Zoya is 20,000 ft in the air on a plane flight at the moment, so you’re stuck with me as your stand in for this week. This is This Week In Videogame Blogging!
Videogames are once again the ever present deflection of the disingenuous gun industry and their bought and paid for politicians. However, this isn’t 1998, and the critics are taking a good look at games’ own relationship with guns.
- Ignore the panic, video games are not training shooters | Polygon
Normally, we wouldn’t bother with such a well worn rebuttal, but this time it comes from John Phipps, a former marine who has seen actual combat.
- We Know Games Don’t Cause Real-Life Violence, But Why? | Waypoint – Podcast and partial transcript
Patrick Klepek sat down with Villanova University professor of psychology Patrick Markey, co-author of the 2017 book Moral Combat: Why the War on Violent Video Games Is Wrong, for a chat on the subject of violence in games.
- Video Game Guns Don’t Need to Be “Fun” to Be Interesting | Waypoint
Reidn McCarter, Astrid Budgor and Ed Smith of Bullit Points Monthly, collaborated on this piece about the weightlessness of guns and shooting in games compared to other mediums.
- A Closer Look at Our Dark Obsession With Guns Looking Cool | Waypoint
Kelsey Atherton and Ian Boudreau trace the culture of “tacticoool” and personalization of guns from the late 1980s military functionality to its current video game form of avatar dressup.
- White Supremacy, Black Liberation, and the Power Dynamics of Gun Violence | Waypoint
Yussef Cole looks at Mafia 3 and how it reflects the American truth that the Second Amendment is ‘for whites only.’
Industry Issues, Unionization and GDC
This week was GDC and a perfect storm of more stories of poor development practices coming to light, strong calls for developers to unionize and tone deaf defenses of the status quo.
- IGDA Director Says Capital, Not Unions, Will Keep Game Development Jobs Secure | USGamer
The week started off with this interview of IGDA Director Jen MacLean by Matt Kim that framed the ensuing conversation around GDC and the industry as a whole.
- Toxic Management Cost An Award-Winning Game Studio Its Best Developers | The Verge
Then Megan Farokhmanesh’s investigative reporting on the internal struggles of poor management, crunch and loss of talent at Telltale added another log onto the fire.
- IGDA head pledges to support growing unionization movement | ZAM – The Largest Collection of Online Gaming Information
And after a rather reportedly disastrous roundtable at GDC on unionization, John Bringle grilled IGDA Director Jen MacLean on her stances regarding poor working condition and unionization
- Dispatches from GDC 2018: Day 1 | Unwinnable
And on a different subject, Amanda Hudgins gives a personal account of her first day at GDC that reveals how basic assumptions of the conference can fly in the face of a woman’s safety.
Reflections on the Past
A number of pieces this week looked to the past to better understand the present day, whether they were specific events, ideas from old posts or the concept of the past itself.
- My Cow Game Extracted Your Facebook Data | The Atlantic
Given the recent scandal of Cambridge Analytica and Facebook Data, Ian Bogost pulls out his old Cow Clicker data and reveals how frighteningly easy it was to get your personal information without even trying.
- Videogames and Memory | Play the Past
The concept of memory and history is a hazy thing. Peter Christiansen uses video games as examples how the search for objective fact in history is fruitless.
- A New Game Journalism Reader | Meeple Like Us
Michael Heron writes a follow up post to this New Boardgame Journalism about how good New Games Journalism may be the way forward of indie publications.
“I thought I’d take a different tack with this followup post and do a kind of ‘New Games Journalism reader’ – an overview of why I think these pieces are important and worthy of attention, and why they do much more than simply attach a personal reading to a nostalgic relationship to a game. I think in each of these works what they say about the game has greater meaning and greater value by virtue of the author wrapping themselves up personally in the writing. The personal experience that threads through the text is not indulgent – it is fundamentally illuminating with regards to the themes and systems and meaning of the games they discuss.”
- This Game Proves That The Nazis Couldn’t Crush Art | Kotaku
Also, Keza MacDonald highlights Homo Machina, a game whose existence and artistic influence is itself a strike back against the actions of the Nazis to destroy art and knowledge.
Depression and Mental Illness
These pieces looked at video game and how they articulate mental illness and depression showing it as more than a stereotype and how it affects the player.
- Madness As True Sight In The Cat Lady and Fran Bow | First Person Scholar
Sarah Stang looks at Hellblade, The Cat Lady and Fran Bow and a different trope regarding mental illness where it confers a superpower by seeing the world as it truly is.
- Senua’s Sacrifice and Depression | Strat-Edgy Productions – YouTube
Paul William Fassett’s video is part review, part NGJ experience and part philosophical musing on whether a work about depression can help a person with depression.
Video Game Silliness
On a lighter note…
- Due Diligence: Knacked Ambition | Haywire Magazine
Leigh Harrison finds Knack to be a weird game. A toy commercial for a mascot that doesn’t exist outside its commercial, pushing no other product and does not give a f—.
- Video Games Can’t Handle Their Booze | Kotaku
Riley MacLeod does a quick survey of how drinking is portrayed in video games and man are they somewhat puritanical about the subject.
And finally a collection of pieces that center their critique around the specifics of a work’s genre.
- Wire in the Blood | Nex Machina | Heterotopias
Josh Wise examines the game Nex Machina’s directors description of the game’s style as not cyberpunk, but “cablepunk” as it reverses the ‘high-tech, low-life’ ethos of the former.
- Into the Breach: Mankind’s Place in The History of Kaiju | Cliqist
The kaiju genre started with Gojira and Geron Graham traces it from its inspiration and inception to how the modern strategy game Into the Breach? reflects it.
- Worldbuilding in Immersive Theatre, and the Punchdrunk Style | Emily Short’s Interactive Storytelling
Emily Short attended a one-day design masterclass with Punchdrunk, the immersive theatre company behind Sleep No More and wrote about some lessons regarding the immersion genre.
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!