This Week in Video Game Blogging we take a more theory-oriented and sensitive turn. The main themes in writings produced this week revolve around how video games adapt and appropriate styles and genres; how we perform our identity and gender as game-players and game-creators; and what expectations we have when it comes to our play experience. There is also a video on Detroit: Become Human, which is a game I haven’t played yet but really want to, and didn’t want it spoiled, so I just watched the video with my hands covering the screen while fast-forwarding through the spoiler-y bits. Please don’t be too mad, I think I still got the gist of it.

Style and Genre

These pieces all speak to how video games approach the questions of style, language, and meta. Horror, the macabre, punk, surrealism, even – through what means are these achieved?

  • Astrid Budgor : Dream on the Screen | Paratopic | Heterotopias.
    Astrid Budgor unpacks what makes Paratopic a game indie horror fans will find refreshing, but gentle and easily shaken souls like me will avoid at all costs. Have a read for some juicy critical theory, pscychoanalysis, cinematic parallels, and plenty more!
  • What Makes A Game Punk? – YouTube, Writing on Games
    Writing on Games knows what they’re talking about. This video offers an info-heavy and thoroughly researched bundle of arguments for what ‘punk’ means when it comes to games. Is it something stylistic? Is it the message? Or the circumstances of production?
  • When Is It Okay to Localize and Not Localize? | Legends of Localization
    A best-practice guide to localisation, Clyde Mandelin’s piece also contains a handy list of links to other writings on localisation in games. Is language an integral part of the game, or can we allow translators and localisers some leeway?
  • The indie story RPG and Fortune-499 | Radiator Blog
    Level designer Robert Yang provides food for thought on how indie games can use their own game-ness as a metaphor for narrative effects. Particularly interesting is the concept of ‘encounters’ which he prefers over puzzles.

‘It’s about what our many “encounters” mean to us, and understanding that encounter-space means we understand ourselves better.’

Performing identity and gender

Queer-ness, woman-ness, and generally, human-ness in and around games.

‘Defining your identity is a tricky thing. We rarely remain static, constantly engaging with and consuming information. The cells that form our masses of meat fade away over time and so too does our interpretations of ourselves. Our places within such generalizations like race can complicate things even further, making us question what it even means to be a part of something so varied and diverse.’

What do we want from games?

Chill? Mindless shooting and looting? Resurrecting good old times? Role-playing our darkest fantasies? Or just a good pirate game, please, pretty please?

‘I crave that numbness The Division is known for, I want to displace my anxieties; this could not come at a better time. Character creator could be better, but whatever, I’m just looking for that loot grind… right?’

Introspective indeed. I’m sure we can all relate.

‘There are plenty of “Souls-like” games out there, aping mechanics and iterating on the original game’s design. But they are not Dark Souls and, like moths attracted to flame, the culture at large returns to the game that started it all once more.’

  • Pillars Of Eternity II: The Kotaku Review
    Nathan Grayson and I share our expectations when it comes to things we want ‘From A Classic RPG Revival That Also Happens To Be About Pirates’. Sadly, it appears we need to wait some more before our wish comes true, for while Pillars of Eternity II is a lovely game, it doesn’t quite make you feel attached to it.
  • In Cultist Simulator, Death Is Only The Beginning | Kotaku
    A short diary of Gita Jackson about trying desperately to build a cult, but forever dying, and how that’s a good thing.

And now on to heavier stuff…