Welcome back, readers.

Lots of outstanding writing this week. I’m at a loss for the attendant clever metacommentary to string it all together this week, so just read on and see for yourself! Keep reading and playing widely.

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

Made from the Margins

This week’s opening selection focuses on the making of games from outside the centre–by creators who are marginalized by race, gender, political circumstance, or other axes of their identities.

“The developers I spoke to for this article said they knew their games weren’t made to change minds. While some Hong Kongers who didn’t participate in the protest are impressed by the immersive experience of Liberate Hong Kong, particularly in virtual reality, the team was well-aware the game might have drawn sharp criticism.”

Player Too

This pair of articles focus on who is, can be, and should be included in games and play, whether as protagonists or as players.

“It’s emphasized to the players that the safety and comfort of everyone there is ultimately more important than having a good game. The beauty of this approach is that when everyone is in a situation where they feel safe and comfortable, having a good game is practically inevitable.”

Tales from the Zero

The conclusion of Kentucky Route Zero is a profound occasion for a lot of people, and inspired critical reflections on the game continue to come forth. Here are two of this week’s highlights.

“When will Pearl feel like an adult? When she moves to California? If she ever moves to California? When she has enough to pay for her parents’ tab and clear that debt? When she has her own debts instead of someone else’s?”

Changing the Game

Games continue to be valuable vectors for understanding and thinking through wider systemic problems like capitalism, electoral politics, and climate change–or maybe those are all different aspects of one big problem. Three authors this week reflect on the role and utility of games in tackling these issues.

“POST/CAPITALISM effectively demonstrates how the abrasive solvent of market forces quickly dissolve our sense of economic literacy in a sublimely easy to grasp form. Modern global trade, no matter how small a slice, is a very cryptic tangled web of interdependent factors and shows us it’s never as simple as unplugging the ‘Do Bad Things’ module from the giant production machine.”

Play by Feel

Two authors this week respond to the affective and emotional responses that smaller games and interactive experiences evoke in their players.

“Over time I’ve developed a pretty good radar for potential friends, but something I’ve been trying to focus on as of late is the ability to talk to all types of people- to reach out, experience others, and value their stories and feelings without the intent of intense companionship. And just as how sprawling, story-driven RPGs helped push me to form meaningful relationships, I believe visual novels have aided me in understanding the value of a casual conversation.”

Closer Reading

Two authors this week push harder to interrogate the experiences we have with games–what informs them, and how we ourselves might be more informed about those experiences.

“To postpone my parting with the world I follow any thread that isn’t the main one. When the story is particularly dramatic and is full of twists and turns and difficult choices, I will avoid the main quest as long as possible and will look for serenity in chores and side quests and accidental events that make the world alive. Skipping the dialogue, I find peace in repetition.”

Author, World, Text

A pair of authors this week study the narrative design of popular games.

“This kind of attachment to a character that functionally is just a voiceless avatar I made for myself is something I’d only have expected to get from tabletop RPG type games. That Shadowbringers is a whole expansion centered around characters from sidequest stories several real life years old and entirely optional goes to show the kind of philosophy that created something that got to me the way it did.”

Critical Chaser

Some poetry this week!


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Have you read, seen, heard or otherwise experienced something new that made you think about games differently? Send it in!