Although it’s typical for AAA games to attract the majority of the in-depth writing, in the context of increasing tension around labor exploitation, more critics are considering the power dynamics of big publisher corporations and populist gamer culture. This week in videogame blogging, writers look at impactful mods and bootlegs, the role of games in political protest, and alternative histories.
Three writers look at creepy places and the art of creeping around.
- Gamasutra: Travis Hoffstetter’s Blog – The Anatomy of a Stealth Encounter
Travis Hofstetter gives game developers a guide to common ingredients making up the design of a typical stealth level.
- Hauntological Remediation – First Person Scholar
Andrew Bailey looks at how screens and distorted vision make games such as Resident Evil and the The Beginning Hour feel haunted by the past.
- Brick By Brick / What is the “Deep”?
Doshmanziari explores architectural imaginings of the limits of human understanding.
“Just because we can detect or observe an object or force does not mean that we understand either.”
In writing on videogame storytelling, two critics examine the duality between militaristic bravado and tense intimacy.
- Destiny 2’s Quiet Moments Do the Story’s Heavy-lifting | Unwinnable
Yussef Cole describes some lovely moments of chill that seem to provide relief from the epic bombast associated with AAA videogameyness.
- Metal Gear Solid: Military masculinity and homoerotica
Ruben Ferdinand examines Hideo Kojima’s politicization of masculine tropes.
“What Metal Gear Solid presents is a type of masculinity that overlaps with war fiction of the 80s and the visual tensions of gay porn. Kojima idolises the soldier, not the state, and means to recreate this through a politically complicated series where soldiers defect to fight the state itself.”
Three pieces consider how different versions of history proliferate in and around games.
- The imagined importance of the blockbuster game – Brian Crimmins – Medium
Brian Crimmins argues for the importance of bootlegs and mods in game design history.
- Does bad archaeology make for the best games? • Eurogamer.net
Philip Boyes makes the case for caring about stories that don’t rely on fantastical imaginings of prehistory.
- Two histories of Myst – Picking Up the Pieces – Medium
John Gabriel Adkins tells a labyrinthine historiography of Myst, comparing different accounts of the game’s impact on games culture.
“This is the slippery, ephemeral nature of our game history, passed along through half-memories and demographic survival alone. Left vulnerable to distortion, it became distorted: within four or seven years, the truth inverted itself.”
The relationship between games and power come out in three pieces on politics, art, and resistance.
- Gamers and managers vs workers: the impossible (and gendered) standards imposed on game developers | Overland literary journal
Brendan Keogh breaks down the power dynamics between corporations, employees, and fans, that allow harassment to thrive and workers’ rights to wither.
- In Argentina, a Pro-Choice Advocate Protests with a DOOM Mod | Kotaku
Diego Argüello looks at a remarkable intervention made by artist Florencia Rumpel that shows the absurdity of turning the fetus into an icon.
- Video Games’ Ubiquitous Influence On Art Exhibit ‘I Was Raised on the Internet’ – Variety
Dan Solberg interviews artists whose work has been included in a Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition, and draws out threads of discourse relating to the affordances of the medium for critically-challenging creative expression.
“This seems an apt avenue for bridging the art/games divide—viewing video games not just as a technological medium, but as a multimodal cultural force with all the complexities of human interaction included.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!