Kept you waiting, huh?
Much like how Kiefer Sutherland replaced David Hayter, I’ll be filling in for Zoya this week, so welcome to This Week in Videogame Blogging! Let’s get started:
The flavor of the month, Pokemon Go, drove the majority of both website and real-world traffic:
Harry Rabinowitz starts things off on the streets of New York, as the population took to the streets to catch Pokemon and exchange smiling faces.
Elsewhere, things weren’t so sweet in Pokemon Go-land, as Erin Hawley writes her frustration with being unable to enjoy Pokemon Go as intended, imploring us to “dismantle how we view disability, accessibility and technology.”
Adam Kranz writes on how Pokemon creates a discourse of a post-industrial future and the importance of nature.
If the client isn’t a smartphone, but rather, is you … can the client be trusted? Raph Koster explores what ethical implications arise when reality is an MMO stage:
“With smartphones, we tend to think of “the client” as meaning the little screen we stare through to catch a Pokémon. But that’s not accurate. Take a look at the list of permissions that the game asks for. That’s not a self-contained app. That’s your whole life. You are fully an avatar. Pokémon has your email, and can send emails for you. Pokémon knows everywhere you walk. Pokémon can connect to your car. Pokémon knows who your friends are.”
Politics as Usual
With election season ramping up, we’ve been ensconced in politics of all sorts, and these pieces look at a number of political factors from social, economic and cultural viewpoints:
Sarah Warn explains the dearth of women occupying instructor roles in game development, citing NDAs and a lack of confidence, among other reasons.
Over at Kill Screen, Zach Budgor talks Easy Level Life, a game where victory over the system is not possible, reflecting the entrenched “tensions between police and people of color.”
Still at Kill Screen, Justin Groot contemplates the future of esports in the U.S. under Donald Trump. Spoiler alert: It’s not pretty.
Kate Gray takes us into the world of videogame translators, explaining why translators are traitors and why you should still appreciate their treachery:
“There will always be differences—linguistic, cultural, and otherwise—between countries, just as there are between eras. It is a localization team’s job to bridge these differences so that people can share and delight in the same things, in roughly the same way. Even though their work can often change the meaning and setting of a game in such a way that it ends up being quite different from the original, I still see localization as being something that can bring people closer. It means that people who don’t speak the same languages have a shared connection through being able to love something together. Localization is a tough, taxing, and often thankless job, but it’s because of their work that we can enjoy games that otherwise would have been lost to us.”
Performance, Purpose and Legitimacy
These pieces examine the various nodes connecting the player to the digital space:
What does public speaking and public performance have in common with videogame bosses? According to this video, performance is enhanced when excitement is substituted for nerves.
Elsewhere, Heather Alexandra picks Destiny up after a hiatus only to find a new ebb and flow by going on patrol missions, and discusses how repetition leads to relief and acts as a rhetorical device.
In this video, Mark Brown shows how Downwell’s mechanics have two or even three purposes, more than living up to Shigeru Miyamoto’s example of a good idea.
Elsewhere, Blakely Winters explores how horror games in particular rely on the player’s personal contribution, which fosters legitimization through recognition:
“Our experiences in games, and our emotional responses to them, are unpredictable, and this unpredictability is part of what makes them so entertaining, and why the feelings we garner from games are so keenly personal. Successful horror games are those that often embrace the weirdness inherent in their medium- perhaps mechanically, or artistically- and amplify them ad nauseum, or distort them uncomfortably.”
Consciousness, Attention and Fantasy
Consciousness and attention dominate the themes of these pieces, while the latest issue of Five Out of Ten explores the topic of fantasy:
Stephen Beirne discusses Virtue’s Last Reward in the context of John Searle’s thought experiment “The Chinese Room,” where consciousness is framed as extrinsic in the former and intrinsic in the latter.
Next, we take it to YouTube where the Electron Dance channel gives us a 30 minute video of The Witness’ incessant puzzle solving and what happens when you stop looking and start seeing.
If you’re eager for more, Five Out of Ten Issue 18 is out, featuring articles by Ana Valens, Phil Hartup, Brian Crimmins, Gaby Lax and Jess Turner.
That’s it for this week, but make sure to contribute links of your own if you enjoy exploring the best videogame criticism online wrangled into one space! And please, if you’re able, consider a small monthly donation to keep us going full steam ahead. See you next week!