July 21st

Welcome back, readers.

So a delightful trove of documents and materials have surfaced this week detailing the early development history of the The Sims and how queerness was an integral–and subversive–inclusion from the beginning. And of course, it largely comes down to the efforts of a lone programmer: one Patrick J. Barrett III. To invoke Bo Ruberg, “Video Games Have Always Been Queer.”

Rad.

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

Best Practices

We’re opening this week’s roundup with five articles that are all focused on design in some way–and beyond that different subsets of design. Narrative design, world design, mechanical design, aesthetic design, and music design are all featured here.

Fashion is its own complex language. Codified, meaningful, and symbolic, with different contexts and moods. So the first reason we should care about it is that fashion can increase our understanding.”

New Meta

Gathered here are three pieces I’d characterize as metacritical in varying ways. They alternately drift between genres, between design philosophies, from text to world and back again.

“In truth, there’s a lot of punditry going around in the world of games criticism. There’s not so much critique of labor practices going around as there is opinions on them. Who should do what, and when – but solutions offered only appeal to the barest audience of people that are already reading another article.”

Interior Landscapes

A pair of articles this week look at the reciprocal–and affirming–exchanges between our play experiences and interior mentalities. And yeah, I’d let the storm take Arcadia Bay every time.

Life Is Strange brought introspective thinking that I wasn’t expecting but desperately needed. Through playing the story, stepping alongside Max and feeling her choices, I was able to externalize struggles I previously only experienced internally. I could crystallize what I needed to carry on.”

Representative of the Medium

Three authors this week are all looking at different slices of representation, inclusivity, intersectionality.

“as societal expectations change — glacially, incrementally, painfully — women in Southeast Asia are finally finding a place in competitive gaming, even if it has to be in a league of their own.”

Retro ‘Spectives

I’ve seen a lot of folks lately looking back on the games from their younger days, which of course gets me all warm and fuzzy for my own formative play experiences. I think I’ve got at least one salient memory involving all of the games being covered here. It’s wonderful seeing these old favourites through other eyes.

Okay, fine, Area 51 has probably never been anybody’s favourite. Work with me here.

“Imagine you’re working at Capcom at the end of the millennium. Smash Bros. has just changed the entire fighting game, uh, game, and you’re working on the sequel to Power Stone. So what do you do?”

Critical Chaser

Sprites are kinda horrific, actually.

  • Mario’s Death Sprite: A Review | Fanbyte 
    Look, I get that these mini-reviews are supposed to be a gag, but merritt k has touched upon a real Thing here–sprites are relatively abstract visual representations of game characters and world elements, and the untethered perspective of a child can yield some pretty fascinating (see also: horrifying) conclusions about what that writhing mass of primeval pixels is supposed to be.

“as a child, I couldn’t visually parse what was supposed to be happening to Mario. As a result, I came to believe that Mario’s face had begun to slough off his skull.”


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