October 16

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been called to round up This Week in Videogame Blogging and clearly I’ve forgotten how easy it is to let the time go by. We’ll call that a consequence of having so much great games crit to cover.

Instructional Storytelling (Beginner)

Many writers this week discussed games that lay an effective foundation for telling a story:

“The experience of teaching Nonna how to play games has reframed the way I think about accessibility in games. For so long I’ve thought of accessibility in terms of things like difficulty selection, map-able controls, FOV siders, colorblind options, and tutorials. I’d never thought of voice acting as an accessibility tool, rather than a directorial choice.”

Instructional Storytelling (Advanced)

A number of this week’s pieces also explored how technical storytelling elements add nuance to videogames:

“This experience isn’t the same as emergent gameplay, although emergence-friendly game design can help us have the experience. It’s more like pareidolia – the human tendency to find patterns, to seize on two dots and a line and see a face, or to find a story in the turn of Tarot cards.”

Representing War

Violence in games carries an ongoing fascination, and this week some writers attempted to complicate how players interact with violently tinged play:

“But the interaction in ABZÛ isn’t only between player and avatar. The way you interact with the world of ABZÛ is not talking to characters, smashing crates, and killing enemies, but solely through movement. The underwater world directly reacts to your actions; the under water physics and dynamic fish interaction is spectacular.”

Self Reflection

Many games offer players a chance to insert themselves in a virtual world through a player-insert avatar, but writers this week considered how the disconnect between player and avatar shapes such an experience

  • Boys We Like| Chaotic Blue
    Todd Harper is frustrated with the fatshaming narrative of Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood, an anime leading up to the game that explains how one character had to completely change his body and lifestyle to earn another’s friendship
  • Lincoln Clay Versus The Man | Bullet Points
    Ed Smith is having a grand time with Mafia 3‘s protagonist even though, ostensibly, he represents “the Man” that the game offers the power to destroy
  • Losing Control in ‘Jotun’ | Game Church
    Steve Miller splits the difference, finding that he can only really appreciate Jotun when he disassociates himself with his avatar and begins enacting the philosophy of the game

Real Human Beings

Two articles this week stepped outside of games as object in and of themselves and took a look on how they impact the lives of people who play them

By the Numbers

This week some writers posted works of game criticism that take on a more quantitative method to critical and cultural approaches to games:

  • Reverse Design of Final Fantasy 7 | The Game Design Forum
    The folks at the Game Design Forum wrote a book on Final Fantasy 7. That isn’t an exaggeration. Their site has released an extensive excerpt of their larger study that attempts to analyze the game’s themes and conflicts through the change in player and enemy stats, story beats, encounter rates and so on. If nothing else, it seems to me to be a very fresh approach to game criticism
  • The Math of Idle Games | Gamasutra
    Anthony Pecorella shares his math homework with the rest of us, explaining which models for resource accumulation and expenditure best fit idle games
  • Players For Hire: Games and the Future of Low-Skill Work | Gamasutra
    Before leaving Gamasutra, be sure to check out Edward Castronova’s speculative economic analysis of games as employment. I’ll be honest, I have some reservations about his conclusions but I still found it a fascinating and well theorized read:

“Psychologically and socially, first class only exists if there is a second class. Thus the comparison role of all the free players is simply to be the second class. Their job is to sit in second class precisely so that the first class passengers can feel good about having been able to board first, get better food, and have more space.”

And Now For Something Different

Be sure to check out our newest feature “Agony Uncle” where we respond to reader questions with glorious games criticism. Our most recent theme is “Endless Runners”. Check it out and maybe you’ll come up with a topic of your own that you’re interested in learning more about!


How This Week in Videogame Blogging Works

Thanks for reading another roundup of This Week in Videogame Blogging! The process that we go through to bring these links can be a little opaque at times, so last week I put together a guide on how our curation process works. You can check that out here.

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