January 13th

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

Welcome readers! Last week I was delighted to present a whole bunch of writing on queer game studies, but since no amount of queer games writing is too much (or let’s be real, enough), this week’s roundup opens with a section focused specifically on queer masculine sexuality.

Bodies in general are a recurring theme this week: queer bodies, Black bodies, bodies in love, bodies in grief, bodies in laughter, bodies and interface devices. . . bodies are important! We only get one each, after all.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our annual roundup by Eric Swain, as well as Dan Parker’s Critical Compilation on The Last of Us, the first in a series of seven upcoming compilations we will be publishing.

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

Men at Play

A recurring theme among authors this week is a focus on queer masculine sexuality, the representation of which often lags behind queer feminine sexuality in games. Three writers this week take stock of the situation with different games.

“Getting through Mass Effect 1 and with your identity intact as a gay man is an act of resistance. It’s to look a heteronormative world in the face and say “no, you will not define who I am in this universe.””

Please Check Controller Port 1

Four authors this week investigate the myriad intersections between our messy bodies and our often just-as-messy game controllers. I’m also feeling a little called out for owning a Power Glove.

“What possible futures might we be able to build if we do not limit ourselves to the past that existed but instead to the past we choose to remember?”

Mass Affect

Have I used that subtitle before? Quite possibly. I’m always keenly interested in critical writing exploring and/or critiquing the role affect plays in game experiences, and these four examples offer some top-notch interrogations.

“This is my Game of the Year that couldn’t make my list. Sometimes there’s just too much to hold it all together, and Heaven Will Be Mineunderstands that. It understands the year I’m having, the impulse to throw the towel in, but also it wants to remind us of the importance of connection, of new ways, even if they’re unsuccessful. But maybe this was a game I wasn’t supposed to play until after this year ran its course. Maybe this was exactly when I needed to play it, floating adrift between the last year and the next, just wanting someone to hold these pieces together with me.”

Gated Play Communities

Games continue to lag behind their player communities in terms of representation, and many of those players are tired of waiting for developers to play catch-up. Two authors this week highlight the push for play spaces that better represent the players who inhabit them.

“My identity was shifting and changing, trying out words like bigender and genderfluid, yet scared to settle on being a trans woman. To me, they were still the ‘other’, a group that I couldn’t possibly be a part of, yet I somehow knew was real. The people in that community didn’t want the change either. They were more comfortable with a trap, a femboy, something they didn’t have to bother understanding or learning to respect.”

Critical Hits

Gathered here are three articles that apply novel critical approaches to established games to say something new about them.

“The game’s narrative frame lays the groundwork for a proper Metal Gear timeline and introduces the idea that the world has been marching on without Solid Snake (or the player), which plays into Metal Gear 2’s core theme of undermining any sense of success that Snake or the player felt after the end of Metal Gear. Sequels often undo the tidy endings of previous games in a series, and Metal Gear 2 is no exception.”

Lolgorithms

How do you design for humor in a game? Two authors this week look at very different games to establish frameworks for going from fun to funny.

Hitman takes something primal and dramatic—murder—and asks that you regard it as a logic puzzle. It feels right, or at least not as incongruous as if you were discussing a stand-up routine or a cartoon or a doctor, doctor joke, or something, to try and work out exactly the ways that this game generates laughter.”

Just for Fun

I’m not deliberately curating bad RollerCoaster Tycoon ideas in this section, but if the bad ideas keep coming, I’m probably going to keep sharing them.


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