[This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from guest contributor Eric Swain, including several pieces on both Medal of Honor and Demon's Souls, an evaluation of game stories, and a look at how Modern Warfare 2 sits between fiction and reality.]

Last week a few good pieces were submitted late and as a consequence weren't included. This includes Matthew Armstrong's a duo of posts examining Demon's Souls.

Also left over from last week, the blog ThinkFeelPlay continues its exploration into why we play. Margaret Robertson from Hide&Seek looks at the word gamification and why it doesn't mean what marketing people think it means. And Sinan Kubba looks at Nier as a caregiver.

Okay, onto this week. Robert Yang at The Escapist continues his series 'Philosophy of Game Design' with parts two and three.

In addition, Lauren Wainwright writes on her personal blog 'Sex Sells. But who's buying?' responding to a defensive argument on the nature of video game "journalism." Lewis Denby does the same looking at the same "news" blogs' need for 'Hits and Tits.'

Meanwhile, the Border House has an entry in their series Characters Done Right looking at Grace Holloway from Bioshock 2. And Extra Credits has a great introductory video on the need for 'Diversity' in video games, promising future episodes exploring different types. Also this week at Before Game Design is a heavily annotated post about diversity -- not only in games, but in our cultural mindset.

This week, Matthew Armstrong does a close reading of the Maiden Astraea encounter in Demon's Souls and exactly how it affected him and why. Richard Castles at The Age also does what amounts to a close reading of the iPhone game Angry Birds. And Jorge Albor in his Moving Pixels column looks at confined spaces in games and the sensations we elect from them.

Jason Killingsworth writes a review of Metal Gear Solid 4 that expresses disdain towards the overblown nature of the series, saying the latest entry intolerably removes any subtlety the series once had.

"Amid the overcooked dialogue and thinly veiled Iraq war commentary of the aforementioned cinematic, Snake describes the new face of war: 'ID-tagged soldiers carry ID-tagged weapons, use ID-tagged gear. Nanomachines inside their bodies enhance and regulate their abilities. Genetic control, information control, emotion control, battlefield control-everything is monitored and kept under control.'

And just in case you missed the symbolism of this narration early on, Kojima introduces the Screaming Mantis boss character in Act 5 who hijacks the movements of Snake and a secondary NPC with-wait for it-puppet strings. (I see what you did there!)"

Thomas K.L. on Frictional Games' official blog writes what is missing in gamers' understanding of what story is: "Upon hearing the word story, most people probably think of a chain of connected events. For example: "A princess is kidnapped; a brave knight rides to save her; the knight faces a dragon, the knight slays dragon and saves the princess; finally the knight gets half the kingdom and marries the princess"… This is not the right way to think of stories. The chain of events is just the plot, and it is a device used in order to get the story across to an audience."

Kris Ligman writes on 'Disney and Square: A failure of Synthesis' at Popmatters. And this week we say goodbye to the writings of L.B. Jeffries as a video game critic. His parting post is about video game criticism itself, how many are doing it wrong and how easy it can be to do a design-centric criticism. Best of all we get to see the inner workings of a critics mind and briefly what shaped it into the way it is.

Finally, we have two posts looking at the shooters that have entered the modern era. Michael Abbott writes about Medal of Honor and in its attempt to honor the subject matter disables any attempt at portraying truth: "Ironically, EA's decision to avoid ambiguity ultimately disables Medal of Honor's narrative and impairs the game's authenticity. MOH's refusal to address complexity (or go anywhere near it); its saccharine deification of the American soldier; and its persistent refusal to allow the player to think for himself, neuter what might have been a powerful interactive experience."

And the best has been saved for last. Joshua Casteel, a former Abu Ghraib interrogator, writes an article about how he sees Modern Warfare 2, hovering in that strange realm between realism and reality. If you're going to read only one piece of writing from this post, make it this one.