Why hello there! Two, Three, Four…
Did you know that Persona 4: Dancing All Night was finally released in my part of the world this weekend? Step, step, spin!
Yet, ever your dutiful servant, my dear discerning reader, here I am taking a break from dance practice to provide you with the latest in games criticism.
It’s Time To Make History!
I mean, it’s This Week In Videogame Blogging!
All About the Benjamin Abrahams
Earlier this week, Kill Screen, one of the pioneers of crowd-funded games writing, launched a new Kickstarter to bring back their print magazine. On Twitter, talk among games writers turned to the site’s poor rates and the question of whether or not fair compensation had been factored into the budgeting for this new project. The conversation inspired a crowd-sourced spreadsheet of games writing outlets and their respective rates, which beautifully complements our own recently published list of contacts for new writers.
Unwinnable’s Stu Horvath added a detailed response to the discussion, connecting these issues to the horrors of a consolidated media landscape:
Writers no longer create stories, they develop clickable content. A solitary piece of content is almost valueless – who in their right mind would pay for 150 words summarizing a press release? – which allows media companies to buy them in bulk for cheap. As the threshold for advertising profitability continues to rise, the rate of pay for content producers necessarily shrinks in proportion, despite increased demand. […]
This is how our world ends, with advertisers paying tiny fractions of cents for people to visit stories no one wants to read, written by soul-crushed drones getting paid fractions of fractions of cents for their trouble. Eventually, one of those fractions will shrink so small that is ceases to exist. That is the heat death of the written word.
For more information on the subject of bad media practices, consider Anne Theriault’s recent article on the ethics of mining Twitter for private stories. If you want to learn more about the pressures of unsustainable piecework, you may be interested in Kathi Schönfelder’s German writeup of CHESTO – At the Checkout.
The Gender Agenda
Phil Hartup on the New Statesman criticizes developers’ attempts to justify sexualized outfits for female characters via lore:
At some point a developer should just admit that, as unfashionable and hackneyed as it is, they want attractive female characters in a game because they want their game to have attractive female characters in it. This admission would not bring the end of civilisation, it would not cause frogs to rain from the sky; it would just be honest.
Instead, we see developers choose to cook up these asinine justifications within the game, because they’d rather shred what little internal logic their game had than admit that an attractive female character was put into the game because they wanted one there.
On the flipside of things, Brian Cebulski provides us with a detailed writeup of (certain mainstream) videogames’ bonds with Hollywood masculinity.
On a more positive note, Riley MacLeod gives us a brief look at Naomi Clark’s Consentacle, Jake Muncy writes about the expressive power of Nina Freeman’s Cibele and Simone de Rochefort talks about Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate‘s portrayal of Evie Frye on the recently launched Remeshed.
On the German side of things, Rae Grimm looks at how the game industry is slowly beginning to cater to teenage girls, while Ally Auner chastises Fallout: Shelter for its gender stereotypes.
With Fallout 4 nearly upon us, Gamasutra’s Alex Wawro takes a look at the development history of the series.
“One of the biggest, and most visual bugs, was the car trunk bug,” says Urquhart, relating a Pratchett-esque tale of a trunk run amok.
Speaking of history, here is David Craddock interviewing a ROM hacker known as infidelity about their craft.
More interviews you say? Leigh Alexander recently spoke to Kitty Horrorshow, Tobias Unterhuber of Paidia talked to The Fullbright Company’s Karla Zimonja and Latoya Peterson interviewed rather a lot of people to look at some of the reasons why women make games (video).
Meanwhile, Vic Bassey talks about the development of Shelter 2, and Samantha Kalman and Liz England discuss The Beginner’s Guide.
Writing about the final episode of Life is Strange, Ayla Arthur criticizes the game’s callous treatment of its queer characters (Content Warning: discussion of suicide). On Indie Haven, Simon Rankin writes about playing through the game together with a friend and how their relationship mirrors the central friendship of Max and Chloe.
Michael Lutz writes about his problems with Undertale and how it communicates its philosophy to players. Spoilers aplenty in the full article.
my biggest criticism of Undertale is that for a good portion of it to make sense you have to do the thing the game expressly does not want you to do; the implied player of the best ending just accepts things on blind faith and never questions or investigates the metaphysics of it all.
Kate Cox has written an extensive post about music in Dragon Age: Inquisition and how it is used to emphasize story points.
Naomi Alderman argues that games don’t have to teach us things to be worthwhile.
Here’s Leigh Alexander, again, this time talking about Twitch’s Bob Ross marathon.
Problem Machine looked at some of the issues with dialogue systems in a short post on talking simulators.
On Video Game Tourism, Eron Rauch is now at part seven of his exhaustive series on the MOBA genre, this time addressing how issues of spectacle affect professional play.
History Respawned is joined by Jeffrey Wasserstrom to discuss the Boxer uprising in connection to Bioshock Infinite (video).
That’s it for this week friends!
Thank you all so much for submitting interesting finds to us on Twitter or by email, it really makes our lives a lot easier and helps us make sure we don’t forget anything important besides.
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