Welcome back, readers.
As a few writers I follow are noticing, it feels weird in some ways to be writing about (or, umm, writing about writing about) games in Twenty-Twenty-Current-Date. There’s lots of more important shit going on. Speaking of which, some links to get started:
- Donate to The Bail Project
- Donate to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- Hire Black Game Developers
- Donate to the Black Trans Protesters Emergency Fund
- Buy a completely different racial justice bundle, this week courtesy of Humble
My own weird feelings aside, the discourse keeps moving, and most often the most critical essential writing happening about this artform/hobby/medium we share a passion for is being done by queer/racialized/marginalized writers that deserve more recognition and more paid fucking work! If you know of cool writers of colour out there talking about games on small independent sites that haven’t come to our attention yet, use the #TWIVGB hashtag. If you’re a platform holder–especially a large platform with cash to burn–hashtag them and then commission or hire them!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
We open this week with four authors with their fingers on the pulse of the industry along different axes, all identifying erasures, injustices, and wrongs, and projecting a path forward to a better future.
- In Celebration of Black Videogame Composers, Part 2 – Paste
Dia Lacina continues her series looking at and spreading the word on some incredible Black musical talent in the industry.
- The Future Of The Video Game Labor Movement | Kotaku
Sisi Jiang reflects on Game Workers United’s unwillingness to act in support of marginalized developers and communities and projects a more just and equitable path forward for labour organizations in games.
- Your Problematic Faves & The Passes You Give Them – Uppercut
Monti Velez wrestles with the question of whether to engage with art–games and otherwise–when shitty people made it and continue to skirt meaningful consequences.
- Four Games That Resonate (And One I Hate) As I Celebrate Juneteenth | Kotaku
Ash Parrish celebrates games that involve Black emancipation, the dismantling of systemically racist systems of power and control, and the pyrotechnic combustion of a few white supremacists along the way.
“I’ve wanted to write a piece celebrating Juneteenth in video games since the moment I got this job. (It’s true, ask Stephen). I originally envisioned this as a bloodthirsty take, focused on a list of games that allowed you to kill white supremacists. But as I wrote, I came to realize that a piece about Juneteenth should not in any way center our enemies, even if only by enthusing over all the cathartic ways we can virtually kill them.”
Games and Community
Two writers this week look at the communities that develop around games, joined by identity axes, by circumstance, by love of the game.
- Black lives have always mattered in the fighting game community – Polygon
De’Angelo Epps talks with prominent players to explore how and why the fighting game community has long been a bulwark of Black community in games.
- Heart Container – Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Environmental Intimacy – Uppercut
Jess Cogswell looks at the vulnerability and intimacy of sharing one’s private spaces–in this case entire virtual islands–via Animal Crossing.
“A person’s room helps to give them context- it contains the parts of themselves they cannot put into words. It’s the items in the background of a photograph, the props hidden about a set. These things could go unnoticed, but to some of us, examination is enthralling. Through examination, we see both how a person wants to be seen, and how they see themselves, and I think that’s what’s so incredibly compelling to me about Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”
Writing about games right now is… complicated, in a lot of ways, for a lot of reasons. Whether it’s the task of applying a contemporary critical lens of crisis to the work at hand, or the challenge of saying anything meaningful at all about games that are already taking up all of the air in the room, I never cease to be impressed with all the writers I know who thread that needle regularly. Here are three of this week’s highlights.
- Difficult Stress | Bullet Points Monthly
Yussef Cole writes about writing about Pathologic 2 in current-year-2020.
- The Parasitic Relationships of The Last of Us | Jeremy Signor’s Games Initiative
Jeremy Signor digs into the cynical thesis of the original The Last of Us.
- Resist Normalization – No Escape
Trevor Hultner decries the normalization of the toxic labour conditions that produce prestige event games, emphatically iterating that those games can never, ever, be worth it.
“We can’t just sweep this stuff under the rug because a game is good, or gave us an experience we like, as hard as it is to talk about in the first place. We need to push back against editors who tell us to minimize our mentions of labor exploitation or workplace misconduct or sexual harassment or any other part of the slew of horrid shit that happens to video game workers in this industry.”
To close out the week, three design-minded breakdowns of games diverse in genre, scope, and intent.
- Chlebí?ek with a side of lead – HROT (Demo) | RE:BIND
Emily Rose plays a retro-revivalist boomer shooter modeled after the 90’s East European tradition.
- Pink in the Woods | Into The Spine
Violet Adele Bloch samples a messy gay dating sim.
- Radiator Blog: Hard Lads as an important failure
Robert Yang is at it again with both a new game and a thorough breakdown of said game and I really can’t summarize this one; please read it and bless Robert Yang.
“Hard Lads recreates the lad’s exaggerated pre-game gestures like smoking a cigarette, swigging a bottle, and manly kissing. Each of these actions can be endlessly paused, repeated, interrupted, and failed. Smoking for too long can cause a coughing fit, liquor can be spilled wastefully onto the ground, and a manly fist bump of a kiss can turn into a really hot makeout session.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!