Welcome back readers.

In addition to my usual nudge to check out the ways in which you can support protests against anti-Black and Brown police violence in the US and abroad, I’d like to call attention to an issue specific to Canada. Mi’kmaw fisherfolk exercising their treaty rights in Nova Scotia are being harassed, endangered, threatened, attacked, and pillaged by white commercial fishermen who seem to want the whole fucking Atlantic Ocean to themselves. I’ve found a detailed and descriptive thread here collating ways you can support Mi’kmaw communities under the threat of transparent colonial violence and domestic terrorism happening on the watch of the willfuly negligent RCMP.

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

Scary Month & Knuckles

We open with three more of the week’s best Halloween-themed articles!

“The scene I was greeted with had none of the promised remote waterfalls tumbling down cool coloured cave walls. No vast gaps connected by green bridges that lit up as Sonic walked over them. No giant emeralds to find. No undiscovered badniks to bop. There were no palaces either, hidden or otherwise. What I saw instead was a visual cacophony of lost data, a mess of corrupted nothings and indecipherable scrolling objects, chunks of absent graphics still pulsating to an unknown rhythm against an expanse of broken information. This was all made so much worse by the way Sonic helplessly fell through this chaos the instant the level began, the debris of leftover code flashing before my eyes as he plunged into the water below (of course the sodding water would still work) and died as soon as he touched the bottom of the screen.”

Embodied Play

We’ve got two selections this week reflecting on the bodies that are included and excluded in games, and the barriers that exist for some players on the basis of those exclusions, stereotypes, and microaggressions.

“I love fantasy. I love DnD. I long for the day when it fully and truly loves me back.”

Horror and Hope in the Industry

Four pieces this week look broadly at various issues in the industry as well as positive interventions, with specific foci on crunch, marketing, accessibility, and diverse representation.

“GDoCExpo is a firm effort against not only the failings of the games industry, but of the very systems that perpetuate those failings. It is poetic for GDoCExpo to thrive against the setbacks that could have easily pushed its cancellation this year—its survival serves as a beacon of hope.”

Story Systems

We’ve got three pieces this week with various narrative angles, looking at how storytelling genres, structures, and systems can open up a gameplay genre to new audiences, invoke wonder, or demolish historical cis-hetero patriarchy. Felt good typing that last one out, readers.

“I dedicate nearly a virtual lifetime to building up piety: buying indulgences, going on pilgrimages, and (crucially) abstaining from love affairs. All this to turn around at the last minute with a swift middle finger to the Pope and establish a new Christian sect: Lesbianism.”

F in the Chat for 2020

Two authors this week situate games in contemporary contexts through close reading.

“Instead of focusing, as Black Ops does, on the frustration of soldiers armed to the teeth, only to be torn apart, these narratives could build an understanding that the same forces that erected the institutions from which these soldiers were sent out to die also resisted the progressive movements at home that might have made these wars unnecessary to begin with.”

Critical Chaser

Shining in the Darkness poetry! One day I’ll get to the bottom of its depths. . . maybe. With save states. And rewind.

“The darkness and humanity combine
To prove that we must be the ones to shine.”


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


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