September 8th

Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

Welcome back, readers.

It’s a great week for critical games writing. Control seems to be the big game right now, and I swear I’ll play it as soon as I’m done with World of Warcraft Classic, which I’m playing for the first time. This game, it, uhh, it has an end, right?

Catherine is also a thing again, and by now I’ve read a good deal about its transphobic content. I’ve seen less about the game’s mishandling of polyamory, however, and so I really appreciate Natalie Degraffinried shining a light on that angle this week.

There’s plenty of other cool stuff this week to read, watch, and even play: check it out!

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

Listen, Play

(Content Notification: sexual/emotional abuse) Leading this week we have two pieces reflecting on the recent call-outs by survivors against abusers in the industry. These stories are still being told, and more are coming out as you read this. Everything we curate here we do because we feel it’s important, valuable stuff that should be read widely and repeatedly, but that goes double for the voices of survivors.

“Ever found yourself saying the sorts of things found in this game, and realizing how not-great it sounds? Or just want to improve yourself? Carbo-Mascarell believes you’re capable of doing better.”

New Meta

Presented here are a pair of insightful meta-critiques, looking at culture and genre, and the state of games criticism respectively.

“Games criticism doesn’t want for an audience. The challenge is turning that audience into income.”

Controlled Experiences

Though I haven’t played it yet myself, Control is the first triple-A game to really grab my attention in a while, and it’s starting to gather some really cool critique and analysis from some of my favourite writers. Here are three standouts from the past week, all focusing on the game’s brooding, brutalist architecture.

“The Oldest House is every brutalist building. The style is so stratified that small architectural flourishes convey much more than just a time period. The portraits hanging in each waffled square of the boardroom walls remind me of the same waffling in Mudd’s basement, where my campus job was.”

Critical Hindsight

The three authors gathered here all delve into yesteryear’s titles to examine the structural and thematic successes and failures going on under the hood. One day I’ll be able to afford a copy of Crusader of Centy, surely.

“Despite the fact that in real life, polyamory often introduces yet more moving pieces to manage, the game treats it like a disordered free-for-all and frames monogamy as a sure shot for stability. Neither is true.”

Status Affects

I never get tired of learning about how gameplay experiences can provoke strong and specific feelings, and the three authors showcased here all offer unique perspectives on contemporary games.

“We fly around our cages, biting at the exterior, flapping our clipped wings as we panic, looking for answers to the things that constrain us. For a brief moment, we see a gap, a small passage that may finally yield escape, we budge, trying to push through only to realize it’s never that easy.”

Critical Chaser

I had no idea fans were out there making K.K. Slider versions of popular songs. That. . . feels good.

“If a musician’s goal is to make music that gets stuck in your head, then K.K. Slider already won. But the Animal Crossing icon takes his role a step further by exploring overlooked music genres, giving his music away for free, putting on regular concerts, and influencing fans to further (or even begin) their songwriting education.”


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