Welcome back readers.
This year’s edition of the Queer Games Bundle hosted on itch.io is live and runs through the duration of Pride Month, so let me open this week’s issue with a nice lil’ plug for that right here. Now, the curating!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
Our opening section this week brings together interviews from both researchers and designers looking at the industry in terms of artistry, ideology, and impact.
- The Psychologist Determined To Prove Video Games Are Good | Kotaku
Alyssa Mercante talks to Dr. Rachel Kowert about the things games have to teach us beyond the popular headlines of violence and addiction.
- There’s a Natural Progression: An Interview with Wales Interactive | Unwinnable
Elijah Beahm sits down with a pair of architects behind an FMV games renaissnace.
- Meet The Brilliant Scholar Challenging Racism In Game Design | Kotaku
Carolyn Petit chats with Dr. Kishonna Gray about the white supremacist ideologies encoded into our media, and the work of imagining better worlds through games.
“Too often, Gray argues, the creators of games and technology ignore these kinds of real-world factors, considering them irrelevant to their work, and because they don’t consciously take them into account, they wind up perpetuating those same disparities in the digital space.”
Our next selection of writers all dip into both the underappreciated titles of yesteryear and newly-made throwbacks evoking bygone eras in various meditations on what these games have to say to a contemporary audience.
- Driver San Francisco is the racing game G.O.A.T. | Daniel Fernández
Daniel Fernández looks back at a racing game that was less granular sim and more supernatural ghost cop mayhem.
- Review: The Tartarus Key Is 32-Bit Horror as Good as You Remember It | Sidequest
Joan Zahra Dark tucks into a satisfying serving of 32-bit style horror where failure is all part of the story.
- Mythology of the Commons | Unwinnable
Phoenix Simms returns to an underappreciated PS3 classic and explores the prescient, EcoGothic folklore of Folklore.
“Folklore stands alone as a game that touches on how dark fantasy doesn’t always have to resemble a medieval romance and can be quite relevant to our current zeitgeist. Folklore is to Gothic games what Midsommar was to horror movies, in my opinion, and it’s a shame that Game Republic never got that sequel they hoped for.”
In our final trio of the week we’ve got a variety of design-related insights, ranging from game-specific, to series-specific, to broader industry patterns and trends.
- The Problem with “Good Game Design” | canon fire
Amr Al-Aaser probes the fuzzy, fricative boundary between design and ideology, and charts a path from prescriptive to descriptive criticism.
- Design review of Redfall by Arkane Studios Austin | Radiator Blog
Robert Yang sits down to find out what can be learned from a discourse magnet of a game that so many have already written off altogether.
- Let the Flame Die: Elden Ring Can’t Resurrect the Souls Franchise | Kat (Pixel a Day)
Kat approaches Elden Ring as the atrophied summation of a franchise caught between the legacy of an action game with too few verbs and an exploration game in want of a few more.
“I experienced The Lands Between in hurried snatches, the details blurring as I outran another pack of soldiers with spears. I wanted to feel like an explorer, coming face to face with an exciting new world. But I felt more like a surveyor — someone charting the land through a long-range lens, never able to close the distance. Elden Ring’s world has a faraway charm, but for the most part it doesn’t translate to the tense intimacy of a great Souls game, nor the tactile delight of a great adventure game.”
We close this week with a heartfelt sendoff to a publication–or the current incarnation of a publication, anyway–that has been near and dear to many in our community for both a long time and not for nearly long enough.
- Outer Wilds and Waypoint | May the Sunflower
May the Sunflower eulogizes Waypoint via a game they helped put on all of our radars.
“Outer Wilds is about going home.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!