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2 April 2015

Critical Distance: This week in videogame blogging #12

History, politics and policing.

By Critical Distance

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 history, politics, policing, and how they all collide with games to create meaning.

Battlefield Hardline came out last week, and with it so did plenty of interesting writing. Austin Walker’s “Cop Out”, which takes Hardline to task in an incredibly thoughtful review. Carolyn Petit found the game’s mechanics shallow and its themes underwhelming. Marc Prices believes Battlefield deliberately avoided social issues by disguising itself as a cop procedural, and Mark Filipowich explores his thoughts on crime gleaned through invoking literature, film and TV. Finally, Anthony McGlynn at The Arcade talks “Battlefield Hardline and Politics in Games”, a point echoed by Leigh Alexander who argues “You can’t ‘just keep politics out of it’”. Emily Joy Bembeneck discusses how even games like Cities: Skyline inject politics.

Games are engines of persuasion, and despite some common rhetoric that disagrees, they are delicious morsels of politics. They’re drenched in it, marinated in it, and just because it tastes good doesn’t mean it’s all ok. And the politics of Cities:Skylines is that education is the easy answer.

Brendan Vance’s “The Ghosts of Bioshock” reflects on the Wounded Knee massacre of the Sioux and the framing of history in Bioshock: Infinite. On Offworld, Tanya D. gives developers a reason to be historically accurate by including more black characters and less stereotypes.

But what if we couldn’t choose race in games? What if race were parceled out at random?

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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.