Welcome back, readers.

If you happen to be looking for cool indie games to buy this weekend made by Black creators, this thread details some good starting points. This particular thread’s a year old but all the games listed are still great choices!

Around the site, we put out an extra issue this week for Pride Month collecting some of our favourite queer-themed TWIVGB inclusions this year (so far). Check it out!

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

Representational Frameworks

Let’s start this week with a focused look at trans representation in recent and contemporary games!

“We’ve come a long way from Capcom plugging their ears for decades when Poison’s gender was brought up and Nintendo deadnaming Birdetta in every video game she’s in. Some characters have made great strides in positive trans representation, however, others were clearly written without a single queer person in the room.”

Art and Genre

Our next section features explorations–artistic, critical, and otherwise–around the linkages of form and genre, unpacking how genres, labels, and structural tropes can alternately bring works together with a common language or limit our vocabulary for understanding their unique attributes.

“The game doesn’t “fail” to make me think because I have to process the game’s images in order to move through it. Despite the lack of cohesion between all of the pieces existing within the world space, they still make you feel something by just moving through them.”

Get Ye Flask

From here, let’s linger for a bit on a single genre: the adventure game. Our next three selected pieces this week look at how different titles contextualize the genre’s mechanical tropes, subvert them, or use them as a platform to tell new and exciting stories.

“The thing that makes Hitchhiker’s so interesting as a game is its impish delight in being odd and often obtuse, a fairly natural progression from its absurd sensibility. It goes above and beyond the standard-issue text adventure zaniness into territory that plays with the outer formal possibilities of words and interaction melded to one another: the narrator lies to you about what exits there are; you have an inventory item called “no tea” that gets put down when you get tea; the text of the game is peppered with marked-off footnotes which you can technically read at any time in any order, and doing so is nonsensical but delivers you a unique gag and makes a runner more noticeable; there’s fake hints in the hint book.”

Critical by Design

Moving along, we’ve got a quartet of wide-ranging pieces that all have some focus on design, be it narrative, thematic, structural, or in locating the pleasure (or pain) of play.

“A simple, unexpected obstacle is not only funny but also creates that special sauce that makes kaizo so fun to watch. But not all trolls are created equally, and many creators use different interpretations of the concept to subvert players’ expectations.”

Worlds Apart

Our next three selections this week all take for their object texts games which seek to simulate or represent tensions and struggles in our own world, but in doing so produce some degree of dissoannce because the real thing is to some extent unknowable when abstracted from lived experience.

“The urgency of the book comes to light in this observation that the past is perpetually present. In other words, the “void” for Lauro is an actively maintained gap filled with silences, silences which can only be highlighted through the questions Lauro poses through the text: Can you play as the slave? Can this playing be called resistance?”

Bodies at Play

Next up, two articles with a focus on bodies both material and virtual, looking alternately at gender, fashion, pain, illness, and more.

I don’t know how long one move in my body lasts for. It’s obviously far longer than a session of Candy Crush Soda Saga but the general principle remains the same. I know there’s still some stickiness on my liver but it’s not clashing with anything yet so it wasn’t removed during my operation. General other stickiness could and probably will develop at some point. There’s no timeline on it. Unlike a Candy Crush Soda Saga level, I don’t have a set number of moves before it’s game over and I head back to hospital. I just have to hope that the hormonal contraceptives I take will continue to hold things off.

Critical Chaser

Squinky’s keynote here coveres a lot of ground–more than a quick blurb can encompass–and will speak to a lot of audeinces here, but especially those who have moved in establishment games spaces–as developers, as critics, or otherwise–and for whatever reason have decided to move on. With this, we close out our week.

“I’m going to tell you right now that among many other things, your career as a game designer isn’t going to go quite like you’d planned. I know how meticulously you’ve been researching how to make it in games in hopes of becoming some kind of auteur figure like Tim Schafer: you started learning early, as a teenager, and released a game when you were 16, and now you’re doing this internship while in the middle of finishing your computer science degree. You probably still have it in your head that you’ll work your way up into leadership positions and start your own company someday. It makes sense that you believe this about yourself: your particular combination of skills, interests, and class privilege meant that you were labelled a “gifted” child, who could go on to do anything they wanted in life.”


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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!