January 14th

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

Critics enumerate videogames’ hyper-quantified powers, whisper their unspeakable horrors, and dig through the catacombs of their less-known histories. This roundup brings you the week’s most insightful and original writing on games from around the web.

Overcoming demons

First, a quick look at portrayals of masculinity that challenge toxic stoicism.

“[T]heir games begin with them realising their vulnerability and what we experience with them, controlling them, is dealing with this vulnerability. Men made mortal, overcoming their demons, accepting they are not gods.”

Wasted days

Two pieces look at psychology from wildly different backgrounds – one scientific introduction to joy and excitement, and one literary analysis of depression and existential horror.

“Mae is us. A fan of Lovecraft through cultural osmosis, if not direct experience. Mae’s fears are our fears; the passage of time not as unfathomable aeons under which civilizations die and cyclopean cities slip from memory, but as wasted days and creeping seasons that turn evergreen friendships to faded autumnal snapshots.”

Vertiginous climbs

Three critics examine with remarkable nuance the emotional and narrative meaning of different ways that games represent and reward progress.

“Incrementers are explicitly about the fantasy of breaking out of your mathematical lane. They let you experience vertiginous climbs of a hundred orders of magnitude, a thousand, a million, all in just a few minutes.”

Many moons

Two relatively academic pieces of writing consider how games are made, and how understanding the material realities of development could change the way we think about them as critics.

Political landscapes

Writing about how games portray particular cities and countries in a historical context, two critics consider the conditions that change the places that are familiar to us.

“If we use fiction to imagine the political landscape of a United States under Nazi rule, we should also be willing to look at the ways in which the real-world America influenced actual Nazi ideology. In short, American history provided a roadmap for Nazi policy.”

Plugs

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