This week, critical writers in games were moved by the final moments of Demon’s Souls, disturbed by the empty lives of non-player characters, and concerned by xenophobic portrayals of history. We round up the most original writing of the week in the latest post for This Week in Videogame Blogging.
Three critics consider the role of time in storytelling and game experiences, with perhaps a particular focus on how things come to an end.
- Farewell, Demon’s Souls | ZAM – The Largest Collection of Online Gaming Information
Corey Milne captures the final moments of a groundbreaking online game, reflecting on the poignancy of its end and the design features that made it so influential.
- Why are turn-based games so good at creating stories? • Eurogamer.net
Christian Donlan argues that storytelling is, in some sense, about controlling time.
- Rain World’s Brutal Metaphysics | Unwinnable
Sam Zucchi explores different cultural mythologies about rebirth and suffering in a reading of Rain World.
“An otherwise unmentionable videogame convention is transformed into an expression of metaphysical dread.”
Focusing a little more on interaction design, two critics consider different skills that are tested by games – memory, and movement.
- The secret ingredient that unites Dark Souls, Crackdown, Zelda and Fez • Eurogamer.net
Christian Donlan (again) highlights ways that memory challenges made key games from his past more… um… memorable.
- ‘Moss’ Suggests Maybe You Didn’t Waste That Money Buying a VR Headset – Waypoint
Patrick Klepek praises elegant design features that make good use of VR’s sense of mobility.
“Moss gives thoughtful consideration to the notion that technology can do more than shape design—but aid it.”
Looking at the storytelling structures of games, two critics examine the relationship between the player’s agency and a game’s narrative themes.
- Three Short Arguments on The Secret of Monkey Island – YouTube (Spoilers for Monkey Island games)
Ian Danskin traces the narratives themes and structure of the adventure game that set in place some of the major patterns for the genre.
- Stardew Valley is Definitely a Horror Game | Kotaku (Spoilers for Stardew Valley)
Stacie Ponder highlights the fundamental weirdness and disturbances at work in Pelican Town.
“You’re forever the outsider, the only person with any kind of free will. Townsfolk simply go about their business from day to day and season to season, forever trapped, endlessly repeating yearly rituals in this pastoral purgatory.”
Four writers look at inclusivity issues, from positive portrayals of sensitive masculinity to criticisms of xenophobia and transmisogyny.
- OMG! It’s a GRILL! – First Person Scholar (Content warning: misogyny)
Lena Uszkoreit reflects on some of the ways that her voice is interpreted in online games, with reference to some theories from sociology.
- Blackgate: Father Figures and the Trauma of Dismantling Them
Stubs McGee reads a visual novel that blends romance with horror as a story about losing trust for someone you love.
- Catherine, Trans Identities, and Representation in Japan – Anime Feminist (Content warning: transmisogyny)
Kazuma Hashimoto discusses the state of trans rights in Japan, as reflected in the transphobic narrative of Catherine.
- Deliverance: Myth-making and Historical Accuracy | Unwinnable (Content warning: racism)
Reid McCarter details the prejudices expressed in Kingdom Come: Deliverace‘s portrayal of history.
“Deliverance selects from the past what best serves an exclusionary, xenophobic vision of Czech history – one that considers ethnic and linguistic minorities a historical detriment.”
Finally, a piece of writing on visual design highlights how the framing of a screen contributes to narrative.
- Memory, culture, and the limits of artifice — Third Person
Sophia Park emphasizes the interface design of All Our Asias to investigate how it deals with the gap between the player and the protagonist.
“The physicality of the game’s frame only emphasizes its status as an artificial object; it is constantly self-conscious of its presentation as an artificial world and the limits of that artificiality as an instructive tool.”
Before I you check out the links to subscribe and contribute below, I wanted to pass on news of two book releases that were announced this week:
- On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space | Soraya Murray
- A Play of Bodies: How We Perceive Videogames | Brendan Keogh
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