June 9th

Welcome back, readers!

E3 is next week? I guess? We’ve got a very timely piece this week on the damaging effects of hype, which I enjoyed a great deal and which you can find below. On the academic circuit, it’s also conference season, and I’m looking forward to reading the thoughts and ideas that come my way from those venues.

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

Inclusive Insights

This week we’re starting with two selections on making games more inclusive, with both single-game and industry-wide perspectives accounted for.

“It’s not just a porn game for trans women. It’s unafraid to embrace the messy, traumatic parts of trans love and sex because it fundamentally cares about me as a trans woman.”

Temporary Files

In an medium that moves as fast as games, even the recent past can feel insurmountably remote. This is true in its literal sense when digital games are no longer available, and all the associated labour, art, and culture are lost. But this distance is also felt in the things we can go back to–be they yesterday’s classics, newly remade or rebooted, or yesterday’s social platforms and paradigms. Hope y’all enjoy each of these three pieces as much as I did.

“It’s a familiar story in an area of e-shops for games. Early this year, Nintendo shut down the Wii Shop Channel. The company also intends to stop supporting all services for the Wii Shop Channel, which means that players will lose access to any purchased games that they haven’t already downloaded. And that’s how piracy has become necessary in preserving these games; there are just no other options in these instances.”

Heged Bets

That’s not a typo, just a middling-to-poor attempt at a pun on hegemony (sigh), because that’s precisely what these three authors have in their sights this week. To elaborate, triple-A and indie spheres alike are vulnerable to the mainstreaming and elevation of more privileged voices at the expense of others, and that is all further exacerbated by hype culture in games. Read on to gain insights on this feedback loop from each of its three corners.

“Pre-release hype needs to stop. We’ve already had consumer advocate movements against pre-ordering, and that helps, but.. we need to stop listening when corporations tell us, very loudly, that their new game is important.”

Morality Play

Since the binary days of BioWare and BioShock, games have continued to iterate and evolve in how they think about the juxtaposition of choice and moral consequence. Three articles this week look at some fresh developments, as well as a long-building culmination.

Don’t Wake The Night, then, works to be a thing that can’t be fully absorbed. It works to not fit into a predictable model of games. When you make your judgment as a spirit at the end, you’re almost certainly not going to feel good about it. You didn’t have all the information. You didn’t have all the context. But that’s part of the power of the design of the game.”

Constrained Critiques

There’s very often a strong case to be made for a game sticking to one thing, one idea, and nailing its execution of that thing. When handled with care, this can produce strong and provocative results. But such a design approach can also be blinding if something vital is left out of the equation–human experience, for instance. Two authors this week articulate thoughtful critiques that touch upon constrained design.

“It is a collective rather than an individual tragedy, the narrative of a compromised and damaged group.”

Critical Chaser

Wait, hold on, Zelda wasn’t number one?

“Did you ever hear about the chicken who killed a guy with a knife? As an ever-curious critic, this made a question bubble up in my brain: Which videogame chickens could kick my ass?”


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