Every week, games criticism seems to get better and better at pro-actively addressing the political and historical circumstances we occupy. This week is a stellar example, with pieces covering prisons, futurism, and feminist readings of horror.
Muñoz, Camus, Watts
I’m starting this roundup with a section in which every piece gets a pull-quote, because I was struck by how each piece uses quotation in order to locate games in a wider political project.
- Radiator Blog: “Take ecstasy with me”: a manifesto for Gay VR
Robert Yang searches for utopia in VR as a separate entity from gamer culture.
Muñoz argues that no one is truly queer, and queerness is always an ideal that we chase. Queerness is always “not yet here.” […] Ask any VR evangelist and they’ll confess the technology is “not yet here” but argue there is still so much untapped potential to explore.”
- Dancing With an Elder God at the End of Quake – Waypoint
Cameron Kunzelman uses mythic imagery to consider gaming difficulty and hope.
“Albert Camus said that we have to imagine Sisyphus, the Greek man doomed to roll a rock up a hill for eternity, as happy. The very absurdity of his task gives him purpose.”
- Everything is the most ambitious catalogue of things ever committed to a video game. • Eurogamer.net
Simon Parkin argues that a surrealist game about being anything in the world holds within it an urgent political message.
“Speaking in the mid-20th century, for Watts that looming threat was the Atom bomb. In the early 21st Century context, that particular inextinguishable threat remains, but it’s combined with a new catastrophe, climate change, a sickness brought on by the industrialisation of individualism.”
- The Exploded Encyclopedia | Everything | Heterotopias
Gareth Damian Martin examines how the surrealist narrative techniques of a game concerned with cataloguing the inanimate relate to a longer history of philosophy and art.
“At the heart of Everything lies a contradiction. Though the narration dotted around this seemingly infinite universe—cherry-picked from the archive of philosopher Alan Watts—speaks of “interconnection”, of life being “one organism,” the game itself is obsessed by the idea of discrete, separate, identifiable objects. “
Two stories about educators in prisons came out this week, both of them fascinating as well as provoking questions about how games as machines for user agency function as art works among people whose freedom has been explicitly taken from them.
- Can Learning To Make Video Games Help Rehabilitate Jailed Kids?
Nathan Grayson talks with educator Dana Ruggiero about her work using games education to empower youth offenders to cope with the strict systems they live within.
- IMPALING MARIO, REVERSING SONIC: Inside Pedro Paiva’s Bootleg Games
henrique antero uncovers an astonishing story about games, art, education, and anticaptialism in South America through an interview with educator Pedro Paiva.
“Pedro Paiva told me that one of his students, in a playful mood, once said that he would distribute the games he was making while drug-dealing. I thought it was a funny scene. The administrative personnel weren’t so appreciative of the project’s humor, though. One day a police officer entered Pedro Paiva’s class without notice. “
Special girls and the monstrous feminine
This week there were a lot of pieces that all touched on different aspects of feminist horror and its opposites.
Content warning across this section for violence against women and children, body horror, and sexual assault.
Two articles gave readers a great starting point for considering tabletop games as a creative and community-based hobby.
- How To Get Into Dungeons & Dragons | Kotaku
Cecilia D’Anastasio shares some practical advice, including some home truths that I’ve often struggled to come to terms with when trying to get tabletop games started in the past.
- How to Tell a Story in a Quiet Year | pshares
Patrick Larose gives an introduction to story games through a personal account of Avery McDaldno’s A Quiet Year.
Breath of the Wild
Finally, Breath of the Wild has inspired a lot of discussion. Here are two highlights.
- How I Learned to Love the DIY Map in ‘Breath of the Wild’ – Waypoint
Mike Diver discusses how he changed his mind about exploring through an abtuse map.
- ‘Breath of the Wild’ Makes Me Actually Want To Explore – Waypoint
A few people have written about how open world design has breathed life into the wild, and I particularly enjoyed Janine Hawkins’s succinct and pleasant writing on the topic.
“That mark on your map means you can go there. That mark on your map means you should go there. That mark on your map means that there is #content waiting. That mark on your map deliberately defines a Something, and whether it means to or not it simultaneously defines the space between itself and the next mark as a Nothing. Here are the points, the five dozen points, that you need to pay attention to. Ignore the rest. It’s fly-over flavor.”
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!