August 16th

Welcome back, readers. Hope you’re taking care of yourselves as best as you can.

Before we begin, check out this list of national and local bail funds supporting anti-racial-injustice protesters across the US. Yes this is still really important!

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

New Game Plus

Our opening segment this week is more about games writing than games themselves, with a critical focus on both industry and personal practices, injustice, and roadmaps to better futures.

“I didn’t realize how important being able to claim ownership over my work was to me, until I started writing for an audience. And I think I unconsciously resisted having to share my name, share my ownership, because I was so used to doing so in my day job.”

Social Play

Games-as-platforms (in this case referring to player interactions rather than business models) are a topic of increasing focus while material presence is in many ways constrained and people increasingly seek virtual alternatives. But it’s also an ongoing topic and tension that precedes and exceeds the scope of the current docket of crises. Three authors this week look at some of theses spaces, tensions, and struggles.

“Black Simmers have created a vibrant and passionate community to fill this gap, making incredible hair, makeup and skin tones to make up for what the game lacks. But the point of The Sims is to be able to make anyone and live out every kind of lifestyle. What use is a dollhouse that can only support one kind of doll?”

Chillin’ Like a Villain

We’ve got a pair of pieces this week examining how villainy in games can code Otherness, queerness, and/or relatability.

“This archetype exists because it presents a particularly heightened threat to the ordered hegemony of our lives. It is easy to stoke nationalistic fervor around a barbarian. But there is an elevated level of danger to an opponent specifically interested in countering your tactics.”

Camera Obscura

Two articles this week looking at very different games converge in their examination of the practice of deliberate censorship, omission, or obscuring of images or words in games, finding alternately that the act conceals layers upon layers of interpretation, or nothing at all.

““F****t” has an embodied effect on Harry, and a thematic connection to how the position of homosexuality in Revachol demands that one develop a high degree of composure in order to survive, and this pulls me toward identifying in Harry a special connection to queerness – but any attempt to form a specific sexual identity is troubled by the “homosexual underground” thought cabinet quests, which states that obsessing about sexual identity is not a helpful activity. “Flaubert” forces me to confront not only the deep emotional significance of Harry’s problematic relationships with women, but also the ways that the game formally and narratively portrays the obliteration of identity itself.”

Artful Play

Three articles this week looking at art in games along axes of production, technical constraint, and technical breaking points.

“Errors make computers interesting.
It’s like they rebel and express a voice of their own for a brief moment, before things return back to normal and you’re expected to pretend like that didn’t just happen, as you’re working your way through the tasks between cut-scene to cut-scene.”

Battle Trance

Two pieces this week focusing tightly on the sensations and stakes involved in player experience. Shades of Sudnow?

“Thinking about thinking. Thinking about thinking about thinking. Thinking about thinking about thinking about thinking. That loop would really freak me out as a kid, I’d get stuck peering down into my mind’s own fractal splitting. For, if I’m playing Action Man, and Action Man is playing a game, then who is playing me?”

Critical Chaser

Really loving the Animal Crossing stories coming out of Sidequest.

“I won’t say I was heartbroken, because I had long since moved on. I’d met new villagers, ones who were starting to heal my wounds with their gifts and kind words. But I was disappointed. Disappointed that Anabelle didn’t remember the times we shared, the intimacy we’d formed. It was as though she had completely wiped me from her mind, reset her memory. I went home to my island, defeated.”


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