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August 25th

…car keys to what seems to be a functional post-scarcity society. However, the cults of personality that act as its antagonistic forces are responsible for some of its funniest, darkest, and most intriguing moments. Their ideologies are sometimes a tad confused, but often align with sinister real-world ones.”

Bodies at Play

Two authors this week look at intersections of games and the bodies we use to play them. How can we create space in games for a wider range of bodies? How can we reclaim bodies from harmful or marginalizing representations? What are the stakes for…

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January 13th

Welcome readers! Last week I was delighted to present a whole bunch of writing on queer game studies, but since no amount of queer games writing is too much (or let’s be real, enough), this week’s roundup opens with a section focused specifically on queer masculine sexuality.

Bodies in general are a recurring theme this week: queer bodies, Black bodies, bodies in love, bodies in grief, bodies in laughter, bodies and interface devices. . . bodies are important! We only get one each, after all.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our annual roundup

Queer Games Criticism in 2021 (so Far)

…at how queerness is inscribed on the bodies of Emil and Kainé, and how their society reads their bodies as threatening, causing them to seek solace in one another as found family. This one would be equally at home in either this section or the next one!

  • Bugsnax’s twofold queerness | Freethought Blogs Siggy introduces what I think is a cool framework here in exploring how Bugsnax’s queerness is reflected on both a character level and a thematic level. There’s often anxiety among critics of queerness being restricted to a surface level of representation, so I think this multi-level…
  • March 1st

    …or not.” From this she draws broader political conclusions, such as:

    There is a resistance because bodies are complicated. Incorporating subject(ivitie)s decentralizes the game object and forces designers and critics to ponder the infinite relationships bodies can have with an experience. Controllers in particular throttle the ways bodies can be recognized in the design, and is probably the main agent in the absence of body subjectivity in critique. It is impossible to know how another’s bodily reaction will be to an experience, and that exactitude is only necessary for products that promise it. That class critique is also

    May 9th

    …from it?”

    Body Problems

    Bodies are weird. The societies we live in are fraught with implicit and explicit rules about how they should present and perform, which in turn informs which kinds of bodies are seen and valued in pop culture and media. Body horror and biopunk serve as critical interventions to body normativity which guide our next selected pair of pieces in a broader conversation about the representation–and interrogation–of bodies.

    • ¿Cuál es la gracia de Resident Evil dentro del género ‘biopunk’? | GamerFocus Julián Ramírez delves into the biopunk genre, its embrace of…

    April 9th

    …the notion of objectivity from another angle: the act of (self-)observation itself changes the nature of what is being observed.

  • “Glory to Mankind,” by Ed Smith – Bullet Points Monthly Ed Smith argues that Nier: Automata is misanthropic, nihilistic, and misses opportunities to embrace humanity’s complexities.
  • The Trouble with Bodies – First Person Scholar Cayla Coats makes a compelling argument for reading Nier: Automata as a transgender narrative.
  • “The entire conflict of the game is one of problematic bodies. The Gestalts’ inability to control their corresponding Replicants signifies a collective anxiety and mistrust of anatomy—the…

    August 26th

    …so little is said about the bodies of videogame protagonists, after two pieces expertly highlighted the way the body’s movements convey narrative meaning.

    • Shenmue’s World Is Full Of Wonderful Junk | Kotaku Heather Alexandra describes the importance of material objects and heavy bodies in a recently re-released Dreamcast game.
    • Opened World: Fragility – Haywire Magazine Miguel Penabella sees the spectre of death in not just Hyper Light Drifter’s videogame cycles of death and respawn, but its portrayal of physical traces of life-threatening illness.

    “At points throughout the game, the drifter will hemorrhage blood when

    April 25th

    …in Play

    Two very different pieces here, loosely tied by an emphasis on bodies and embodiment. Timss’ work this week riffs of a theory of embodied play as explored in Keogh’s book, while Diaz chronicles the experiential fallout of Wii Fit with regard to body image and the narrative of thinness-as-fitness.

    • Trace Then Describe – No Escape Braden Timss keeps the good book review times rolling at No Escape with a look at Brendan Keogh’s A Play of Bodies: How We Perceive Videogames.
    • Here’s the lasting impact of Nintedo’s Wii Fit | Polygon Ana Diaz discusses

    April 18th

    …at why Lil Nas X’s game/marketing stunt/shitpost is also genuinely good queer representation.

  • Nier Replicant Still Portrays Queer Bodies with Brutal Honesty | Paste Austin Jones unpacks Nier Replicant‘s themes of ostracism, queer acceptance, and found family.
  • “Queer people are often told that their bodies are unworthy, ugly, or loathsome unless they are somehow useful. Because of this, young queers often fear rejection unless they present some sort of functionality—are they entertaining? Do they ascribe to popular beauty standards? Do they have some kind of talent that contrasts their otherwise repulsive selves? A queer person fitting…

    October 18th

    …players on the basis of those exclusions, stereotypes, and microaggressions.

    • Platforms and Pitfalls Episode 27 – Queer Male Bodies with Jeremy Signor — Idris Effect Rowan and Jeremy Signor chat about queer masculine bodies in Dragon Age, Strange Flesh, Tusks, and more.
    • Extra Puzzles: Navigating Dungeons & Dragons as a Queer Black Woman | AIPT Holly Woodbury recounts the barriers and stereotypes endemic to tabletop fantasy gaming that Black and Brown players must navigate in order to enjoy the games they love.

    “I love fantasy. I love DnD. I long for the day when