Welcome back, readers.
Before we delve into this week’s textual selection of critical offerings, Connor has returned with this month’s audio-visual anthology for those who appreciate their crit served with a play button, and this month’s issue is a doozy, so be sure to check it out!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Not Funging Taking this Shit
Okay, I will confess to being a little irritated that I have just had to go and create a tag for NFT-centric articles featured on this website, but that is not the fault of either of the authors featured below, who have instead contributed admirably to a growing body of work pushing back against this destructive crypto-flavoured fad.
- Game Developers Speak Up About Refusing To Work On NFT Games | Kotaku
Sisi Jiang talks to several developers and artists about the material cost of taking a principled stand against NFTs.
- look what you made me do: a lot of people have asked me to make NFT games and I won’t because i’m not a fucking dumbass. now let me tell you why only a dumbass would get into NFT games. | GB ‘Doc’ Burford
GB Burford lets the already-plentiful ethical appeals ride and breaks down why NFTs make no practical sense in game dev, either.
“Very few people are making money in NFTs. Most of the people putting money in are losing it, and the most reliable way to make money is to take as much money as you can and run before people figure out you’re a fraud. That’s not a way to create a sustainable business model.”
Our next pair of pieces this week unpack choices and consequences in games decades apart.
- Dishonored’s Chaos System Was Never Punishing You | Unwinnable
Ruth Cassidy reflects on the satisfaction of intentional design when Chaos comes with consequences in the original Dishonored.
- Alter Ego  – Arcade Idea
Art Maybury lingers on a conspicuously preachy life-simulating hypertext where every choice is loaded and the writer never hesitates to give you an earful.
“It’s a gleefully didactic work. The game assigns moral agency to babies in the womb so that it can tell you you’re bad for deciding to be a difficult pregnancy. It always allows you to pick your mood and your actions separately, although usually it won’t let you pick something that it thinks doesn’t make sense. When it does let you mix and match, what this amounts to is a chance for Peter J. Favaro, PhD to police your very emotions”
Now Free up to Level 60 Including the Award-Winning Expa-
Two cool articles out this week on Final Fantasy XIV, reflecting on its storytelling, community, and culture.
- Mythmaking is what makes FFXIV’s first campaign shine – No Escape
Kaile Hultner makes the case for why, in a game that takes roughly five million years just to get through the main quest of the first campaign, it’s worth it to stop and explore the sidequests.
- Online players are real people – Kimimi The Game-Eating She-Monster
Kimimi discusses the recent updates to community/behavioral guidelines in FFXIV and speculates on the rammifications of a more specific and proactive approach for online gaming culture at large.
“It takes a lot of guts to say out loud these long-worn patterns of online behaviour aren’t acceptable, to listen to people say “Well I’ll go somewhere else then!” and wave them off instead of rushing to appease a vocal and outraged segment of the existing fanbase. But it’s so so important they do.”
Time and Perspective
Okay, loosely-associated section alert. These next two pieces dwell on games (or their subjects) taken out of their time, and the experience–be it jarring, offensive, ethereal, or magical–of approaching them with a contemporary perspective.
- Riders Republic is a time capsule full of cringe – No Escape
Cole Henry concludes that Ubisoft’s Riders Republic, true-to-form, is a good game buried, deep, deep down beneath a pile of bad everything else.
- BYOND DEEP DIVE – hey
jan acres takes inventory of obscure, underdocumented, but still-living games on the BYOND platform.
“Maybe you’re reading this and thinking that, outside of the top three titles, two of whom are borderline identical and one of which is probably among the most resilient and popular indie games ever made, BYOND is dead. It’s not. I’m not a mortician or an archaeologist. BYOND is very much alive: games are still being made. People still post on its antiquated forum and, more than anything else, this obscure engine for multiplayer games from the 90s is still up and running.”
Next up, two pieces about the games we play to feel seen, to explore identity, to awaken ourselves to new possibilities.
- Pokemon Was The Perfect Way To Find My Fashion Sense As A Trans Girl | TheGamer
Jade King remnisces about serving some Whole Galarian Looks with Pokémon Sword and Shield‘s fashion options.
- The Sims 2 taught me it was okay to be gay | Gayming Magazine
Lowie Trevena identifies The Sims 2 in 2004 as an oasis of LGBTQ+ representation in an otherwise very heteronormative media landscape.
“Sure, Bonehilda, cowplants and vampires weren’t real, but having a career, cooking mac-and-cheese and paying bills were. Maybe queer sex and LGBTQ+ relationships were too?”
Two meditations this week on games that pull us in, for better and for worse, amid their wider contexts.
- How I Became Obsessed With ‘Pikmin Bloom’ | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Eloise describes the relaxing charms of Nintendo’s latest mobile AR game.
- TO THE GARDEN OF MADNESS | DEEP HELL
Karin Malady meditates on flow, repetition, and violence, in the digital and the material, at large and as expressed through the work of Suda51.
“There is a difference between physical violence and spiritual violence. Religion can justify targets of violence, but Spirituality is a quality of violence itself. In the States, it has its grasp on everything. Marvel movies have military funding, video games have it too. Everything is yelling at you, “go out there and kill!” You don’t have to listen to that voice, but it’s always reminding you the option is on the table.”
A bit of genuine warmth for the road.
- The Real Quake Was The Friendships We Made Along The Way | Unwinnable
Yussef Cole shares a story from childhood about friendship and Quake but mostly friendship.
“I didn’t know what it meant, really, to have a best friend, to be close to someone outside my own family. I enjoyed the intimacy I was able to share with Adam, filtered as it was through a layer of edgy brutality; the metal and machismo of first-person shooters.”
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