Welcome back, readers.
I hope you’re all safe and well, or as safe and well as possible between all the pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes and ongoing police violence. Today I am trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel of being eleven weeks into a second lockdown, while also determining how it feels, as an Australian who has spent the last two years doing a PhD, to watch in real time as many Australian universities carry out massive job culls. It feels not very good, I think!
It’s a shorter column this month. Whether this is a true reflection of the content available, or more to do with tastes constricting around fewer topics as exhaustion peaks and patience bottoms out, I can’t say. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot going on around the site recently, not least two excellent new compilations on Dishonoured and Breath of the Wild, a new Keywords in Play episode, and Zoyander’s last-minute archiving of many Kotaku UK pieces, so you won’t be short of quality discourse at this time. A reminder too that you can support our work here on Patreon.
My thanks again to everyone who sent in recommendations. Please continue to do so, be it via email, hashtagging TMIVGV on twitter, or in our discord group.
This Month In Videogame Vlogging collects the best vods of videogame criticism from the previous calendar month.
Let’s start with some introspection.
HOW DO WE MAKE THE VIDEOGAME INDUSTRY BETTER FOR BLACK PEOPLE? – Spawn On Me Podcast with Kahlief Adams (1:06:57)
Kahlief Adams hosts gamemakers Carl Varnado, Keisha Howard, Guy Primus and David Ortiz to recall their own roads into the videogames industry, why there needs to be more Black devs working in videogames, and what structural changes might facilitate this. Related: here’s a good resource. (Autocaptions)
Jacob Geller sings the praises and potential of good games criticism, suggesting we should collectively learn to conceive of criticism’s value as being to how we engage with games after playing them, rather than the still-entrenched presumption that criticism is mainly to facilitate consumer choice. (Autocaptions) [Disclaimer: it includes a nod to this very website, but that’s not why this video makes the roundup, of course. I would never]
A few longer essays look at how to read violence in the narratives of particular popular videogame series.
Ladyknightthebrave recaps The Last of Us games and tries to make sense of their endless cyclical depths of violence and revenge. I enjoyed the fresh cross-media perspective in this analysis. (Manual captions) [Notes: The Last of Us 1 & 2 spoilers, lots of violent in-game footage, discussion of transphobia and lynchings].
Chris Franklin discusses the influence of Bungie’s 1994 FPS-for-Mac on the integration of complex narrative and shooting in subsequent popular action videogames. (Autocaptions)
Errol interprets the narrative positioning of fascism, police, military, class and resistance in the Gears of War universe. (Autocaptions) [content warning: contains mentions of the depiction of systematic rape]
Michael Saba reads MGSV’s complex narrative indictment of war against continual cycles of military expansionism in both the USA and Japan. (Autocaptions) [Contains spoilers for various games in the Metal Gear series] [Content notes: police violence footage]
Oh, But What to Play
Numerous essayists this month had a think about what goes into the makeup of their gaming preferences, leading to some personal meditations on anxiety, accessibility, approachability, style, and other elements of design.
The Game Professor talks through his compulsion to play games for comfort during These Times against the internal and external pressures to play games for intellectual discovery and content creation. Relatable. (Autocaptions)
Courtney Garcia describes how Iyashikei (healing-type) games perhaps arose in Japan in response to a period of heightened economic anxiety, and wonders if a similar phenomenon will happen globally in response to Current Events. (Autocaptions)
Razbuten talks up the potential for wonderment in adventure games that centre the experience around player discovery, while lamenting the fact that such games are inherently one-time affairs. (Manual captions) [Contains embedded advertising]
Sid explains the accessibility problems he encounters in most third-person action games, as someone who has lost vision in one eye. (Manual captions)
Dutchy delves into how her personal gaming genre preferences are shaped by a confluence of life-history circumstances, gatekeeping attitudes and design habits. (Autocaptions)
Alexandra Orlando and DigitalMumbles chat about the evocations of the particular “one-note” hipster fashions of Ooblets, and why these aesthetics might not be for everyone. (Autocaptions)
A chaser of sorts, to round things off for August.
It’s rain. In games. (A supercut)