Welcome back readers.
New monthly vlog roundup! Go on and check it out; I’ll wait here.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Towards a Better Industry for Everyone
Each inclusion in this opening selection of pieces elaborates in some way on how the games industry (along both developmental and journalistic axes) continues to fail marginalized people, though Heather Alexandra’s article also gestures to some of the other issues/conversations in games that seem to be caught in a vicious cycle with incremental progress at best.
- What it’s like sharing your #metoo with Kotaku (a cautionary tale) | Nathalie Lawhead
Nathalie Lawhead describes how their testimony as a sexual assault survivor was mishandled and abused by the press and why shit really, really needs to change (content notification for discussion of sexual assault).
- We Keep Having The Same Video Game Arguments And It’s Driving Me Bonkers | Kotaku
Heather Alexandra laments the cyclical arguments players and developers continue to dredge up against inclusivity, politics, and artistry in gaming.
- Gamasutra – The top 7 reasons women quit game development
Pixelles breaks down why diversity initiatives need to be about more than just getting people in the door–they need to be about making work environments safe and sustainable for people once they get there.
“Churn in games has always been a source of concern, but marginalized people burn out and leave the industry at a significantly faster rate than their colleagues”
Included here are three powerful meditations on spatiality, architecture, and exploration in relation to game worlds.
- Unearthly Forms | Bullet Points Monthly
Cian Maher positions Death Stranding at a disquieting crossroads between the romantic sublime and the capitalist ruins of modernism.
- Beyond Blueprints | Unwinnable
Justin Reeve explores the playfully impossible architecture of Manifold Garden.
- Eastshade – Worth A Thousand Words | RE:BIND
Catherine Brinegar thinks about what it really means to explore a game world and appreciate its finer details.
“All in all, Eastshade is the direction I wish The Elder Scrolls would have taken after Morrowind. In place of sanding away all the rough edges until all that’s left is the most marketable, accessible, and straightforward game possible, Eastshade embraces the strengths of the forays into the genre that came before: direct, dynamic interaction with characters, engagement with the world on a fundamental level, and diegetic systems that keep you immersed within that world.”
Queering the Present Moment
A pair of articles this week weigh in on the state of queer representation in games, looking not only at contemporary titles but also why queerness needs to be a present lived practice in the game narratives.
- Queer Representation Needs More than a Past | Unwinnable
Jeremy Signor discusses why queer characters in games need to be fleshed out with queer lives in the moment, within and without.
- The Outer World’s Parvati Holcomb started as an idea about a Magic the Gathering character – Gayming Magazine
Aimee Hart discusses The Outer Worlds‘ breakout ace character in a blend of interview and commentary.
“Indie games are becoming more seen, but a celebration of smaller queer creators is still difficult to see in mainstream media. Regardless, it is more likely that triple-A games are playing catching up to indies, rather than vice versa.”
Let’s Play a Money-Making Game
Two pieces this week delve into critiques of the capitalistic frameworks that weave in and out of games and their broader contexts.
- Mega Mall Story 2 Turned Me Into a Raging Capitalist–And I Loved It – Paste
Dia Lacina takes the Kairosoft bait and runs with it.
- These Realities We’ve Constructed – No Escape
Trevor Hultner riffs off the idea of virtuality to examine the constructed nature of our increasingly precarious sociopolitical reality, and arrives at some thoughts on why the current (perennial?) discourse on the political and artistic ramifications of games both kind of matters a lot and is also an incredibly small, even trivial, facet of the existential challenges we will ultimately come to face.
“We don’t need games. Certainly not in the form they take now. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have an effect on us. It doesn’t mean they’re not affecting.”
Text to World
Two articles this week situate games in their wider contexts, with examinations of both contemporaneous media forms and climate change.
- 20 Years Later, eXistenZ is Still the Best Video Game Movie Ever Made | Fanbyte
Vrai Kaiser channels McLuhan to critique a Cronenberg cult classic about media criticism.
- Pokémon Sword and Shield Is All About Climate Change | Earther
Yessenia Funes looks in at how Pokemon in 2019 pulls themes and imagery from our increasingly precarious environment.
“This is the world we live in, where not even video games can ignore the dangers of pollution and climate change. But Pokémon Sword and Shield also shows we can change course.”
Designing for Everyone
We’ve got a pair of pieces here that each discuss the challenges of designing games to be as inclusive as possible–whether by making sure everyone in a large LARPing party has something interesting to do, or incorporating accessibility considerations into interface design.
- Finding Fantastic Drinks (Part 1): I Can Run a LARP… Right? | Sidequest
Marlena Abraham recounts the challenges of designing and orchestrating a large-scale Harry Potter themed LARP.
- Gamasutra: Tom Gantzer’s Blog – Designing Main Menu Screens for Visually Impaired Gamers
Tom Gantzer details some best practices for visually-accessible UI design.
“if you rewind further back to 2018 and asked us game developers about accessibility, we would probably say, “Don’t worry, we have subtitles”. It’s not that we didn’t care, but most of us didn’t understand the other issues or grasp the scale of the problem in modern games.”
Did I wake up at the beginning of this week and say to myself, “I bet I’m going to have my cold, dead heart stirred by an article on Fortnite?” No, readers, I didn’t, but here we are.
- Due Diligence: That time I watched a nine-year-old play Fortnite for a week – Haywire Magazine
Leigh Harrison weaves a tale of inter-generational gaming and the youthful joy of play.
“Video games are amazing, but it’s sometimes easy to lose sight of that when you’ve been surrounded by them for as long as I have. But seeing Gedas’s joy reminded me why I love them so much. The adventure. The experience. The pure joy of play.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!