March 8th

Happy International Women’s Day, readers. Oh, and welcome back. 🙂

Some news on the docket: this Wednesday (March 11) we’ll be announcing our 2019 Blogger of the Year–the writer we feel has made the most important contribution to critical games writing over the closing year of the decade. It’s taken a little longer to get this out, and I apologize and take personal responsibility for the delay.

Without further ado, the discourse never sleeps and I have some excellent authors to share with you this week! Don’t forget to keep the recommendations coming, as always, since individual article submissions help us find new outlets, new communities, and new ideas to share.

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

Zeroing In

I’m anxiously running out of ideas for Kentucky Route Zero-themed wordplay in section titles each week, but the critical insights brought forth by the conclusion of the series don’t seem to be dwindling proportionally. Here are two of this week’s finest samples.

“From the very first scene of Kentucky Route Zero, the story has been steadily transitioning from individual to collective. Beginning with the limited point-of-view of Conway and his dog, each act shifts our perspective outward as we connect with other lonesome drifters mired in debt, until by Act V, a tangible community emerges. Being alone, the game suggests, leaves individuals both vulnerable to capitalist exploitation and selfishly competitive for fear of obsolescence, but solidarity—through unions, communities, congregations, families, friends—can withstand any storm.”

Mass Affect

Two articles this week bring to light the relationships at stake in games at play, whether between players and characters, or between co-players.

Overcooked’s controls aren’t exactly precise, and there’s a lot for a newbie to manage. It seems like the perfect situation to tank an evening spending time together, but it didn’t. Instead, I got to enjoy teaching my mom how the game worked, and watching her begin to understand its mechanics and best practices for each level. Did we end the night with our entire kitchen on fire and both of us screaming as we tried to put it out? Yes. But did we have a blast while doing it? Definitely.”

Problematizing the Past

Three authors this week explore some of the difficulties and challenges at play when games invite players into a (mediated) window into the past, as well as highlight some valuable interventions and circumventions.

“What happens when the spaces and temporalities of two liminal phenomena merge in Battlefield 1?  What affective intensities are generated in the play with cultural notions about WWI, and what emerges in the tensions between game form and historical content?”

Contemporary Crises

As a complement to the previous selection, this pairing of articles look at how our games, communities of practice, and media ecosystems intersect with contemporary challenges of inclusion and existence.

“The way a website writes about and uses cosplayers is directly indicative of how it will sensationalize any community it tries to champion. Hows our standard of journalism doing if we still use reduce talented creators to skin to sell clicks?”

Media Mediums

The two articles gathered here both perform some cross-media analysis, whether by interpreting a game through the Tarot, or proposing how another game (or an actual-play podcast thereof) might be translated to another medium entirely.

“In resurfacing many foundational narrative archetypes, Wandersong led me to interpreting the game not through modern storytelling expectations but with the aid of a tarot deck. In particular, I wanted to understand how Wandersong’s themes would map to the 22 major arcana, a series of cards which each symbolize a foundational aspect of the human experience.”

Queer, Mad, Crip

A trio of authors this week contemplate games large and small along vital representational axes.

“There is horror in a monster bearing down on you, splayed on all fours, ready to rip you apart with its gnashing teeth, but it’s a comparatively small horror compared to every aspect of the world it exists within, one that’s full of men in black raiments and white collars who want nothing more than to be your judge, your jury, and if they have their way, your executioner.

Critical Chaser

I think this is the first time I’ve placed a journal article in our closing segment and I am not sorry.

“soda machines serve a crucial purpose in grounding video games in a world we recognize as like our own, while simultaneously reinforcing the consumerist values of modern capitalism.”


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