September 16th

How can I express my excitement over the past seven days? This has been an incredible week for writing in games. This week’s banner release is Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and leading the charge in critiquing that game’s failure to tackle its own colonialism is Dia Lacina with one of the finest reviews I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

But that’s not all that’s going on in games writing! Writers this week find feminist themes in unlikely places (Leisure Suit Larry?!), take Riot and CD Projekt Red to task for their toxicity, explore worrying crediting practices in remasters, tackle cross-cultural accessibility for developers, gush about Eevee, and so much more.

I hope you enjoy exploring these articles as much as I did collecting them. This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.

Resisting the Colonizer

Four authors this week produce outstanding content on how games alternately perpetuate and push back against colonial themes.

“while an after-credits sequence tries quickly to quell Lara’s more destructive impulses and instruct against the violence of colonialism, anything it manages is far too little, and much too late. No matter how much Lara changes in the course of this adventure, she’s still an instrument of hegemony. This world remains a constructed fantasy, one designed specifically for her.”

Sex, Feminism, and Gender(ings)

Four writers this week reflect on feminism in games past and present, how relationships are gendered, and how development studios have a long way to go to create safe and equitable workplaces for women.

“When I replayed Final Fantasy VIII earlier this year, it became clear that Squall was comically mean to Rinoa, even as she Manic Pixie Dream Girled her way into his life. Their romance was a big, cinematic lesson in unavailability and emotional labor—Rinoa provided endless, giggling support; Squall rebuffed it almost throughout.”

Queer Play

Two articles this week alternately examine escapism in games and why social media engagement needs to check its cis/hetero privilege.

“These accounts aren’t just any rando making jokes; they represent popular companies with cultural weight in gaming, and they’re choosing to reinforce existing negative stereotypes in front of a large, receptive audience. These companies have a wide reach, and through their use of familiar language and humor, are effective at influencing thoughts and actions.”

Author and Text

Three articles this week take a look at authorship, citation, orality, and literacy in games both new and renewed.

“How many games are you playing where you find yourself mowing people down and parkouring all over the shop just because that’s what you do in games? In Spider-Man, it’s all an expression of character.”

Cross-Culture

Two journalists this week speak with developers from the Middle East and listen to their perspectives on accessibility, inclusion, and indie scenes in Jordan and Lebanon.

“To this day, Mesmar’s reading on game design has come entirely in English and Japanese. While he was fortunate enough to be able to learn both languages, he didn’t think that should be a prerequisite for Arabic speakers interested in more in-depth writing on game design.”

Power Tools

Two articles this week scrutinize institutions of power in recent games.

“Keeping your eyes on the prize doesn’t just require discipline—it demands conviction that your efforts are paying off. So long as that’s the case, people can put up with some pretty horrible conditions. Even if that means dismissing the here and now, who cares? You’re going places.”

Critical Hits

Five articles this week showcase what it means to play–and design–critically.

“In creating Karnaca, the development studio responsible for Dishonored 2, Arkane, put together an elaborate critique of class-based societies. Things like wealth, status, entitlement, and corruption were made manifest in a way that seemingly transcends level design.”

Just for Fun

Just as we play, create, and consume critically, I think it’s vital that we remember to laugh. By that token, please enjoy the following.

“The man you saw today, readers and lizard-hating ultra-patriots, is not Luigi. He’s a body double. It’s clear as day.”


Plugs


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