Welcome back, readers.

There a few things I’d like to give mention to this week before starting. First, I’d like to highlight two charity bundles on Itch right now. It’s likely you’ve already seen this one bringing together an enourmous number of digital games in support of humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. I’d also like to bring to your attention this one, organized for the support of trans Texans and their families. The latter is focused on TTRPGs, so as best as I can tell there shouldn’t even be any overlap between the two!

Back here on the site, we’ve got a new Keywords! This episode’s guest is Dr. Esther Wright, discussing her forthcoming book Rockstar Games and American History: Promotional Materials and the Construction of Authenticity.

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

Empires and Authoritarians

To open this week we’re looking at intersections between games and state power, along axes of game design, story worlds, and labour organization.

“India is not unique – the mere act of making games can be dangerous in many countries around the world. This is why we need to collectivize. Individually, it is too easy for any of us to be crushed by the mechanisms of a fascist government. Together, we can become something of a spoke in their wheel.”

Character Arc

Next, we examine both characters and relationships in games, as well as the genre and medium conventions, tropes, and expectations at play in how they are written and experienced.

“Tragedy is still a powerful archetype that speaks to real struggles we as queer people face. The key is in the aftercare.”

Art and Expression

We now present a pair of meditations on popular triple-A games, with one example that lingers in the soul and one which does not.

  • Uncharted 4 | The White Pube
    Gabrielle de la Puente identifies the value of embarassment in art, contrasting Uncharted 4 as too smooth, frictionless, and perfect to leave anything to take from it.
  • Sam’s Ladder | In The Lobby
    Cole Henry meditates on the practicality, pathos, and profundity of Death Stranding‘s most ubiquitous tool.

“I love Death Stranding’s ladder for what it stands for, but I really, really love Death Stranding’s ladder just for what it is—a really damn good in-game ladder.”

Pocket Mantras

This week’s design-focused segment centres on Game Boy games, bringing together the pleasures of portable play, puzzle-boxes of the profane, and more.

“Hobbyist engineers the world over have known for a long time that one of the best ways to enjoy a shiny toy is to take it apart; it takes a particular kind of wit to put it back together and lock yourself in it.”

An Elden Thing

This week’s highlights on Elden Ring showcase both the highly diverse play experiences the game supports as well as the game’s historical antecedents.

“It is laughably obtuse, coming from an era before objective markers and more direct gameplay instructions were a common factor in the games we play. While Elden Ring doesn’t hold your hand, is it well-designed enough that players always know what possibilities are before them and how exactly they can interact with its myriad systems. Eternal Ring just kicks you in the shin, laughs in your face, and tucks a cheesestring in your pocket to munch on incase you get lost. Which you will, because this game is a nightmare.”

Critical Chaser

I’m really digging the short experiemental stuff coming out of Spine lately!

“It hints at the search for self-knowledge, and whether we know anything about ourselves or if it’s just a construct like outside perception. Am I who I think I am, or am I who others remember? The thought roils around in my head during late nights and early mornings, but the answers aren’t clear.”


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