August 23rd

Welcome back, readers. Feels strange that summer is winding down–that technically 2020 is winding down. What is time, again? Keep safe, everybody.

There seems to be no end of fires this year (some of them quite literal), and accompanying them no shortage of valuable causes in dire need of attention and support. For this week, this one still feels the most immediate and comprehensive. Local action and support is where individuals can make the most difference.

Around the site, it’s a busy week! First of all, the newest Keywords in Play is live, featuring Eli Smith! Further, we’ve got a new Critical Compilation, this one on Final Fantasy VII and its Remake, by Drew Byrd, so be sure to check this cool stuff out!

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

Context Sensitive

The contemporary material world has always been a useful critical lens through which to scrutinize games, and this has only become more the case with 2020 permalocked to nightmare difficulty. Four authors this week situate very different games in relation to our contemporary hellscape.

“Whatever this is—the darkest timeline, the glitching simulator—I am not the hero. I am a wasteland settler, following a scripted path in a narrowly circumscribed area. I am an NPC hoping that some combination of money or courage will entice an adventurer to bring me the items on my list. The kitty litter is my fetch quest.”

The Flat of the Blade

There’s a running theme of flatness in this week’s Ghost of Tsushima discourse, with three pieces focusing on how cultures, histories, locales, artforms, and genres are distorted, simplified, and compressed in the end product.

Ghost of Tsushima fumbles in its attempt to pay homage to both director and genre, showing that maybe games shouldn’t want to emulate cinema, but rather try and create their own unique prestige and quality divorced from other mediums’ aspects.”

Primers

The three pieces gathered here, disparate in topics, are united by a common purpose of explaining the opaque, the intimidating, or the obscure. Whether it’s game-making via web development tools, sewing with a game boy color, or… blase…ball, each of these articles has something interesting to teach.

“These experiments may seem quaint now, a relic of an era before sophisticated computers became pocket-sized. But they’re examples of early crossover between games and broader culture that help contextualize our contemporary relationship to gaming.”

Design Flaws

Four writers this week examine mechanical, thematic, or structural shortcomings in popular games large and small.

“A monster is a symptom that somewhere, somehow, the world has gotten fucked up.”

Contemplative Collapse

A pair of writers this week each take a look at games that hit hard on an affective level in very different ways, united–perhaps in opposite ways–in their blend of discomfort and comfort.

“You may have caught the attention of the gods, and they are seldom merciful. It’s a beautiful night, however, and the thrum of the engine is so soothing and consistent. Why not choose to take this moment to relax?”

1v1

Three authors this week weigh in on fighting games across genres, generations, and communities.

“It’s clear that the FGC is about more than just playing games – in spite of what some people might want – and because of this, representation matters.”

Critical Chaser

I swear this hasn’t transformed into a weekly Animal Crossing feature on any official basis…

“It is impossible to ignore that Blathers as a private collector is acting outside of the law and professional standards, with scant regard for ethical museum practice. He has developed the nineteenth century morals of the worst Dickensian villain. But what happens next for his collection, with neither law enforcement nor ethical governing body to reign him in?”


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