December 8th

Welcome back, readers.

First things first: If you haven’t already seen Kris’ post on the site, it’s time for our end-of-year review, and we’re looking for your submissions and recommendations as we put everything together. Remember that both works that have and have not already been included in our weekly roundups are eligible for consideration, as long as they debuted in 2019.

Speaking of reviews, as we close in on the end of the 2010s (or not, depending on how That Guy you want to be about it), I’m seeing plenty of decade-in-review-type things around the web, but I’m most intrigued this week by forward-looking perspectives, and these comprise our headlining section for the week.

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

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

We open this week with a pair of powerful pieces meditating on the future (or possible non-future) of both games and games criticism.

“Put simply, someone who loves games as a medium but who proclaims that, say, Super Metroid is a bad game, or that Half-Life is a bad game, and who has the arguments to back it up, would have a harder time getting their foot in the door at an established site than someone who enthusiastically agrees with the established critical canon, or at least they would have when I inhabited that world professionally.”

Making Connections

Collected here are three of the week’s most insightful critiques on Death Stranding, which, if Carolyn Petit’s article above is any indication (hint: it is), will continue to accumulate diverse and provocative critical perspectives for the foreseeable future.

“Taking place within a world filled with existential horror where nobody (especially not a president named Samantha America Strand) can be wholly relied upon, Death Stranding says that making connection the foundation of everything we do is the only realistic path through the fear, uncertainty, and confusion that defines the present and its own vision of the future.”

Player Who

The four articles gathered here alternately look at identity construction and identity representation in games, and focus both on player-customizable and non-player-customizable characters.

“It’s so much more than simply being a “queer narrative” acting as a direct catalyst for the player to step into a skin that may not be their own, but one that allows them to reflect their innermost feelings. A space in which they can safely explore how it feels to be referred to by pronouns different than the ones they’ve used their whole life, to entertain the questions they’ve built up about gender and how they relate to it, to gain a sense of what romance and sex feel like when not having a gender imposed on you but to experience it with the one that you have chosen.”

The Price of Survival

Here are a pair of very different and vital perspectives united by a common question of how to navigate games under the ethical quandries imposed by capitalism, operating from creator and player standpoints, respectively.

“Initially I wanted to write about Eliza and Neo Cab as being cardinal examples of anti-capitalist games with explicitly revolutionary themes, goals or endings. But the more I’ve teased these games apart in my mind the more I know that’s not a great way to frame either.”

Make

Check out this pair of design-minded critiques, with attention given to the oft-neglected (at least in this Discourse) domain of tabletop design.

“Given that people typically view games as lighthearted fun, managers may ignore complaints about business games. However, implicitly or explicitly endorsing a business game’s ableist content and inaccessible mechanics would perform a role similar to microaggressions by validating negative self-worth for people with disabilities.”

Play

Two authors this week reflect on feelings engendered by their play experiences.

“My New York is a little village that you’d miss if you blinked at the wrong moment. I arrived here by accident, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but a train ticket and a few dollars in my pocket. It took me a while, but after being here for a year, I’ve finally got my bearings and settled down.”

Critical Chaser

Two lighter meditations this week deal with the things y’all love to hate in popular games. Or is it hate to love?

“There’s a lineage of hammy overlords that, almost excessive by today’s standards, breathe considerable life into simple stories of good and evil. Realism is often compelling, too. Seeing Joel and Ellie believably react to horrible situations and people in The Last of Us can be gut-wrenching. But there’s something to be said for excess. For the moments a villain flicks their cape and laughs maliciously.”


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