January 10th

Welcome back, readers.

I don’t have much to say here about the events in the US over the past week other than this: if you’re white and this feeling that your country is no longer safe or stable is new to you, that in itself is a form of privilege, worth examining and learning from. Please continue to seek out ways to support Black causes.

Around the site, have you caught our year-in-review article yet? Zoyander has been hard at work putting together 100 articles works works we feel best represent the state of critical games writing in 2020. Please check it out!

But that’s not all Zoyander’s been up to. Today is the last day for submissions to our Pandemics and Games Essay Jam. I’m excited to look at all the cool work that’s been coming in!

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

Decipher Punks

At this point, people have had about a month to sit with Cyberpunk 2077–assuming that is, they picked it up at launch–and so a space for slower-burn critical reflections is taking shape. Here are four highlights I enjoyed this week.

“CDProjekt Red’s primary motivation for Cyberpunk 2077 was that it was made to be talked about. All of our billions of dollars of technology has conspired to put us in this state. Videogames are either meant to be played forever, or meant to be talked about forever.”

Killing Paradise

Two letters, crafted in dialogue with one another, on one of 2020’s top please-do-not-sleep-on-this-one titles. Have we ever run a tighter section in this roundup? I, um, I don’t know actually. . . maybe? Anyway, this is cool stuff.

“Some people can see the worst shit imaginable, and just want things to be like how they used to be. Paradise Killer understands that, and drives it home by leaving you frustrated on the shores of a dying island, while LD goes on to get whatever she has coming on the next island. The sheriff is back in town, and a new Council will rise. Soon no one will remember the bodies left behind. Everything will go back to normal.”

Monsters, Think

We’ve got two insightful selections this week examining monsters and monstrosity in games alternately along gender/misogyny and cosmic/racist axes.

  • Game Log: Tales of Berseria – Digital Ephemera 
    Dan Cox weighs tropes and tensions of femininity and monstrosity in an uncommon feminine-led installment in the Tales series of JRPGs.
  • Zarf Updates: Four (or five) recent Lovecraftians 
    Andrew Plotkin explores the mechanical and thematic diversities to be found among games associated with a Lovecraftian, cosmic horror influence, as well as the various ways in which these games address or don’t address the racism inexorably tied to the tradition.

“A lot of Lovecraftian games start out with the general question: what’s going on here? As these games indeed do. But that doesn’t mean that you do the same stuff in them.”

When It Hits Different

Three pieces this week display, I think, the real strength in weaving your own story into the expereince of a game, or a state of play. Read on and find out.

“It is clear to me that wood pigeons have a dry sense of humour, for example, and that they prefer to make one or two good friends based on shared interests, rather than hang in big groups in which you may feel just as isolated as you have felt alone at home this year.”

Cases of Spaces

There’s a ton of stellar work this week examining spaces and especially urban spaces in relation to games and play. Here are six highights!

“Each night we got to know each other a little better. We shouted our names across the street, and sellotaped or tied sheets of paper to our balconies or window railings with writing in childish capitals”

Critical Chaser

We close this week with some world-to-text letter writing.

  • Fischl | Unwinnable 
    Melissa King pens words of encouragement to one of Genshin Impact‘s premium protagonists.

“As I got older, I found out that I wasn’t alone in being lonely. It turned out that so many of today’s adults were once isolated, misunderstood children like us. In this fact about our past selves, we find solidarity in each other today.”


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