Videogames and VR are often described as “empathy machines” – and though that term was first used for cinema, the idea today is often that newer mediums are more immersive, and therefore more empathetic, than those that came before. But what does empathy actually do? What about the many other ways videogames can have us relate to other people’s struggles, or to our moral obligations? This week many writers took on questions about feelings and ethics. We also have writing on interactive storytelling and diversity – it’s all here in the roundup of This Week in Videogame Blogging!

Drill those fingers

First, these two pieces look at creative uses of interactive systems to build meaningful experiences.

“In bullet-hell, tactics, and life, man plans and god/nature/the universe laughs. You can drill those fingers or try to anticipate every possible outcome, but in the end we are flawed beings living at the whims of the cosmos.”

Love and hate

This was a great week for reflections on games and the history of art, or art about history.

“For the tragic heroes and villains of Nier: Automata, “the little death” is just death. A sword piercing imitation flesh, blood against leather, eyes locked in love and hate both.”

The heavy lifting

There were two pieces this week about a lack of diverse representation in videogame characters.

“Time and time again, Blizzard’s fans have had to do the heavy lifting with their own worlds and games.”


Two writers looked at the moral failings of institutions in videogames.

“It’s so much easier to fight about canonicity and the “right” version of the genre that we love than to confront the fact that maybe its origination point is one that disempowers us”


We had a bumper crop of articles about how morality is linked to empathy in interactive media, in part thanks to a week on the theme hosted at Real Life.

“The sensibility era’s novels served as testing devices: If your heart didn’t respond, your moral sense might just be weak and you might not be as moral as you hoped”


Looking further at the morality of emotions in games are these two pieces on addiction and abuse.

  • The Truth About ‘Video Game Addiction’ | Kotaku 
    Cecilia D’Anastasio talks with sufferers and experts about gaming addiction, and surfaces some compelling reasons why it has become a diagnosable disorder despite often being linked with other illnesses such as depression.
  • Don’t Mention The Bruises – Timber Owls 
    Lilly argues that important truths about the nature of abuse are too often cast aside in favour of traditional narrative structures in works such as The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit.

“It’s a major problem with these narratives that they don’t seem to properly consider the feelings of the victim or the long-term repercussions of familial abuse. […T]he people genuinely affected by it are sidelined in order to tell a traditional tragedy.”



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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!