February 25th

What kind of people do we want to be? What kinds of people do we become when we play games? And how are our gameplay experiences shaped by who we already are? This week, critics, journalists, and video essayists discussed morality, identity, and social pressure in games.

Adherence

Two critics highlight different ways that games give us new contexts that we have to get used to by changing our behaviors and expectations.

  • What’s up with “VR Experiences?” 
    Discussing Skyrim VR and Apollo 11 VR, Rampant Coyote articulates a dynamic that might be specific to the state of VR at this point in its history – the process of getting used to an unfamiliar place.
  • Do Videogames Turn Us Into Bad People? | Paste 
    Holly Green uses personal stories and scholarly research to explore the moral ambiguities of play, with a particular focus on bad behavior in The Sims.

“While our personal values play a factor in our satisfaction, how we act in games has more to do with how we view ourselves and our impact in the real world, rather than arbitrary adherence to rules and social order for their own sake.”

Self-identity

Two writers considered the lenses through which people experience and critique tabletop games.

“Underpinning this game is a exercise on how our food, and our almost instinctive responses to their tastes, reveal our perception and self-identity.”

Music

Usually writing on music in games is relatively thin on the ground – this week brings two pieces examining the role of orchestral compositions in interactive storytelling.

Emotional labor

In a remarkable little bit of serendipity, this week brought two separate investigations of emotional labor in games that portray romantic relationships between women and men, both of them nuanced and enlightening.

“It’s not just about the labour of making someone feeling happy or contented in an interaction between individual players, but unravels the fabric of social pressures, the processes, and the implications around these dynamics.”

History

Two great pieces on history and games were published this week – if this is your jam, don’t forget to submit a piece of writing to this month’s Blogs of the Round Table feature, which takes on the theme of history.

“No-one here uses monster parts to forge stronger weapons or armour so they can challenge and dismember even more powerful monsters, but bestiaries and Monster Hunter share an obsession with the valuable substances created by exotic animal bodies.”

Community

Two critics reflected on how systems shape our social lives and responsibility to others, in videogames and on digital platforms.

“Each marker represents another community that I can make better using our influence. As my power grows, so does the pressure to help everyone.”

Subnautica

This deep sea stealth game is provoking some interesting reflections on anxiety and the perceptions of space.

“No matter how successful I am through the course of the game, I never shed that feeling of anxiety, the sense that anything and everything can and will kill me if I slip up. That feeling is awful, and it should make me hate it, but just above it is something else.”


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