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God of War (2018)

…testosterone-soaked glory.

Daniel Starkey, in a retrospective article for Digital Trends, highlights some issues with the game’s combat mechanics, and especially, with its puzzles:

… puzzles aren’t always as clever as you’d hope: There are some brain-teasers, sure. One, for instance, involves a bunch of Tetris-style blocks that you need to piece together to unlock a door. And that’s well enough, but also can’t help but feel a little contrived. Many ancient civilizations built bizarre and ridiculous temples and structures, but none, so far as we know, made contraptions like this. Compared to all the thought…

September 2nd

I made you an elaborate intro, but the cat ate it. So, let’s just get right into it. It’s This Week in Videogame Blogging!

On Gamasutra, Douglas Lynn draws a line between the “game” and the “game experience,” citing the latter as a more all-encompassing, multisensory interaction. Over on Video Game Tourism, Eron Rauch delineates the four major types of In-Game Photography.

Meanwhile, Kotaku’s Patricia Hernandez boldly (and many would say, correctly) asserts that there is no such thing as a game without politics:

Think, for instance, of player creation in any game. Look at

May 31st

…included in the latest installment of their FIFA series. Mary Hamilton talked about the predictably terrible reactions to this absolutely minor effort at inclusion.

In Fifa 15, the last instalment of the franchise, there are more than 16,000 players. All of them are male. (Many of them are not as good at football as the women’s World Cup players.) There are 23 players in a World Cup squad. This suggests that approximately 1.7% of the players in Fifa 16 will be female.

Elsewhere, Megan Condis looked at the consequences of Rust‘s decision to randomly assign skin…

April 10th

…Dream, and the differing approaches they take to presenting critiques of the madness in our current systems of capital:

…while both games are ultimately concerned with critiquing capitalism, they set about their task in very different manners as SPENT attempts to model the real injustices and difficulties of life in America while American Dream presents American capitalism as a grotesque fantasy in which people throw money at celebrities, take a load of drugs, buy $1,000 kettles and somehow get rich in the process.

Ben Chapman, aka AwesomeExMachina, who you’ll remember from earlier instalments of the excellent…

November 5th

…games critics, with the exception of Julie Muncy, for not addressing cultural appropriation in Mario games.

  • ‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Review: Nintendo’s Surreal, Candy-Colored Triumph | WIRED Julie Muncy highlights the disconnected mashup of cultural symbols, alongside the absurdist extension of a playful internal logic, to explain the artful ridiculousness of this title.
  • “Mario gains an eerie power: anything that is made to wear Mario’s cap becomes Mario. Throw it on a dinosaur’s head, for instance, and that dino is instantly fused with Mario—and you, the player, find yourself playing as a dinosaur. Take control of goombas,…

    September Roundup: Globetrotting

    Instagram filter”: contextualizing the colonial tourist fantasies of 100 Rabbits

    Robert What kicks us off this roundup with a damning analysis of the “travel as inspiration” ethos found in the promotional videos for 100 Rabbits, a “floating studio” hoping to document game-making projects as they travel. Robert summarizes his criticism of the project as:

    It’s virtually impossible to be lost in today’s hyper-wired universe of digital information. The network of global capital lies everywhere and is increasingly able to instantly find and ‘locate’ (contextualize) anyone on its vast data control grid. Or perhaps it could be more

    January 31st

    …is a natural direction to take for a piece of interactive fiction that revolves around instant messenger conversation. But there are so many other ways of addressing intimacy and relationships between two people.”

    In another take on the power of non-romantic love, Sloane Cee shared a postmortem of a debut project that offers a compassionate approach to a trans coming out story.

    As always, some developers’ attempts at representation leave much to be desired. Andrea Ritsu played Atari’s Pridefest and found no mention of LGBTQ rights whatsoever: Pride is portrayed instead as a celebration of rainbow-coloured…

    July 24th

    Welcome to another instalment of This Week in Videogame Blogging with me, your host, and and all your favourite pieces of videogame blogging and criticism from around the web.

    Okay, so everyone’s read this piece by now, yeah? Jonah Weiner at the New York Times profiles the Adams brothers, Zach and Tarn, behind the cult classic craze Dwarf Fortress. It’s a revealing look at the reclusive pair that leaves one with the distinct impression of a genius that may come at some expense to its creators. Well worth the time to read this lengthy profile.

    And getting

    July 11th

    …found myself relating to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in the toughest moments of our time. It’s also the story of how it came to an end in late 2020, and what followed afterwards.”

    Material Stakes

    Questions of art, exhibition, materiality, and embodiment abound in our next section with a focus on art installations, adaptation, serious games, and more.

    • Enter The Data Dungeon: Sex Work & Digital Domination | Immerse Lena Chen situates the goals of the online art installation/performance Play4UsNow in a digital landscape increasingly hostile to sex workers.
    • Getting…

    December 16th

    …Rivas get together to discuss Canadian-produced Assassin’s Creed 3‘s take on the American Revolution.

    Meanwhile, on his own blog, Jordan Rivas relates how Call of Duty reminds him of a Katy Perry song.


    We catch up with John Brindle again back over on Nightmare Mode, where Brindle outlines a pretty compelling critique of gamer elitism:

    [Jim Rossignol wrote that] we shouldn’t worry about what non-gamers think of games, because “in this instance,” he wrote, “we are the highly educated elite.”

    It’s a good point. It arouses in me the instant desire to defend…