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zolani stewart

Sonic the Hedgehog

…trips to Central America, voiced cutscenes and a creaky ensemble storyline, plus subgames such as Tamagotchi-style Chao breeding and levels that take inspiration from the likes of Panzer Dragoon.”

In Zolani Stewart’s in-depth analysis of Sonic Adventure, Stewart notes the game’s attempt to create high expectations without being able to fulfill them.

As Sonic Adventure works harder to convince us that it is sprawling and expansive, it becomes increasingly insular and recursive. Its attempts to present itself as complex, boundary-pushing entertainment only reveals to us its tragic bareness, how shallow and fruitless of an experience it really

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

February 25th

This special edition of This Week in Videogame Blogging is curated by Zolani Stewart.

The fallacy of Black History Month is that its existence negates the need for a extensive discussion of what it means to be black. I find my voice boxed in a cell whose locks are controlled by the temporal forces of white boredom and guilt. I find my signature on a social contract whose paper my hand has not touched. I find the white man, with his property documents and his contracts, towering over me:

“You have your month, we have our status-quo.”

This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2017

Stewart Zolani Stewart asks the titular question not as an inherent quality, but one of prioritization. As a culture, video games lack visual literacy as a method of communicating ideas.

  • Bad Images | Medium – Midboss (Em) Emilie Reed also sees an issue with bad images in games, and offers a recalibration: incorporating pattern into our understanding of video game aesthetics, as they are historically more important to the medium, and as important a source of beauty as the image frame. (Editor note: earlier in the year, Em worked with us on Visual Essay Jam, a proactive intervention into…
  • Episode 27 – Review Comes For The Arcade

    Joining us on this month’s podcast is Zolani Stewart, fellow Critical Distance contributor and founding editor of The Arcade Review.

    Coming up on its first year anniversary, Arcade Review is a publication that situates itself as an arts magazine first and a games magazine second. Wishing to break away from the stagnant circles of what is traditionally considered games writing, Zolani, with some help, has created a space where he can foster the type of writing he and others would like to see. In our podcast, we discuss how the magazine has sharpened its focus over time, in

    This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2013

    The Extra Credits crew closely reads a single line in The Walking Dead and its wider significance in the work.

    Martin at Oh No! Video Games has a short piece on the thematic reading of episode 4 of The Walking Dead.

    Austin C Howe explores the postmodernism nature of Metal Gear Solid. James Clinton Howell looks at MGS4 and how it calls attention to how we become indifferent to human life by its own indifference to human life.

    Zolani Stewart looks at how Mortal Kombat 4 is different from its fighting game brethren. Mark Filipowich expands

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    This Year in Videogame Blogging: 2014

    …criticism dedicated to droqen’s Starseed Pilgrim, founded by Richard “KirbyKid” Terrell and Daniel Johnson.

    Chay Close at Kill Screen reasoned every videogame is a comedy, but only a very few are in on the joke. Writing for Kotaku’s UK branch, our own Zolani Stewart advanced the concept of Sonic Studies in order to isolate where, exactly, the little blue hedgehog started to go so wrong.

    Austin Walker reviewed The Crew for Paste, seeing the America within as a postcard of the nation. He found some delight in the abstraction of the country, but soon it became apparent to…

    July 10th

    Hello there! Zolani Stewart here. While Zoya is away, I’ll be taking over this week in videogame blogging, and listing some of the great writing that’s published this first full week of July.

    Looking Back

    There was a lot of writing this week that acted as retrospectives of older games:

    • What Made System Shock So Special | Kotaku Heather Alexandra made a video on System Shock series; what made the games and their successors special and their common weaknesses.
    • The Sonic series’ high point is not a game | Polygon Allegra Frank writes on

    Discover a Critical Culture

    …about videogames, opening me up to the possibilities of games and the wonders of a diverse critical community.

    Critical Distance exposed me to such writers as Jenn Frank, who revealed to me the beauty of writing intimately and personally about our experiences with games. I first read Lana Polansky, Zolani Stewart, and other critics via Critical Distance, who use insightful interdisciplinary approaches to understanding games alongside poetry, photography, painting, and architecture.

    Critical Distance brought me to the writings of countless bloggers and cultural critics who have challenged me to examine the (often uncomfortable and exploitative) relationships between videogames…

    This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2016

    …– George Weidman Super Bunnyhop looks at the first level of every Sonic game an what that can tell us about each game and era as a whole.

  • On Sonic ’06 | Medium – ZEAL – Zolani Stewart Everything you never knew you wanted to know about the travesty that is Sonic 2006 in Zolani Stewart’s continuing work in #SonicStudies.
  • Undertale

    • The Dark Side of Pacifism in ‘Undertale’ | PopMatters – Nick Dinicola Undertale is a game in favor of non-violence, but in the game’s story that has some disturbing implications, Nick Dinicola notes.

    October 15th


    Further expanding notions of how we should read games as critics, these two writers challenge us to sharpen our visual literacy.

    • Brick By Brick / Selective Chromophobia & Castlevania Doshmanziari sees bright, vivid colours where others either don’t see them, or don’t remember them, and gives us images to prove they are real.
    • Are Videogames Bad at Images? – Zolani Stewart – Medium Zolani Stewart pens something close to a manifesto, laying out a way of thinking about images and visual communication that has been largely neglected in games criticism until now.