This week’s roundup is (almost) all about failures: failures of game design, failures of fandom, the failures in the material world which are in turn reflected by the games we produce and consume, and more. I find it’s the kind of writing I’m in the mood for–I just picked up the newest Super Smash Bros., and I’m struggling to even complete the single-player story mode.
Contrary to this theme, however, this week’s writers very much succeed in exploring the nuances of failure in all its permutations with respect to games, leading to a week of discourse as strong and engaging as any. Read on and see for yourself!
This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.
This week’s first four pieces explore the different ways in which games can fail to follow through with the ideas they promise, both narratively and mechanically.
- Six Days of Snow | Unwinnable
Gingy Gibson critiques visual novel Six Days of Snow for reveling in the problematic tropes it purports to subvert.
- “A Sad, Fun Story,” by Reid McCarter – Bullet Points Monthly
Reid McCarter finds Battlefield V caught between empathy and entertainment.
- What ‘Darksiders 3’ Teaches Us About Gaming’s Weirdest Company, THQ Nordic – Waypoint
Patrick Klepek labours to make sense of the weird, trainwreck spectacle of Darksiders 3 and the IP-hungry company behind it.
- Putting On A Tough Face: The Insecurities of Dead Cells – Timber Owls
unhaunting offers up a phenomenal read of Dead Cells as a microcosm for all of the worst ableist, gendered conceits of gaming culture.
“It gradually became clear to me that the theme that unites Dead Cells as a text is insecurity and overcompensation; scared of being seen as weak or too serious, it presents itself as rough, rude, badass and ironic.”
Dread on Arrival
Three articles this week look at games which, rather than being failures unto themselves, reflect upon wider themes of destruction and cyclical futility.
- ‘Hitman 2’ Makes You The Catastrophe Everyone Is Dreading – Waypoint
Cameron Kunzelman muses on how Hitman 2 toys with themes of equilibrium and disruption on the micro and the macro
- my friend pokey — Boppin’
pokey (I can’t find any other name for this author) wrestles with an ancient puzzle game seemingly uninterested in making any kind of statement with its own avant-garde aritstry
- God of War, Unforgiven – Haywire Magazine
Andrei Filote offers a lyrical reading of God of War‘s cycle of violent toxic masculinity.
“The women save their men, but not forever, just as humanity’s wisdom gives only fleeting comfort before history’s monsters reappear, pen in hand. True to form, when we explore Alfheim, we witness a civilization split in two, at war with itself for so long, conflict is the only value left. Midgard is not so far from Greece.”
What do we do when the games we love make a hard bank from off-key-but-redeemable to willfully ignorant? What, then, when writing about these games requires complicity in the market forces that not only produce them but perpetuate their ideological ilk? Two authors this week grapple with these questions.
- The Thin Blue Webline: Spider-Cops Are Bastards | Sidequest
Nola Pfau describes how Insomniac’s latest DLC escalates the Spider-Cop narrative into truly uncomfortable territory.
- Writing About Games: Learning to Love the Compromise | Unwinnable
Yussef Cole reflects on the dilemma of playing and writing about controversial and problematic games.
“There is only so much compartmentalization you can do in separating a game from its production process and the worldview it espouses before you, as a writer, become morally compromised.”
One author this week peels back the layers of toxic fandom to offer some compelling character analysis.
- Not Your Wife | Unwinnable
Melissa King looks at the underappreciated women in the Soulsborne series and prods the misogynistic fan culture built up around them.
“Don’t underestimate the woman who levels you up.”
This week’s selection offers a critical look at a much-maligned topic, opening the door for future critical work.
- Gamasutra: Angelica Ortiz de Gortari’s Blog – Embracing pseudo-hallucinatory phenomena induced by playing video games
Angelica Oritz de Gortari discusses her research on Game Transfer Phenomena as well as the evolving view and reception of hallucination, both in general and by way of specific games like Tetris Effect.
“The enhancement and the alteration of the human senses is nothing new, and the technological realm has not escaped the trends to alter our state of consciousness. To me, this seems like a turn in history, a push toward a positive acceptance of hallucinations.”
Just for Fun
With deepest sympathies.
- Help, I Accidentally Bought Mario Party Instead Of Smash | Kotaku
Gita Jackson’s No Good Very Bad E-Shop Purchase
- Unwinnable Holiday Madness | Unwinnable
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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!