Welcome back, readers.

New Keywords! This week’s guest is games academic, legal scholar, and loot box expert Leon Xiao. Check it out!

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


Our opening section this week brings together three critiques which cut across both storytelling media and computing platforms, looking at process of translation, adaptation, critique, and narrativity.

America’s Army may be little more than a ghost, barely kept alive by the PlayStation 4 and a military that refuses to give up on chances to ingratiate itself with youth much smarter than it, but it will never not be a recruiting tool for a dying, desperate empire. Even a Canadian punk band could see that in 2005.”

Critical Landscapes

Here’s this week’s most tenuously-categorized section. The works gathered here touch upon different combinations of digital prophesying (both in and out-of-game), interactive fiction, and the shifting critical takeaways we get from games in different times and contexts.

“I’ve gotten into reading about history in the past year or so, dabbling here and there. Something I’ve learned is that there really isn’t a floor — things can just get worse, and worse, and stay horrible for centuries on end. There’s some cold comfort in our ability to endure past those dark periods even dying in droves. But an upturn is never guaranteed, especially not by virtue of some kind of bounce-back. Something I’ve also learned about history is that as much as I often don’t feel that way, nothing is inevitable, not for the better or the worse. Everything is contingent. Other than forces of nature, it’s up to us.”

With Character

Three critical perturbations of that fuzzy boundary between players and player characters, looking at identity, queerness, and the constraints of story worlds.

“I know nothing about Ivy’s story in Soul Calibur, or the Power Rangers that I use in Battle For the Grid, but I’m drawn to them and the fragments they represent; the parts of me they reflect in these environments much more easily than I could. It’s inherently fluid, as if by choosing a different character, I could change the parts of myself I’m putting out in the world. It makes every trip to the character select screen feel like a conversation.”

Fresh Perspectives

Four new critiques cutting across four different aspects of four different indie games.

“Ten minutes of play in this instance do a lot: the game puts us on the spot, tells us a story, and gives the player a challenge they cannot overcome in a game they cannot beat. It is a game that happens to the player, where fate is already decided — it is damning and fast about it (and abstract in a way that its damnation might take a minute to feel). It takes the active, generative aspect of play away from us and it gives us something else: an alternative history that would change the world as we know it. It is imaginative and natural, somewhere between folklore and horror. And I am glad the public will feel it.”

Re-view Mirror

Next up, a pair of critiques on how we do reviews, both specifically and broadly.

“In truth, as the “discourse” shifts from “cockfighting bad” to “the people enjoying this minigame are bad,” it’s weird being brown in this space. I assure you the pixels on the screen are fine and the people making jokes and enjoying cockfighting Tekken are in on the joke and aren’t running their own operations in real life.”

Hello World

In a bookend to our opening section this week, here are three critical intersections between game places and material spaces.

“The silly little boxing games had achieved what no magazine, class, membership, or fitness influencer could. I was invested in exercise because it was fun, because it made me feel strong. And even though I didn’t start out trying to break up the very monotonous cycle of working from home, making dinner, going to bed, and waking up to do it all over every day, it felt good to move my body. I started looking forward to it.”

Critical Chaser

I’m continuing to work my way through the submissions to KRITIQAL‘s Forgotten Games Essay Jam. Here’s another standout.


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