October 13th

Welcome back readers.

If you’re even casually interested in reading a weekly collection of critical discourse on games, there’s a non-trivial chance that you’re also aware by now that Blizzard did something notable this week not in thinking of its bottom line before its relationship with its partners, collaborators, and players, but in doing so in a public and blatant enough way that the backlash has been thoroughly harmonized and deafening. Extremely topical stuff doesn’t necessarily make for the most durable takes, so I’m holding off a bit before much of this material starts to make it into our roundups. With that being said, however, Cecilia D’Anastasio’s reflection this week, collected below, is too poignant to ignore.

And of course, there’s never just one story happening in games writing on any given week. There’s all kinds of cool stuff to take a look at today, so strap in and get spooky!

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

Industrial Strength Crit

We open this week with a pair of reflections on contemporary industry practices, both topical and evergreen. How do we square–or refuse to square–our consumption habits as players with the unchanging truth that corporations are absolutely never our friends?

“Emulation serves to make a point of what the history of videogames looks like. Giant companies that make millions be damned, Emulation allows more than a share of the working poor access to classic videogames. This is a point more important than anything true about archival history. Knowing that these games are safe somewhere is one thing. Everyone having access is much more important.”

Soft Edges

Three articles this week discuss the often-vulnerable and sometimes-miraculous things that happen when we come together in play.

“In We Met In May, being in love isn’t something that occurs at the end of a story. It’s an active experience, reflected in tiny moments that are the sum total of the closeness you feel with another person.”

Play in Context

In what ways are games and play embedded in our histories, communities, and social structures? In what way can games simulate these things, or effect change upon them? Two excellent longer-form pieces this week explore these questions.

“It’s uncertain whether people would venture to a gaming museum in the heart of Marvila, halfway between social housing and hipster hotspots. No one knows if this will address the district’s greater needs or be a stepping stone on the path to gentrification. And if it does pan out, there’s still lots of red tape between Silva and success. To someone else it might be a moonshot, but the librarian’s boundless energy and unshakable faith are what brought them here.”

5spooky4roundup

‘Tis the season, and in keeping with the spoopy vibes, here are five of this week’s finest Halloween-centric critical perspectives.

“Laura and Orewell aren’t genius detectives who are guaranteed to swoop in a save the day merely by coming into contact with the case. They’re quick to point out flaws in the other, or realize that they made a mistake investigating and should have said this or done that.”

Bad Goose

There’s been a bit of a gap so far in the early discourse around Untitled Goose Game: we all know that the Goose is bad–is supposed to be bad–but there’s been less discussion about the consequences of doing bad, as players, through the proxy of the Goose. Two authors this week attack this dichotomy more directly.

“So empty of context or motive, Untitled Goose Game is giving us whatever we’re looking for, so simultaneously, I can spin a story about the gardener’s last rose and make myself feel good about plucking it out from under him.”

Representational Spaces

It feels like there’s more ways to get into queer games than ever now, but the work is never done. What does good representation look like? What genres and spaces do queer creators inhabit, and what needs to be done to safeguard them? Two authors this week discuss.

“Because the blog post I wrote a month ago isn’t responding to KFC’s bullshit, many writers have unintentionally used it as a representative of the “frustration” around how dating sims and visual novels are treated. Others may use it as an apologia to shill their favorite corporate nonsense. Few articles point out the corporate marketing ideologies inherent in the work and in the end KFC gets free publicity from game journalism and content creators.”

Spaces and Stories

Two articles this week examine how spaces and places serve storytelling ends in games.

“Smoking shelters do not feel like home in Judgment, but they offer the same amount of power as a real one. Not only will you learn more about the people you come across, but you’re all on equal playing fields — nobody knows who you are. All you have in common is that you’re in the same grey, drab, paint slowly peeling due to sun damage, smoking shelter and you’re all wearing the same small, cancerous uniform: a cigarette.”

Critical Chaser

We close out this week with some sharp rhetorical analysis of perhaps the most wickedly funny popular game to come out this year.

  • The Client List | Unwinnable 
    Corey Milne peers into the seductive rhetorical quagmire at the heart of Void Bastards‘ crime-and-punishment satire.

Void Bastards ends with a shot showing a planet with a ring around it. This planet’s ring consists of packets of dehydrated prisoners, rather than rocks. Imprisoned indefinitely because the paperwork to process them all would be more trouble than they’re worth. So ends a game about being shafted by space Tories. A tale as old as time really.”


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