April 19th

Welcome back, readers. Uppercut is cool. That is all.

Some updates from around the site: Connor’s latest TMIVGV is live! Please keep sending cool games-related video content his way via the hashtag #TMIVGV. Also, if you missed it last week, the first episode of Keywords in Play, a new interview-format critical podcast we are publishing, is also live!

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

Deep Dives

We’re opening this week with a bloc of articles, some of them more longform-ish, offering deep critical excavations of the ideological and thematic tensions in games of all sizes. There’s a lot of really excellent stuff this week!

Treachery in Beatdown City isn’t concerned with the questions of prudence. It doesn’t care about “civility” or want its players to worry about the millions of considerations they have to do when confronted with the impulse to put a boot into Mike Bloomberg or any other shitfaced racist’s neck. The developers are as tired of those considerations in their own daily lives as they are of gunning-down unspecified brown people in an unspecified foreign country in Tom Clancy games.”

Queer Visibility

The recent surge in remakes brings to light a new tension: given the increased awareness across the industry for the need for better representation, visibility, and inclusion for marginalized identities, including but not limited to queer identities, what challenges do remakes encounter when adapting source material that hasn’t aged gracefully? And of course, as Jeremy Signor observes this week, the work is far from done in new titles, either, even when a lot of good is being done.

“I think we need to accept this scene for what it is: colorful and campy and fun, but not much more than that. It’s great that Nomura and company knew this needed to be updated for modern times, but the result was something extremely safe and unchallenging in a world where RuPaul’s Drag Race is a water cooler discussion topic for straight people.”

Design Docs

Gathered here, from designers and critics alike, are a selection of critical breakdowns of how games of all sizes are put together, what those design properties afford, and what can cause them to break.

“Animal Crossing is a meditative experience, a way to be with myself and my thoughts for a few hours a day. It’s meant to be a game that you play in fits and bursts, designed for people who don’t make gaming a huge part of their life.”

Social Play

Current events naturally have folks in game communities thinking through the social aspects of games and gaming along all kinds of axes, but it isn’t all about quarantines. Here are two of this week’s standouts.

“On the outside, or to someone who doesn’t love video games, the idea of playing to fill the space of real social interaction could seem like an unhealthy coping mechanism. Of course, I still go out and am social, but my friends who don’t game would laugh or shake their heads when they asked what I did on a weekend and I told them I played hours of Horizon: Zero Dawn. But as we find ourselves literally forced into isolation because of a global pandemic, I think it now can be easier than ever for anyone to understand why I spend so much time being a part of make-believe communities where there’s always someone who wants to talk, and always something I can do to help.”

Retcon

Two authors this week look back at remakes–both of individual popular titles, since that’s a thing right now, as well as of the industry itself, via a charming what-if visual novel.

“Remakes and remasters are a type of ritual. Players return to these places, experiencing versions and variations of stories and events much in the way that the Bible contains various accounts of key moments penned by different authors. As in any anthropology, the question of what is truly “canon” lurks underneath it all. What is the definitive way to experience a game? What is the proper way to ritualistically retell the stories that gaming culture enshrines as the stories to tell?”

Critical Chaser

I’m broadening my horizons this week with some quality content.

“Amongst my circle of friends, he had quickly become colloquially known as Incel Hamtaro for, well, having big 4chan energy. His smug sense of superiority and weirdly flirtatious behavior with player characters got a little uncomfortable, and from what I saw online, he is generally not well-liked.”


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