Follow me as we dive back into gaming’s history to learn something, stand alone against inner demons, and collectively stand together in self sacrifice. Welcome to another installment of This Week in Videogame Blogging!
Ninja Theory’s stealth release, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice released this week and has already made a critical splash.
- How Hellblade’s permadeath works isn’t the point | PC Gamer
Right off the bat Hellblade caught controversy with a design decision that Reid McCarter here defends as thematically relevant to the game’s purpose.
- Hellblade’s battle with mental illness is an agonizing story only games could tell | A.V. Club
The title there really says it all as Matt Gerardi goes down the aesthetic and design decisions that allow the game to fulfill that purpose.
- Religion and Psychosis in Helllade: Senua’s Sacrifice | GameChurch
M. Joshua Cauller looks at Hellblade’s blending of its representation of mental illness and the character’s religious beliefs:
“This is the thing about Hellblade that’s the most clear: Seuna’s distinction between religious reality and mental illness isn’t something she’s equipped to handle by herself. Maybe that’s why she needs the player? It also reflects the reality of religious expression at larger: you can’ make it alone.”
Supergiant’s game Pyre continues to sink into the consciousness of its players.
- Pyre and the Impermanence of Found Families | Paste Magazine
Dante Douglass highlights the cycle of the Rites and how they reflect the bonds created in group struggles against the “hyperindividualist” nature of success in the games.
- Embracing Defeat in Pyre | GameChurch
Joey Thurmond sees the Rites differently by “deconstructing our preconceived notions about winning” and through them we can sacrifice for the good of others.
- Pyre and Responsibility | PostMesmeric (Video: auto-captions)
On YouTube, PostMesmeric says Pyre makes its choices matter by baking player responsibility into the game’s design and uses an example of an experience in a match to highlight how.
What the Game is About
- Gears of War Flexes for the World to See | Bullet Points Monthly
Reid McCarter looks back on Gears of War and concludes that the game undercuts its own militarism and masculinity and becomes commentary on the same.
- The All Too Prescient Assassin in ‘Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate’ | PopMatters
Nick Dinicola comes back to Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate to find he can’t hate it as much as he’s used to because reality has stooped to its cartoon depictions of authoritarianism.
- The Dread of ‘Fallout Shelter’ Was Never Meant to Be This Palpable | Waypoint
Unlike the tags Fallout Shelter has garnered on Steam, “survival, management, etc., Cameron Kunzelman ultimately sees it daily life anxiety simulator.
- Sethian: The Hurts and Horrors of Misunderstanding | ZEAL
Usually not understanding is a bad thing, but pip d finds their disappointment towards Sethian part of the experience of playing that elevated the game’s message.
“And in having this disappointed, I ended up appreciating it a whole lot more; once I gave up trying to exert my own influences on the game, to get what I thought I wanted out of it, I was finally able to listen to the subtle messages it was giving. In being let down I understood, perhaps, that the meaning I derived from the experience of playing imparted more to me than anything its creator could have imagined.”
Dissecting the Meta Implications
- Dissecting The Dream Daddy Discourse | Women Write About Comics
Melissa Brinks asks what we mean when we talk about visual novels, highlighting the innate condescension the press puts forth even for positive write ups of Dream Daddy.
- Baldur’s Gender | Campo Santo Quarterly
Did you know Baldur’s Gate has 19 genders? You didn’t? You want to know why? Duncan Fyfe has got you covered.
- What the dead say in World of Warcraft | un bot pourrait faire ca (Video with English subtitles)
Un bot pourrait faire ca speaks about Eron Rauch’s photography project of making a record of the dead in World of Warcraft and what they can tell us about the game.
- 10 Ways in Which Sonic the Hedgehog Wasn’t About Speed | Significant Bits
Radek Koncewicz breaks down the myth of Sonic and speed by highlighting the level design meant to slow the pace down and provide a depth to said levels.
- One year on, is No Man’s Sky the game it should have been? | Eurogamer
After multiple major patches, Oli Welsh dives back in to see how they have altered the experience of what players got and towards what was promised
- Comparing the cityscapes of The Witcher 3, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne to medieval paintings | Eurogamer
Andreas Inderwildi find that these three games succeed in giving a more accurate portrayal of medieval cities than what is stereotypically pictured by comparing them to the art of the time.
- How Games Make Me Confront the Terror of Open Spaces | Waypoint
Cameron Kunzelman finds Sunless Sea more potent for its open spaces.
“The Sunless Sea feeling is wonder. There is what I know, and then there is the stuff that is beyond it, and then there’s me trying to figure it out. The philosopher Immanuel Kant called it the sublime. Video games are always trying to tap into this feeling, but these quiet moments where I am pressing up against my own ability to continue playing the game are the only times that I really feel it.”
- The striking difference between liking and wanting | Gamasutra
Sita Vriend differentiates between two kinds of pleasure we experience, liking and wanting, as another way of delineating the ethos of a game’s values summed up as which one makes them want to come back to your game.
Too often the past is forgotten or even worse, never learned. Learning about the past is a necessity and sometimes even fun, but always illuminating about the present.
- A Brief History of Game Jams | Gamasutra
Sande Chen’s short excerpt from The Game Jam Guide, runs down the events that beget the modern game jam.
- Extrapolating Current Design Trends in Escape Rooms | Reality is a Game
Adam Clare goes over the growth and evolution of real world Escape the Room games over the past few years and where trends could lead them in the future.
- Threats fake names and philanthropy: The untold story of Jane Whittaker | gameindustry.biz
Thank you to James Batchelor for bringing Jane Whittaker’s story to light. The story of a developer whose touched over 100 games including Goldeneye, Alien vs. Predator and The Sims who was forced to hide behind assumed names because of their birth circumstances.
- Tales from the Borderlands: The Oral History | Campo Santo Quarterly
With interviews from over a dozen people who worked on the game, Duncan Fyfe compiles a bunch of behind the scene stories of how it got made.
- How American Game Companies Avoid Paying Income Tax | Super Bunnyhop (Video: no captions at time of publication)
George Weisman does some journalistic digging into the specifics of tax shelters game companies use and have lobbied to create.
Movie Length Criticism
Warning, these videos are long and comprehensive.
- Prey – A Critique of the Mind Games | Joseph Anderson (Video: auto-captions)
Joseph Anderson dives in deep with Prey, a game he saw get sidelined among the dense 2017 release schedule that he felt deserved more scrutiny.
- CRYSIS Identity: A Franchise Retrospective | Noah Caldwell-Gervais (Video: auto-captions)
From its original graphics powerhouse to its two disappointing sequels, Noah Caldwell-Gervais journeys through the franchise to find lessons about the gaming medium.
“When we ask the question how are games art, we usually try to put our medium’s best foot forward with something that fits neatly in predefined artistic categories. Ask that question with Crysis, you get a much more complicated answer, but one that gets closer to the heart of what makes games such a remarkably complicated medium to be creatively expressive in.”
- WASD Magazin
German publication WASD Magazine are Kickstarting an international edition. Her are some selected essays that they have already translated.
- The Computer Games Journal – Special Issue on Accessibility in Gaming Call for Papers
The Computer Games Journal is a Springer academic journal that is doing a special issue in early 2018. Guest Editor Micheal Heron is putting out the call for papers and announcing they are relaxing the scope of the journal to include accessibility in all games not just computer games.
- July Roundup: Denouement
The latest edition of Blogs of the Round Table has come out.
- August-September 2017: Oceans
And the launching of the topic for the next edition has as well.
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!