Show Hide image Games 26 January 2015 Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #3 The academic side of gaming, from the formalism debate to hermeneutics in game criticism. Print HTML Critical Distance is proud to bring to the New Statesman a new weekly digest of its popular This Week in Videogame Blogging feature, which promotes the best, often little-known, incisive criticism and cultural commentary on interactive media. This week, we discuss the role of formalism as an analytical tool in game studies and follow up on Spawn on Me’s #BlackLivesMatter gaming marathon. Games scholar Frank Lantz went back to the well on formalism, an academic lens with a long history in games studies. His argument is that mechanics can and should be formally discussed without painting people who do so as a conservative gatekeeper. Heather Alexandra responded with the argument that it’s not so easy to separate mechanics from anything else without implicit value judgments. Daniel Joseph drew on some past arguments to add context to the formalism debate in games. Maybe the real problem that the advocates of ludoessentialism are worried about is a hegemony of thought, much like what Brandon Keogh criticized in his journal article last year. I responded by contextualizing the historical context of the various disciplines that make up game studies. I thought the problem wasn’t so much that there were authoritarians telling us not to conduct close readings of videogames in academia, but that the institutional cultures of our various disciplines alongside the political economy of the university was more the culprit here. Continuing in an academic vein, The Journal of Games Criticism has released its newest issue, offering up articles ranging from hermeneutics in games criticism to pedagogy and tangential learning through games. Mary Lee Sauder goes into art history, and derives the term “gamerliness” based off the term “painterliness”: If you’ve ever studied art, you may have heard of the term “painterliness” used to describe works of art that derive meaning from drawing attention to the fact that they are just paint on a canvas or clay molded by human hands. “Painterly” art doesn’t try to look realistic – instead, it uses its unique aspects as a constructed object to its advantage. Lastly, a couple articles continuing the conversation on representation in games. Shonte Daniels discusses race in games through the lens of Spawn On Me’s recent #BlackLivesMatter gaming marathon. Meanwhile, Adrienne Shaw discusses the outcomes of her research on representation in games, and addresses common criticisms of advocating for representation. There is much more available in this week’s full roundup at Critical Distance! Tune in again next week and be sure to follow us on Twitter @critdistance for all the latest and greatest games writing from around the web. › Why the TV debates would hurt the Lib Dems Subscribe More Related articles Pokémon Gone: why the summer’s most popular app lost over 12 million users in a month Knee deep in the dead: a night and an early morning at America’s biggest LAN Party Searching for the endgame: is No Man’s Sky the last game you’ll ever need?