This week features an all-video-game edition of What I’ve Been Reading, and a storm is a-brewin’. We’re not even a month into 2013, and we’re already discussing important issues. Controversy sleeps for no one, folks.

  • Alright, before we tackle controversy, let’s start with some lighter fare. Patricia Hernandez of Kotaku discusses her favourite movement mechanics in video games. Of note: Dishonored’s “Blink” feature: short-distance teleportation turned what could have been a boring waiting game into a fun, dynamic stealth adventure.
  • David Valjalo of Rock Paper Shotgun writes about the increasing use of orchestral music in video games, whose scores now easily rival film scores in their scope. I, for one, welcome it. It’s all too easy to dismiss orchestral music as generic, but composers have a lot of tools at their disposal and often use instruments not found in a standard orchestra. I’m particularly fascinated by scores that mix electronic music with live orchestras, which is something you don’t often hear in film scores.
  • Sam Hughes explains how unrealistic situations in video games are often beneficial for gameplay, using Deus Ex’s passwords and hacking as an example. It’s a fascinating, insightful read.
  • Okay, on to the controversial stuff. David Gaider of BioWare put up a post on his personal blog about why he has stopped frequenting the company’s own forums. It’s a thoughtful look at fandom, entitlement, and the polarization of Internet communities. Whatever your opinion of BioWare’s recent output, I highly urge you to give it a read and leave your preconceived notions behind you.
  • And, even more controversial: violence in video games. In response to the recent Sandy Hook shootings, American Vice-President Joe Biden has been tasked with meeting with stakeholders from entertainment and weapons industries to discuss solutions to gun violence. IGN Games editor-in-chief, Casey Lynch, thinks it’s the right time to discuss (and defend) violence in video games. But Kris Graft, editor-in-chief of Gamasutra, thinks that the games industry shouldn’t participate in this debate, because video games have nothing to do with actual gun violence. Lynch then launched a rebuttal to that piece, saying that if the industry doesn’t defend the medium in front of the Vice-President, then it could lose its status as protected speech. Finally, related to the issue, Phil Savage of PC Gamer has an article explaining how much of the “research” linking video games to violence is deeply flawed. Look, I’m as interested as anybody in stopping gun violence. I don’t claim to know the answers. I’m not a criminologist or a psychologist. But as someone who plays and enjoys violent video games, I have no interest in burying research that would reveal them to be harmful or linked to gun violence. If the things I enjoy could potentially hurt me, I would want to know. But that doesn’t mean that we should use faulty science simply to prove a popular point. Facts must trump emotional, knee-jerk reactions. Otherwise, we’ll never solve the problem of gun violence, and we’ll end up restricting our creative industries for no benefit.

Well, that was kinda heavy. Any opinions on violent video games or any of the other linked articles? Feel free to post your thoughts below.