October 27th

Welcome back, readers.

There’s lots of interesting writing on games this week, particularly from non-gaming-focused outlets. There’s also, it seems, a whole lot of big-name titles with really interesting writing coming out right now. Disco Elysium and The Outer Worlds come immediately to mind, and you’ll find words about both below, but that’s really only the tip of the iceberg.

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

Making It

We open this week with three meditative reflections on labour–primarily within independent game communities, but also in fan communities.

“It is time to grow past our frustratingly juvenile conceptions of what it means to finally ‘make it’, and instead progress towards a more sustainable model of being. Our planet, in literally many ways, cannot take any more selfish exploitation done without the foresight to elevate more than just ourselves or the people closest to us. In order to do this, we will have to recognize the complicit role we play in this abstract theater of leisure-crafting, to examine how we contribute to the endless human suffering behind and in front of the scenes.”

Contextual Crit

Gathered here are three excellent pieces, each focusing on a particular intersection between games and one other external discourse–be it food, climate change, or the wider body of culture writing.

After three tries, I finally won on the hardest difficulty. My entire group and I definitely suffered, but we made it to Canada alive and without any major injuries or heatstroke.

Playable Terror

Check out five more insightful examinations of horror-themed games as we approach the end of the month.

“In choosing to hide less from the player, Red Candle created a game with an honest emotionality. The horror pushes her into seeing things from Feng Yu’s perspective, while impressing the point that his perspective is deeply dangerous to himself and those around him. He is the character the story is told through, but the player is kept at a fair distance from him, given that more of the game is in observation than in direct action. Proximity to him is part of what frightens.”

Retro ‘Spectives

Two authors this week mine some celebrated classics for new critical insights.

“Everything about NiGHTS’s whole thing seems tailor-made to excite a certain kind of tween growing up in the 1990s – gemstones, sparkles, big glittering eyes, tights only David Bowie could pull off – but it’s mostly NiGHTS themself that makes my adult brain go, “Really, me? You didn’t figure out you were non-binary until your late 20s? Really?””

Inner Neighborhoods and Outer Worlds

I read two really standout reviews of new games this week, both included below. Their respective object texts are wildly different in setting and scope, both have begun to elicit great writing focusing on their storytelling and juggling of characterization and ideology.

“In The Outer Worlds, all social problems are filtered through class. Sexism and racism don’t meaningfully exist even though race does; many of the people you meet across classes are black and brown. Race and gender go essentially unacknowledged from the game’s core narrative to its tongue-in-cheek riffs on PR buzzwords, which was frustrating in a game so deeply embroiled in power dynamics.”

Critical Chaser

I wanna quit the gym.

“Unlike the sleek and modern facilities onboard the station in Tacoma, or the gorgeously appointed gyms in Prey’s Talos IV and Pytheas Moon base, Madness’ greets you with some dingy towels and… hey, is that a blood stain near the plants? Gross.”


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