February 9th

Welcome back readers.

A non-negligible part of that work that goes into producing these weekly roundups is organizing the week’s selections by theme–studying each article and understanding the ways in which it rhymes with some of the others. As an organizing structure, the categories are useful in both immediate ways, such as making the roundup more navigable and helping y’all find the topics you’re most engaged with, as well as bigger-picture ways, such as being a useful barometer for trends in The Discourse. At the same time, however, this categorization is in effect a kind of artifice–it’s rare that any one article, no matter how narrowly focused, is truly only about one thing and one thing only.

Sometimes–often, even–articles resist categorization, or defy it. The point I’ve been circling here is that while on one hand this week’s selections are divided as usual into navigable categories, on the other, through no deliberate action on my own part, most of these articles relate in some way to the building and experience of worlds in games.

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

Building Worlds

This week’s opening selection of five articles are diverse in their angles and their object texts, but unified in their examination of worldbuilding and design.

Loom challenges us now because it is literary, it demands our attention and our time in ways that are unusual nowadays. But it also rewards the player who takes the plunge to follow the story through an original, dangerous world until Chaos is unleashed.”

Possibility Spaces

These three pieces each have some kind of focus on the spatial aspects of game worlds and their creation, thinking through inspirations, analyses, and implications of those worlds.

“At the end of the day, Lena could easily be replaced by any other driver, or perhaps one of the robot drivers at the competing cab company, and no one would even notice. Like the streets she drives every night, the appearance of community and habitation is just an illusion.”

Made for Whom?

Who are games made for? I won’t draw out the suspense–at the top-most commercial end, the answer is most often white, masculine, able-bodied, and neurotypical players. The indie scene, however, offers more diverse options. Two writers and players this week explore titles with a more thoughtful eye towards speaking to play communities beyond the walled garden of the hegemony.

“‘Bearly’ isn’t about clawing your way to the top or having other people fix your problems, it’s about taking things on with confident humility, to own your flaws without succumbing to them.”

What Remains

We spend a lot of time inhabiting virtual worlds. What legacies do those sojourns leave behind, and who will see them? Two authors this week explore different answers to these uncomfortable questions.

“Gamification of creativity is something that will never go away. If anything, I have a deep set fear that the geniuses and surely bleary eyed staff at Square Enix may perfect it. It all hurts though, it all takes so much fucking time. Why build a castle for an audience of no one when we may be better served building experiences we can share?”

Critical Chaser

Maybe you can go home, after all–but at what cost?

“Reflecting on it now, having seen my hideous town in 2020, I can’t help but be amused. As it turns out, I was a misguided mayor who lacked a cohesive plan despite my good intentions.”


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