Shining a light on media can help reveal the dark truths lurking beneath the surface. This week in videogame blogging, critics discuss power fantasies, prisons, and psychoses.
We start with some writing on the problems with the latest game in Atlus’s teen psychology adventures.
- Persona 5 deserved better: a translator’s take on a subpar script – Polygon
Molly Lee offers a professional view on the processes that make for a successful localization.
- Content warning for item below: rape, transmisogyny.
The lizard man
In these two pieces, critics shine a light on the disturbed subconscious underpinnings of patriarchy.
- Grasshopper Manufacture’s Descent Into Nihilism :: Games :: Features :: Grasshopper Manufacture :: Paste
Ed Smith traces some of the ways that misogyny and nihilism seem to feed off one another through the corpus of one particular games studio.
- Duke Nukem’s Dystopian Fantasies | Jacobin
Liz Ryerson uncovers some of the dark psychoses that seem to lurk in the plot gaps of hypermasculine sci-fi action.
“the aliens in Duke 3D, in the fictional world of the game, are really just thinly veiled stand-ins for human men. Men with power and authority. […] They’re both the lizard man in power at the center of every anarchic, system-toppling fantasy and the scary foreigner at the end of the bullet in every xenophobic, reactionary fantasy. Men as aliens are the unknown, detestable creature that sits in the way of realizing dreams and desires of a new world; they must be destroyed at all costs.”
A brief glimpse
Waypoint has been particularly strong on narrative analysis this week, looking at how changes to pacing can make all the difference to storytelling.
- How to Be a Good Kisser in a Video Game – Waypoint
Kate Gray discusses how to use anticipation to deal with uncanniness in portrayals of physical intimacy.
- Why Video Games Have So Many Endings and So Few Conclusions – Waypoint
Austin Walker argues for a shift in how narrative pacing is treated by game designers.
“Instead of simply showing me a brief glimpse of the world after my hero has saved it, let me wander through it—or even just a part of it! Let me meet the old fish seller again, or check in on that bickering couple. Let me call up an old friend and get a drink, or catch up with that party member I lost at the end of Act 2. You’re so, so, so good at climaxes, video games. But I’d love to see a little more denouement.”
The impact of different degrees of interactivity on a game’s message and a player’s sense of satisfaction was examined this week with regard to satire, documentary, and sports.
- The dark truths behind The Town of Light – PC & Tech Authority
Thomas McMullan highlights some of the limitations of documentary game design.
- Elastic Energy: What makes a parry so satisfying? – amr al-aaser – Medium
Amr Al-Aaser searches physical sports for an action game design pattern.
- Reduction Critique | vextro
leeroy lewin leans into an aspect of a game that makes it feel boring, to highlight what that teaches us about its subject matter.
“Maybe this kind of minimalist game design, the kind that cuts through the violent power fantasies, that turns away from pedestaling things I feel like I need in life, is strong satire. […] At a certain point, when there’s a mass of people, when they’re united in making a new kind of whole, the game stops working. Even if unintentionally so, I think it’s the only idle game that ends. Almost like it’s saying this behavior is not sustainable. “
Life without prisons
Finally, in this section writers consider violence and oppression in relation to gaming as an activity and as a representative medium.
- Understanding Why Scholars Hold Different Views on the Influences of Video Games on Public Health – Ferguson – 2017 – Journal of Communication – Wiley Online Library
I’m slightly late on this, but this scholarly article looks into how and why researchers disagree with each other on the effects of gaming. It’s a topic that’s often referenced in passing in games blogging, and this article takes a different approach to most.
- Content warning for items below: state violence, incarceration.
- Issue #20 – Memory – Five out of Ten Magazine
The final issue of Five out of Ten is out, with a gorgeous vaporwave cover design.
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