Welcome, readers, to the follow-up instalment of This Month in Videogame Vlogging. If you missed what this is about, check out the October edition which, yes, admittedly we posted only last week. But now we’re caught up, just in time for the changing of the calendars.
November brought with it the stirrings of the beginnings of the endings of the year and the decade, a time to think about maybe reflecting upon things soon. Fortunately, despite the on-coming wave of reminiscence, quite a few video makers continued their efforts highlighting how industry practices can change for the better in the future. Consider watching the following as a moderately healthy alternative to the glut of holiday specials on your preferred streaming service.
In a video that doubles as a personal disclaimer, Chris Chapman looks at the inherent, often undisclosed subjectivity problems with making factual-sounding claims about a game’s importance or revolutionary qualities, particularly when it comes to matters of videogame history.
“In the worst case, an erroneous claim can take on the status of a widespread myth. Often when the credit is misattributed, the precursors are obscure. Most people haven’t heard of Shop Lifting Boy for the Commodore Pet, so it’s no wonder that a lot of people think the first stealth game was Metal Gear, eight years later. It wasn’t, but people remember that game fondly, and maybe that makes for a better story.”
As the year ends, a trio of videos discuss the ways games have and haven’t improved in terms of (largely visual) accessibility.
George Weidman talks about their personal experience of gaming while colourblind, gives a brief history of colourblind modes, interviews colourblind development manager Douglas Pennant, and summarises the ways in which the industry has in this aspect (at least in terms of AAA shooters) improved over the past decade. [Note: contains native advertising]
Pam of Cannot Be Tamed reasons that, while games have improved by some accessibility standards, there are still frequent problems with text being too small to be legible, particularly when it comes to console gaming.
The issues raised by Super Bunnyhop and Cannot Be Tamed are also touched on in Mark Brown’s broad survey of accessibility in games released in 2019, which agrees that “text size is the area that games most frequently fail in terms of accessibility”. Along with discussing visual and audio flexibility, it also touches on controller remapping and difficulty modes, and gives a round-up of which studios have succeeded and which have failed when it comes to providing accessibility options.
A couple of videos look at some general areas where there is much room for improvement in the industry at large.
Cartoon mini-doc group Extra Credits discuss why and how credits are often misused in the videogame industry, and why companies should do better by their staff. [Note: contains embedded advertising]
“Unfortunately, without a tool like union bargaining, the game industry can’t really create a universal set of crediting standards like the film industry has. So for now, all we can do is offer suggestions. First, I think we need to make it clear that everybody who has worked on a game should get credited – even if they leave.”
People Make Games attempt to recycle an Xbox 360 game (complete with packaging), demonstrating in the process that they are difficult to recycle for reasons to do with choices made by manufacturers, as much as the sporadic accessibility and varying capabilities of recycling infrastructures.
Play Without Fun
Two interesting video essays discuss immersive sims that were (in part at least) attempting to put players through experiences that contradicted “typical” expectations of enjoyment.
Jacob Geller uses the example of entering a “dying” part of the map in Red Dead Redemption 2 to discuss positive instances of experiential loneliness.
I will probably never play Pathologic, but I did enjoy this, uhhh, feature-length video essay from Harry Brewis about how what makes it a compelling and unique game, despite its willingness to hurt the player.
“It’s not a bad game, it’s an Amazing Game! But it’s also a bad game too. It’s a major time investment too — in many ways, it’s a more interesting game to discuss than play. It’s possible that Pathologic only exists so we may speculate about it. So in a way, making this video is really for my benefit more than yours.”
Untitled Goose Discourse
Finally, as one decade breaks into another, let us continue to consider The Goose.
Grace Lee ponders the political and philosophical implications of breaking the rules in Untitled Goose Game. It’s a topic that did the blog rounds a couple of months ago, but I think this take on it is particularly clever and considerate.
For the Digital Writers Festival, Daniel Mallory Ortberg interviewed Jake Strasser (of House House) about the development of Untitled Goose Game and Push Me Pull You. The interplay of Ortberg’s readings of the goose with Strasser’s explanations of certain developmental choices make this an insightful interview.
That’s all for November! We’ll be back soon with all the most important videogames of the year listicles video content we can find. In the meantime, send us your recommendations with the hashtag TMIVGV.
Critical Distance is community-supported. Our readers support us from as little as one dollar a month. Would you consider joining them?
Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!