ll tune in to Critical Distance on Sundays for the more involved, curatorial approach the great writers to whom I link deserve.

Roundup of Unusual Size: Sarah Connor could still take Ezio in a fight.

I swear I had this ready to go earlier. I got distracted. Um. Mining diamonds.

My Survey of Interactive professor basically did the worst thing in the world, assigning Minecraft for a term project.

Videogames

Ahh, privilege. It’s being able to design pre-order items only usable for one type of player and not realize what the hell is wrong with that until the game’s already shipped.

Animation

Yep. Really want Pixar’s Brave right about now.

Television

Attorney General requests another season of The Wire. Creator’s response? “End the war on drugs, then we’ll talk.”

#Occupy

Los Angeles agencies did a good job of hiding today’s massive Occupy All The Streets protest from local view. How about in your city? I hear Brooklyn got a light show.

And following the police raid on Zuccoti Park, the Occupiers of Wall Street get back to rebuilding their trashed library.

Christopher Nolan finally cops to just how grossly inappropriate filming his giganto-budget Batman movie at the protest lines would have been.

What are we calling OWS videos set to music? OWSMVs?

Lastly, my favorite for the night, as a big fan of tools being put in the hands of the right users: #OccupyMaps.

We saw smaller-scale applications of this kind of thing with the anti-kettling apps for the student protests in London, but this, this? This is what Web 2.0 was meant for.

Roundup of Unusual Size: Occupy Joel Johnson– actually, on second thought, let’s not.

*yawns*

*stretches*

Oh, hello, internet. Sorry for no post yesterday. Did I mention I hate how long my Tuesdays are? I hate how long my Tuesdays are.

Videogames

I’m just not linking to Joel Johnson’s Kotaku post. I’m not. I will, however, link to two excellent responses to it–by Mattie Brice and Richard Goodness respectively.

Michael Hahn on why perfect review scores are misleading.

Robert Boyd conducts an informal survey on how to fix the J-RPG.

Some days (well, most days) I feel like Peter Molydeux is a better game designer than the man he’s parodying.

I’m starting to think all anyone has to do to get featured in these roundups is have a headline with “Dragon”, “Age” and “II” in it. That said, Alexander Gereats has a good piece up on Joystick Division about why the game is worthwhile.

Animation

I love Tangled. So really, I am going to give this my unquestioning adoration.

Reading/Writing

SF author Pat Cadigan muses on why science fiction writers love “meeting the other”.

Fandom

This Chrono Trigger mashup is just bursting with time-travelers.

SCIENCE!

The Large Hadron Collider shugs along looking for the Higgs boson, but till then we have some deets on why antimatter is so uncommon.

Neutrinos are jerks.

Curios

May it never be said the United States has a monopoly on youth-punishing bureaucratic schmuckiness.

Teen sex is down, way down! I for one blame Glee.

Or maybe they’re just swooning over porn actor James Deen instead.

You, sir, are a scumbag.

#Occupy

As much as I’m proud of our dear Occupiers at Berkeley, I’m worried as well, for my bro and his wife who study and live there. I have no idea if they participated in the student strike but I’m grateful they weren’t involved in the recent shooting.

Cops aren’t looking too glamorous lately, but I think the winner goes to the cop who pepper-sprayed a senior citizen.

But sharing is caring, so let’s share the blame! The Associated Press (not that I hold out much love for them to begin with) have chastised a reporter for reporting the news too quickly.

In marginally more positive news, Seattle has made a gesture of support for the protests.

Roundup of Unusual Size: Sci-fi queens and jerkface squadmates

We’re doing things a little differently starting this week at ROUS, the full meaning of which will hopefully become clear within a few days. Bear with me!

Videogames

Ben cops to his latest gaming addiction in this week’s Thwigavib. Hey, at least he’s honest.

Luis Levy attempts to trace the origins of the $60 game.

What’s a supergenre? Eric Swain knows.

