Welcome back readers.
How’s it hanging, everyone? We’ve got fourteen new fresh and interesting perspectives from across the web this week, so let’s get right into it.
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
I’m a Fan
Let’s open this week with two more selections of academic games crit, this time with a focus on fan communities.
- Beyond deviance: toxic gaming culture and the potential for positive change | Critical Studies in Media Communication, Volume 39, Issue 3 (2022)
Kelly Boudreau examines toxicity in gaming culture from the other end by highlighting the organizations, communities, and initiatives that work in reaction to the toxic status quo to make gaming communities safer more welcoming spaces.
- Towards intersectional and transcultural analysis in the examination of players and game fandoms | Critical Studies in Media Communication, Volume 39, Issue 3 (2022)
Sarah Christina Ganzon pushes back against identity siloing and silencing in game and fandom studies.
“Transcultural game studies imagines game cultures as spaces where different constructions of race and other forms of identity can inform and complicate one’s own analysis of gender and sexuality. It seeks to understand what player communities around the world look like, and, in doing so, contextualizing different historical understandings of race, gender, sexuality, class, and disability. In this way, transcultural game studies is intersectional game studies.”
A Tension Economy
Next up, here’s two wider-reaching pieces unravelling the wrinkles in how games are bought and sold, made and marketed.
- Wholesome Games, and the Context Collapse of Branding Culture | Unwinnable
Ruth Cassidy contemplates the uncertain and contested boundaries between genre and brand, in-group and out-group, wholesome and Wholesome.
- My Own Personal 25th Universe | Unwinnable
Ed Smith asks if maybe escapism as the be-all-end-all incentive of so many games is, at its core, fundamentally terrible and damaging.
“Games now seem to offer escapism as a kind of assisted suicide from reality, not to drop out from society and its standards and in doing so make a point about your feelings towards society and its standards, via that dropping out, but simply to opt out, to ignore, leave, have nothing to do with, hide from.”
FGC: Friendly Gaming Convos
We’ve got a few genre-specific issues this week, and first up are a pair of pieces unpacking some of the community turmoil around fighting game characters.
- ¿Hombre o mujer? Guilty Gear Strive confirma cuál es el género de Bridget | GamerFocus
Julián Ramírez unspools the winding history of Guity Gear‘s recently-topical trans character (Spanish-language article)
- The Kirby Trap – LudoLudo Dissonance | Pixels for Breakfast
Rinoa Carmichael juxtaposes Kirby’s cute approachability in Smash with the difficulty some players have moving off to other characters.
“This is the trickiness with having easy entry points into ultimately very complicated games. Players may end up on islands, and feel unable to leave them, hindering both their ability to grow and their purpose of bringing more people into the game.”
LARP: Long-Ass RPGs
Now, how about a little structural analysis of some of the most infamously long single-player games we have available to us?
- Moving Forward Together – Final Fantasy XIII – PixPen
Sam Howitt explores how Final Fantasy XIII‘s constituent parts and elements–even the rough ones–add up to a thematically congruent whole meditating on isolation and community.
- How Xenoblade Chronicles 3 Surprised Me | Paste
Emily Price offers some ups and downs on a game and a genre where the conversation is too-often collapsed to quantity.
“For a game about characters whose problem is that they don’t have enough time, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is generous with its own. I’m glad the game is as long as it is, but even if there were less of it, it would still feel complete. This is the best assessment of the game I can personally give.”
For reading convenience, I have grouped together the only three analyses on political videogames to be featured this week.
- Cult of the Lamb wanted me to exploit my followers, instead they became my found family | Gayming Magazine
Ty Galiz-Rowe practices community care in a little world warred over by power-drunk gods.
- Another Night in the Woods | KRITIQAL
Mira Lazine reexamines how NitW‘s political, social, and economic themes hold up five years later.
- LumbearJack Envisions a Hopeful Climate Future, Even If It Falls Short | No Escape
Kaile Hultner hangs out with a game that brings the right energy and slaps most of the way there.
“It is a game you could play with your kids alongside a bedtime reading of Andreas Malm’s How to Blow Up a Pipeline, maybe.”
And now, here is a section of design-minded reading, complete with developer insights.
- The Strange Tale Behind Resident Evil’s ‘Basement Theme’ | Time Extension
Jack Yarwood investigates the infamous Clown Fart Track and comes away with an explanation more about technical mishap than authorial ball-drop.
- Reaching for Truth in Paradise Killer | Unwinnable
Caroline Delbert chats with designer Oli Clarke Smith about Paradise Killer, the design decisions that make a 3D virtual space compelling, and the intentionality of taking out conventional pillars of game design like combat.
“There’s nothing in a game that a person or team of people has not calculated and placed there, even when the code or art is generated from an algorithm. Nothing is truly infinite about games, even when the spaces are very, very large.”
- A Dog and Her Friend and the Lockdown in Between | Unwinnable
Alyssa Wejebe meditates creatively on Isabelle X Doomguy, BFFs4Lyfe.
“Your universe is an interconnected web of digital worlds, and you will take advantage of that. You will embrace the mercy it offers.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!