August 9th

Welcome back, readers.

First things first, here’s a list of national and local bail funds supporting anti-racial-injustice protesters across the US. Local support is just as important as, if not more so than, national support!

Around the site, we’ve got a new Critical Compilation by Waverly, who is also featured in this week’s roundup. Gotta go fast!

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

(Mis)representation

Our opening section this week gathers three articles united by a common purpose of filling in an incomplete picture–whether that lies in critiquing misleading, incomplete, or inaccurate representations of identities and ideologies in popular games, or looking at what ideas can get left behind in the face of that very criticism.

“We’re both Black men enraged at how discrimination, classism, rampant ecological assault via unchecked capitalism, and state violences have stolen the lives of our people, tried to keep the rest of us shackled, and terribly reduced the lifespan of the planet. These are all massive enemies. Each of them alone could exterminate us, but in tandem, they’re a universal threat. We, both of us, have to stand up for and beside the people we love to fight this threat—even when we’re scared shitless.”

By Design

Here we’ve got a trio of design-minded perspectives aligned along several axes: music, space, and puzzle solving.

“No ARG can heal the deep mistrust and fear and economic and spiritual malaise that underlies QAnon and other dangerous conspiracy theories, any more than a book or a movie can solve racism. There are hints at ARG-like things that could work, though – not in directly combatting QAnon’s appeal, but in channeling people’s energy and zeal of community-based problem-solving toward better causes.”

Hopeful Play

Three pieces this week unpack queer and trans themes, struggles, and experiences in a variety of games and play communities.

““It’s important,” she writes, “to sincerely imagine impossible things, to develop empathy towards impossible creatures, to practice being impossible.” This is the goal of the games within Variations on Your Body—to imagine a model of being that isn’t possible, but that nonetheless gets you where you need to go.”

Communities of Creation

Two articles this week go into detail on game development cycles past and present with an angle on opening up games and play to underserved communities.

“Gender is more nuanced than the late 90’s Barbie debate suggested. Neither shunning Barbie or digitising her would ever deliver us an utopian equality. What’s more meaningful to me is what the early days of Mattel Media represent. That when people can bring their full selves to work they can make beautiful, bizarre and lasting games.”

Crystical Distance

Fine, not my best pun. But these two articles looking at the narrative and mythological structure of some of the older Final Fantasy games are pretty great!

“Though video game marketing often wants us to lose ourselves in an immersive world, games are at their best when they draw attention to their artifice and thereby our identities, our bodies, and our memories. Final Fantasy I’s simple fantasy story blows out to become about the beauty and reality of personal, subjective experience. That is more real than any attempt at pure simulacrum could be.”

Critical Chaser

Some art to close out the week.

“It gets hot, when you do something intense
Sometimes it chatters for no reason
Mine recently broke a fan,
from clutching too hard at its bearings”


Subscribe

Critical Distance is community-supported. Our readers support us from as little as one dollar a month. Would you consider joining them?

Contribute

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