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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.

Product and Production

This week we open with a pair of very different industry-level topics: the conflation of preservation and product, and unionization in the industry.

“This pamphlet is neither an all-encompassing instruction manual, nor legal guidance, nor a demand that every studio unionize. What we have assembled is purely information, and for many, inspiration for a potentially better way. This is, for those interested, an overdue first step in the marathon.”

Strike the Earth

Dwarf Fortress saw its first commercial release this week via Kitfox–a milestone of sorts for the Adams’ 20-years-and-counting opus. Here are some of the initial critical responses to the game in its more user-friendly form.

“It isn’t so much that “Dwarf Fortress” is a perfect simulacrum of life, but that it shines a bright light on the human tendency to look for meaning in everything. I care about my dwarves because the stories I make up about their lives are also the ones I make up about my own.”

Stories and Telling

Our next section this week brings together critiques of narrative, structure, and character across different genres.

“What I love about Zag as a multiracial character is that he doesn’t choose one side of himself over another, he accepts both and his fluidity of movement throughout the Underworld and the surface worlds.”

Resource Management

Now for a pair of reflections on patterns of design structures in different genres of games.

“The community focused approach makes me realize that zoning strategies and city development isn’t meant to be a god-mode game. It is perhaps the worst way to learn about cities, because letting one person decide how streets are laid out and where the garbage dump is situated ignores the most complex factor in the equation to building a city: what the people who have to live with your decisions think about it.”

Story Mapping

Picking up a thread from the earlier discussion on city builders, we shift now to the stories told in and through urban environments.

“In Condemned, the non-place twists in on itself, creating places that erase the self and streamline brutality. These places were once safe, but it would be a mistake to think that they were ever comforting. They existed to serve a function before their function was deemed useless or unprofitable, and then they were forgotten—left on their own to transform, ultimately into something evil.”

Mobilized and Monetized

It feels like a common refrain here that we don’t talk enough about the mobile landscape. Here are three selections this week exploring different genres and trends in this domain.

“Whether that’s intentional or not, I find it amusing in kind of a cynical way that Project Makeover has recreated, in almost its entirety, the experience of the commercialized self-care that corporations have co-opted from the most basic definition of “the process of taking care of oneself with behaviors that promote health and active management of illness when it occurs.” In real life and in Project Makeover‘s bland Befores, there is always a solution to the problem – an After – just waiting to be sold.”

Critical Chaser

Our closing section this week is a double feature, both sweet and silly.

“Features are what make a game. Many people are saying this. If you talk to any game developer and ask them, “What makes up a video game?”, they will tell you, “Features.” Go on, ask any of them. If they don’t have this answer, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m just spitballing here. Sometimes, I just say stuff. It’s whatever.”


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