Welcome back readers, to our first issue of the year!

Special thanks this week once again to Julián Ramírez for providing the fish pic.

If you haven’t already done so, you owe it to yourself to take a look at Kaile’s excellent end-of-year review, which includes a ton of great stuff published over the past year, including things that didn’t find their way into our weekly issues the first time around!

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

Dev Chats

While we’ve got a larger-than-usual number of picks this week overall owing to my brief time away, it made sense this time to group them into a smaller number of sections overall. This week we’re starting with a ton of excellent interview-based material with a particular focus on developers–and yeah, that means the folks that work in QA, too.

“Gaming’s bleakest setting combined with humanity’s greatest threat should just be yet another cause for climate anxiety — a feeling of despondent, helpless despair. Surprisingly, the new post-apocalypse doesn’t want to set the world on fire, it wants to find a way forward. And the way game developers reimagine our societies, economies, and values in the post-apocalypse can demonstrate the creativity, flexibility, and resilience we’ll need to get to a better, sustainable future.”

Critical Highlights

Our next section brings together reflections on a bunch of different games that (mostly) came out in 2023, with bangers, near-misses, frustrating faves and just a touch of more esoteric fare.

“Dungeon Crawlers, as much as we may romanticize system design and mazes and puzzles, are a comfortable and comforting genre. Even when they are brutally difficult because of encounter design, resource scarcity, or absurd map design, we know what to expect and all the ways to mitigate and get around them. Dungeon Crawlers are in many ways, for the people who play enough of them, Fancy Clickers. Which is fine, and good even. But sometimes something comes along and shows you a staggering new vision.”

Now and Then

This section runs the gamut from pretty-recent to bona fide retro while bringing in larger topics from spatiality, to the logics of capitalism, to hauntings.

“From the old friends I no longer talk to that still inhabit the game, to the characters from shows that have now passed me by, to the children that roam the game from couples that are no longer together, my copy of Tomodachi Life has evolved past simple fantasy into a way to re-evaluate reality. Of course, the idea of visiting the past, granting yourself a window into who you used to be, sounds like fantasy, too—like time travel. So maybe what I mean to say is less that Tomodachi Life doesn’t present a fantasy at all, but that it’s not entirely the same escape as so many other games are to me. Instead, it’s a reminder of what I collected in my life that made it worth staying in.”

Learning the Machine

These next picks aren’t strongly anchored to single games and offer deep dives on design, play, and the connections games share with other media.

“I think the specific ways in which videogames handle place-based horror deserves its own moment to shine, because in thinking about horror level design, we can work to uncover a lot of the general horror philosophy behind some of our most beloved franchises.”

Critical Chaser

A little levity to close out the week.


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