August-September Roundup: Oceans

Ahoy! Don’t tell me you thought we weren’t going to make landfall. Ba ha ha! I’ve been around this sea as many times as I can force these analogies. As you’re no doubt aware, we’ve come upon another round up for the Blogs of the Round Table! Over the past two months we’ve asked you to scour your thoughts for all things related to Oceans. Here’s what we’ve collected:

Cameron Kunzelman

How Games Make Me Confront the Terror of Open Spaces

As a part of Post Script at Waypoint, Cameron Kunzelman considers how he responds to the vast, unlit ocean in Sunless Sea. While other games point to the vulnerability that comes with being out in the open, Sunless Sea is a gradual, seeping terror marked by hostility:

It’s the understanding that you are taking a small craft out into a dark, violent place, and that there is nothing but kilometers of black ocean between you and the next location that you’re attempting to get to. And, for me, those numbers translate to a palpable feeling in my body. My boat trundles through the blackness, beacon shining out into the dark, and I get worried.

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Dante Douglas

Water Town Brings a Sense of History to Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds

Dante Douglas pens this short piece for Paste on a small, out-of-place settlement near the center of PUBG‘s play area. While most of the island feels like what Douglas calls a “paintball obstacles,” the area communally known as Water Town actually feels like a place that might have been inhabited. The experience of exploring Water Town is different, and the unknown catastrophe that gave it its name feels like it has history.

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Dante Douglas

Ten Years in Rapture: The Legacy of Bioshock

Douglas returns to paste just a few weeks later for another oceanic piece exploring the ripples left by the first Bioshock, a game and a legacy that continues to attract heated criticism. Douglas describes what the game and its city on the ocean floor continue to mean to him after so many years.

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Michael Hancock

Arrrrrunthrough of some thoughts on oceans and videogames

Michael Hancock applies his talent for eye-catching titles to this piece on writing and creating criticism more generally as a feeling of being “shipwrecked”:

Shipwreck may seem like a harsh metaphor for a lifetime of writing, but that’s how it feels sometimes, that I’m stuck on the figurative desert island, surrounded by the innumerable hulks of shipwrecked, never-realized ideas. I’m a meticulous, detailed researcher; I’m saying that not to brag, but to establish my frustration, that I chart out these fantastic voyages, but spend so much time on the charting that nothing ever finds its berth.

From there, Hancock discusses a handful of games that represent that sense of being shipwrecked more literally. Ultimately, Hancock looks most deeply at Final Fantasy VI, in which the hero Celes is stranded on an island with her sick grandfather and their waning hope.

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Simon MN

Denouement in Video Games

On the subject of being stranded: Simon MN takes to his personal blog to describe The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening as perhaps Link’s most personal journey to save the world. As committed as Link is to escaping the island, there is a sense of permanence and peace there as well:

In the gallery of Koholint, three items stand the test of time. First, the island as defined by its boundaries; that which is is definite because finite. Second, the empty vessel that crowns the world; an egg that hatches a new sun. Third, the angel that exits the dream; life reborn from the wreck.

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Taylor Hidalgo

Waterfront Property

Taylor Hidalgo gets the last word this month for his piece on a real-estate scam in Earthbound. Although the property offers nothing of value, and really just psyches the player out of a bunch of their money, it’s the kind of gag that fits with the game’s humour more broadly: a kind that can’t be approached too pessimistically. Make-believe money comes and goes all too easily and Hidalgo would rather take a look at the silver lining of his brand new beach home.

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Another journey logged, a new territory charted, a metaphor docked at last. Yes, this marks the end of our Summer Blogs of the Round Table but another will be setting sail shortly. We’re happy to have hosted this fine collection of pieces and we hope that you enjoyed reading them.

And, as always, we’re constantly eager to share with you more games criticism where we can, so don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or send us an email if you find something you’d like to bring to our attention. Likewise, consider helping us fund expansion into other projects by supporting us with a monthly Patreon contribution or a one-time Paypal donation. Thank you so much, and see you next month!