True to fashion, first day on the job and I’m late. Hey everyone, I’m Austin, I’m a new contributor filling in this week for Zoyander, if you wanna know more about me, click on some of this stuff! But we have no time to waste.
This week we’ve got articles from across the spectrum of perspectives looking at games old and new, industry and community news.
God of War (2018)
God of War 4? God of War (2k18)? God of Four? God of Fwar? God of Fwour? God of War (2018)? Whatever you’ve been calling it, the fourth game in the God of War series certainly seems poised to win Game of The Year awards from many major publications. Like any major AAA title, for better and worse, it has produced a multitude of reactions from writers of varying opinions. (All of these pieces come with content warnings for discussions related to toxic masculinity.)
- God of War Gets The Stress of Parenthood Right | Kotaku
Keza McDonald, a mother herself, actually has the nicest things to say about the game this week, talking about the complicated relationships between children in desperate situations and genuinely Problematic parents.
- In God of War, Moms Come Last | Waypoint
Dia Lacina had two pieces sent in this week, both excellent, this one analyzing the roles the two major women in the game play and how they add up to a particularly problematic portrayal of women.
The recently reborn Deorbital media has published three articles this week on the game as part of a series, getting reactions to the game from folks who the game isn’t being marketed towards, that is to say: people who aren’t dads with money to spend. It’s also to raise help continue raising funds for the site.
- Your Monster No Longer: God of War and Final Fantasy X | Deorbital
Shonte Daniels makes a fair comparison to Final Fantasy X, which in her opinion does what GoW (2018) is trying to do, but can’t.
- The Game of the Generation | Deorbital
Anticipating the year end-awards season, Jackson Tyler is particularly scathing of a game they see as emblematic of the worst AAA has to offer. This opening salvo isn’t even the peak heat of the take.
“In 2005 . . . [i]t took the beloved games of the era and removed their soul, smashing them together into unholy [F]rankenstein that with an almost self-aware cynicism seemed to ask the audience: is this enough? The answer, of course, was yes.”
Looks At The Industry and Culture
A variety of articles from all across the field look at the here-and-now in multiplayer and money.
- Losing Players Is The Best Thing to Happen to Sea of Thieves | Polygon
Cass Marshal argues that “The fair-weather fans have all left the game, and it’s the best thing that could have happened.”
- Games and Visual Identity | Gamasutra
Nicholas Lives looks at how major companies establish strong visual identities for their biggest hits.
- A Thought on Service Games | Historian On Games
Seva Kristiky talks about his generally positive reaction to the slow transition in focus for many major companies towards games as a service.
- Reassessing The Legacy of The PS Vita | Gamesindustry.biz
What it says on the tin, y’all.
“I’d hesitate to say that Vita was just ahead of its time – here were too many missteps and too many other factors involved in its failure for a glib explanation like that to hold water. Even so, Sony’s handheld failure may yet have an outsized role to play in shaping the future of the firm’s console efforts.”- Rob Fahey
Two takes from veterans consider new works in the indie scene.
- A Game About A Train Perfectly Captures the Horror of Life | Waypoint
Cameron Kunzelman talks about about how The Final Station reflects our daily condition.
- Inside | Unwinnable
Brock Wilbur examines how the developers of the indie classic Limbo build on their ideas in their next game.
Classic Games and Videogames History
- Finding Peace in Fisherman’s Horizon | Game Score Fanfare (Youtube)
This is an analysis of one of my favorite tracks from my favorite game wherein the narrator says things that I have thought verbatim. It makes the list.
- Pillars of Eternity II Has Too Many Debts To Pay | Waypoint
Cameron Kunzelman, an expert on the CRPGs that PoEII is derived from, enjoys the narrative of the genre’s most recent iteration, but argues it does too little to grow from the legacy of the games that came before it.
- PLAGMADA: The Museum where game characters go when they die | Zam
Zoyander Street (the Senior Curator of Critical Distance) gives us a brief and fascinating look at an effort to preserve the character sheets of dead characters – who by the rules of DnD die permanently, rendering the sheets mechanically trash, but historically? Treasure.
Breath of The Wild
What would a week in videogames be without some Zelda takes? Criticism of Zelda games is like Ocarina of Time speedrunning, no matter how much any of it frustrates your perception of the game, it’s always fascinating.
- Stirring the Pot | First-Person Scholar
This is my kinda thing. The implementation of cooking in Breath of The Wild is a shallow depiction of what it means to gather ingredients and prepare a meal, argues David R. Howard
- Hyrule’s Hegemony | Heteropias
Justin Reeves makes the case that if we’re not ignoring our surroundings, BoTW is sending one message very clear whether it means to or not.
Kass tells you that everything was better before his campaign against the Kingdom of Hyrule, but the game world shows you the exact opposite. In placing its pre-Calamity ruins in direct opposition to its post-Calamity settlements, Breath of the Wild implicitly argues that sometimes good things come from bad places. The Great Calamity in other words represents a new beginning—not a cataclysmic end.”
Views on AAA
- Indignities: A Brief History of Obsidian’s Problem with Women | timber-owls
An incisive look by “unhaunting” from the Timber Owls at the consistent pattern of issues in Obsidian’s writing of women. (CW: violence against women, rape, gaslighting.)
- Irish in Games | Unwinnable
Corey Milne with an update on the representation of the people of Ireland in videogames.
- Roles | Problem Machine
Nicholas Gurewich gives us a great summation of the issue with the hard-cast “roles” of role-playing games which are slowly seeping into other titles.
“If you don’t like the role the game casts you in, you probably won’t like the game. If you don’t feel like the game gives you enough room to perform your role in your own way, you probably won’t like the game – in much the same reason people don’t like jobs that don’t give them any freedom to tackle tasks with their own methods.”
Two More Pieces of Hardcore Critical Theory Stuff
Two perspectives, one on interactions, one on narrative.
- That Which Is Not Forbidden: The Spectrum of Allowance | pixelpoppers
A writer going by “Doctor Professor” has a really interesting take on how to categorize different types of interactions in games and how that interacts with our idea of choice.
- The Myth of the Monomyth | Gamasutra
“Gameplay is the monkey, that doesn’t even need a typewriter!” is one of the better quotes from this look at how to implement narrative in games from Wolfgang Walk.
That’s All, Folks!
As always, there’s lots of fascinating writing about videogames if you know where to look, and this is one of the best places to start.
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