January 26th

Welcome back, readers.

Maybe I’m just particularly tired and vulnerable this weekend from the perpetual hustle of academic life, but a lot of this week’s selections really hit home for me. I’ve said similar things before, but I am routinely humbled in this job by all of the powerful and provocative writers out there thinking through games.

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

Mod Life

Long after games outlive their commercial lifespan, it’s modding communities that keep them running and keep them relevant, most often with unpaid labour. Three authors open this week with explorations of some of the fruits of that labour.

“id Software might make post-release content I could buy down the line, but without a constant stream of user-generated levels to play, there’s going to be a finite amount of game.”

Meaningful Representation

It’s tempting to conflate representation and good representation, especially when it comes to communities who are already being underrepresented by games, and it’s a question I find I’m coming back to regularly in my own play experiences. Three authors this week delve into these questions along queer and disability axes.

“In both versions of the scene, the game presents the side I am ‘supposed’ to take. I am shown a situation I am unfortunately all too familiar with — where someone with physical power over you decides to move your body, for their convenience or an assumption about yours, and it doesn’t matter if you get angry or upset, because you are expected to say thank you afterwards.”

The Horror of Successful Design

Two authors this week offer some cool design critiques on horror games recent and not-so-recent (but soon to be remade, so perhaps recent after all?).

“Showing a character in pain, showing them as helpless, is a core part of horror’s emotional potency, and Senua’s brittle, broken physicality reinforces this repeatedly.”

The Long View

Each of these pieces takes a wider perspective on its object of study in some way, pushing the boundaries of how we write about these games, these products, these hobbies. Some really provocative stuff.

Final Fantasy VII’s ending is ambiguous. The world survives, but not as we knew it. Healing has happened, but maybe not for us. I don’t know that that matters. I am still taking the invitation to live beyond myself, to “bury my old soul and dance on its grave.” Come what may, I know it will be better than lingering in self-doubt and distance.”

Critical Chaser

I’m still never going to forgive the griefer who baited me into attacking an NPC and ruining my Demon Souls save.

“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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