July 9th

“Progress” has become a problematic idea of late: the notion that the passage of time will push society generally in the direction of civil rights has become a truism, but the idea has been brought into question ever more over the past year. Some of this week’s writing should, I think, be understood against that backdrop: history isn’t assumed to run in one direction anymore, and progress is increasingly understood to require deliberate effort and forceful words.

Imprinted

We start this roundup with four articles about our relationship to the past and the future, highlighting in particular the ongoing activity around platforms that might otherwise be languishing in the cultural scrapyard.

“Those who were imprinted by the allure of making ZZT games seem to follow and be followed by artistic pursuit. I see a self-explanatory, self-justified thing. It was a design language people could see and feel demonstrated. An immediate understanding that a videogame was made by a person.”

Erasing

In writing on inclusivity, two perspectives look at our current position in comparison to the past few years of minority representation in games.

“Morgan never faces any discrimination, never hears any cracks about how good he is at math. Instead, though it brushes up against some racial tropes, Prey does something just as brave: without erasing Morgan’s heritage, it lets us see the face of an Asian protagonist as just another face. And that makes all the difference.”

Psychosis

Next, these three articles look at positive emotions, self-image, and mental health issues as represented in games.

“[…] these aren’t really stories about people with psychoses. In these games, psychosis is a vehicle to turn trauma into melodrama, and to imprint all these wounds onto a literal physical landscape. There are parts of the emotional tenor of save the animals that feel honest, but the frame is all wrong. The game of mapping individual mental phenomenon to lived events, 1:1, is doomed.”

Message

Waypoint brings us some writing on game narrative placed into inventive new contexts.

“[…] if you wanted to play a powerfully anti-war videogame, you would be better off playing Unmanned or September 12 or even This War of Mine . To say The Line is trying to be anti-war is to miss the point of what The Line is actually expressing. Not a clear moral message but a nihilistic frustration at its own existence within the blockbuster publisher-studio model. This is a game that hates itself.”

Proceedings

Moving on to perspectives on game development, we have two video essays on design techniques and one piece of investigative journalism looking at Sony and Microsoft’s divergent approaches to indie games.

“The PlayStation Experience, PSX, takes place in Anaheim, California across December 9th and 10th. All independent development community eyes will be on proceedings, eager to see Sony show so much more than what it offered during its big E3 presentation. It’s in Sony’s interests, evidently, to not let its success—its reputation—in the indie sphere slide any further […]”

Plugs

For more writing on time and the shape of history, check out the roundup and call for submissions for our regular Blogs of the Round Table feature!


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