August 27th

This week, we find ourselves peering backward in time, examining the world as it was, as it is again, and as we understand it now because of that we learned before. Part nostalgia, part history, but all This Week in Video Game Blogging!

Crunch

In game development, there is almost always a time toward the end of a project where developers buckle down, square their shoulders, and pour every bit of themselves, often to the point of destructiveness, into a period of overwork called crunch. This week, two separate takes on crunch, and its place in the gaming industry.

  • Why I worship crunch | Polygon
    An ode to the destructive but, to Walt Williams, necessary and excellent game development feature: crunch time.
  • Crunch Culture Is Never Just About Individual Choice | Waypoint
    Cameron Kunzelman challenges Williams’ article that deeply invests in the crunch culture present in modern game development.

    This essay, though, gives so much ground to a practice that Williams claims not to support, and radically individualizes a systemic issue to the detriment of those who crunch and who do not have a complicated relationship with it. The essay functions as a romantic, florid apologia.

Humanity

Sometimes games hold up a mirror to what humans are—as individuals and as a people. Even when it isn’t their central focus, games can speak to us in meaningful, human ways.

Monsters Together

Despite our best efforts, even with art that can illustrate humanity, we can also be monsters. Not incorrigible, but at times less merciful than we intend.

  • The Undertale Drama | Kotaku
    Chloe Spencer speaks on the mercy-requiring yet merciless public opinion of the Undertale community.
  • Inside and the Monstrosity of Collectivism | Pop Matters
    G. Christopher Williams looks at the nature of individuals and collectives in a spoiler-heavy examination of Inside’s ending.
  • My Wrath, Of Me? | Vextro
    Leeroy Lewin looks inward at the personally cathartic approach to horror in Her Lullaby.

    It was interesting to me, thinking about the complicated relationship I have with transgressive fiction. Am I drawn to them as just a voyeur, indulging my death drive?

Hellish Minds

Those who struggle with mental illness know that sometimes our minds can be both brilliant tools and fiendish traps.

BioShock in Retrospect

Ten years ago, players first ventured into the haunting, beautiful, aquatic halls of Rapture.

How We Used To Be

Nostalgia, a drug the culture can never escape, always seems

How Things Used To Be

It’s worth it, at times, to explore the history that came before to see pathways to what lies ahead.

The Game Politic

Motherhood

  • Clone Club: Motherhood and Technology in Orphan Black and Horizon Zero Dawn | Not Your Mama’s Gamer
    Bianca Batti challenges the intersection of normative motherhood and family against the technology and narratives explored in Horizon Zero Dawn and Orphan Black.

    My question after all this, though, is how do we (re)frame the power of the mother in a way that does not perpetuate essentialist and normative definitions of maternal labor? That is, how do we decenter patriarchal power and (re)claim power in motherhood in a way that does not rely on the same maternal tropes that patriarchal power uses to control and constrain women in the first place?

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