The familiarity of portrayals of combat, pain, and trauma were explored by many critics this week, as people look at how tropes get started, how they are perpetuated, and how they can be subverted.


Critical reflection on E3 has so far focused on the overwhelming dominance of combat-oriented games, with a bit of attention also given to reports of poor event planning.

“For me, a power fantasy isn’t a super buff, neckless soldier with giant guns: it’s the normal person who smartly, creatively and bravely finds ways to fight back against powerful systems designed to oppress them.”


Of course, games about combat don’t have to lack critical reflexivity – and games that offer dialogue as a way of solving problems are not necessarily nonviolent.

“Informed by the ongoing War on Terror, mainstream shooters approached reality by appropriating the visual language of the news, recreating the other images that would appear on the same TV screen in the player’s home. In effect, this offered a mediated presentation of reality”


These two pieces discuss how certain game spaces have been constructed to reflect something back to us about our memories of the past or our imaginaries of the future.


Two critics called out how game developers tell stories about love and hate.

“Casting players in the role of a disembodied, almost godlike ruler, Stellaris struggles to comprehend fascism’s populist nature and metastasis. Forcing the player to pick and choose from a menu of political ideologies ignores the way these systems historically bleed into each other, how fascism emerges from dying democracies not as a valid alternative in the political buffet, but as a cancer.”


Turning to more ways that sexism plays out in games, gamers’ toxic interactions with women and female NPCs are analysed and critiqued in these two pieces.

“In Emily is Away Too, you can get the happy ending. That nub of wish fulfillment doesn’t sit right with me, in light of whose wishes are being fulfilled. Emily is Away was a game about frustrating the idea of “getting the girl.” Emily is Away Too is a game about getting the girl.”



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