My contention with Charlie Brooker’s already-much-celebrated critique of Modern Warfare 3 and the FPS genre is that it has a good argument and a bad argument. On the one hand, he criticizes the “dickitude” of the genre’s typical writing. On the other, he tries to argue the game is flaming gay. I’ll let you guess which of these arguments I had a problem with.

Janet Murray –yes, that Janet Murray– has a blog, and she writes stuff on it! Here are a few musings on gaming’s use of the second person.

GameSetWatch has a cute piece up on some amusing bugs in Skyrim.

Kate Cox writes about how RPGs have changed–and how her playing tastes have developed alongside them.

Television

RuPaul’s Drag Race is teasing its fourth season currently, and is anyone else amused that so far we’ve been treated to zombies and some excellent sci-fi camp? There’s an essay in there about drag bodies and genre cinema, I’m pretty sure.

SCIENCE!

Them’s some freaky clouds.

There are embryonic stem cells in breast milk. WHAT NOW, RELIGIOUS RIGHT?

Curios

For Lady Ganesh: Barbara Walters interviewing the Ninja Turtles.

Extinct sounds don’t really excite my compassion the same way as extinct animals.

Quit saying the country’s broke.

#Occupy

Cory Doctorow on the “credulous, dangerous dolts” heading up the raid on Chapel Hill occupiers.

Of course, police are showing great waves of sensitivity and crowd control everywhere. Like the Berkeley cop that cracked a kid’s rib and said he had “no rights.” Or the San Diego cops choking a defenseless protester.

In fact, here, just read this whole thing by Aaron Bady.

And I couldn’t do this video better justice than what the original submitter on Boing Boing provides, so I’ll just use her opener: “Even as the Occupy protesters are being swept out of their campsites, Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes is exposing the very greed and corruption they are protesting The 60 Minutes team did a great segment tonight on insider trading on the stock market.”

Roundup of Unusual Size: My Little Big Lebowski

I have the best fandom ever, guys. Admit it.

Videogames

Somedays I wish I could do these roundups in the form of Venn diagrams, as this one spills over into other hobbyist communities and ‘net forums dominated by men: xoJane tackles Internet Male Syndrome among jerkface gamers.

Curios

Don’t worry, guys! The gay penguins are getting back together.

Today in masculinity studies: men who “show skin” are perceived as less intelligent.

And a couple from my Instapaper backlog: the invisibility of bisexuality in both straight and queer society and what the PSU riots say about the WTFness of collegiate sports.

#Occupy

The mayor of Salt Lake City has ordered the Occupiers there to disperse after one camper dies an accidental death in his tent.

Roundup of Unusual Size: Would you kindly recall those DVDs?

Everyone has changed their Steam password by now, correct?

Videogames

The source article is behind a login wall, but you can still read Kotaku’s write-up on some interesting Steam sales figures.

Eric Schwarz critiques Skyrim‘s PC interface.

Via Kill Screen: A Transmedia Manifest.

Film

Atlus Shrugged DVDs recalled after anti-Objectivist blurb is discovered on the back.

Curios

John Scalzi suggests that we can look to Ursula le Guin’s parable of Omelas to better understand what is happening at Penn State.

Moment of Zen

Bryan Blake lists off a series of safe, “Christian” euphemisms for ladybits.

Roundup of Unusual Size: Occupy L.B. Jeffries

(Need... art... source!)

Happy birthday Carl Saga– oh. I guess that’s over with. What a shame.

Videogames

Darius Kazemi reviews the Pirate Kart, and in the process asks “what is an outsider game?”

Hey, so you know that L.B. Jeffries has de-pseudonymed, and is back with more material? Here he is with his latest, about games, advertising, communication and meaning.

I can never resist a good article on why Second Life failed.

Film

First Snow White and the Huntsman trailer seems to deemphasize Snow White’s utter Full Plate Badassery, but I will forgive. For now.

Sony thinks Roland Emmerich is screwing up Singularity. Solution: call in Raymond Kurzweil. I am loving this inevitable trainwreck.

