November 18th

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about my editorial voice, and how to try and use it for good.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how to balance the level-headed approach I believe curating quality games criticism demands with the subjectivity I inevitably bring to the role as an embodied (and let’s be honest, kind of undisciplined) individual who cares about things.

Some weeks, that may involve getting past my initial frustration that we’re having the same conversation again about where all the good games writing is, trying to understand what kind of place that question keeps coming from, and how to use that question to steer the conversation in a positive direction. Other weeks, it involves trying to get a handle on my excitement when somebody’s writing about some obscure game from the 90’s I haven’t heard about since the 90’s.

Other weeks, like this one, it involves reflecting on my ongoing desire to curate and signal-boost as much queer games crit as possible, and how to keep my energy and enthusiasm up when, say, my provincial government pulls identity-erasing bullshit like this.

I’m a messy editor. I let my feelings leak into my roundups and guide the connections and narratives I weave between the articles that I curate. That’s true even when my feelings are influenced by headlines that aren’t directly connected to games, such as the one I linked above.

It is all connected, though. Games are at the forefront of cultural ubiquity, and the critical lenses we apply when we talk about those games matter. This is one reason among many why I want games criticism to be more intersectional, more queer, more accessible, more Mad & Crip, more everything to do with identity. I think pushing for a more inclusive games criticism is part of the much larger project of pushing back against narratives of marginalization and erasure in general–the narratives we are seeing more of in the news cycle these days.

Because messy people play games.

Because messy people make games.

Because messy people write about games.

And so I’ll allow myself a little messiness as I do my best to promote and honour all that messy writing.

This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.

Gaming Games Crit

Two authors this week each offer insightful, relational meditations on games writing, considering the other spheres that writing intersects with, and occasionally rubs up against.

“If the wider public knows too little about a game developer to accurately judge the claim of 100-hour work weeks, it is because too often, developers determine who gets to speak to them, for them and what shape the conversation takes.”

Spaces and Races and Space Races

Two articles this week investigate the relationship between virtual and embodied spaces in games, alternately though synthesis in VR and affective association in racing games. I’m also disproportionately giddy that Extreme-G is getting name-dropped this week.

“my first experiences with racing games made me absolutely obsessed with the places that the tracks took place on. The sense of life or strangeness they embodied, because they were places I could explore.”

By Design

There’s lots of great writing this week looking at design choices in games, from both player and developer perspectives. Narrative, perspective, theme, accessibility, and therapy are all part of this week’s conversation.

““Video games are a big industry. And to youth, they’re a big world. I’ve had youth who primarily communicate in memes. Understanding video games to work with them is just the next evolution of working with a client. You can’t come into it outdated, trying to play Monopoly or something. It’s all about trying to find ways to access youth on a level that they’re comfortable with.””

Timely Takes

Two authors this week bring in thoughtful reflections on the historical context that games invoke with their narrative elements, either with careful intention, or as a problematic product of precedent.

“In the world of Odyssey (as well as its predecessor, Assassins Creed: Origin), the gods aren’t just figures in tales, they’re part of the world. It’s one thing to read the stories of Athena, Theseus, and Medusa on the page, it’s another to feel them all around you, reflected in the thoughts, actions, and beliefs of everyone you meet.”

Truer Stories

Three articles this week–Two of them on Red Dead Redemption II–look at the ways in which series successfully iterate upon their founding narrative ideas to produce sequels with greater depth, complexity, and yes, authenticity.

“These horse interactions are the “hug button” or the “chat with demons” absent from lots of games primarily about killing people. At first, they seem like a minor quirk—Arthur is great at murdering, but he loves his horses!—but, over time, the system and Arthur’s behaviour are revealed as the core of his personality and the game’s major thematic concern: how to maintain humanity in even the most inhuman circumstances.”

Just for Fun

I’m an unapologetic fan of Gita Jackson’s writing on The Sims. I found this week’s offering on the latest game’s latest expansion to be equal parts artful and hilarious.

“When I moved to Del Sol Valley, I was so sure that it was going to be my ticket to fame. Instead, I’m in round after round of auditions for bit parts and commercial spots. Meanwhile, my two weird, nerdy roommates are streaming themselves to superstardom.”


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