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2020 in Videogame Blogging

…material political conditions that marginalize many developers and writers, and also refuses to limit its political horizon to “getting paid” and the industrial pressures that come along with that.

  • La importancia de descentrarse | la era del videojuego Tom Gradep describes the broken promise that sites such as Kotaku, Polygon, and Waypoint, as well as the growth of video criticism on YouTube, might lead to radical changes in how we talk about games, observing that the discourse remains obsessed with big mainstream releases and next-gen consoles and continues to ignore culturally valuable work happening elsewhere.
  • Labor

    This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2019

    …get through this together.

    Broader Labor Concerns

    Of course, labor and games goes beyond unionization. It also concerns who gets recognized and the underlying power structures of capitalism, as Yussef Cole wrote in Vice on the subject of dance emote appropriation in Fortnite:

    Much of the discussion surrounding Epic’s appropriations is concerned with whether the lawsuits being brought by 2 Milly, Ribeiro, and others, are legally feasible; it centers the letter of the law, asking whether Epic is allowed to lift these dance moves. But this ignores the (at least) equally pertinent question of whether it

    Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

    This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2018

    …not need to break those that produce them. Yet, beyond just the people they affect, the working conditions cannot help but set the tone for the wider medium both in and out of the games themselves.


    • When did we forget people – not brands – make games? | Eurogamer – Wesley Yin-Poole In the wake of Telltale’s closure and the reaction that the developers should finish their games for free, Wesley Yin-Poole asks a question that should have been asked long ago.
    • The labour of games | I Need Diverse Games – Tauriq Tauriq Moosa

    Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

    July 26th

    …under capitalism:

    When Silvia Federici wrote Wages against Housework, she wasn’t calling for hourly wages for housewives as an end in itself, and this is key — she wanted recognition of housework as labor specifically to bring it into the realm of things that can be refused and revolted against. To radically reorganize affection, love, and care in the labor market is no simple task, and Diner Dash and Kim Kardashian: Hollywood certainly offer no solutions. What they do offer is a first suggestion, incredible in its existence on a mass-market scale: to make affective labor count, to

    April 24th

    It seems that class politics’ time has come in games criticism, with labor issues at the forefront of analyses of both the industry and its products this week.


    Working conditions and practices have been a major topic of discussion, with a particular focus on crunch and overwork.

    • Don Daglow: “I’m calling bullshit on core, mid-core and casual” | reports on a games industry veteran’s remarks about gaming’s class divide.
    • My Game (In One Long Sentence) | The Ludosphere Altug Isigan provides a useful guide to describing a game in a

    August 7th

    Self-love spectacle

    The uncomfortably intangible economies surrounding leisure are explored this week in a video about Sonic and a stellar essay on gamer identity.

    • It’s Not Easy Being Blue – YouTube (video: auto-captions) Innuendo Studios riffs about Sonic’s lack of identity, and how it relates to subjectivity in the social media age.
    • Distraction, Consumption, Identity: The Neoliberal Language of Videogames | Sufficiently Human Lana Polansky calls for mass resistance and coherent labor politics, as an alternative to the divergent identity organising that can so easily be absorbed into the leisure and consumption of

    February 25th

    …of a musical score so conspicuous that it feels like the most important thing about the whole work.

    Emotional labor

    In a remarkable little bit of serendipity, this week brought two separate investigations of emotional labor in games that portray romantic relationships between women and men, both of them nuanced and enlightening.

    • How to (not) save your boyfriend: examining gender roles in Mystic Messenger | Medium Giada Zavarise argues that the behavior of NPCs in this dating game places gendered expectations on the player-character, who is assumed to be female even if the player…

    April 15th

    …the expressive role of inconvenience – not gameplay friction, but the deliberate exclusion of specific, expedient tools that we’ve come to expect in certain genres or settings.

  • The Pleasure Paradox of Big Buffs | The Psychology of Video Games Jamie Madigan argues that uncertainty and incomplete knowledge make powerups feel better.
  • Labor

    In writing on capitalism and corporatism, three critics highlight the portrayal of economic issues and the economic conditions in which games are produced.

    • Gamasutra: John Krajewski’s Blog – Economy as Gameplay: The influences and impacts of player-run economies in Eco. John…

    June 21st

    …seven days.

    Industry Revolution

    We open this week with four authors with their fingers on the pulse of the industry along different axes, all identifying erasures, injustices, and wrongs, and projecting a path forward to a better future.

    • In Celebration of Black Videogame Composers, Part 2 – Paste Dia Lacina continues her series looking at and spreading the word on some incredible Black musical talent in the industry.
    • The Future Of The Video Game Labor Movement | Kotaku Sisi Jiang reflects on Game Workers United’s unwillingness to act in support of marginalized developers and

    April 7th

    …the past seven days.

    Daily Grind

    This week four selections look at the intersections of labour and games from a variety of angles. In addition to new developments on the labour organization front, there’s excellent work here on in-game labour and gamification.

    • The Amazon Games – Postyn Smith – Medium Postyn Smith reports from the unique brand of hell that is a gamified Amazon warehouse.
    • Game Workers Unite Argentina: Labor organization in the videogames industry | Matajuegos David T. Marchand announces the formation of an Argentine branch of Game Workers Unite with a call