Investigative reporting on games culture has had a strong week, as well as histories of game design, development, and criticism. Our weekly roundup of critical writing on games, This Week in Videogame Blogging keeps you up to date with the most fascinating work exploring the medium, the field, and its communities.

A veil of jokes

Two pieces consider the practice of writing on games at major outlets – in particular, the kind of emotional labor or work of self-presentation that goes on when trying to portray the right kind of approachable personality.

“Generally, I’ve found that writing light-hearted or humorously about these issues results in less harassment, but it also feels like I’m hiding my true feelings behind a veil of jokes. Yes, I don’t like being mobbed by people who feel wronged if I so much as suggest that bikini armor is ridiculous, but I’m also a journalist, so I like to be able to have and express my own opinions.”

New game plus

Games history gets some fascinating treatment this week, with pieces surveying a host of technical and cultural developments.

“Although new game plus is relatively common mechanic that has been used to great effect within From Software’s recent games or older time-themed classics like Chrono Trigger, there are other lineages that Minit seems to be drawing from that many critics have referenced within their responses.”

Rough play

Two writers look into psychological issues expressed in and engendered by games. This section comes with a content warning for discussions of mental health problems and sexism.

“it’s hard to imagine a little rough play shocking anyone who’s likely to come across Agony, but it, and other would-be extreme games of its ilk like Lust for Darkness or Outlast 2, are at their core afraid of sex.”

Thank the fans

Three reporters look into game cultures, including a landmark piece of reporting breaking open the problems at one major workplace.

“If Cage and Quantic Dreams knew what was good for them, they’d thank these fans for the free advertising. Unfortunately for them, this fandom doesn’t seem to care about Cage at all.”

Anti-love lovers

Three writers look at videogame narratives, spanning cartoonish portrayals, absurdist interpersonal dynamics, and sensitive reflections of real-world pain.

“The game’s silent, “Doom Marine” protagonist and the demons are like soul mates—anti-love lovers whose entire raison d’être is the extermination of one another.”

Moving target

Two designers offer helpful ways of looking at expression and interaction in games.

“Adding new game elements or regularly changing existing ones will guarantee that players never truly see through a system. It becomes a constantly moving target.”

All assets are created equal

Bodies morphed into surreal spatial objects are explored in two very different pieces, one looking at contemporary art and one an icon from the videogames canon.

“Video games are produced under the assumption that all assets are created equal. This means that people are thought about in terms of their function.”


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