So, naturally, this post will be a quickie just to get back into the swing of things.
If you want to read my reviews of both Extra Lives: Why Videogames Matter and Reality is Broken: Why Games Matter and How They Can Change the World, check out the following links below. Both were rather underwhelming to me, but I appreciate what both authors first set out to do. Of the two, I believe McGonigal's was more successful in proving her thesis, even if a lot of the information she had to present was stuff that any hardcore gamer would probably be aware of. Her book struck me as a book you'd give to someone who's very skeptical of video game culture.
Extra Lives review
Reality is Broken review
If I had to choose a game that is a perfect example of how some games use their own unique aesthetics (and history) to refer to themselves in a Postmodern manner, it’d be hard not to pick El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. The game is full of self-aware moments. Its genre-switching/bending is a particular point of interest. For instance, one level will be a side scroller, while another a race course remniscent of Final Fantasy VII’s motorcycle chase scene. Speaking of FFVII, during that race course level (a fallen angel’s futuristic dystopian world in which you are decked out in armour complete with a tin-can helmet riding a high-tech motorcycle as you flee giant mecha locusts), there’s a wonderful scene that heavily references the infamous Sephiroth-through-the-flames scene in Nibelheim. Not surprising such a reference would be made, considering Takeyasu Sawaki's intention to make El Shaddai a traditionally Japanese-style game.
Check out the following video if you're not afraid of spoilers (not even sure if this counts as a spoiler since El Shaddai is not very linear in its storytelling at all).