November 2019

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.

First Title

  • First Principles – Chris Chapman (6:32)

    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.”

Accessibility Standards

As the year ends, a trio of videos discuss the ways games have and haven’t improved in terms of (largely visual) accessibility.

  • Gaming While Colourblind – Super Bunnyhop (15:19)

    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]

  • Console Gaming’s *tiny* problem | Game Accessibility and Text Size – Cannot Be Tamed (10:56)

    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.

  • How Accessible Were This Year’s Games? – Game Maker’s Toolkit (19:31)

    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.

Industry Practice

A couple of videos look at some general areas where there is much room for improvement in the industry at large.

“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.”

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.

“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.

  • Untitled Goose Game: Is it Good to be Bad? – What’s So Great About That? (14:10)

    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.

  • Untitled Goose Game – Digital Writers Festival (31:06)

    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.

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