Welcome back, readers.
It’s a great week for critical games writing. Control seems to be the big game right now, and I swear I’ll play it as soon as I’m done with World of Warcraft Classic, which I’m playing for the first time. This game, it, uhh, it has an end, right?
Catherine is also a thing again, and by now I’ve read a good deal about its transphobic content. I’ve seen less about the game’s mishandling of polyamory, however, and so I really appreciate Natalie Degraffinried shining a light on that angle this week.
There’s plenty of other cool stuff this week to read, watch, and even play: check it out!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
(Content Notification: sexual/emotional abuse) Leading this week we have two pieces reflecting on the recent call-outs by survivors against abusers in the industry. These stories are still being told, and more are coming out as you read this. Everything we curate here we do because we feel it’s important, valuable stuff that should be read widely and repeatedly, but that goes double for the voices of survivors.
- my follow up post | Nathalie Lawhead
Nathalie Lawhead speaks out in the aftermath of calling out her abuser, and discusses the need for a cultural shift in games towards accountability.
- A Game Dev Documented Her Discomfort Of Networking As A Woman In This Tiny Game | Fanbyte
Victoria Rose looks at a microgame about everything that’s wrong with gendered interactions in the industry.
“Ever found yourself saying the sorts of things found in this game, and realizing how not-great it sounds? Or just want to improve yourself? Carbo-Mascarell believes you’re capable of doing better.”
Presented here are a pair of insightful meta-critiques, looking at culture and genre, and the state of games criticism respectively.
- Towards an Aesthetic of Latin American Videogames | Matajuegos
David T. Marchand discusses what gives a game a unique cultural identity and dispels the (hegemonic) framework of a universal game.
- PleaseFundMe: How Crowdfunding Is Changing the Way We Talk About Games | EGM
Zack Kotzer looks at the state of critical games writing and how crowdfunding is shifting its landscape.
“Games criticism doesn’t want for an audience. The challenge is turning that audience into income.”
Though I haven’t played it yet myself, Control is the first triple-A game to really grab my attention in a while, and it’s starting to gather some really cool critique and analysis from some of my favourite writers. Here are three standouts from the past week, all focusing on the game’s brooding, brutalist architecture.
- Control, Anatomy, and the Legacy of the Haunted House – YouTube
Jacob Geller ties Control‘s brutalist nightmare-palace to one of horror’s oldest architectural tropes.
- OFFICE – DEEP HELL
Skeleton observes how workplaces were the real haunted houses all along.
- Control’s Eerie Architecture Took Me Back To My College Days | Kotaku
Gita Jackson describes the affective power of Control‘s brutalist architecture.
“The Oldest House is every brutalist building. The style is so stratified that small architectural flourishes convey much more than just a time period. The portraits hanging in each waffled square of the boardroom walls remind me of the same waffling in Mudd’s basement, where my campus job was.”
The three authors gathered here all delve into yesteryear’s titles to examine the structural and thematic successes and failures going on under the hood. One day I’ll be able to afford a copy of Crusader of Centy, surely.
- World of Warcraft Classic’s community is all about kindness … mostly – Polygon
Cass Marshall finds that Classic has managed to reinvigorate the game’s sense of community spirit after all these years.
- Cute animal friends! Adorable derring-do! The casual slaughter of helpless innocents! – Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi reexamines a 16-bit action RPG with some sophisticated thematic deconstruction going on beneath its cheerful surface.
- Catherine: Full Body’s Successes Make Its Reductive Gender Tropes Sting So Much More | Kotaku
Natalie Degraffinried explains how the Catherine re-release still misses the mark on thoughtful treatments of sex, gender, and relationships.
“Despite the fact that in real life, polyamory often introduces yet more moving pieces to manage, the game treats it like a disordered free-for-all and frames monogamy as a sure shot for stability. Neither is true.”
I never get tired of learning about how gameplay experiences can provoke strong and specific feelings, and the three authors showcased here all offer unique perspectives on contemporary games.
- I Can’t Convince My Friends That Overcooked 2 Is Fun, Not Stressful | Kotaku
Cecilia D’Anastasio discusses the surprising fidelity of Overcooked 2‘s stressful simulation of kitchen workplace dynamics.
- In Outer Wilds, Summer Camp is Home – Videodame
Andrew King muses on the comfort of returns, here on Earth and out in the Wilds.
- Not So Free – Caged Bird Don’t Fly, Caught In A Wire | RE:BIND
Emily Rose thinks though an indie experience about the prison of routine.
“We fly around our cages, biting at the exterior, flapping our clipped wings as we panic, looking for answers to the things that constrain us. For a brief moment, we see a gap, a small passage that may finally yield escape, we budge, trying to push through only to realize it’s never that easy.”
I had no idea fans were out there making K.K. Slider versions of popular songs. That. . . feels good.
- K.K. Slider Is The Most Influential Musician Of Our Generation | Kotaku
Nina Corcoran profiles the Good Boy, the legend, as well as his creator, his lasting influence, and his expansive fandom.
“If a musician’s goal is to make music that gets stuck in your head, then K.K. Slider already won. But the Animal Crossing icon takes his role a step further by exploring overlooked music genres, giving his music away for free, putting on regular concerts, and influencing fans to further (or even begin) their songwriting education.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!