September 17th

This was a week of controversies. Since one of the most significant issues this week was a famous Youtuber’s racist outburst, the final section of this roundup comes with a general content warning for discussions of harassment, abuse, racism etc. In the mean time, there are plenty of pieces on other topics to look at this week as well, including narrative technique, sound design, and genre.

Hitting home

This roundup begins with two videos that consider the role of sound design in a game’s impact on its players’ emotions and its narrative message.

I shouldn’t get sick for this

Next, these three articles consider games as reflections on sickness, excess, and the drive for recognition.

“Whoever videogame’s Bjork is, whoever our David Lynch is, they’re making games that get sub-500 plays at best. I shouldn’t mine out my 20s for this. I shouldn’t get sick for this.”

Private lives

Two pieces on Bioshock, and one piece on Tacoma, explore narrative techniques that provoke players’ emotions and deepen an understanding of characters’ motivations.

“Voyeurism isn’t new to games – we see it in franchises like Watch Dogs, where you hack electronic devices in civilians’ homes to view their private lives or read a passerby’s text messages. […] Tacoma’s approach feels less intrusive (even as you view characters sing in the shower or see flirtatious encounters unfold), because we know that the characters agreed to being watched and tracked.”

Remix

Further examining genre conceits, these two critics consider games in terms of how they relate to their creative context.

“even among its peers, Socket stands out; not because it tries to do anything different, but because it commits to the Vic Tokai ethos far beyond the point it’s supposed to. The game is so invested in borrowing and remixing contemporary trends that it loses sight of why it’s borrowing and remixing. Thus it remixes these elements to the point of emptiness, where all we’re left with is the fact of remixing. It’s a performance of tropes divorced of any context and undertaken for its own sake.”

Inconsistent information

In discourse about discourse this week, Kotaku published two pieces on historical shifts in how factual information on games is collated and managed.

“On a page in Nukapedia’s forum collecting criticisms of the new videos, the community at large indicates that they just feel like Fandom doesn’t know, or care, about the wiki they’ve built and the standards they hold themselves to. The community had specific problems with each of the videos, from grainy video quality, to inaccurate and inconsistent information, to the monotone voice of the narrator. To top it all off, the community hadn’t been consulted at all during production.”

Opportunities for indignity

Writing on skill has been important this week, not least because of the renewed argument over whether critics ought to have a particular level of skill as players.

“Don’t smooth away the opportunities for indignity – that gives ground to the notion that the only correct way to play is to stroll unimpeded through a garden of cultivated delights. That is the jerks’ view. And besides, what would be the point of Cuphead‘s cartoon visuals if the player weren’t roped into performing some slapstick?”

Inclusivity and Sociality

This section comes with a general content warning for racism, harassment, and abuse. Click the “Let me see!” link below to open it.

Let me see!

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