July 26th

Welcome back, readers.

I’ll direct you again to begin with our usual starting point. Keep active resistance to anti-Black fascism going by supporting those on the front lines.

Also, the Itch bundle supporting Black trans artists is still live! Go get it while you can!

Around the site, Connor is at it again with another stellar TMIVGV. If you haven’t checked it out yet, there’s lots of cool stuff to be found there.

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

Decade, Decayed

This one gets a section all to itself. It’s a long one and a good one, readers.

“The 2010’s were a decade where corporations were able to profit off our diminishing material possibilities and increasing distrust of authority and sell it back to us as empowerment. The 2010’s were a decade where people in power were able to stir up constant chaos and panic as a way to make the public feel like their actions didn’t matter to a degree that we’d never experienced before. The 2010’s were a decade where the idea of collective struggle, even at the most grassroots level, became a commodity from its very inception because so much public life shifted onto to privately-owned platforms. The 2010’s were a decade where activism and popular culture became inextricably tangled up inside each other, and all culture became defined by a search for absolute moral clarity in the midst of a reality that had none.”

PvE – Player vs. Empire

Games often tell us very different things across how they are marketed and sold to us versus how they actually play out in experience. And just as often, the things we have to say in response to those games in turn shapes and reshapes our experiences with them. Four authors this week practice this dialogical discourse to arrive at deeper truths embedded in systems of play.

“I do not believe Ghost of Tsushima was designed to empower a nationalist fantasy. At a glance, and through my time playing the game, however, it feels like it was made by outsiders looking into an otherwise complex culture through the flattening lens of an old black-and-white film. The gameplay is slick and the hero moments are grand, but the game lacks the nuance and understanding of what it ultimately tries to reference.”

Formal Study

Continuing from the above, games can reveal surprising (or depressingly unsurprising) truths when we subject them to formal analysis of their structures. Two authors this week engage in this work and report their findings.

“Most deaths in these games are nasty and short: shot in the head like Manny or gunned down like Yara or slowly stabbed in the throat like so many of Ellie’s kills, both important and unimportant alike. Some are surprising, others are unfair, and they all fit into a balance sheet of expansive death across this world full of it. What Ellie does to Nora, though, is beyond that. She condemns her. She delivers her into a state stripped of humanity. It is a purposeful unmaking of her personhood.”

Post-Mortem

Five design-minded pieces, looking at games, genre, and structures across the decades.

“Within the video game industry, we strive for players of all backgrounds to enjoy our games, including but not limited to those who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing (d/Deaf/HoH). So how can we make our games more accessible?”

The Missing Piece

Two authors this week document how the affective player experience completes the puzzle–or disrupts it entirely.

“She sits inside of me like a stone. She is always there, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. She’s there when I work, when I cry in great heaving sobs, when I sleep; she is there when I’m wide-eyed and happy, contorting my body into impossible shapes on a sticky dance floor. She is so intrinsically, naturally there that most of the time I don’t even notice her. She is like the freckle on my left breast, or the walnut-shaped scar on my left foot I got from tripping over at Parramatta pool when I was nine.”

Representative of the Medium

Three queer perspectives on three queer and not-so-queer games.

“This is a AAA game meant for consumers to buy worldwide. Cloud cracking a smile while he dances is too radical. Presenting queerness is allowed, otherwise the Honeybee Inn and Andrea would’ve been cut from the game entirely. Representing queerness by allowing Cloud the room to explore his gender presentation or even his relationship to gender roles within his cisgender is a step too far for Remake.”

New Meta

Gathered here are two authors looking at games which cannot help but reflect on and respond to the environments and cultures in which they are produced, be they the studio climates leading up to their release, the fan communities and practices that have emerged around them, or the formal genres they simultaneously appropriate and interrogate.

“Whatever the case the remarkable thing here – and arguably the attitude that helped transform the company from a hardware war dropout into a modern international software publishing powerhouse – was the way Sega didn’t just turn to face the music when the time came… they picked up a guitar and joined in.”

Critical Chaser

Voices from a distant star.

“Fell into the geyser, launched towards the sky. Returned at terminal velocity.”


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