This week is an emotional one, with many critics taking on discussions of empathy, trauma, and cruelty toward outsiders. This Week in Videogame Blogging is our rundown of the week’s most important critical writing and video on games.
Three critics looked at empathy this week, with plenty of critique and complexity.
- Game Design Aspect: Empathy and VR Refugees
Sande Chen evaluates recent research on VR and empathy, finding that immersion was related to trust in the narrator.
- The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit Will Make You Cry :: Games :: Reviews :: Life Is Strange :: Paste
Holly Green reflects on balancing upbeat tone with serious content, and designing games with a respect for life.
- The Short But Chilling ‘Captain Spirit’ Weaponizes Empathy Against You – Waypoint
Patrick Klepek encounters the limits of empathy in his playthrough of the latest Dontnod title.
“I wept, too, over my misguided empathy. Charles had performed all manner of emotional abuse against his son, but in wrapping Charles’ actions around the death of his partner, wife, and mother of his child, it was easy to get blinded.”
In two pieces this week, the fragility of queer identity formation is examined with reference to the end of the millennium and the end of the world.
- Secret Little Haven (Spoilers) – YouTube
Chris Franklin discusses the fragility of online life in the late 1990s through an examination of this coming-out/coming-of-age interface game.
- Let Queer Characters Be Happy
Heather Alexandra critiques the heteronormativity of who lives, loves, and dies in fictional apocalypses.
“I cannot help but worry that the kiss Ellie shared in The Last of Us Part II’s trailer is a kiss of death.”
Two writers look at how experiences of racism and xenophobia are reflected in videogames.
- The Origins of Assassin’s Creed | Unwinnable
Yussef Cole reflects on the complex cultural position of blackness in the history of Egypt.
- God of War & the Lessons of an Undocumented Immigrant | Unwinnable
Marcos Gonsalez offers beautiful ruminations on trauma, using the violence perpetrated in God of War as a mirror on the violence suffered by many immigrant families.
“Trauma does not move from point A to point B to point C. There is no coherence to its cruel logic. There is no chronology: trauma is past crashing into present”
Discussions of the temporality of trauma and memory continue in two more pieces this week.
- Deception III: Dark Delusion, Part 1 | Something in the Direction of Exhibition
Vincent K. explores relationships with trauma and abuse through one game’s reflection on violence.
- Architectures of Memory | Umiro | Heterotopias
Khee Hoon Chan examines a strikingly aesthetic game about place and memory with reference to Edward S. Casey’s phenomenology of remembering.
“Space and memories are so entwined in each other that, when taken together, can capture meaningful and deeply personal images of grief and loss.”
- HIRING: Could you be our next Senior Curator? – Critical Distance
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