Welcome back, readers.

Apologies in advance–there is some material I didn’t read this week, which I promise is on my list for next. A lot of people went long this week!

Elden Ring looms large in my reading this week, even in some pieces that aren’t actually about the game proper. I think we’re still far off from really understanding the game’s eventual impact, but it’s neat to watch those critical foundations being built in real time.

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


First, a pair of meditations on play and the production of play in different contexts of colonial Empire.

“The forever wars seen in AAA mainstays like Halo exist—at least partly—to compactify the stocks and flows of global capitalism into the simplicity of three dimensions. In its current state, the grind of modern industry isn’t a fight that can be finished. It can only evolve.”


The following section straddles the boundary between narrative and design–narrative design–if you will, bringing together different perspectives on story worlds, how they are received, and how they might be made.

“If you want people to care — and I mean really, really care — and you want to keep them motivated, composed, and open, then you need to provide a powerful intrinsic motivator, like, say, curiosity about what will happen next, delight at a character interaction, or yearning for long-lost lovers to reunite.”


With the arrival and success of Elden Ring, critics are thinking rigorously about the nature of the open world in game design–where it comes from, where it’s headed, what it looks like right now, and why.

““Open world” is an extension of the values pushed by perspective art. Our culture has told us for generations that the superior art is one which feels like a habitat, viewed by a subjective individual, that could stretch infinitely beyond our of sight.”


A pair of narrowly-focused design meditations, putting smaller parts of larger games under the microscope.

“Does having the specific language to spot a mechanic – or a narrative trope – prime players and critics to see what they know, instead of what they’re experiencing? And when you’ve played so many games, when you’re literate in game verbs and mechanical shorthands, are you supposed to unlearn that fluency?”


This week’s featured reviews share a focus on representation, identity axes, and indie development.

“Browser games permit a degree of deviation from the policing of LGBT lives and desires, but in the end, corporations and States still yield massive power and influence.”


Ok, that last heading postively creaks under my commitment to the bit, but these next two featured pieces are character studies.

“But perhaps it’s one evidence of Harry’s personality as a shitty, drunk, and definitely very white cop—that such racist epithets linger so dangerously at the tip of his tongue, that they can spill out of his mouth at times when his self-control is waning.”


Thank you Skeleton for accidently coordinating with my theme.

“before you start picking these up and thinking i did something grand, like i died in some far off battle. i didn’t. i died at the bottom of a bottle and woke up here.”


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