Thought this was newsworthy that for the first time I'm hearing about a book of analysis dedicated to just one game. We've seen it with other pop culture franchises, such as the philosophy or the science of Star Trek. Or even South Park.
Brendan Keogh (Critical Damage and freelances for Edge, Kill Screen, Gamasutra) is writing a book of critical analysis for Spec Ops: The Line
I'm sure some of you are tired with hearing about this game, so here is his reasons for doing it:
This is not just for the echo chamber of fervent fans around the game but also for people who disliked it or just didn't didn't want to play it:
While with most other games I could perhaps sum up their themes and how they conveyed them in a thousand words or so, I found this to be impossible with The Line. I think this is largely to do with the unique way that The Line is structured. Most videogames have narratives that work in a kind of looping fashion, going in complete circles one after the other, and you can talk about any of one of these loops in relative isolation. The Line, meanwhile, is one long, slow, gradual arc, and it is truly difficult to talk about any single bit of it without talking about all of it.
So to analyse The Line, then, I needed to analyse all of The Line, from the opening menu screen to the end of the final epilogue. I needed to look at every single little bit of the game from start to finish to see how it all goes together in such a way to make me ask the questions I asked. So that is what I have done.
After an introductory Foreword, the book is split into sections that align with the gameís sections (a prologue, fifteen chapters, and an epilogue). Each section talks through that stage, describing and analysing in equal part. I look at what the characters say, what the environment looks like, what music is playing, what the player does and is made to do, and the relationship between all of these. It is a close reading of the game, an act of interpretation that looks at the game much like you could look at a book or a film, and it tries to understand how it conveys what it conveys to me.
Why so many (50,000) words?
Ideally, I hope that others who found the game to be so powerfully evocative might be able to get some insight into just how it was so. Further, I hope that those that disliked the game might find some answers as to just why others did find it powerful. Further still, I think good videogame criticism should be able to describe to someone who has not played a certain game just what that game meant to those that did play it. Hopefully Killing is Harmless will be able to communicate to those that are interested in The Line but never wish to play it themselves just why other people found it so engaging.
But more than that, on perhaps a slightly more meta level, Iím hoping to show that a single videogame can be so critically rich as to warrant such a prolonged interrogation. I want to show that one videogame has enough happening in it to warrant 50,000 words of analysis. As videogame criticism comes into its own, related to but distinct from games journalism, I think it is important to explore new avenues and methods of being a videogame critic. Not just new ways to Ďdoí games criticism, but new ways to distribute it to a readership. This project is such an exploration.
I believe long-form videogame criticism is a valid form of writing and one that an audience exists for. Certainly, too many words about a single game can become long-winded and self-indulgent and repetitive and utterly meaningless. But if it is done correctly, it can also allow for the most magical of insights that a smaller article just canít grasp. Look at Tim Rogerís must-read 12,000 word analysis of Earthbound, for instance. Some of the insights it makes are absolutely stunning, and could not be made in a shorter article.
Killing is Harmless is a digital book that performs a close, critical reading of Spec Ops: The Line. You can buy it on November 21 for a special introductory price of $2.99. Day One DLC is TBA. Get excited."