Hello readers,

In September, Grace Lee dropped an interesting piece titled What Isn’t a Video Essay? considering the notion of boundaries and semantics when it comes to format/genre/categorisation, which while not strictly about videogames (hence my shoehorning it into this bit of introductory text rather than as part of the roundup proper) is about video essays… and also may as well be about videogames. As I write – and who knows, maybe as I hit publish, possibly even as you read this – many discourse fans are sweating on the upload/release of Tim Rogers’ alleged review of/essay about Cyberpunk 2077, a video nearly a year in the making and supposedly so long that Youtube seems unable to finish processing it (or at least, that is how some are willing to interpret the vod’s repeated delays). I’m torn about this. On the one hand the criticism-as-spectacle can be fun, and funny, and “epic” video essay length is a strange and undeniably captivating qualifier of this arrangement that somehow works if, well, not quite oppositely, at least differently to written criticism, and I’m sure that’s worth talking about. On the other, I’m not sure I have the time. Anyway while you wait for Action Button, or after, or whenever, do enjoy this collection of shorter (though not necessarily short) video criticisms from September 2021 – feel free to pass it on to your entire contact list, or equivalent. Around the site, you can also listen to the most recent episode of Keywords in Play, with Leon Xiao, about comparative lootbox legality across regions.

This Month In Videogame Vlogging highlights the most compelling critical videos about videogames from the previous calendar month.

Urban Pasts

Up front, two videos considering the complicated allure of disaster zones.

  • After a City is Buried – Jacob Geller (22:54)

    Jacob Geller considers the ethics of romanticising the re-discovery of buried history, as presented in The Forgotten City. (Manual captions) [Embedded advertising]

  • The Power of Abandoned Places – Hello Future Me (29:06)

    Tim Hickson ponders the way people “connect” with abandoned places, as depicted in videogames such as What Remains of Edith Finch (along with texts like Annihilation (Jeff Vandermeer) and House of Leaves (Mark Z Danieliewski)) and real-world disaster-affected sites like Pripyat, Ukraine and Christchurch, New Zealand. (Autocaptions)

Critiques of Capitalism

Following on from last month, I’m pleased to link another four videos reading games through the lens of contemporary capitalist pressures.

Personal Prisms

Okay, here are a bunch of pieces that skew in one way or another to a personal, specific take on things.

It’s a Me

It’s time… to consider some Mario & co. backstory.

Good Ideas, Done Poorly

This next trio look at some places games have handled the representation of social issues and other thematic things unsatisfactorily, despite all the best intentions/marketing.

Just Because

Damn, I’ve run out of categories. Here are my chasers for this month.


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