This week’s What I’ve Been Reading is brought to you by the letter J. Or pretty much any other letter of the alphabet. Go ahead and choose one. I’m not picky.

  • Lucas Siegel of thinks that movie and TV adaptations of comic books are too reliant on doppelgänger villains – villains who are essentially funhouse mirror images of the hero, often with the same set of powers. Siegel recognizes that there’s a good reason for this – it’s interesting to see what an evil person would do with the same set of powers – but it also lends these adaptations a sense of predictability. Comic book movies shouldn’t be afraid to mix things up.
  • Writing for Unwinnable, Rowan Kaiser explains why the Atrium fight in Mass Effect 3’s Grissom Academy is so effective – it keeps the player on their toes by redirecting their attention to their flanks, constantly challenging their notion of what areas are “safe” and “dangerous.” I want to see more of this single-level, design-focused analysis in games writing. Keep up the good work, Kaiser!
  • Finally, we turn away from pop culture. Normally, I try to keep links firmly within the realm of entertainment, but I think this piece is worth linking to regardless. Matt Apuzzo of the New York Times examines the work of police psychologist William J. Lewinski, who was been called as an “expert witness” in many shootings by police officers. His work – which has not been subject to peer review – has been used to rationalize these shootings even when the victims were unarmed. Lewinski’s justification is that it takes only a split second for someone to pull out a gun on an officer and then fire. (Remember, this research has not been subject to peer review.) He gets paid not only to appear as an expert witness, but also to train police officers. It would be ludicrous to pin all of American policing’s problems on one man, but Lewinski certainly isn’t helping.

That’s all for now. Beware the cops.