May 26th

Welcome back, readers.

So, gaming disorder, huh? That’s a thing this week. I’m interested to see what kinds of critical responses emerge on this topic over the coming weeks, and how that influences (or doesn’t influence) the turn by big publishers towards steadily more predatory forms of microtransactions.

Also, this game boy with a crank was announced, drew headlines from across the tech sphere, and promptly got flak for having a roster of developers that’s pretty white and male. Again, I’m looking forward to ongoing conversations on who “gets” to be quirky in games, who “gets” to take risks–but also on whom the burden falls to be and do these things.

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

Business as Usual

This week we’re starting with a pair of industry examinations, looking at cycles of labour and exploitation that have been associated with games from the beginning.

“Revising the history around the game crash matters because otherwise what remains is corporation-worship that puts a magnifying glass on profit margins while disguising human effort and lives.”

Evening the Odds

Two selections this week examine two examples–past and present–of the need under patriarchy to carve out and defend spaces for women in tech, computing, and games.

“There’s plenty of back-and-forth between the desire to just blend in with the community, but we’re not at a point where there is gender parity in esports. Women’s events relieve players of pressure of being women in a male-dominated industry, while still showcasing the importance of their presence in the space.”

The Wheel

Each of these three articles discusses a different kind of intervention in storytelling in games, whether it be how the story is written, read, or both.

“I know these secrets are reserved for those who have prayed, and gotten through it — I know this game has more eyes that I haven’t seen yet. Knowing the secrets but never having felt them for myself is part of the sting of the obsession: watching young men play through the game offering largely inane commentary, reading archived blog posts on the subject, seeking other people who have been there and have met the weird eye of the duck, too.”

Capital Ideas

Games, themselves commodities under capitalism, naturally reproduce profit-driven economies of sorts within their systems with regularity. Sometimes, it is fun, and this is the point. Sometimes, it is really, really not fun–and again, this is the point. Two authors this week look at an example of each.

“‘Your gardening is improving’ becomes the panacea to all kinds of ruthlessness as you gain levels and your once profitable empire of ladybird production is discarded for sweet, sweet yak cash.”

Purely Cosmetic

For all the talk of Overwatch as some beacon of queer inclusivity in AAA games, the game in practice sure disappoints on a regular basis. Two authors this week look at where the game misses or meets–no, wait, misses again–the mark when it comes to limited time skins.

“However, despite creating fun designs that many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community adore, the game still does not truly reflect our lived experiences or tastes.”

The Strange and the Familiar

This week we’ve got a pair of insightful readings of virtual space–how we navigate it, how we dress it up, how we make it appealing, how we make it ours.

“By redefining our conception of the end of the world, our anxieties about it actually occurring become easier to manage. Given the cataclysmic headlines of most daily news chatter, it’s no wonder players want a reprieve.”

Critical Chaser

So many good and precious sons.

“Sonhood is an ineffable quality, but those Pokemon who attain it tend to have one or more of the following attributes: a large, powerful body, a foolish-looking grin, elegance, refinement, and, of course, a total lack of respect.”


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