This past week has been full of thoughts, on beginnings and endings, and worth reflecting on before next week starts in earnest. Hopefully your weekend has treated you as gently it could, warming and preparing you for the coming week. Particularly for those of you who’ve spent the week at GDC, you owe yourself some rest.
That Which Ends
- How things end | Eurogamer
Alex Kennedy, on his final column at Eurogamer, speaks of how the ends of games has changed over the years, and where they may lead in the future.
- Spelunky is obsessed with death | Waypoint
Cameron Kunzelman considers the spectacle of death, and their instructive properties, via the repeating deaths of Spelunky.
- The secret shame of steam cheaters that lasts seven years | Waypoint
Patrick Kepleck talks about the shelf life of a VAC Banned notification on a Steam profile and its social repercussions through Steam.
- Preservation and Ephemeral Gaming | Play the Past
Angela R Cox explains the temporary life of ephemeral games and the society around them.
- Why I love Peggle and hate Peggle: Blast
Henrique Antero delivers a tragic eulogy on what was so loved in Peggle was lost in Peggle: Blast.
What is distasteful about Peggle: Blast are the subtle transformations that the original design has gone through to accommodate the habitual villainy of monetization. Like the reanimated dead body of someone you once loved that now became just a piece of meat filled with electrical impulses and should be buried already so it cannot traumatize you any further.
Switching Around the Details
- Nintendo Switch’s biggest launch issue: it’s not finished | Polygon
Ben Kuchera offers the advice to take the Switch launch with skepticism over its completeness.
- Nintendo Switch review | ZAM
Willie Clark addresses more direct flaws and quibbles with the Switch hardware, which may be a dealbreaker for some.
I need to see more from its long-term software support, and I also would like to see more of its online features and functionality like the eShop and Virtual Console, and other controller options and how games implement the Joy-Con before I’m able to fully recommend it. But so far, it’s not quite the switch of fortunes that Nintendo wants it to be.
The Wild Terrain
- Breath of the Wild is the Zelda adventure I’ve always wanted | Waypoint
Austin Walker finds adventure in the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review | ZAM
Steven Strom explores Horizon Zero Dawn and finds its vaguely-open world less exploratory, more structural.
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild | Kotaku
Jason Schreier and Kotaku also find Breath of the Wild to be a game that routinely refuses to say no.
- What Paleontologists think about the dinosaurs in Horizon: Zero Dawn
Alex Avard asks how academic paleontologists feel about the mechanical creatures in Horizon Zero Dawn.
- Ghost Recon Wildlands draws from the real-life cartel war | Waypoint
Robert Rath explains the real-world parallels between Ghost Recon Wildlands and Mexico’s drug war.
Talking to Grillo, you get the sense of how often he’s seen real violence—execution-style slayings, massacres, battles—run through newspaper presses, film cameras, and stereo speakers. He knows that one game more or less won’t ultimately change this conflict, the best it can do is teach through osmosis.
- The Invaluable Rise of the Talking Simulator | Waypoint
Joe Donnelly examines the Talking Simulator genre and its relationship with mental health.
- Night in the Woods is soulful, empathic, and too real | Waypoint
Don Saas looks at the tragic reality of isolation in Night in the Woods.
Night in the Woods doesn’t simply reflect back the world I grew up in and still currently live in. It tells me and others like me that our stories matter, that our lives matter, that our struggles and tiny victories matter.
A Full Spectrum
- Black Skin Is Still A Radical Concept in Video Games – Waypoint
Yussef Cole and Tanya DePass lament the lackluster lighting for people of color in games and film.
- Yakuza, Nioh and the New Japan Renaissance – PC & Tech Authority
Andi Lennon discusses the rise of Japanese games from the perceived doldrums they found themselves in back in 2012.
- Tips for writing better marginalized characters | GamesIndustry.biz
Over on GamesInudstry.biz, Brendon Sinclair reports on Shawn Alexander Allen’s GDC talk.
- Falling Upwards: Gravity Rush as guide for the complex intersections of women’s lives
ZEAL and Lillian Everette use Gravity Rush to explore the confluence of lines, femininity, and ideology.
- Interpersonal connections are vital: reflections on GDC | Memory Insufficient
Danniele Livengood looks at the recent history of GDC and inclusivity.
(Disclosure: Critical Distance Senior Curator Zoyander Street is Editor-in-Chief of Memory Insufficient, but he wasn’t involved in selection this week)
- ‘We Know The Devil’ Taught Me To Be Proud – Waypoint
Jennifer Unkel recounts struggles over trans pride and the helpful releases found in We Know the Devil.
- What we talk about when we don’t talk about native peoples
Dia Lacina talks about the lack of awareness when using terms about native peoples, particularly in Horizon Zero Dawn.
Video games have been appropriating from Natives both blatantly and obliquely for decades. And as much as we’d like to hope?—?it’s probably not going to stop anytime soon. But it definitely won’t without your help.
Cause and Effect
- Job Simulator’s developers talk about making familiar spaces work in VR | ZAM
John Brindle explores the fascinating struggle to make sense of basic objects and their complex properties by the designers of Job Simulator.
- How Flash Games and Newgrounds Foretold Today’s Indie Experimentalism – Waypoint
Kate Gray muses about the transition from early-internet Flash games to the current indie scene.
- A Blizzard of Procedural Justice | The Psychology of Video Games
Jamie Madigan discusses how developers can use procedural justice to ease tensions over in-game changes.
- Gamasutra: Alva Majo’s Blog – I used youtubers to make the trailer of my indie game
Alva Majo tells the story and pitfalls of using small YouTubers as advertisers for an indie trivia game.
- The Morality of Shadow of the Colossus – YouTube (video: subtitles)
Dan Olsen explores the causes and effects of the amorality in Shadow of the Colossus.
- What you missed fron NieR | Youtube (video: subtitles)
George Weidman summarizes the game and canon of NieR to prepare for the coming release of NeiR: Automata.
- Nier, Part 1 | Something in the Direction of Exhibition
Vincent Kinian likewise does his part to explore further metatextual aspects of NieR.
Drawer of Oddities
- Breathing life into Seaman | GamesIndustry.biz
Brendan Sinclair reports on the post-mortem of one of the Dreamcast’s most bizzare games, Seaman.
- Remembering the Identity Crisis of Licensed Video Games, Through the Lens of ‘Alien 3’
Mike Diver chronicles the differences between the various versions of the licensed Alien 3 game.
- Channeling the 1970s in Church in the Darkness | ZAM
Kris Ligman takes a look at the development decisions behind and the game of The Church in the Darkness.
Set amidst sweltering South American jungle in the mid-1970s, Church in the Darkness plays transparently off the Peoples Temple and the mass murder-suicide at Jonestown in 1978, though Rouse’s research took him to investigating other cults and communes for inspiration as well. It’s not the sort of subject matter to go into lightly[…]
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