Welcome back, readers.
If you read us regularly, you’re probably now familiar with reports of the legal proceedings filed against Activision Blizzard in response to a pervasive workplace culture of sexual abuse and harrassment. I don’t have anything new to add to that conversation, other than to express my gratitude that some momentum is building among certain games media sites and associated publishers and platforms to refuse coverage of games produced by these publsihers until there is demonstrable evidence of systemic and meaningful change. Nathalie Lawhead this week (in an article featured below) talks about some of the systemic failures in both games and games media that allow this status quo of abuse and suffering to continue and indeed remain profitable. It is my hope that more writers will come together in solidarity and by presenting a united front against these publishers and the abusive culture they have fostered, finally begin to shift the weight off of survivors to lead the way towards meaningful change.
Around the site, Connor’s still at it, working hard to bring you full and diverse video roundups, and the latest issue is now available. Check it out!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
This week we’re opening with a pair of interviews where developers discuss their passion projects, historical inspiration, the contemporary realities of the industry, and more.
- How a young Iraqi programmer tried to adapt Gilgamesh, the oldest surviving hero story | Eurogamer.net
Edwin Evans-Thirlwell profiles and interviews Auday Hussein about the challenges and motivations for adapting elements of the oldest, fragementary surviving work of poetry and philosophy known to the modern world.
- Neil Jones’ Single-Minded Journey to Game Development | The Indie Game Website
Hirun Cryer chats with Never Yield solo developer Neil Jones about the realities of striking out on his own to pursue his artistic vision.
“That’s perhaps why Jones sees himself as an underdog. This notion of striking out on his own through Never Yield, especially after being rejected from internships despite over a decade of experience in this less trodden path of game development, means Jones often has to shoulder the responsibilities no one else would give him.”
Antecedent Time Battle
Moving along, we’ve got a pair of deep looks at RPGs old and obscure, but also innovative and intriguing.
- 2020. Tokyo. A dragon hunting RPG. – Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi tackles a contemporary RPG from yesteryear that still holds up.
- Lunatic Dawn: Tempest, an obscure RPG with a unique battle system | Counter Arts
Vidyasaur delves into an obscure dungeon crawler in search of intriguing battle mechanics that time forgot.
“Lunatic Dawn: Tempest was the final entry in the series, and I get the impression it wasn’t well received by players. The game was too different from its predecessors, and fans of the series saw its linearity and lack of character customization as negative qualities. As for me, I found the game to be surprisingly enjoyable.”
Our next two featured pieces this week focus on masculinities and femininities in play, what these bodies and identities are made to stand for in our games, and how they can be read to carry allegorical conclusions and tired tropes alike.
- Resident Evil Village Fails Its Female Villains | Videodame
Billie Gagné-Lebel finds that RE Village‘s women antagonists have little motivation for their actions beyond motherly archetypes.
- KILL EM’ WITH KINDNESS (OUTRIDERS ADDENDUM) – DEEP HELL
Skeleton locates the form and function of masculine bodies in sci-fi colonialism.
“The masculine body creates one kind of horror for everyone around it. I once heard somewhere that a male body is seen as either invisible or dangerous; the plot of Outriders hinges on the latter. It’s all we can do in any apocalypse.”
Text to World
Moving along, two articles this week delve into game worlds and the stories that happen within them–or in spite of them.
- Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life fulfills the game’s destiny as a virtual theme park ride | Gamepur
Chris Compendio thinks through Sea of Thieves, environmental storytelling, and theme park design.
- I wish The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild had lower stakes | VG247
Ty Galiz-Rowe finds Breath of the Wild to be caught between a world that invites a leisurely pace and a narrative framing that promotes weighty urgency.
“Training and preparation are one thing when taking on a series of heavy-hitting foes, but indulging in some of the game’s smaller pleasures feels selfish while the princess is still holding out after over a century of fighting.”
Next, we shift our attention to a pair of longer-form articles with a wider view of games, the industry, and their material stakes for all of us.
- There is No Punctual Moment of Disaster | Bullet Points Monthly
Autumn Wright on Biomutant, Japanese apocalypse fiction, and climate crisis.
- The Machine That Eats People – The Candybox Blog
Nathalie Lawhead discusses the economy of suffering that keeps industry abuse–and reporting thereof–going in circles (content notification for discussions of sexual abuse and assault).
“I put “moment” in air quotes because it’s really not a moment. It’s only a moment because it ends up trending… the story is juicy enough for journalists to jump on and milk, and then the headlines dry up. Most stop hearing about it, but it never goes away. To many of us it’s a reality that’s just built into the system. It’s good for the machine.”
I do love a good haunting, and a portable Sims entry is probably the last place I’d have ever looked for one.
- The Sims 2 On Nintendo DS Is Haunted | Kotaku
Leah Williams peels back the layers on a game that seems almost to be its own creepypasta.
“Then, a rich mob boss arrives and threatens to break your kneecaps. But what’s weirder is the cow cult that follows after, and that you need to defeat them by summoning an ancient mummy known as Horus Menhoset IX. Oh, and let’s not forget the alien emperor attempting to take over the hotel, or the killer robot that takes up residence in your penthouse.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!