July 5th

Welcome back, readers.

First, our usual starting point. You may not be reading about the protests against anti-Black police brutality in the headlines as often these days, but they go on. No justice, no peace.

Second, did you see our new Critical Compilation? This time around, Andrew Bailey takes a look at the Pathologic series. Be sure to check it out!

Third, while I have made a decision this week to showcase smaller sites and less topical games, I would be remiss not to acknowledge that mainstream gaming culture (and you bet your ass this reactionary repugnance is mainstream) has hit not necessarily a new low in abhorrence (if only because there are so many other literal crimes to choose from) but perhaps a new low in sheer stupidity. Threatening a voice actor in the most vulgar manner possible for, *checks notes*, the fictional actions of the fictional character she played?

And yeah, I know this one’s getting press because it’s a big name attached to a very big game. Lots of more vulnerable creatives get dragged through the mud and worse by Gamers on the daily without making the headlines.

So to the reactionary dullards, in the most diplomatic terms possible: Grow up. Log off. Play solitaire for a change. Jesus.

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

Industry Axes, or, Axe the Industry

We open this week with two essays on the industry and two interviews with creatives and creators. All four pieces plant the seeds for change, for a better industry.

“I think it’s clear it’s not enough for the industry to condemn the big-name abusers and continue as normal. This is an opportunity for everyone to think about what they can do on both an individual and organisational level, and act on it. We need to make it more than a moment.”

Identity Play

Yes, games are becoming more diverse in their representation of marginalized characters and identities. But who are these portrayals for? What ends do they achieve? And how can they be better? Three authors ask–and answer.

“That’s the biggest issue that I have with the Triple-A scene. So many of the stories about us in bigger games often put our suffering before us in the order of priority. The violence and the bigotry inflicted on us is usually a bigger character than we are.”

Development Cycles

Four authors this week study how current titles (or in Autumn Wright’s case, a long-running series) reflect contemporary tensions.

“In a year filled with pandemics, recessions, price wars, wildfires, riots, protests, impeachments and UFOs, the good folks behind Call of Duty: Warzone decided to resurrect the Gulag in its most terrorizing form and we, of course, took it in stride because there’s nothing left to scare us.”

Retro Fit

Four blasts from the past this week, and yes I know Emily Rose keeps showing up in this section as the odd woman out with these retro-styled-but-not-actually-old close-ups but she’s got her finger on the pulse of that beat in a way nobody else does.

“It is tempting to view Nocturne as a kind of death knell or hermetic logical conclusion for RPGs. It arrived at the tail end of the genre’s golden age at a moment of peak market saturation that would precipitate a drastic sea change in both the video game industry and player tastes, where single player RPGs diffused into popular action games and MMORPGs or retreated into a niche fan concern. But Nocturne remains a deeply beautiful, compelling work of art, and far from an esoteric dead end, it still has something generative and important to offer us today.”

Every Month Is Wrath Month

Four rad articles, each looking at different aspects of queer representation in contemporary games.

“Through friendship and implied queer subtext, Roxas, Axel, and Xion have formed their own chosen family and allowed themselves to find their own purposes and define themselves on their own terms.”

To Drangleic and Back Again

This week I have the opportunity to showcase two articles in dialogue, trying to puzzle out the merits of world design in the Dark Souls series, with a focus on II in particular. Really cool stuff!

“I believe that the metatextuality of the Dark Souls trilogy varies by entry, and that what is different about Dark Souls 2 is that its responses are largely mechanical – more meta-mechanical than meta-textual –, with comparatively little emphasis placed on responding to the first title’s material, and with, as noted, little potential for growth allowed among its own institutions.”

Critical Chaser

I look forward to the weeks where I can showcase new poetry out of Videodame.

“I don’t remember how the N64 controller felt in my hands the first time I held it. What I do know is that Brian was carefully watching me.”


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