November 17th

Welcome back, readers.

I’m thinking this week, as ever, about The Discourse, and specifically how narratives coalesce around games at an ever-more-careening pace, often before they’re even out and available. It feels increasingly difficult, in the early stages at least, to shut out the noise and keep it from overwriting the discussion altogether.

But that doesn’t stop so many talented writers who inhabit this discourse from pulling off that hard work every week, and it’s something I remain a little bit in awe of.

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

Tactical Exhaustion Affect

There’s a lot of really good writing out there on Death Stranding right now. Here are three of this week’s best. It’s probably a little early to be talking about a Critical Compilation, but if/when we do one of those, there will be no shortage of excellent material available.

“Every time I lift something with my right arm, the muscles in my shoulder scream at me. They’ll twist in ways that are uncomfortable, or the joint will pop. I’m not in danger, I’m just being reminded that I could be by my body. Death Stranding allows us, as players, to feel weight. It’s unique in that it’s a videogame where the physical presence of objects is more than a number we have to worry about getting too high (though it is also that). Why is that so important? Because Death Stranding is also about the strain the world places on our bodies.”

Cut, Scene

A pair of really interesting articles this week zero in on games as they are understood not firsthand, but through the lens of cinema and film.

eXistenZ plays out the constructed limitedness of games, so often brushing intrusively against the exhortations that you’re powerful and free. The image of a body plugged into the game console, limp, dreaming and penetrated, regularly haunts the virtual fantasy down below, but this fantasy is also disempowering in its own right.”

The Hero of the Story

A bunch of big games have come out lately that have collectively provoked some interesting discussions about the state of storytelling in games. Four articles this week look at some of the narrative successes–and some of the misfires–in these recent releases.

“The Outer Worlds made subdued, slow-burn personal stories its guiding star, and the reward of this was an experience beyond that found in many other titles to date. For once it’s so nice not to be the center of attention, the main attraction of the event, to simply experience the reality of the world presented as a participant instead of the pivotal messiah in charge of saving the universe.”

Game Feel

Three articles this week examine two small games and one big one, delving into the reciprocal affective relationships we form with the games we play, and what we take back into the world afterward..

“Realising, or rather internalising, that it was, in fact, fine; that no one was actively judging me on how fast I could dispatch a Lynel; and that it was okay to just play and go at my own pace changed how I approached a lot of things that my aforementioned bad brain kept me away from.”

Slices of Time

Two authors this week situate games and the spaces they inhabit in their respective temporal contexts.

“The NGPC library is something of a living masterclass in the art of the “demake” with so many famous entries in its high-quality selection distilling extravagant arcade crowd-pleasers down into equally enjoyable portable forms, and Sonic Pocket Adventure is no exception.”

Critical Chaser

The Duck Knight Rises.

“We must remake Galarian civilization from the ground up, with the aim of appeasing and socializing these horrific beings by sitting on park benches all day, throwing stale bread at them, and hoping to stave off the destruction of all we hold dear for one more day.”


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