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Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

July 26th

…to make up for bad planning should (and often is) seen as a failure. But that overwork is partly made possible by our industry’s acceptance of overtime as “what it takes.” […] Once you start thinking that way, people will take advantage of it.

At The New Inquiry, Bea Malsky looks to how casual games such as Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Diner Dash teach the player to view often-invisible “women’s work” as real labor under capitalism:

When Silvia Federici wrote Wages against Housework, she wasn’t calling for hourly wages for housewives as an end in itself, and this is key…

April 24th

It seems that class politics’ time has come in games criticism, with labor issues at the forefront of analyses of both the industry and its products this week.


Working conditions and practices have been a major topic of discussion, with a particular focus on crunch and overwork.

  • Don Daglow: “I’m calling bullshit on core, mid-core and casual” | reports on a games industry veteran’s remarks about gaming’s class divide.
  • My Game (In One Long Sentence) | The Ludosphere Altug Isigan provides a useful guide to describing a game in a single sentence.

August 7th

…a video about Sonic and a stellar essay on gamer identity.

  • It’s Not Easy Being Blue – YouTube (video: auto-captions) Innuendo Studios riffs about Sonic’s lack of identity, and how it relates to subjectivity in the social media age.
  • Distraction, Consumption, Identity: The Neoliberal Language of Videogames | Sufficiently Human Lana Polansky calls for mass resistance and coherent labor politics, as an alternative to the divergent identity organising that can so easily be absorbed into the leisure and consumption of games.

“The spectacular dimension of capitalism has a way of defanging and absorbing any form of resistance or

October 22nd

…has already accepted that an oily clump of fairly abstract geometry is meant to represent rocks or a flattened computer rectangle stands in for a household door.”

Development culture

Crunch has been a major topic of discussion recently, and this week is no exception, as two writers address labor issues in fiction and in industry.

  • tacoma | malvasia bianca David Carlton highlights some of the aspects of Tacoma that make it remarkable for its time, and not merely a logical next entry in the walking sim genre.
  • Playing for Real: Sweatin’ Pixels – Haywire Magazine Jesse Porch lauds…

This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2016

  • Overwatch and the problem of caring labor | The Meta – Ryan Khosravi Ryan Khosravi sees how Overwatch evaluates the play of its support classes as mirroring how our society values the labor of care givers.
  • Why Overwatch Fan Are Obsessed With ‘Shipping’ Its Female Characters | Kotaku – Nico Deyo A report about fem shipping and what about Overwatch allows to be so much more prevalent in its fan community than in others.
  • Our Thoughts On Overwatch’s Tracer Being Gay | Kotaku – Heather Alexandra, Cecilia D’ Anastasio, Nathan Grayson, Gita Jackson, and Riley MacLeod Overwatch postergirl Tracer

01: Subjectivity

…of power.

When I play on my 3DS or my iPhone or laptop, I depend upon the power to move my fingers across the control/track pad and to press buttons. My play depends upon the exploited labor of women working in hardware manufacturing, software design, review and criticism publication… and the extended simulation of play depends upon the continued promulgation of these systems that imagine games, produce games, distribute games, advertise games, and encourage game play. Yes — my play is always contingent on a community of players, even if the game isn’t designed to facilitate direct engagement with them.

Discover a Critical Culture

…broader culture. And most importantly, Critical Distance made me feel like I could be a part of the conversation, inviting me to participate in its Blogs of the Round Table and submit my work to This Week in Videogame Blogging.

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Jenn Frank Lana Polansky Zolani Stewart Sex History Labor Racism Bodies Narratives Aesthetics

Through Critical Distance, I’ve learned about games and sex, games and history, games and labor, games and racism, games and bodies, games and narratives, games and aesthetics. Regardless of whether or not games remain a part of my life for years to come, I know…

August 28th

…that function as something to do while waiting in line or in general insufficiently entertained by life. When I walk around the neighborhood with my smartphone in hand and then stand still for thirty seconds, flicking my finger on my screen, most people know perfectly well what I’m doing and that I’m relatively invested in it. And I’m pretty sure they’re judging me. “


In yet more reflections on ethics, these pieces consider how the way that we treat others contributes to the construction of the world around us.

  • Overwatch and the problem of caring labor

October 2nd

…the the absolutization of ahistorical values—equality, inclusion, identity—but we have yet to reconcile this tendency with the historical and cultural perspectivism that seems appropriate to a post-global society. We believe in freedom, but only to the extent that it lets us affirm what we already are.”

Capitalist Fantasy

Austerity and the growing class of precarious workers are the backdrop for these two articles on games, play and labor.

  • Is it a problem when games are a second job for the unemployed? | Brendan Sinclair considers the relationship between game design and economic precarity.
  • ‘Diaries of a Spaceport…

June 26th

…and Learning | The Psychology of Video Games (Audio only) Jamie Madigan interviews Karl Kapp about why gamification fails and how to make it work better.

  • Games and Learning: Building Sustainable Communities | Play The Past Peter Christiansen argues that gamification fails because too many people see it as an easy way of “disrupting” other industries, instead of complicating notions of games and play as they come into contact with education and labor.
  • “Minecraft serves as an excellent tool for easing players into technical skills like modding and programming, but in many ways, it also inverts the…