December 23rd

The holidays strike me as a reminder that things are always in motion.

Whether we’re trying to recapture the lost magic of yesteryear with loved ones, or navigating new challenges or traumas, the holidays remind us (or me, at any rate, if I’m being honest) that time won’t wait, regardless of our efforts.

That sounds a little fatalistic, and perhaps that tone is informed by my own struggles this year with my mental health, but I don’t mean it in a strictly negative way. Reflecting on the state of games at the end of 2018, lots of writers are taking stock of where things stand: tallying the small victories and weighing them against the setbacks when it comes to things like labour rights, gender representation, and the critical discourse itself. As I suggested last week, this introspection is healthy and valuable–a useful reminder for how far we’ve come, and how far we can still go.

I think there’s inspiration to be had there, if you approach matters with an open mind.

This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing on games from the past seven days.

To the Victor

Three articles this week look at historical representation, cultural appropriation, and the colonialist ideology that so often fuels both.

“Seized as a form of intellectual property by a now multibillion-dollar company, the emotes have in turn been brought back to the streets as a symbol of riotous joy and liberation.”

Three-Point Perspective

What’s in a perspective? This week’s selection of articles each interrogate viewpoints, either by way of the camera lens or the vantage points involved in the production and consumption of games.

“With “real” photo modes, a large degree of control is given to players. A quick press on the thumbsticks and time and movement become frozen. Players are then able to rotate, zoom, and change exposure. Maybe they can pose characters, vehicles, or props, or even erase them all together. But what is gained in technical control can, and often does, come at the cost of emotional immediacy and honesty.”

Industry Trends

Three authors this week take stock of where games, the industry, and play communities are headed–and how much farther they need to go.

“Video games have, by and large, avoided or brushed past the question of labor rights for years, yet somehow, 2018 was the year where the nucleus of change began to form.”

From the Margins

More and more indie successes are making space for underrepresented voices and perspectives–and two authors this week weigh in on especially successful examples.

“Revealing a character to be transgender is always a risky move, and almost never a smart one, but here, it works due to the sincerity and empathy of the game’s writing. It’s not a shocking twist, but a revelation that’s slowly built up to through a fragmented, surreal plot.”

Storied Successes (and Failures)

It’s my (hopefully not uncommon) view that quality criticism on games will synthesize rather than separate narrative and mechanical perspectives. For my money, these four authors know the score.

“Phrases like “boolean”, “circuitry” and “ocular recalibration” are repeated liberally; they’re words that, in our own reality, has  a note of impersonality and detachment. But in here, they carry a different connotation. They are infinitely more intimate, familiar terms used by synthetics to describe their own bodies.”

Play by Feel

Three powerful articles this week examine how games make sense of messy human feelings–and how we use them to make sense of our own.

“I wondered what they were fighting about — was it about what to eat? The proper way to cook something? But it hardly matters what they were fighting about. I realize it’s never really about the tomato sauce or the party they didn’t want to go to, it’s about learning and adapting to who this person is and how they fit in my life.”

Just for Fun

Admit it: if you played RollerCoaster Tycoon back in the day, you fondly remember doing way worse to your park-goers.

“My guests lined up in the dozens to try this coaster out. They did still vomit en masse at the exit, but I just hired a janitor whose only job was to sweep the paths in that small area.”


Plugs

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