Fandom

Getting your wedding narrated by Rucks from Bastion? That’s worth getting married for!

SCIENCE!

Where did our evolutionary imperative to socialize come from? io9 offers a theory.

Curios

James Murdoch dubbed “the first Mafia boss in history who didn’t know he was running a criminal enterprise” by MP Tom Watson.

Everyday hero of the day: lady uses Craigslist to steal her stolen bike back.

#Occupy

Shots fired at Occupy Oakland result in Occupy’s first fatality. Here’s an eyewitness account.

Also, while the police are busy beating unarmed protesters at UC Berkeley, it’s apparently socially acceptable to riot in support of a serial child rapist.

Douglas Rushkoff: “The more familiar something looks, the less threatening it seems. This is why images of funny-looking college students marching up Broadway or shirtless boys banging on drums comprise the bulk of the imagery we see of the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

Lastly and most importantly:

Remember, remember, the 11th of November.

Roundup of Unusual Size: Better to set Facebook on fire than to curse the darkness.

(Art credit: spoonbard.)

Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan

I know I already put up a birthday post to Carl Sagan, but I was hardly the only one! Phil Plait has his own tribute up, and the Symphony of Science have released a new track in the late, great astronomer’s honor.

O Academia

Go here, listen to Ben Abraham’s sexy Aussie voice. You’re welcome.

Videogames

Altug Isigan mulls on the unwinnable game.

And Brandon Sheffield shortlists twenty game industry game-changers.

Curios

Social networks? Try sociopathic international creep machine.

If I trusted anyone to direct a convincing anti-drug PSA, it’d be Darren Aronofsky.

#Occupy

KCRW have produced a great radio documentary about the movement.

Roundup of Unusual Size: This is not the day to ask Ralph Baer if he plays Modern Warfare.

Videogames

It’s time for another Border House podcast! Yay!

And this was originally published to Kotaku, but I’m linking the Jezebel post because the comments are slightly less likely to make me murderous: a collection of awful things said to women gamers.

Ralph Baer, one of videogaming’s many ostensible fathers, looks down on your violent game habits.

Tyler York says that for “social game” we should read “slot machine.”

Choosy game devs choose Baldur’s Gate.

Curios

Zoo cruelly separates gay penguin couple. Okay, so they’re endangered and the zoo wants them to breed with females, but it’s still tragic.

#Occupy

Those OWSers. They may or may not have God (or as I prefer to say, ~the cosmos~) on their side, but they do have Ben from Ben & Jerry’s serving them free ice cream.

Quinn Norton has your Anonymous 101 course ready.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco…

Nightmare Fuel

Because I love you, Ben: how to shrink a human head.

Roundup of Unusual Size: KOTAKUUUUU! *shakes fists*

How can a day be this productive and still result in me getting absolutely nothing done?

Videogames

Your infographic for the night: the Canadian game industry.

Dan Bruno praises the mature new direction of Kotaku and then discovers he jumped the gun. It’s okay Dan, no one can fault you for thinking the best out of people.

A provocative analysis of Amnesia that should merit your consideration.

Tom Auxier thinks grimdark is killing everything.

Speaking of Tom Auxier’s work, he’s just knocking them out of the park over at Nightmare Mode this week. And as a Sega orphan, this one in particular fascinates me.

This seems to border on Modest Proposal territory, but for all I can tell, Tadhg Kelly is serious: maybe we shouldn’t gamify, we should just paste brands all over everything.

Ain’t it just the way. Academic points out something obvious about the military-entertainment complex. Kotaku readers have a conniption.

Also: I can’t be the only one who starts feeling physically ill upon reading headlines like this.

Film

A short film styled on Limbo? Yes, please.

Curios

Henry is blogging a series based on a lecture delivered in my class recently by Brian Clark, who is far and away my favorite guest we’ve had so far this semester.

Stella Carter wants to know where the female mentors are in our fiction.

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