Cardboard Computer's Kentucky Route Zero .
Show Hide image

Critical Distance: This Week in Videogame Blogging #6

Game cinematography and the player as director.

Critical Distance is proud to bring to the New Statesman a 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 ways in which the cinematography of games differs from that of film as well as a game which casts you in the role of the director.

On Paste Magazine, Gita Jackson argues that developers pushing for a cinematic feel with 30 frames per second are ignoring the actual standards of cinematography, and the conversation surrounding them. With a side of other camera-related tropes.

Meanwhile, there’s a whole genre of moving image-based story telling that allows characters in the first-person perspective to have dirt and blood smeared on an invisible screen in front of their eyes. It is an accepted and even expected part of this form—it’s not a matter of degradation, but of how we as viewers and players are going to move on from this point.

On Kill Screen, Andrew Yoder talks about Andrei Tarkovsky's Nostalghia and how exploration tends to kill videogame spaces. And elsewhere on the same publication, here’s Jess Joho on the feminine history of computing and how it is being overwritten.

At Vice, Carolyn Petit looks at Average Maria Individual and Kentucky Route Zero as decentralizations of traditional protagonists, a feature which gels nicely with Lindsey Joyce's recent article about Kentucky Route Zero, which argues that, in it, players take the role of director rather than assuming the position of any one actor on stage.

Positioned as director, the game requires your attention on several levels, since you try to understand both the characters you instruct and the narrative you orchestrate, as the story’s not-quite-omniscient narrator. On the one hand, you take on an over-the-shoulder perspective focused on character development and specificity, but on the other hand, there is the bird’s eye view of narrative totality [...]

On Gamasutra, John Andersen remembers the late Shinya Nishigaki, developer of the Dreamcast games Blue Stinger and Illbleed. Elsewhere, Stephen Beirne reads Kanoguti's Walking as self-suggestive horror.

Metal Gear? Here’s Heather Alexandra talking about participating in the recursive training of Metal Gear Solid 2's Raiden by replaying and perfecting sections of the game. Meanwhile, Melody of Melody Meows writes about the different attitudes towards sensual violence of Raiden and Mistral in Revengeance.

Finally, Cara Ellison's visit to Marigold Bartlett and Christy Dena marks the end of her magnificent Embed With series, in which she traveled around the world visiting game developers great and small. The series is reportedly due for an ebook edition in the near future.

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.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Commons Confidential: Jeremy in Jerusalem

Your weekly dose of gossip from around Westminster.

Theresa May didn’t know if she was coming or going even before her reckless election gamble and the Grenfell Tower disaster nudged her towards a Downing Street exit. Between the mock-Gothic old parliament and the modern Portcullis House is a subterranean passageway with two sets of glass swing doors.

From whichever direction MPs approach, the way ahead is on the left and marked “Pull”, and the set on the right displays a “No Entry” sign. My snout recalls that May, before she was Prime Minister, invariably veered right, ignoring the warning and pushing against the crowd. Happier days. Now Tanking Theresa risks spinning out of No 10’s revolving door.

May is fond of wrapping herself in the Union flag, yet it was Jeremy Corbyn who came close to singing “Jerusalem” during the election. I gather his chief spinner, Seumas Milne, proposed William Blake’s patriotic call to arms for a campaign video. Because of its English-centred lyrics and copyright issues, they ended up playing Lily Allen’s “Somewhere Only We Know” instead over footage of Jezza meeting people, in a successful mini-movie inspired by Bernie Sanders’s “America” advert.

Corbyn’s feet walking upon England’s mountains green when the Tories have considered Jerusalem theirs since ancient times would be like Mantovani May talking grime with Stormzy.

The boot is on the other foot among MPs back at Westminster. Labour’s youthful Wes Streeting is vowing to try to topple Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford and Woodford Green at the next election, after the Tory old trooper marched into Ilford North again and again at the last one. Streeting’s marginal is suddenly a 9,639-majority safe seat and IDS’s former Tory bastion a 2,438-majority marginal. This east London grudge match has potential.

The Conservatives are taking steps to reverse Labour’s youth surge. “That is the last election we go to the polls when universities are sitting,” a cabinet minister snarled. The subtext is that the next Tory manifesto won’t match Corbyn’s pledge to scrap tuition fees.

Nice touch of the Tory snarler Karl McCartney to give Strangers’ Bar staff a box of chocolates after losing Lincoln to the Labour red nurse Karen Lee. Putting on a brave face, he chose Celebrations. Politics is no Picnic and the Wispa is that McCartney didn’t wish to Fudge defeat by describing it as a Time Out.

Police hats off to the Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, who broke ranks with her predecessors by meeting the bobbies guarding parliament and not just their commanders. Coppers addressing Dick as “ma’am” were asked to call her “Cress”, a moniker she has invited MPs to use. All very John Bercow-style informality.

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 22 June 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The zombie PM

0800 7318496