October 7th

We are, without a doubt, in the midst of the busiest time of year for big-name game releases, but for the first time in a few weeks, the most important elements of the discourse–for me at least–haven’t been tied to any specific new game. Sure, there’s another Assassin’s Creed out, and yes, it’s riddled with microtransactions, but this week the most interesting stories transcend any one game, or any one developmental trend (however galling microtransactions continue to be).

There’s some phenomenal writing on race and gender representation in games this week that I hope you’ll take the time to check out, as well as important developments on the growing conversation of labour in games. And that’s just some of what captivated me and moved me this week–read on and see what else is happening in the discourse right now. This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.

Race

I’ve been really happy to see discussions of racial representation in games front-and-centre this week. This week’s four selections look at both positive and negative trends in games large and small.

“His relationship with the police is friendly and supportive, where the thin blue line is one that never becomes a net or noose for this vigilante – one who’s sometimes called in by the police itself. At time when young African-American men can’t even live in their own home without being killed by US cops, it’s hard to ignore white immunity at play.”

Working at Play

The larger conversation on labour in games, recently reinvigorated by the collapse of Telltale, continues this week. These four authors reflect on what that labour is worth in terms of personal and emotional cost, be it as developers or journalists, professionals or hobbyists.

“Games are made by people. And if we care about games, at all, we need to care about the people who make them. In fact, I think we need to care about the people a lot more than we care about the games.”

Fem/Masc

I’m always interested in reading about gender representation in games–the more genders, the better–and one of the topics that I keep coming back to is the contrast between representations of the feminine and the masculine. One could stand to see more critical interrogation in games, while the other still fights to be included at every turn, and these two articles, I think, really highlight that divide.

“Henry is characterized as a hypermasculine protagonist, but the game actively refuses to let the player perform that masculinity, enabling instead the performance of a subtle, complex, and well-developed male character.”

Queering the Normative

Three articles this week look at different kinds of queerness in games, not only in terms of the representation of people and communities, but also in terms of queering heteronormative trends and modes of thought.

“Do representations of non-monogamies in game narratives break with or reinforce mononormative and heteronormative tropes? How might challenging the normative dynamics of compulsory monogamy open up new and more complex game dynamics and narratives?”

Second Screen Experience

A pair of authors this week offer some great insights on how our modern digital devices are themselves represented in modern digital games, and how those inclusions relate to other aspects of game design and argument.

“The suggestion, I guess, is that Zelda’s wildernesses have always been digital artefacts and its designers have always had to navigate this strange truth. And this plays out on several levels in Breath of the Wild.”

Text to World

How do games affect the social relationships we navigate in the material world? How do they fuel our expectations, our biases? This is one of the questions that led me to the study of games in the first place, and these four selections each take the question in provocative and valuable directions.

“In the autumn, as the leaves fall, I yearn for games that ask me to consider what I can’t do. I want games that give me the old gut check and say “hey, you’re just a human, and this is all that humans can do.” Because that’s the antidote to the bullet and the fist solving the plot problems.”

Just for Fun

I have nothing witty to say about this one. This is a thing that exists, and the author showcased willingly subjected herself to it.

“I’ve been having trouble waking up on time recently, so I downloaded a new alarm for my phone that makes me play a mini game before it turns off. It’s the best and worst decision I have ever made.”


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