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This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Bigger than Videogames
Sometimes games get so big–be they indie or industry–that their reputations start to get in the way of experiencing the actual game. We open this week with two meditations on this topic.
- Finding The On-Ramp To Route Zero | Unwinnable
Ruth Cassidy ponders the predicament of forming your own experineces with a game that has accumulated as much discourse and baggage and sheer weight as Kentucky Route Zero.
- A Totem | Bullet Points Monthly
Yussef Cole considers The Last of Us Part I as a sort of totemic work, increasingly more a representative arifact of design and industry ideology than a videogame sold and resold on its own merrits.
“It’s a museum exhibit that requires my participation, my enthusiasm. Less a history than a mutated memory. Less picture perfect than xeroxed and redrawn. A piece of ruin, of headstone, wrapped in gold leaf before being dropped in our waiting hands.”
And then there’s Fortnite, where that’s almost the point.
- WETWARE – DEEP HELL
Skeleton has been playing Fortnite.
- FEAR AND SELF LOATHING ON THE BATTLE BUS | DEEP HELL
So has Bryn.
“Fortnite embraces the disconnect from reality to cater to larger and more niche audiences simultaneously as it grows. The bodies of the children who lose in Fornite don’t pile up in Lazy Lagoon. But the origins remain intact. Fear is a weapon and Fortnite’s weaponization of our limited time is deliberate.”
Lay of the Land
Next, a pair of topographical/geopolitical meditations on games at very opposite ends of scale.
- How Dorfromantik creates contested meanings of landscape | Eurogamer.net
Jay Castello thinks through politics of land usage as stylized through play design in Dorfromantik.
- Genshin Impact’s politics are getting messier with every new region | Polygon
Rui Zhong finds an increasingly fraught geopolitical landscape in Teyvat as the developers draw on stereotypes and real-world political tensions while trying to maintain a fun and airy fantasy world for players.
“Travel and travel narratives are not and cannot be politically neutral, particularly in pop cultural products that have power fantasies ingrained into their design and writing. In the context of Genshin Impact’s first two years, the protagonist has served as a sword-wielding knight errant who has saved the people of three of Teyvat’s seven regions. What might save Genshin’s future and provide for a more inclusive community may not rely on their hero’s swordsmanship, but on inclusive engagement and a more honest rapport with critical fans.”
How about some crunchy, laser-focused critiques of recent popular games?
- ‘Metal: Hellsinger’ is Good, But It’s Missing Something | Epilogue Gaming
Flora Merigold finds too much flash and not enough substance in Metal: Hellsinger as a game that never fully capitalizes on its core premise.
- Marissa Marcel, You Will Never Be Famous | Unwinnable
Trevor Richardson observes a heteronormative streak embedded in Immortality‘s deeper mysteries.
“The One is an artist, an actor, a dancer, a singer, one who cares deeply about people, ideas, and expression. Whether due to too deep an entrenchment in American human culture or simply a lack of originality on the part of the writers, when it comes to gender and queerness, the limits and delimitations of The One’s desire are disappointingly conventional.”
A short and a poem, perfect pairing.
- Choosing Happiness | Into The Spine
Krista McCay meditates on the choice between greatness and happiness, as expressed in Slime Rancher.
- “Home isn’t something you find; it’s something you build” | Videodame
Rachel Tanner: Life is Strange: True Colors.
“Can we dance? Together? Here?
Is this place
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!